Perfect Strangers Episode Guide

EPISODE 35 - Karate Kids

First Air Date: November 11, 1987
Nielsen Rating: 18.1 HH

TV Guide Description: Intimidated by a bully at a bar, the guys take up karate -- which turns Larry into a "lean, mean fighting machine."

Co-Producer: James OíKeefe
Created by: Dale McRaven
Written by: James OíKeefe & Alan Plotkin
Directed by: Joel Zwick

Bronson Pinchot: Balki Bartokomous
Mark Linn-Baker: Larry Appleton
Rebeca Arthur: Mary Anne
Melanie Wilson: Jennifer Lyons

Guest Cast:
Randy Kovitz: Chuck
Bill Ryusaki: Pete Nakima sensei
Marcus Mukai: Goldstein

Dimitri Appearances: Dimitri can be seen very briefly as Balki is being thrown over the couch.  He is sitting on the far counter and wearing a ninja outfit like Balkiís!

"I donít understand how one mean person can ruin everyoneís happy hours."
"What about David and Goliath?  What about Jack and the beanstalk?  What about the Captain and Tennille?"
"Now Cousin, your fists can be just as furry as the next guy."
"You could cut your toenails on my senses, too."
"Now that weíre lean cuisine fighting machines . . . "

Donít be ridiculous: Not said in this episode.

Other catchphrases used in this episode:
"I donít think so."

Other running jokes used in this episode:
Larry answers a question of Balkiís in a pat way instead of trying to explain what he meant
Jokes are made about Larry being short
Larry whines, putting the emphasis on one syllable of a word to draw it out

Songs: "The Impossible Dream" - sung by Larry and Balki as Balki talks Larry into taking karate lessons

Interesting facts:
The man with the mustache who steps up to Chuck to speak to him briefly in the opening bar scene was a fairly regular extra used on the show.  He also appeared as one of the party guests in the episode The Gift of the Mypiot and made more non-speaking appearances throughout the seriesí run.  In fact he even shows up in the second scene at the same restaurant later in this episode!
- The exterior shot of the restaurant / bar, Edwards, used in the beginning of the episode is the same as the one used later, so the same people are again walking into the same place at supposedly different times!

Balkiís ridiculous reference to the Captain and Tennille is a bit dated today, but back then fans still remembered the male and female married singing duo who hit the charts with songs like Love Will Keep Us Together and Muskrat Love.
When Balki takes up takes up the one-legged stand in front of Larry while imitating The Karate Kid heís referring to the karate move called the "Crane Kick" which Mr. Miyagi taught to Daniel in that film, the stance of which he practiced on the beach.  The image from that scene was even used on promotional posters for the film.
- When Larry makes he comment about "Larry Appleton, Fists of Fury" itís a reference to a very well-known Bruce Lee movie entitled Fists of Fury.
- This song The Impossible Dream is from the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha.  This would be the first of many Broadway numbers Bronson and Mark would perform on the show.
- Sensei Nakima refers to his students by their last names, adding the suffix "san."  This is used in Japan, where last names are often preferred and "san" is a term of address unique to that country.  Likewise the term "sensei" for teacher or one with superior knowledge, usually comes after the last name as well.
- The scene in the apartment when Balki mounts a surprise attack dressed as a black-clad ninja-style character against Larry was a loving tribute to the original Pink Panther movies starring Peter Sellers with Burt Kwouk as his manservant, Cato Fong.  In those films Cato was instructed to surprise Sellersí Inspector Clouseau character with an occasional sneak attack to keep the Inspector on his toes and ever-ready for possible danger.  Unfortunately these attacks were sometimes ill-timed to hilarious effect and became a staple gag throughout those films.
- Their neighbor, Mrs. Schleggelmilch is mentioned in this episode when she calls to complain about the noise the cousins are making with their karate.  Either she moved into the new building with them or theyíre making enough noise that she can hear them from their old building!
- As Larry is unpacking the groceries in the kitchen there is a Raisin Puff box sitting on the table.

