Strangers Episode Guide
39 - The Break In
First Air Date:
December 9, 1987
Nielsen Rating: 13.2 HH
TV Guide Description: Larry
and Balki find themselves out on a ledge after breaking into the publisher's
office to retrieve Larry's irreverent news article mistakenly left on the
Created by: Dale McRaven
Written by: David Ketchum & Tony DiMarco
Directed by: Joel Zwick
Bronson Pinchot: Balki Bartokomous
Mark Linn-Baker: Larry Appleton
Jo Marie Payton-France: Harriette Winslow
Eugene Roche: Mr. Harry Burns
Richard Frank: Frank Peterson
Jim Doughan: Security Guard (Jimmy)
Appearances: Dimitri can be seen very clearly on the fireplace mantel
when Larry realizes the wrong article has been left on Wainwrightís desk.
At the end of the episode when the Cousins come back home, Dimitri is wearing a
black mask and outfit like a burglar.
" . . . because the spitís gonna hit the fan."
" . . . this is just a hunk . . . "
"Oh . . . I was a Cesarean myself."
ridiculous: Not said in this episode.
used in this episode:
"Will you stop it?"
"Oh my Lord!"
"Question . . . "
Other running jokes
used in this episode:
Balki quotes a famous Myposian saying in Myposian, asking in some way if it
isnít perfectly clear and prompting Larry to ask, in varying ways, for a
Comments about Larry having no upper lip
Balki laughs at his own joke
Larry grabs Balki by the shirt
Larry looks very much like he wants to strangle Balki but refrains
Larry eyes Balki in a mischievous manner
Larry talks Balki into following one of his plans by making him believe he was
the one at fault (later known as an Appleton Snow Job)
Larry breathy, scoffing laugh
The Chronicleís publisher, R.T. Wainwright, is mentioned for the first time.
Jimmy the security guard (although not named) is first seen in this episode
- The co-writers of the script for this episode, Tony DiMarco (aka
Anthony DiMarco) and David Ketchum, also wrote scripts for Happy Days and
Full House. David Ketchum is also the same classic character actor
who made a brief appearance in the episode Falling
in Love Is . . .
- There is another reference to Balkiís favorite
performer, Wayne Newton, in this episode.
- Larry also mentions his brother Billy in this
- This episode marks the first time we hear the
publisherís name, Mr. R.T. Wainwright. Mr. Wainwright would make his
first appearance and become a regular character later this season, consequently
becoming Larryís boss, taking over that position from Mr. Burns, who would no
- Another ABC series, Moonlighting, is
referenced in this episode. Perfect Strangers actually used to air
before Moonlighting on Tuesday nights when it debuted. Mark also
made a very notable appearance on an episode of the series
which helped him get the job on Perfect Strangers.
- Larryís reference to "Appletonís
Law" is not repeated in any other episode, but would be the Appleton
version of Murphyís Law, which is basically "Whatever can go wrong, will
- The security guard, who is nameless in this
episode, would become a recurring character played by Jim Doughan and would
later be named, appropriately, Jimmy.
- Richard Frank gave a really notable performance in this episode as
Frank Peterson, the crime beat reporter who contemplates suicide. This was
his only appearance in the series. Another memorable role of his was as the
priest in Amadeus who listens to Salieriís story throughout the movie.
Sadly Richard Frank passed away in 1995 due to complications from AIDS.
- This is the last of three episodes which feature a different set for
the boysí apartment in which the front door is to the left of the fireplace.
The other two episodes were All the News That Fits and Taking Stock.
- A blooper from this episode in which Mark loses
his place can be seen on our YouTube
Channel, along with other bloopers from the series!
- Near the end of the episode as Balki and Larry
are sitting on the ledge talking to Frank, we see the security guard waiting at
the window and an elderly man is looking out at them as well. While it
could be a police chief itís also possible he is supposed to be Mr.
Wainwright, although he is not yet played by F.J. OíNeil.
