Perfect Strangers Episode Guide

EPISODE 49 - The Graduate

First Air Date: April 29, 1988
Nielsen Rating: 11.6 HH

TV Guide Description: If anyone deserves a graduation ceremony it's Balki, who knocks himself out for top honors in his night-school class, then learns there'll be no ceremony or prom.

Co-Producer: James OíKeefe
Created by: Dale McRaven
Written by: Robert Blair
Directed by: Joel Zwick

Cast:
Bronson Pinchot: Balki Bartokomous
Mark Linn-Baker: Larry Appleton
Rebeca Arthur: Mary Anne
Melanie Wilson: Jennifer Lyons
Belita Moreno: Miss Lydia Markham

Guest Cast:
Jo Marie Payton-France: Harriette Winslow
Peter Crombie: Mr. Jones

Dimitri Appearances: Dimitri can be seen sitting on the bookcase with blue goggles on, looking down and studying a book.  At the end of the episode it's difficult to see, but Dimitri is sitting in the same place wearing a black graduation cap and holding a diploma.

Balki-isms:
" . . . weíve been studying for hours and Iím scraping the bottom of my bucket."
"I donít think so, Cousin.  I enjoy eating meat so much."
"All right Cousin, letís go for the mold!"
"Just between you and me itís a lucky thing I donít have a percussion."
"Itís right on the tip of my brain!"
"I make my speech at the prom before all the promming starts?"
"So why should I feel like my heart has been torn out by the roots?"

Donít be ridiculous: Not said in this episode.

Other catchphrases used in this episode:
" . . . Babbasticki."
"Oh my Lord!"
"Yes!  Yes!!"

Other running jokes used in this episode:
Larry complains about someone in his past whom he feels wronged him in some way (in this case that little tramp, Becky Jo Quinn, who became his high school class valedictorian instead of him)
A quick dialogue exchange, in this case "You do?"  "I do!"  "You do?"  "I do!"
The Dance of Joy
Larry attempts to dump a cookie only to have it break off into the cup before he can eat it
Harriette insults Lydia

Notable Moment: Balki graduates as valedictorian of his night school class and receives his high school diploma.

Interesting facts:
-
The name of the publisher of Balkiís history book, The Warren Weber Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is an in-joke.  Perfect Strangers producers Tom Miller, William Bickley and Michael Warren all worked previously on the series Happy Days and fans will remember that Warren Weber was Potsieís real name and that the series took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  This was not the first and would not be the last time that references to Happy Days would make their way into
Perfect Strangers!
- Speaking of Happy Days, it was fitting there would be a reference to that show in this episode when in many ways it parallels a classic two-part episode of that series called Graduation in which Marion reveals that Fonzie has been attending night school so that he will be able to graduate with the rest of his class, only to learn that night school grads are not included in the regular class graduation.  The gang then speeds up their own ceremony to work in time for Fonzie to make a speech, since he was valedictorian of his class (being the only one who passed).
- Itís interesting to note that Balki was the valedictorian of his graduating class, since in real life Bronson Pinchot was also valedictorian of his high school graduating class (or more accurately co-valedictorian with another student who had the same high grade point average).
- At the end of this episode we see what has by now become a classic device to mark the ending of a touching episode in this series and that is when the camera pans back and through the window to take in the scene inside as the final credits roll.


Synopsis:
The episode begins in Balki and Larryís apartment.  Balki is sitting on the couch, looking exhausted.  Larry is standing nearby, holding a book open in his left hand and a ruler in his right.  "14th President," Larry states.  "Franklin Pierce," Balki answers in a tired voice.  "Term," Larry says, waiting for Balki to answer, but Balkiís eyes are now closed.  "Term!" Larry repeats, and still no answer.  "Balki!" Larry yells, slapping the ruler down hard on his own leg and crying, "Ow!"  Balki looks up at Larry groggily, saying, "Oh, youíre still here.  Cousin, I have to go to bed."  Balki starts to get up but Larry steps forward to stop him.  "Balki, all you have to do is get an ĎAí on your history final and you will graduate high school at the top of your class!"  "Well, thatís very nice, Cousin," Balki agrees, "but you see, weíve been studying for hours and Iím scraping the bottom of my bucket."  "Well, scrape a little deeper!" Larry insists, "Balki, nobody in the family has ever graduated at the top of the class.  I came close!  All I needed was a 96 on my geometry final.  But Mr. Blanchard threw in a trick question and I only got a 94.  I came in second to that little tramp, Becky Jo Quinn."