- Bill Ryusaki, who played the sensei, Pete Nakima, would go on to do stunts for the movie Karate Kid II, as well as
Son of the Pink Panther!

Bloopers and Inconsistencies:
A blooper from this episode in which Mark fumbles on his words during the first scene can be seen on our YouTube Channel, along with other bloopers from the series!  Another short blooper where Bronson and Mark break up laughing can be seen at the very beginning of the Friendship commercial for the series, which also featured outtakes from the show.

The episode begins in a restaurant / bar called Edwards.  Balki, Larry, Jennifer and Mary Anne are at the buffet table filling their plates with food.  Balki is excited because it is his first happy hour.  "You know what I donít understand?" he says to Larry, "I donít understand how restaurants can make money by giving away food."  "Well, the food is just an inducement," Larry explains.  Balki eyes the food suspiciously, commenting, "And it looks so real."  "The food is real," Larry continues, "they just give it away so people will spend a lot of money on drinks."  "Oh!" Balki says, understanding, then understanding even more he states, "Oh!  So people like you who only drink ice water make out like bandits!"  Larry shushes Balki and directs him toward a table.

Jennifer is waiting for Mary Anne and finally asks, "Mary Anne, are you coming?"  Mary Anne, who is holding a plateful of food, thinks a moment, then says, "Well, I guess I could come back later."  She picks up a second plateful that sheís also compiled and follows Jennifer to the table.  As theyíre leaving the buffet a rough-looking guy says to Jennifer, "Hey, baby!  My nameís Chuck.  You wanna go home with a love machine?" Larry is quick to hop up and step in front of Jennifer, saying, "I hate to pull the plug on you, Chuck, but the ladyís already going home with someone."  "Wait a minute!" Balki cries excitedly, getting up to join them, "A happy hour game!  Love machine . . . pull the plug . . .  I get it, I see it and I love it!"

Ignoring Balki, Larry dismissed Chuck by saying, "Iíd love to stay and chat but weíre going to sit down now."  As they go back to the table Balki is disappointed.  "Stay and chat?  Sit down now?  Itís a little weak.  I think you can do better, Cousin.  Youíre turn Chuck!"  Chuck has followed them to the table and leans by Jennifer, asking, "Why would you want to go home with him anyway?  Oh, yeah . . . I forgot . . . itís shrimp night!"  "Heís got you two to one, Cousin," Balki points out.  "Say Chuck, do you have a blueprint for your brain?" Larry counters, "Iím building an idiot!"  Chuck is angry and about to retaliate when a man steps up to say something.  During this interval Balki says in a hurt tone, "Cousin, you didnít tell me you were building an idiot."  "It was going to be a surprise," Larry answers.

Finished with his friend, Chuck grabs Larry by his jacket and pulls him up to his feet.  "I donít like your jokes, little man!" Chuck growls.  "Humor is very subjective," Larry says nervously.  Chuck pulls Larry across the room and slams him up against a wall then throws him down the bar, with Balki chasing after them yelling "What are you doing?"  As Chuck grabs Larry by the lapels again Balki cries, "Put Cousin Larry down!"  Chuck pushes Larry over the edge of the bar.  "Now you know that isnít what I meant!" Balki says seriously.  Chuck then grabs Balki and throws him over the bar as well, then turns to the stunned spectators and says, boastfully, "I love shrimp night!"  As he walks away the girls run to the bar just as Balki and Larry stand up, pained and embarrassed.

Back at their apartment, Larry and Balki are sitting on the couch.  "I was humiliated in front of Jennifer," Larry complains.  "Well . . . maybe you were not the only one who was humiliated," Balki adds, "Perhaps you have forgotten but that thing that fell on top of you was me.  I donít understand how one mean person can ruin everyoneís happy hours."  "I do!" Larry insists, "This isnít the first time this has happened to me.  All my life bullies have pushed me around.  Iím like a bully magnet.  Youíd think when you grow up things would change.  But they donít!  Itís always the same . . . the big guy takes advantage of the . . . "  "Little tiny . . . " Balki offers.  " . . . more average size guy!" Larry finishes in his defense.