The episode begins with Larry Appleton typing at his desk and laughing as he
works. The elevator bell rings as the hand indicating the floor it is on
falls past the B for basement. The door opens and we see Harriette and
Balki inside, their knees at floor level since Balki has stopped the elevator
too low. "Youíre getting better, baby! Youíll get the hang
of it!" Harriette encourages him. Balki gets out of the elevator with
a wire basket of mail and walks past Larryís desk where he hears Larry
laughing. After a moment or two of hesitation, Balki sets the basket down
on his work table and walks to Larryís desk, squatting down and smiling as
Larry continues to laugh over the paper heís finished typing.
are we laughing about?" Balki finally asks. "Balki, I have just
had a very frustrating day," Larry explains, "I spent the entire
morning covering a stupid dog show so I wrote this to blow off some steam.
Listen to this . . . ĎSociety came out on all fours today at the 5th
Annual Pedigree Dog Show.í" Larry laughs at this line before
continuing. "ĎIndustrialist Henry Friar bragged that his dog was
cheaper than his wife; the license was less and the dog came with a fur
coat!í" Larry continues to laugh, but Balki isnít laughing at
all. "Wait, wait thereís more!" Larry promises, reading on,
"ĎSocialite Annabelle Eastwick is so fat that when she bent over to pet
her dog there were reports of a lunar eclipse!í" Larry keeps
laughing until he realizes Balki is just looking at him, stunned, so Larry
I canít believe you say mean things about people!" Balki comments.
"Balki, these are supposed to be jokes!" Larry explains.
"But what if you hurt somebodyís feelings? You never know whoíd
listen. On Mypos we have a saying . . . Iffi biggi hochpadooie, och
hoch biddi bat bat sticki. Enough said?" "Not quite
enough, no," Larry admits. "It says ĎIf you spit into a
windstorm, youíd better carry an umbrella,í" Balki translates.
"Well, Balki, donít worry. Iím not a big spitter," Larry
assures him. "No, Cousin, it means if you say something cruel about
someone it might come back to haunt you."
"Balki, this is humor!" Larry
insists, "In America people pay big bucks to go to Las Vegas so that Joan
Rivers or Don Rickles can insult them in front of their loved ones."
"Don Rickles?" Balki asks excitedly, "heís Wayne Newtonís
favorite comedian!" "Thatís right!" Larry agrees,
"And I hear Wayne loves it when Don makes fun of his moustache!"
"So, your making
fun of the dog show people is like Don making fun of Wayne?" Balki asks.
"More or less," Larry answers. "Well, then people are going
to love when they read your article in the newspaper!" Balki smiles.
"Oh no, no no, Balki," Larry corrects him, "This is not going
into the newspaper. This is a joke." He picks up another piece
of paper, clarifying, "This is the article thatís going in the
newspaper." "Oh," Balki hums, "Well, can we send the
joke one to Wayne?" "No, I think Iím going to send this to my
brother Billy," Larry says, "Heíll get a kick out of it."
"Oh, okay, Iíll just send Wayne the peanut brittle like I do every
month," Balki sighs, heading back to his work table while Larry finishes
placing the articles in two identical envelopes he places in different spots on
"Cousin, can I try American
humor?" Balki asks enthusiastically. "Well sure . . . go
ahead," Larry encourages. Balki walks back
to Larryís desk and says, "Well, Cousin, I guess when they were handing
out the lips you only got one!" Balki laughs at his own joke but
Larry doesnít laugh at all. "Why arenít you laughing?" Balki
asks. "Itís hard to laugh with one lip," Larry comments
coolly. The elevator door opens and Harriette steps out ahead of a
ragged-looking man whose clutching a disheveled briefcase. "Frank,
whatís a five-letter word for life?" Harriette asks the man as she works
on a crossword puzzle. "Hell," Frank states in anguish, turning
to walk to the garage. "That man is burned out," Harriette
comments seriously to Larry and Balki, "Been working the crime beat too
long." "Iíve never seen Frank so down before," Larry
observes. He and Balki exchange looks of concern.
Burns enters from the garage. "Appleton!" he calls.
"Yes sir!" Larry replies. "When youíve finished with the
dog show story, the publisher wants to see it." "The publisher
wants to see my article?" Larry asks, "But why?"
"Whatís the publisherís name?" Mr. Burns asks. "Mr.
