BECAUSE THEY'RE COUSINS

Have you ever had a time while watching television when you find yourself asking, "How did they do that?"  Although the budgeting of television usually allows for less than spectacular special effects, once in a while something will cross your screen that dazzles you.  Sitcoms are not particularly noted for these moments, but there's always exceptions!  And being at the filming of such an episode can certainly help to shed light on some of the inside secrets of Hollywood!

It was almost six o'clock on November 16th, 1989, and a majority of the audience was seated and anxiously waiting.  It felt strange because the show normally starts filming at 7:30, but this episode would start early, and we would soon find out why.  Robert G. Lee was busy warming up the audience, and soon announced it was time for the introduction of the cast.

The music came up, the cast was announced, and one by one they came out and bowed to the audience.  Last to be called, as always (and always together) were Bronson and Mark, who came from behind the partition, bowed, and exited, then re-entered.  The audience continued to applaud as the music ended, and Bronson was handed a microphone.  He motioned for the audience to settle, which it did.  "We're not that desperate for applause!" he laughed.  "I have something to show you, and I'm not sure how to go about it."  Mark jokingly motioned not to, but finally Bronson said, "I guess I'll just have to show you."  He turned to look behind the partition and called "Justin?  Could you come out here?"

The audience let out gasps of amazement as a man walked out and stood next to Bronson.  He was dressed as Balki, and looked almost exactly like Bronson!  It was definitely an eerie feeling, seeing them both standing there!

"This is my brother, Justin," Bronson explained.  We were then told that Justin was going to be playing the parts opposite Bronson so his back could be used in the filming, and also so Bronson would know where to react when they filmed his opposing roles.  They went back behind the partitions, which were finally rolled away, and the filming began.

Both Bronson and Justin performed as Balki and Bartok during the course of the filming.  Even though none of his speaking performance was used in the final episode, Justin did an excellent job of remembering his lines (he didn't make any mistakes!), mimicking Balki's speech and mannerisms, and hitting his mark!

It was explained to the audience during the filming how the special effects were going to be done.  On the third set was a large green screen, and a technique called chroma keying (or blue-screening) would be used.  Bronson would stand in front of the green screen and be filmed reacting to the other characters in the scene, then be superimposed into the scene.  Blue-screening has been used on the show before (most obviously in both the skiing and river rafting episodes) but the special technique used this time would allow Bronson to see the scene as he acted for it and also allowed for more interesting interaction between the characters (as when Bartok actually crosses in front of both Balki and Larry in one shot . . . in the old split-screen method used in the past for such effects this could not be done very easily or realistically).  None of this was done in front of the audience (it simply takes too much time for an audience to endure), but the results were highly impressive!

With Justin and Bronson covering both characters, the audience was able to easily follow the plot and enjoy the character of "Bart," which went over very well (especially in California!).

While filming the party scene, they had it set up where Bronson was Balki (behind the counter) and Justin was Bartok (on the other side of the room).  Director Joel Zwick called, "Action!" and Bronson delivered his first line, then stopped and looked at the crew.  "You know," he said, "The thing is . . . I really have to blow my nose."  Belita Moreno offered him a handy dishrag, but they brought him a handkerchief, then had to redo his nose make-up before the scene could continue.

Another funny moment was at the end of the scene where Larry is trying to tell Balki about Bart.  At the end of the scene, Larry says, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it's a duck!" and this completely baffles Balki, who walks away.  Larry's last line (which was cut from the show) was "I should never use metaphors."  Then Mark looked up at the camera very matter-of-factly and calmly stated, "And neither should you kids at home."

At the end of the show they came out to answer questions, and when asked if he were thinking of pursuing a career in acting, Justin replied, "I'm looking for an agent for the back of my head!"  That's about all you see of Justin in the final product!  Every time there's an over-the-shoulder shot of both characters (when they're hugging, etc.) the back to you is Justin's.  And if he looks vaguely familiar, you may have recognized that head from the Pepsi commercials, where he also played Bronson's double!  It was a great filming!

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