CAR WARS
This On the Scene . . . report was written by Cousins Carol and Cindy for
P.S. I Love You!, but was never published . . . . until now!

Isn't it exciting when you remember the feeling you had when you sat down in front of your television and saw your first episode of Perfect Strangers?  Or, even more so, how you felt when you attended your first filming?  And that first time for us was . . .

March 7, 1989.  Bus loads of people are arriving and long lines are forming outside Lorimar Studios to see the 68th filming of Perfect Strangers.  Everything was running on time, so we were ushered into the studio at 7:00.  As the cast is introduced, Mark and Bronson do the Dance of Joy and the fun begins.

The first scene begins with Balki proclaiming that he's going to buy a used car from "Honest Achmed's Used Car Caravan."  Cousin Larry is trying to convince Balki to use the Appleton Used Car Rating System by saying "Let's look into the future . . . "  A coincidence here: the last time Larry used this tactic was when he wanted to buy his dream car, a '62 Austin Healy 3000 Mark II . . .

While entering the garage for the first time, Larry points out Balki's new car.  Balki, looking at the wrong car, is noting the many fine features -- including the boom microphone shadow that has accidentally fallen on the car!  Director Joel Zwick yells "Cut!" and the boys proceed back into the elevator to film the scene over again.

One very funny scene which was edited from the final cut was when Larry tried to persuade Balki into repairing the old, ugly car that Larry had bought.  Larry cunningly compares the red, shiny sports car to a fling while he addresses the old car and asks Balki, "You wouldn't turn your back on a real friend?"  Balki, close to tears, finally relents and helps his Cousin repair his "friend in need."

When Larry and Balki start to fix the car, they need to test the battery.  Finding no charge, Balki says, "Mr. Wizard once said that electricity won't flow unless there is a complete circuit.  I wonder what he meant by that?" as he puts his arm around Larry immediately electrocuting themselves.  The entire audience was convulsed with laughter which lasted much longer than what was aired.  One aspect of Perfect Strangers that we can appreciate is that they, unlike some shows, do not require prompters for the audience to know when to laugh.

After the take, Bronson and Mark slapped each other on the back showing how proud they were of their work.  No second take was needed.  Too bad!  It would have been fun to see it filmed again.  However, Mark was probably vry happy that he had the oil (or was it chocolate syrup?!) poured on his face just once.

Mark and Bronson seem to have a lot of fun between takes.  For instance, when they were sitting in the car together, Bronson, in a playful Balki style, took his finger and poked Mark in the stomach.  No reaction from Mark.  So Bronson did it again.  Still no reaction.  Again Bronson poked Mark in the stomach and suddenly up comes Mark's hand and whacks the back of Bronson's head.  They think this is so much fun, they continue to do it over and over again like two little kids.  Poke, whack, poke, whack, poke, whack . . . .

One interesting technical point of this particular show was the use of slow motion when Balki backed the car into the wall.  Joel Zwick must not have been pleased with the first take because the wall had to be rebuilt for a second crash.

Even though Bronson and Mark had to shower before they could complete the final scene (which we did not get to see) they still answered questions from the audience.  One girl asked if either of them were married or had a girlfriend.  Mark replied, "Yes, I'm married and . . . I have a girlfriend."  The audience got a kick out of that one.  Another woman remarked on how Balki and Larry were such good friends.  Were Bronson and Mark also good friends?  Bronson, with a big, friendly smile on his face, put his arm around Mark while Mark stoically said, "No."  Bronson literally fell down on the floor laughing!

Another show under the belt makes another Friday night worth staying home for!