Wainwright," Larry answers. "And who sponsored the dog
show?" Larry consults his notes to answer, "The, uh . . .
Wainwright Kennel Club." "Are you making the connection,
Appleton?" "Oh! Yes right . . . got it! The
publisher sponsored the dog show!" "Good!" Mr. Burns
praises Larry sarcastically, "See that you put it on the publisherís desk
before you leave tonight. He wants to read it first thing in the
morning." Mr. Burns calls for Gorpley and heads to the manís
walks to Balkiís table. "Balki, did you hear that? The
publisher wants to read something I wrote!" Mr. Burns turns away from
Gorpleyís door, saying, "Appleton, I almost forgot . . . whereís the
file on the Fornsythe baby I asked for?" "You didnít ask for
it, sir," Larry points out. "Do I have to ask for everything?
Learn to anticipate!" Mr Burns suggests. Larry heads for the archives
then stops. "Oh Balki, do me a favor, would you? Run the
article I wrote up to the publisher. Itís in the envelope on my
desk." "Okay," Balki answers, dumping the contents of the
wire basket onto his table and going to Larryís desk where he snaps up one of
the manila envelopes. As he passes, Balki sees the other envelope and
pauses, trying to decide which one to take. He puts the one down and then
picks it back up, giving it a little shrug before heading to the elevator.
Later that night at the apartment, Balki
and Larry are watching television with Jennifer and Mary Anne. "Oh, I
ĎMoonlighting!í" Balki exclaims, "Donít they have witty
dialogue? I just love when they say ĎYou do?í ĎI do!í
ĎYou do?í ĎI do!í How do they come up with that stuff?"
"I bet Bruce Willis makes it up . . . heís a funny guy," Mary Anne
remarks. "If you think heís funny, wait until you hear what this
little curly-haired jokemeister wrote today!" Balki says. "Well,
it really wasnít all that funny," Larry dismisses. "Well, if
youíd rather not read it, Larry . . . " Jennifer begins. "No,
no, no, I got it right here!" Larry insists, walking back to the hallway to
get it from his briefcase. "Listen! Listen!" Balki says,
"Iím learning American humor! Mary Anne, is that your hair or did
your head just explode?" Balki laughs hysterically but Mary Anne
stares at him, wide-eyed. "Itís my hair!" she answers in a
hasnít quite got the hang of it yet," Larry explains, standing by the
fireplace with his article, "But listen to this . . . itís hysterical,
even if I do say so myself." Larry starts to laugh in anticipation,
but stops abruptly as he looks over the article. He pauses, realization
setting in, then starts to gag. "Cousin . . . did you swallow a
hairball?" Balki asks with concern. The three get up and go to Larry,
Jennifer taking the article from him and starting to read. "ĎDog
Shows. A Cavalcade of Americaís Favorite Pet. By Larry Appleton.
Collecting llamas may be this countryís latest fad but manís best friend
continues to be the dog." Mary Anne laughs, saying, "Thatís
funny! Llamas!" Then she looks confused.
this isnít the funny article!" Balki realizes, walking over to take it
from Jennifer, "You know what? The publisher must have the funny one!
Oh boy, is he in for a chuckle and a half!" Jennifer notices the look
of murderous intent in Larryís eyes and suggests to Mary Anne that they leave.
"Why do we have to go? I want to find out who won the dog show!"
Mary Anne cries as Jennifer leads her out the front door. Balki sees the
look in Larryís eyes and starts to back away as Larry approaches him, grabbing
his shirt and backing him against the couch. "How could you do
this?" Larry demands, "How could you take the wrong article to the
publisher? Donít you ever read the mail before you deliver it?"
"Well, Cousin, mailman donít read other peopleís mail!" Balki
insists, "Unless itís a postcard and then we canít help it."
Larry sighs, dropping Balki into the couch where he rolls off, "Why am I
blaming you? I should have known if I wrote two articles one would fall
into the wrong hands. Appletonís law!" "Wonít
the publisher think itís funny?" Balki asks. "No, he wonít
think itís funny!" "Well, donít he understand American
humor?" Balki asks. "I insulted his dog show!" Larry
explains worriedly. "Well, now, Cousin, I donít understand! Is
insults funny or no?" "Sometimes it is, sometimes itís
not!" Larry answers. "Well, how you tell the difference?"