"And you know what really makes my blood boil?" Larry continues.  "Mexican food?" Balki answers.  Larry tries again.  "You know what really makes me angry is that there is nothing guys like you and me can do about guys like Chuck."  Balki gets a thoughtful expression on his face.  "Now you know, Iím not sure I agree with you.  What about David and Goliath?  What about Jack and the beanstalk?  What about the Captain and Tennille?"  "What are you talking about?" Larry cries in exasperation.

"Cousin, Iíve been thinking about this all on the way home and Iíve got an idea!" Balki gets to his feet, standing in front of Larry.  "Now . . . " he begins, then takes up a position on one leg with his arms held out above him, " . . . what am I?"   "A crazy man standing on one foot," Larry snaps.  "No!  Iím the Karate Kid!" Balki explains, holding the position.  "And Iím Ferris Bueller," Larry says sarcastically.  Balki look at Larry in confusion.  "What are you talking about?" Larry cries.  "Cousin, weíll learn karate!" Balki explains.  "Balki, it takes years to learn karate."  "Well, Cousin, Iíve got a bulletin for you!  I saw that movie.  I went back for popcorn and when I got back that kid was kicking everything he could get his feet on!"

"I donít know," Larry sighs, "Larry Appleton, Fists of Fury?  It just doesnít sound right."  "Now Cousin, your fists can be just as furry as the next guy," Balki assures him, "This is America, donít forget!  Where the little, tiny . . . "  Balki changes this off Larryís look, " . . . more average size guys can do whatever they set their mind to!  Think of it, Cousin!  We could walk down the street with our heads held high, not afraid of the Chucks of this world.  Never again we be humiliated."  "Nnnaaww," Larry whines, "Thatís impossible."

"What did you say?" Balki asks.  "I said thatís impossible," Larry repeats.  "To dream the impossible dream . . . " Balki starts to sing.  "I donít know, Balki," Larry sighs.  " . . . To fight the unbeatable foe . . . " Balki continues.  "Chuckís an awfully big guy."  " . . . to bear with unbearable sorrow . . . "  Larry sits up straight, becoming inspired by Balkiís song.  "But weíve got to do something!"  " . . . to run where the brave dare not go!"  Larry is on his feet now, fully inspired.  "Youíre right, Balki!"  Larry now bursts into song, climbing onto the couch as he sings, with Balki filling in with comments between the lines.  "This is my quest . . . "  "Bring it on home, Cousin!"  " . . . to follow my star . . . "  "We never be afraid again!"  " . . . no matter how hopeless . . . "  "Weíll take karate!"  " . . . no matter how far!"  They finish with a flourish together, "To dream . . . the im-poss-i-ble . . . dream!"

We next find the Cousins in a karate class.  They are already dressed in appropriate clothing with white belts.  They are approached by the teacher, or sensei, who is wearing a black belt.  "Welcome to my dojo," he offers, bowing, "I am sensei Pete Nakima, your instructor."  "Iím Larry Appleton and this is . . . "  Before he can introduce him, Balki is already hugging the sensei, much to the manís chagrin.  " . . . my cousin, Balki Bartokomous."  "Why did you come to my karate class?" the sensei asks.  "Are you familiar with the concept of Happy Hour?" Balki asks.  Larry pulls Balki back and explains, "Iím with the Chicago Chronicle and Iím doing a piece of self-defense and the urban male ego for our Sunday Magazine section.  I want to explore how civilized man deals with his own primitive instincts."  "You got beat up, huh?" Nakima-sensei asks.  "Yes," Larry answers.  The sensei says he can help them with that and invites them and his class to sit around the edge of mats.

When everyone is seated the sensei addresses them.  "Konichiwa . . . good afternoon, everyone.  Iíd like to introduce you to our new students."  Balki raises his hand and smiles.  The sensei rolls his eyes at this.  He motions for one of the students to step up on the mat.  It is a young, skinny man with glasses.  "Goldstein will help me demonstrate what you will be learning today.  I need a volunteer."  He looks around and then acts as if he is suddenly inspired.  "What about one of the new students?"  Balki motions for Larry to step up to volunteer, but the sensei has other ideas.