"Cousin, my history final is in four hours and if I donít get some sleep my brain isnít going to be worth babbasticki," Balki explains, trying again to leave but Larry holds him back.  "Balki, donít you understand?  You could be the first in the family to be a valedictorian!"  "Well, I . . . I donít think so, Cousin," Balki says skeptically, "I enjoy eating meat so much."  "No, no, Balki," Larry explains, "A valedictorian is the person who is number one in his graduating class.  And he gets to make the big speech at the graduation ceremony!"  "I could make a speech?" Balki asks.  "Absolutely!" Larry confirms, "And all we need to do is get 100 on the final tomorrow."  "But Cousin, getting a perfect 100 on the history final is like swimming across Lake Mypos without getting a single leech," Balki says.  "Balki, anything worth doing is going to be hard," Larry states, "Now . . . !"  He pushes Balki back into a sitting position on the couch, then says, "Concentrate!"  Again Larry hits his own leg with the ruler and yells, "Ow!"  Larry takes his place next to the couch and calls out, "15th President!"  "James Buchanan," Balki recites.  "Term!" Larry prompts.  "1857 to 1861," Balki answers.  "Wifeís name!" Larry calls.  "He wasnít married," Balki replies.  "Why not?" Larry asks.  "Who the heck knows?" Balki cries, getting up again, "Cousin, Iím going to bed!"

Balki walks past Larry, who grabs his cousinís arm to turn him around.  "Balki . . . you have the chance to walk into that graduation valedictorian . . . number one . . . numero uno!  Are you going to let a little thing like sleep get in your way?"  "Yes," Balki answers, "Now Cousin, Iím sorry but I am not studying any more tonight and thatís that."  "Oh, thatís that, is it?"  "That is exactly what that is," Balki confirms, "Iím not studying any more tonight!  My brain is exhausted and besides I know everything in the book."  "Oh, you know everything in the book?" Larry asks skeptically.  "Yes, I do!"  "You do?"  "I do!"  "You do?"  "I do!"  "You do?"  "I do!"  "Who was the president of the confederacy?" Larry asks, shoving his face toward Balki.  "Jefferson Davis!" Balki answers, sticking his face back at Larry.  "Who was the vice president of the confederacy?" Larry demands, shoving his face in Balkiís again.  "Alexander Stephens!" Balki answers, shoving his face at Larryís again, then adding, "He was from Georgia!" and shoving his face even closer.  Balki ends by saying, "He weighed under a hundred pounds!" with a further shove of his face.  "Who is the publisher of your history book?" Larry asks.  "Youíre a sick man, Cousin," Balki notes.

"Oh you donít know, do you?  Do you?  Do you?  You donít know!  Well, itís the Warren Weber company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin!"  Larry opens the book cover to show Balki.  "Cousin, my teacherís not going to ask that!" Balki smirks.  "No?" Larry asks incredulously, "and I thought my teacher wasnít going to ask how many pages there were in the textbook.  But he did!  The only person who knew the answer was that little tramp, Becky Jo Quinn.  Now, are you going to be Balki Barotkomous, valedictorian?"  Larry breathes in deeply, puffing out his chest with pride.  Balki mimics him, looking proud.  "Or a nobody?" Larry asks, deflating his chest and looking defeated, with Balki following suit.  "Valedictorian?" Larry repeats, puffing up again with Balki, " . . . or nobody?"  They both look defeated again and Larry shakes his head no, that Balki doesnít want to be a nobody.  They both breath in big again and Balki announces, "All right Cousin, letís go for the mold!"  "Thatís the spirit!" Larry agrees, motioning Balki to sit back on the couch so they can resume Balkiís studying.  Larry opens the book again and reads, "Chapter one . . . . "