Balki asks. "If you insult your boss, itís not!"
"So, the Mypos saying is true!" Balki deduces, "Well, all I can
say . . . you better get out your umbrella because the spitís gonna hit the
"What am I gonna do?" Larry asks
nervously. "Well, I . . . " Balki starts, then suddenly gasps,
"what are you going to do, what am I
going to do? I just told Mary Anne her head exploded thanks to
you!" "Balki, I have a bigger problem!" Larry explains,
trying to keep his composure, "My job is in jeopardy!" "Oh,
I love that show!" Balki smiles. Larry has to try very hard not to
strangle Balki then and there. He sits down as he continues in a sad tone.
"You know, the irony is the publisher would have liked the real article if
only he had a chance to read it. If only I could undo whatís been done.
If only I could switch the articles." Larry lowers his head into his
hand, only to lift it seconds later, eyeing Balki in a very devious manner.
Balki finally notices this. "Why are you looking at me like
hooks an arm around Balkiís shoulder, "Balki, you and I have to break
into the publisherís office and switch the articles!" "Oh no
no!" Balki insists, "Breaking in is wrong, Iím not doing it,
period." "Did I say Ďbreak in?í Bad choice of words.
We have to go into the publisherís office. After all, you
delivered the wrong mail, didnít you? Didnít you? And itís
your duty to deliver the right mail, isnít it? Isnít it?"
"Yes, yes," Balki agrees, feeling guilty. "Anything less
would be irresponsible! Irresponsible!" Larry continues.
"I donít want to be irresponsible!" Balki cries. "Of
course you donít," Larry agrees. "What am I going to do?"
Balki asks. "Balki . . . youíll have to go down to the
publisherís office and switch the articles." "Will you come
with me?" Balki asks. Larry thinks a moment, then agrees, "All
right, Iíll come with you. What are cousins for?"
second act begins with a nighttime establishing shot of the Chicago Chronicle,
panning to the upper floors. Larry and Balki emerge from the stairwell
into a hallway, exhausted and panting. "Cousin, explain to me again
how come we had to climb up eleven flight of stairs?" Balki asks.
"Because if we took the elevator someone might see you and find out you
delivered the wrong mail," Larry explains. Balki sighs in shame, and
Larry adds, "Iím only trying to protect you." "Thank you,
Cousin," Balki offers gratefully. Balki walks to Mr. Wainwrightís
office door and tries to open it. "Oh, well, the doorís locked.
Listen, I appreciate everything you tried to do for me but Iím out of
Balki starts to walk away but Larry stops
him. "Donít you know the mailmanís oath? Neither rain nor
sleet nor lock-ed door shall
stay these couriers from the swift execution of their appointed rounds?"
Balki looks proud, then pauses, eyeing Larry skeptically. "Lock-ed
door isnít in there," he points out. "Yes it is, itís in the
second verse," Larry assures him. Balki eyes Larry even more
suspiciously. "Now listen to me . . . this is just a hunk but you
know what I think? I think you want to get in there and get your article
and you donít care anything about the mail!" Larry starts to laugh
his breathy, scoffing laugh then stops, saying, "Balki, youíre right.
I am in deep trouble. I need your help! Please, if I donít get
that article back, Iím going to lose my job! Youíll help me now,
wonít you?" Balki isnít sure so Larry starts to beg until Balki
tells him to stop it. "All right, Iíll help you," Balki
finally surrenders. Larry starts to overdo the thank youís until Balki
again tells him to stop it.