"Bartokomous-san, up!" the sensei calls, bringing Balki up onto the mat.  "Bartokomous-san, I want you to attack Goldstein-san from the back."  "Why?" Balki asks, "Iím not even mad at him."  "Attack him!" Nakima-sensei commands, pushing Goldstein toward Balki.  As Balki grabs Goldstein he is flipped over Goldsteinís shoulder and lands hard on his side and hip.  Nakima-sensei squats down next to Balki, enjoying this.  "Bartokomous-san!  Now, attack him from the front!"  "I donít think so!" Balki says in the same tone, then gets up timidly, asking, "Is he gonna do that again?"  "No!  Heíll do something . . . different," the sensei smiles wickedly.

Goldstein grabs Balki and rolls backward flipping him over his body so that Balki lands on his behind in front of Larry.  "Balki, are you all right?" Larry asks with concern.  "Well, I . . . I think so," Balki answers, not certain.  "Balki, this karate stuff is great!" Larry enthuses.  "It is?" Balki asks.  "Before you know it weíre going to be two of the toughest guys in Chicago!"  "Well, you know, Iím already feeling a kind of tough," Balki admits.  "Good," Larry says, "Because here comes Goldstein."  As Goldstein and Nakima-sensei advance on Balki he cowers into Larryís arms.

Act two begins with an exterior shot of the apartment building and the caption "Three Weeks Later."  Larry is slowly entering the apartment, pushing the door open carefully while remaining outside.  He enters with a grocery bag, having been shopping, and looks around warily.  "Balki?" he calls.  When there is no answer he swings the door shut, reacting with a karate yell and pose when the noise of it closing startles him.  Larry walks further into the apartment, still vigilant.  He paused in front of the bookcase, not noticing that Balki, who is wearing a black ninja-style outfit, is posed upon it, perfectly still.  "Balki?" Larry asks again, still nervous.

Larry finally relaxes and carries the bag over to one of the stools next to the counter where he sets it down.  Balki climbs down from his hiding spot and begins to approach Larry in a squat, stealth position, inching closer to him.  Larry has become aware again, his eyes open wide as he listens to the soft sounds Balki is making as he moves.  Balki makes a low breathing noise as he moves his hands threateningly, making Larryís eyes open even wider.

Turning his head, Larry spots Balki just before Balki attacks.  Larry grabs a loaf of bread from the bag and holds it up as Balki brings down a karate chop, breaking the loaf in two.  Balki chases Larry around the kitchen counter and into the living room where Larry stops and takes up a defensive pose.  They face off, posing and making karate grunts and noises.  Balki takes a chop at Larry who ducks and Balki his the front door, crying in pain.  Larry laughs but Balki is on the attack again and they run in front of the couch.

Balki tries to hit Larry with various moves which Larry blocks, each time they cry out a karate yell.  Balki then tries a series of moves which Larry blocks in succession, making Balki call so often he starts to cough and choke.  Larry takes a moment out to pat Balki on the back and make sure heís okay before Balki takes up the "karate kid" pose.  Larry runs for the grocery bag and pulls out two sausage links which he wields like nunchaku (or nunchucks).  Larry flips the sausages over his shoulders then lets out a loud yell and chases Balki back around the couch.

Cornering Balki by the kitchen, Larry swings the sausages around until he loses his grip and they fly off behind him.  Balki and Larry each throw blows blocked by the other and stand, groaning as they push against one anotherís hands for a moment.  Finally Larry throws off Balkiís hand and is about to throw his cousin over his shoulder when the phone rings.  "Iíll get that!" Larry announces as he picks up the receiver.  They find out it is their neighbor Mrs. Schleggelmilch.  "Hmm?  Oh, the noise!  Well, we were just moving the furniture," Larry explains, "Oh yes, well, weíll try to keep it down."  He thanks her and hangs up.  He and Balki exchange a smile and then Larry proceeds to throw Balki over the couch, taking the groceries into the kitchen triumphantly.