The scene fades to the next morning.  Larry is sitting up, asleep, on the couch and Balki is sleeping on the back of the couch.  Larry shifts to his other side, knocking Balki off the back of the couch as he does so.  The sound of Balki falling awakens Larry somewhat and he looks around in confusion then is about to nod off again when his eyes open with a start.  He calls out Balkiís name, then asks, "What time is it?"  "Itís Howdy Doody time," Balki answers sleepily from behind the couch.  Larry looks over the back of the couch and cries out, "Oh my Lord!  We fell asleep!"  He checks his watch in shock.  "Itís ten oíclock!  Balki!"  Larry reaches down and pulls Balki up by his hair, crying, "You history exam!  It started an hour ago!"  "Really?" Balki asks, "How am I doing?"  Larry jumps up and runs around to the back of the couch, picking up Balki over his shoulders and taking him to the door.  "Coats, coats!  Get the coats!  Get the coats!"  Balki grabs their coats from the door rack.  "Door!  Door!  Open the door!" Larry cries and Balki opens the front door.  Larry takes a run at the door as Balki lets out a scream when his head is about to hit the doorway.  Larry stops and turns sideways, carrying Balki through the door.

At Balkiís history class final exam, the teacher writes "Left: 20 minutes" on the blackboard, underlining the 20, then walks back to sit on the front of his desk.  One of the students approaches with his test paper and hands it to the teacher, saying, "Mr. Jones, I finish with the test.  I think youíll enjoy it."  Mr. Jones looks at the paper and notes, "Well, Mr. Fong, you didnít answer the extra credit question.  Itís worth 5 points."  "Oh, I donít need it!" Mr. Fong assures him, handing in his pencil.  "Donít know it, huh?" Mr. Jones asks.  "Uh, that too," Mr. Fong admits.  He walks to the door of the class just as Larry rushes in and bumps into him, turning him around and pushing him into Balki so that both Mr. Fong and Balki end up in the hallway as Larry closes the door.  Larry stands with all eyes on him.  Realizing Balki is not with him, Larry runs back out the door and grabs Balki in the hallway, hurling him into the classroom where Balki rushes to the front and collides with Mr. Jones, knocking the man backwards across his desk with Balki sprawled on top of him.

Mr. Jones and Balki get back up as Larry approaches.  "Mr. Jones, I can explain why Iím late," Balki begins, "You see, I stayed up all night studying and then I fall asleep and then I didnít wake up until this morning when Cousin Larry knocked me off the couch and then . . . I didnít really wake up until he was carrying me down the stairs, knocking my head against the banister with each step.  Just between you and me itís a lucky thing I donít have a percussion."  "Can he still take the test?" Larry asks.  "Well, sure, but Iím afraid he only has twenty minutes to complete it," Mr. Jones says as he hands Balki the test papers and a pencil.  Balki eyes them worriedly, saying, "Twenty minutes?  It would take me twenty minutes just to read this!"  "Donít read it!" Larry urges, "Go on instinct!"  Larry pushes Balki into a seat and stands over him.  "Balki!" he says, pulling Balkiís hair so that Balkiís looking at him, "Listen to me . . . you can do it!"  Balki looks down to start but Larry pulls his head up again to say, "You know the answers!"  Balki looks down and Larry pulls his head up once again, coaching, "But youíre going to have to work fast . . . very fast!"  They both look at the paper when the teacher coughs to get their attention.  "He also has to work alone," Mr. Jones points out. "Iím out of here," Larry promises, turning to leave the classroom and colliding with a chair on the way out, and somehow his foot winds up inside a trash can as he clumps his way out the door, trying to look dignified.