. . . the door is locked," Balki reminds Larry, "How we going to get
in?" "Weíll do what they did on ĎMoonlighting,í"
Larry answers, fishing into his pocket. "I donít know what they did
on ĎMoonlighting,í" Balki comments. "I do," Larry
assured him. "You do?" "I do!" "You
do?" "I do!" "You do?" "Will you
stop it?" Larry yells, then holds up a credit card. He slips it into
the door jam, trying to force the lock open. Instead there is a snap and
Larry pulls it back, showing it has snapped in two pieces. "Maybe
youíre over your credit limit," Balki speculates. "Oh
great," Larry sighs, "The part with my name on it is still in the
"Okay, Cousin, maybe we should just
go home now," Balki suggests. Larry stops him again, pointing out the
transom above the
door. "Balki, give me a boost!" Larry asks. "All
right . . . youíre a snappy dresser," Balki offers. Larry eyes him
in frustration, finally saying, "Not that kind of boost . . . but thank
you." Larry pushes Balki against the door and motions for Balki to
cup his hands. Larry steps up and onto Balkiís shoulders, trying to get
in through the transom. "Tell me if Iím hurting you!" Larry
says, just before his feet hook on Balkiís neck, almost strangling him.
Balki finally pushes Larry legs up so that Larryís hanging down into the
office. Larry tries to reach the doorknob but canít. He lowers
himself down awkwardly, still trying to reach, and pausing once to tell Balki,
"Almost got it!" As Balki watches through the glass window on
the door, Larryís slips and falls to the ground inside the office.
"How about now?" Balki asks.
Larry gets up off the floor and opens the
door. Balki enters and Larry retrieves the other half of his credit card
from the floor.
They turn on the light and walk to the desk, where they find the envelope Balki
left there earlier. They switch the articles without any problems, but
then they hear the elevator bell and the door opening. "The security
guard!" Balki gasps. Larry turns off the light on the desk and
motions for Balki to get under the desk. They both duck down under the
desk only to find it is open and offers them no cover from sight. They get
back to their feet and huddle nervously as footsteps draw nearer.
We see the security guard pass by
Wainwrightís office door, stopping when he realizes itís slightly open.
He stops, getting out his flashlight and looking into the office. As he
shines his flashlight around the office he sees nothing except a window which
has apparently been left slightly open. Larry and Balki are outside the
office window, standing on a narrow ledge. "Cousin, I canít help
noticing that things arenít going well," Balki comments, "What are
we going to do?" "Temporary setback," Larry assures him,
"Weíll just wait for the security guard to leave and then weíll go back
in through the window."
as Larry has said this, we see the security guard inside, closing and locking
the window then walking away. "That sounded like the guard locked the
window," Balki says. "Balki, tell me the guard didnít lock the
window," Larry asks. "The guard didnít lock the window,"
Balki responds. "Thank God," Larry sighs, "All right,
letís go back in." "We might have a little problem with
that," Balki states. "Why?" "Because the guard locked
the window." "Balki, you just told me the guard didnít
lock the window!" "Well, that is because you told me to tell you
the guard didnít lock the window," Balki explains. "Well, why
donít we go see if indeed the guard locked the window?" Larry suggests.
They inch their way carefully to the window, each trying to pull it up but it
wonít budge. "The window is locked," Larry states.
"Perhaps the guard locked it!" Balki adds. "Perhaps,"
Larry agrees after a long moment.
is the sound of sirens and Balki points down where police cars are gathering in
the street. "Cousin! Look, look! The police!
Weíre saved!" Balki exclaims. "Oh my Lord!" Larry gasps,
"What are they doing here?" "Maybe thereís a donut shop
down there," Balki suggests, then notes, "And look, look! A fire
truck, too! Hey! Hello! Hello!" Larry pushes Balki
back against the building, crying, "Get back! Theyíll see us!"
"Question . . . " Balki starts, "If they canít hear us, how
they going to save us?" "Balki if they see us theyíll know we
were trying to break in and then weíll be in big trouble!" Larry snaps.
"Then weíll be in big trouble?" Balki asks incredulously,
"Cousin, weíre up to our armpits in sheep dip right now!"
someone comes around the corner of the building, also on the ledge. Itís
Frank, the despondent reporter seen earlier. The police shine a spotlight
on him, causing him to cry, "Get that spotlight off me or Iíll
jump!" Larry and Balki are shocked to see him.
"Frank?" Larry asks. Frank turns and sees them, just as
surprised as they are. "Stay away! You canít talk me out of
this!" "Frank, what you doing up here?" Balki asks.