Balki sits on the couch, then says, "Pretty good workout, huh?"  "You know, Balki, these sneak attacks have really sharpened my reflexes.  My senses have been honed to a razorís edge."  "Yeah, you could cut your toenails on my senses, too," Balki agrees, taking the hood part off his outfit and folding it back over the top of his head.  "The next guy who messes with Larry Appleton better have major medical," Larry brags.

Balki gets up and heads for the kitchen, doing more karate moves as he goes.  "Cousin, now that weíre lean cuisine fighting machines . . . I hope we donít have to use karate on anyone because as the sensei said, Ďthe most powerful weapon is the voice of love.í"  "Hey, tell me about it," Larry agrees, "Itís not like Iím looking for trouble!"  Larry glances out the kitchen window then angrily throws it open, yelling out, "Hey you!  Get away from my car!  Now get outta here!"  Balki is looking out the window as well and looks embarrassed as he observes, "Cousin, I think that lady was just waiting for the bus."

The next scene finds Balki, Larry, Jennifer and Mary Anne back at Edwards, having finished visiting the buffet.  "You know, Balki, I was surprised to hear you wanted to come back here after that guy Chuck wiped up the bar with you," Mary Anne comments.  "I didnít want to come back here," Balki says, "Cousin Larry told me that you and Jennifer wanted to come back."  "Oh, Iím not wild about this place," Mary Anne assures him, "The lighting makes my skin look sallow."  "Balki, Larry told us you wanted to come here," Jennifer confirms.

Balki gives Larry an accusing look which Larry tries to ignore.  "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone," Balki notes, "Nobody wants to be here . . . how come weíre here?"  "I wanted to come here, okay?" Larry insists, "So relax!  Iím picking up the Chuck . . . check!  Iím picking up the check."  Larry tries not to look guilty but Balki has caught on.  "Cousin, your motives are less than pure!  You came here to pick a fight with Chuck!  Now weíre leaving!"

Larry urges them to sit down.  "Now weíve been avoiding this place for weeks. I came here as a matter of principle.  We should have the freedom to eat where we want without having to worry about bar slime like Chuck!"  Jennifer is looking across the room and says, "Larry, you better lower your voice because the bar slime just slid in."  Chuck enters through the doorway (bumping into a man as he does so) and walks behind Larry on his way to the bar.  Seeing him pass, Larry quickly picks up his water glasses and chugs the remaining water in a couple of seconds.  "Oh, will you look at that?  Iím out of water!  Iíd better go to the bar and get a refill."

As Larry gets up Balki tries to stop him.  "Cousin, Cousin . . . have you forgotten what our sensei told us?  A victory born of revenge will satisfy only the shallowest of souls."  "Iíve got no problem with that," Larry insists, then adds, "Itís not like Iím looking for trouble."  He turns back toward the bar with a look of determined anger on his face.  Balki cuts him off again, saying, "If youíre not looking for trouble then sit down at the table."  "Balki, Iím out of water and Iím darn thirsty," Larry laughs, then seeing this isnít working he steers Balki back to the table and says, "Look, Iíll go out of my way to avoid a fight.  Is that what you want to hear?"  "Yes, it is," Balki says.  "Fine," Larry agrees, "Iíll be right back."

Once Balki is seated again Larry walks straight to the bar . . . and straight into Chuck!  "Watch it, buddy!" he warns.  Chuck looks over his shoulder in surprise, then says, "Sorry!"  "I just bet you are," Larry eggs, then when Chuck doesnít react he says, "You donít remember me, do you?"  "Should I?" Chuck asks.  "A few weeks ago you hit on the woman I was in here with," Larry explains, "When I said something about it you dragged me down this bar then you beat up my cousin.  Now do you remember me?"  "Youíre gonna have to be a little more specific," Chuck answers.