Later when the test is done Mr. Jones is grading Balkiís paper as Balki is standing and looking over the teacherís shoulder.  "Oh good," Balki exclaims, "the seventh President was Andrew Jackson!  I couldn't think whether it was Andrew or Jermaine."  "Uh, Balki, I have to turn these papers in by noon," Mr. Jones explains.  "Oh, okay . . . Iím sorry," Balki apologizes and backs away for a moment, then leans in again.  Mr. Jones ignores this as he continues grading the paper.  Larry is looking through the glass window of the door anxiously awaiting the results as well.  "Well, Balki, congratulations!" Mr. Jones offers, "You got 100!"  "Yes!  Yes!!" Larry cries through the door, trying to open it.  "Cousin, I did it!" Balki cries happily, then notices Larry motioning to unlock the door, which he runs over and does.  Larry rushes into the room and they hug.  "Cousin!  Now we are so happy we do the Dance of Joy!"  They perform the Dance of Joy as Mr. Jones watches.  "Well, you should be happy, Balki," Mr. Jones comments, "finishing second in the class is quite an accomplishment."  "Second?" Balki asks.  "What do you mean second?" Larry asks, approaching the desk, "We got a hundred!  Weíre number one!  Weíre number one!"  "Uh, I donít know what you are," Mr. Jones continues, "but Balki finished second in the class.  You see, Henry Fong also got hundred on the test and his overall average is one point higher than Balkiís."  "Oh . . . oh Cousin, Iím sorry," Balki offers, "I did the best I could.  I only got a hundred."  "Well, a hundred is nothing to be ashamed of," Larry assures him, although he is still obviously disappointed.

They turn to leave when Mr. Jones says, "Oh, wait a second.  You didnít answer the extra credit question."  "I didnít see an extra credit question," Balki says.  "Well, I gave Henry a chance, so Iíll give you a chance to answer it," Mr. Jones says, "I must warn you itís uh . . . kind of a trick question."  "Naturally!" Larry smirks.  "But, if you get it right you will be number one in the class!" Mr. Jones explains, "Okay now . . . who . . . was the publisher of our history book?"  Larry turns to Balki, wide-eyed, crying, "Balki, you know this!"  "Oh, Cousin!" Balki says, "Oh . . . wait a minute, wait a minute . . . oh, I see it . . . I see it . . . itís . . . itís right on the tip of my brain!  Itís . . . coming closer, itís . . . I see it, I see it!  Itís . . . itís . . . gone."  "Well, donít feel bad," Mr. Jones offers, "nobodyís ever gotten one of my extra credit questions."  Balkiís face drops as he sees the disappointment on Larryís face.  "Iím sorry, Cousin," Balki offers as they start to leave, "I let you down.  I should have remembered itís the Warren Weber Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin."  Balki and Larry stop at the door in shock.  Balki look back at Mr. Jones, announcing, "The Warren Weber Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin!"  "He said it, he said it!" Larry cries, rushing back to the desk, "You heard him!  In your face, Becky Jo Quinn!"  Mr. Jones stands up and offers his hand, saying, "Well, congratulations, Balki!  This means that you graduate with the highest average in the class!"  Balki shakes hands with his teacher and smiles, "Oh thank you, Mr. Jones!  Oh, Iím going to be so proud when I get up in front of everybody to make my speech!  Come on, Cousin, I want to go buy an underarm deodorant that wonít fail me."

Balki and Larry start to leave when Mr. Jones asks, "Hold on a minute . . . what speech are you talking about, Balki?"  Larry and Balki return to the desk as Balki answers, "Oh, the speech that I make at the graduation ceremony."  "There is no graduation ceremony," Mr. Jones explains.  "There isnít?" Balki asks with surprise, "Then . . . oh, I make my speech at the prom before all the promming starts?"  "Uh . . . thereís no prom, either," Mr. Jones explains.  "I suppose youíre going to tell me thereís no class picture!" Larry says incredulously.  Mr. Jones shrugs.  "No graduation?  No prom?  No class picture?" Larry asks, "What is this . . . Russia?"  "Itís night school," Mr. Jones explains, "Youíll get your diploma in the mail."  "You mean I donít get to make a speech?" Balki asks.  "Itís a school policy," Mr. Jones says.  "Well, the policy stinks!" Larry complains.  "Oh no, Cousin," Balki assures him, "Itís all right."  Balki turns to the teacher and offers his hand, saying, "Mr. Jones, I really enjoyed having you as a teacher.  Thank you very much."  "Goodbye, Balki, good luck," Mr. Jones offers.  "Bye bye," Balki says and he and Larry turn to leave.  "Iím sorry, Balki," Larry offers, "I had no idea . . . everybody gets a graduation!"  "No, Cousin, itís all right," Balki says, then adds as he fights back tears, "Itís really all right . . . um, but if you donít mind Iím going to walk home . . . I just . . . I want to be alone for just a minute."  Balki walks away sadly.