"I donít know," Frank answers, "Iím confused. I just
came out here to think." "Well, you picked a dangerous place to
think," Balki comments. "Balki, he came up here to think about
suicide," Larry explains. "Oh Cousin!" Balki gasps.
"Frank, I know youíre under a lot
of pressure but . . . it canít be that bad!" Larry says. "What
do you know about it?" Frank cries,
"Life stinks! I see it every day! Assaults! Murders!
Look!" He points down at the gathering of police cars,
"Robberies! Nobody cares about anybody!" The light turns
on in Wainwrightís office and the security guard appears with several
officers. He opens the window and leans out, calling, "Mr.
Peterson!" then turns and eyes Balki and Larry in confusion.
"What are you guys doing out here?" "Well, itís a long
story . . . Cousin Larry say to me . . . " Balki begins. "What
are we doing out here?" Larry interrupts, "Isnít it obvious what
weíre doing out here? We came out here to get our friend off the
ledge!" "Oh boy, you never let up," Balki says in disgust.
"Not when it comes to the life of a friend!" Larry says heroically.
"Frank . . . donít do this,"
Larry implores. "Leave me alone," Frank sighs. "Well,
weíve done all we can do," Larry sighs, moving
toward the window, "Leave this in the hands of the professionals!"
"Now Cousin," Balki says, "Weíve got to stop thinking about
ourselves and maybe think about Frank. Maybe he talk to us."
"Balki, these people have experience with this sort of thing," Larry
explains. "Get away from that window!" Frank yells at the
security guard and officers. "He donít want to talk to them!"
Balki points out. "I donít know what to say to him!"
Larry whines. "Well . . . maybe I think of something!" Balki
offers. "All right, go ahead," Larry agrees, "but be
careful. One wrong word and this manís gonna jump!" "All
right, I be careful," Balki promises, moving around Larry so that heís
closer to Frank, who backs away nervously. "Frank?" Balki
begins, then stops to think before continuing, " . . . having a bad
day?" Larry gives a pained look at Balkiís remark.
The scene fades to morning and Larry,
Balki and Frank are sitting on the ledge looking at photos in Frankís wallet.
The security guard is waiting sleepily at the window. "Oh, this is
Frank Jr.!" Frank explains, "Heís moving up from T-ball to Little
year. Oh, the kidís a natural!" "Oh . . . I was a
Cesarean myself," Balki comments. "Now Frank, this doesnít
make any sense," Larry remarks, "You have a wonderful family, youíre
one of the most respected journalists in the city, why would you even think of
jumping off a building?" "ĎCause Iím sick of it," Frank
explains, "Iíve been covering crime for twelve years. All I see all
day are people doing terrible things to each other . . . I canít take it any
more!" "But Frank, if you jump youíd be doing something
terrible to your family," Balki points out, "Why donít you just go
home and hug your wife and children and be glad that youíre not one of the
terrible people that you write about?"
Frank nods, looking at each of them.
"This is all so humiliating," he sighs, then adds, "Thanks for
staying out here with me." "You know, Frank, maybe you should
get some help," Larry suggests. "Cousin Larryís right,"
Balki adds, "You know, if you come out on this ledge again thereís a very
good chance we wonít be here." "Frank, what díya say we go
in?" Larry suggests. "In a minute," Frank says calmly,
looking off into the sunrise, "this is the first peaceful morning Iíve
had in twelve years." Larry and Balki wait
patiently, also taking in the view.
Finally Balki and Larry return to the
apartment, exhausted as they head for their bedrooms. "What a
night!" Larry sighs. "I never, never want to go through that
again!" Balki adds. "Well, Iíve learned my lesson," Larry
states, "all I want is a warm bed, a soft pillow, and to put this night
behind me! Goodnight, Balki." "Goodnight, Cousin,"
Balki offers. The two go into their separate bedrooms. Seconds later
the sound of two alarm clocks sound from each room and both re-emerge, Larry
carrying his clock which he switches off. "Morning, Balki,"
Larry offers tiredly. "Morning, Cousin," Balki sighs.
on to the next episode . . .