"You beat me up," Larry says, "That may not have meant anything to you but it meant something to me and I demand an apology!"  "Look, I donít apologize to nobody!" Chuck scoffs.  "Chuck, I think you and I had better step outside," Larry challenges.  Chuck laughs, then suggests, "Why donít you get out of here before you get hurt?"  "Whatís the matter?" Larry continues to taunt, "You chicken, Chuck?"  He steps back, addressing the patrons.  "Hey, everybody!  Chuck here is chicken!"  He adds a loud cluck for further effect.

"Nobody calls me chicken!" Chuck says, angry now.  "Oh, is that right, my fine feathered friend?" Larry asks.  Chuck starts to advance on Larry but Balki steps in, trying to stop him.  "Now, Chuck, you know where I come from thatís a compliment!  The chicken is a symbol of bravery and honor, and as a matter of fact the chicken happens to be the Myposian national bird.  And thatís the kind of thing that I felt would be of interest to man of your integrity and . . . " (as he lifts Balki onto the bar) " . . . obvious physical strength."

Chuck walks to Larry, ready to fight.  "I must warn you, I know karate!" Larry offers.  "I must warn you . . . I donít care!" Chuck scowls.  Larry blocks two of Chuckís punches and then flips him over onto the floor.  The restaurant-goers stare in surprise as Larry holds up his arms to address them. "Everything is under control!  Go back to your libations.  Showís over."  As Larry is gloating Chuck is getting up off the floor.  Balki sees this and jumps off the bar, trying to warn Larry.  "Balki, please . . . do you mind?  Iím having a moment."  Chuck grabs Larry and runs him over to slam him into the same wall as before, then to throw him down the bar again then tries to strangle him as Balki cries for Chuck to leave Cousin Larry alone.

Back at the apartment the couples enter, Larry looking embarrassed.  "Larry, are you sure youíre all right?" Jennifer asks.  "Iím fine," Larry assures her, "In karate we learn how to take a fall."  "And you do it very well!" Mary Anne offers, trying to be helpful.  "Well, Iím just glad everyoneís all right," Jennifer says.  She and Mary Anne leave and Balki closes the door behind them.

"Cousin, donít feel bad," Balki offers, "You almost had him.  I had you ahead on points until he cut off your air supply."  "Balki, itís not just that I got beaten up."  "Again," Balki adds.  "And itís not that I was humiliated."  "Again." "In front of Jennifer."  "Again."  "Are you helping?  Is this some kind of help?" Larry asks in frustration, "Donít you see whatís happened?  Iíve gone from peaceful little Larry Appleton to a guy who picks fights in bars.  At least when I was getting beaten up I was a nice person."  When Balki doesnít say anything Larry asks, "I was a nice person, wasnít I?"  Balki starts to shrug but Larry reacts with such a look of shock Balki quickly assures Larry, "Oh, Iím just kidding!  Of course you were a nice person!  You still a nice person, thatís why youíre upset."

Balki sits Larry down on the couch and says, "Listen . . . you learned a very important lesson tonight."  "Oh youíre darn right I did!" Larry agrees, "I learned I never should have taken karate to begin with!"  "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" Balki insists.  "No?"  "What did I just say?"  "No."  "Thatís right.  Now, Cousin, thereís nothing wrong with taking karate.  Itís fun!  Itís good exercise.  We get to wear snazzy outfits and go barefoot.  But youíre doing what you always do . . . you take a good thing and you pound it into the ground!  Now why canít you just take karate and learn self defense and be a nice person?"  "I do enjoy the classes," Larry admits.  "And our sensei said you were a karate natural!" Balki adds.  "He said I was a natural?" Larry asks, tickled.  "In two languages," Balki says.  "He probably said that because I move so well," Larry speculates, standing up and doing some karate moves.  "You know, I think he said it because your legs are so short," Balki observes.  Larry urges Balki to get up and throw a punch at him.  Balki resists but Larry keeps taunting him, slapping at his face and egging him on.  Balki finally throws a punch which lands squarely on Larryís abdomen.  "Cousin, are you all right?" Balki asks.  Larry breathes in painfully and gasps, "Fine.  Iím fine."  He then adds, "Balki . . . Iím going to pass out now."  He starts to fall as the episode ends.

Continue on to the next episode . . .