Perfect Strangers Episode Guide

EPISODE 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 publisher's desk.

Co-Producer: James OíKeefe
Created by: Dale McRaven
Written by: David Ketchum & Tony DiMarco
Directed by: Joel Zwick

Bronson Pinchot: Balki Bartokomous
Mark Linn-Baker: Larry Appleton

Guest Cast:
Jo Marie Payton-France: Harriette Winslow
Eugene Roche: Mr. Harry Burns
Richard Frank: Frank Peterson
Jim Doughan: Security Guard (Jimmy)

Dimitri 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."

Donít be ridiculous: Not said in this episode.

Other catchphrases 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 translation
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

Notable Moments:
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

Interesting facts:
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 episode.
- 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 longer appear.
- 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 go wrong."
- 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.

Bloopers and Inconsistencies:
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.

"What 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 finally stops.

"Cousin, 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 his desk.

"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.

Mr. 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 office.

Larry 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 love 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 serious manner.

"Balki 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.

"Now 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."

"Right," 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 fan!"

"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 that?"

Larry 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?"

The 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 luck."

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.

"Now . . . 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 door!"

"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."

Just 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.

There 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!"

Suddenly 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 League this 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.

Continue on to the next episode . . .