Larry stands forlornly, then eyes Mr. Jones.  "Itís not fair!" Larry announces, walking to the desk as Mr. Jones packs his briefcase, "He deserves a graduation!  They all do!  Night school students work harder than anyone to get their diplomas.  They didnít do it the easy way like you and I did . . . living at home, going to school during the day, having all night to do homework.  No, no!  They have to go to classes in the evening because they have jobs during the day.  They study whenever they can fine the time . . . on the bus on the way to work, on the weekends.  And what do they get from you?  Youíll get your diploma in the mail . . . can you spare the postage?"  "Uh, listen, uh . . . " Mr. Jones tries to interrupt but Larry continues.  "No, no, no!  Hear me out!  These people earn their diplomas.  If anyone deserves a graduation, they do!  My summer camp had a graduation!  Even dog obedience school has a graduation and all they have to do is learn to go on the paper!  If you have any decency . . . any compassion . . . any sense of justice . . . you will see that these people get their own graduation ceremony!"  Mr. Jones takes this in, then replies, "That was very moving . . . but I donít work here any more.  After I turn these papers in Iím finished for the semester."  Larry loses his stolid demeanor and starts to whimper, "Aw, címon!  Canít you do something?"  "Well, I guess we could go talk to the Principal," Mr. Jones sighs.  "Thank you!  Thank you!" Larry gushes.  "And try not to grovel," Mr. Jones suggests, "Sheíll eat ya alive."

The second act begins at the apartment where we see Larry attempting to dunk a cookie into a cup of milk and eat it.  As is always the case, the soggy end of the cookie drops off into the milk and Larry is left frustrated, throwing down the rest of the cookie angrily.  Balki enters the apartment, saying, "Cousin . . . . " Larry jumps up and runs to meet him, saying, "Balki, I have to talk to you . . . !"  "I have to talk to you, too," Balki says.  "Me first," Larry insists, "I spoke to Mr. Jones and he . . . . "  "Cousin, cousin, please, please!" Balki interrupts, "Look, Iíve been walking around the windy city for two hours feeling sorry for myself and then just before my lips were chapped beyond recognition I say to myself ĎBalki, what the matter with you is?'  Not only did I graduate from high school but thanks to you I graduate number one in my class!"  "Well, wait Ďtil you hear what I have . . . . " Larry tries to interrupt.  "And Cousin, isnít that enough?" Balki continues, "I mean, letís be real!  I didnít know about any graduation ceremony or giving a speech or going to a prom until you told me!  So why . . . why should I feel like my heart has been torn out by the roots?  I am a high school graduate!  I can cope!"

"You mean you really donít care whether you have a graduation ceremony or not?" Larry asks.  "Oh, Cousin, Iím past that!" Balki assures him.  "And giving the valedictory speech means nothing any more?" Larry asks.  "Cousin . . . this is a mature, adult Balki youíre talking to," Balki explains.  "So, if I told you that Mr. Jones and I spoke to your principal and your class is going to have a graduation ceremony you would say . . . ?"  "COWABUNGA!" Balki cries happily, reaching down and picking Larry up onto his shoulders and spinning him around and around, "This is the happiest day of my life!  And you did it!  You did it!"  "Balki!  Balki!" Larry cries, "Balki!  If you donít put me down, thereís something else Iím going to do!"  Balki sets Larry down and Larry stands unsteadily for a moment, leaning on Balki for support.  "Cousin, Iím sorry . . . Iím just, Iím so happy!  I get to have a graduation ceremony!  And I get to give a speech!  I hope my lips heal in time!  Cousin, I canít believe this.  How can I ever thank you?"  "Just give a great speech," Larry says, "If you need any help you can always use the one I wrote but never got to use because of that little tramp, Becky Jo Quinn!"  Balki places a hand on Larryís neck and says gently, "Cousin . . . youíre going to have to let that go."

The next scene takes place at Balkiís school a night.  One of the classrooms has been arranged with folding chairs facing a podium with more chairs set up at the front of the room for the graduating class.  Lydia, Jennifer, Mary Anne and Harriette are standing in the middle of the room, talking.  "Graduation!" Lydia sighs, "Boy, does this bring back memories!  You know, I was voted most likely to succeed."  "Well, we all have our little disappointments!" Harriette comments snidely.  "Larryís such a sweet guy to go to all this trouble for Balki," Jennifer notes.  "Iím so excited!" Lydia adds, "I have never known anyone whoís graduated first in their class."  Mr. Jones and Larry enter, Mr. Jones carrying the rolled diplomas and Larry a boom box.  "Weíve got to move this along," Mr. Jones warns, "Traffic school meets here in an hour."  "Itís time!" Larry announces, "Letís take our seats!"

Everyone sits down in the chairs and Larry presses the play button on the boom box, starting the song Pomp and Circumstance.  The night school students enter single file in their cap and gowns, Balki leading the group with his valedictorian honor cords around his neck.  They take their seats at the front of the classroom.  "What a coincidence!" Mary Anne comments to Lydia about the song, "They played that at my graduation!"  Larry turns off the music and Mr. Jones begins.  "I want to thank you all for coming.  Before I hand out the diplomas, weíll hear from our valedictorian, Mr. Balki Bartokomous."  Everyone applauds as Balki gets up and stands at the podium, removing his cap before beginning.  "Thank you. Iím a little nervous.  The last time I spoke to a group this size they were grazing on a hillside.  I . . . I donít know how to make a speech but I can tell you what I feel.  Right now, Iím so happy that itís like skyrockets are going off inside my heart.  There goes one now!  You know, just a short while ago I was tending sheep on the hillsides of Mypos and my only possessions were the bearwood staff that my grandfather give me and my heavy wool blanket to keep out the cold and, and of course, my Sony walkman.  I didnít even know what a valedictorian was and now . . . I am one!

"I keep thinking any minute somebodyís going to walk through the door and say ĎHey you!  What you think youíre doing?  You think you really get to live in this nice place and have a nice job and have wonderful friends and get an education?  Get real, farm boy!í  But . . . it is real!  I live in America!  I have a job!  I . . . I get to pay taxes!  I even have a Visa card with a two hundred dollar limit!  And in just a minute Iím going to have a high school diploma.  Thatís really something special.  I think that my fellow graduates and I are going to make you very proud.  We have a big curiosity to learn things and a big feeling of how lucky we are to live in America and a big wish that we can make America as happy as America makes us."  Balki pauses, putting his hand on his heart, then looks at it.  "Thatís all thatís in there.  Iím finished now."  Everyone applauds and stands as Mr. Jones gives Balki his high school diploma.

A while later we see Larry and Balki in the hallway outside their apartment, Balki carrying his cap, gown and diploma.  "Cousin, I donít understand," Balki says, "the school is only a mile from here.  Weíve been driving around for an hour!"  Larry unlocks the door and replies, "Balki, itís tradition.  You graduate and you drive to Evanston.  Everybody does it."  Larry gives Balki a smile and opens the door.  Balki follows Larry into the apartment to find the living room cleared and full of nicely dressed friends.  A mirror ball spins from the roof, casting dots of light around the darkened room.  The "Theme from a Summer Place" is playing.  A banner reading "Congratulations Night School Grads" hangs on the back wall.  Balki stares in shock, as Larry says, "Welcome to your prom!"  Balki hugs Larry tightly, then moves to hug Harriette, who congratulates him warmly.  Balki then hugs Lydia and next Jennifer, who takes the cap and diploma from him as Mary Anne approaches.  "May I have this dance?" she asks.  Balki nods and Mary Anne leads him to the middle of the room where they begin to slow dance.  Larry motions to Jennifer that they join the couple on the dance floor and they step out to dance as well.  Other couples slowly join them as the camera pans back and out through the window.

Continue on to the next episode . . .