A HORSE IS A HORSE

There's an old Hollywood saying . . . "Never work with children or animals."   This season Perfect Strangers has worked with both!  A good episode of any series should appear almost effortless . . . by the time it reaches your television screen it should flow seamlessly.  The experts in their field make it look so easy!  But when it comes to working with animals a lot of love and dedication is put in behind the scenes and to watch it come together is just fantastic! 

August 15, 1990 was an overcast day in Culver City.  As the audience made their way to the set of Perfect Strangers we could see a horse trailer parked outside with "Lancaster Lane Ranch" written on the side.  Obviously the horse track sets we saw being built the week before would be used this time around.

Once inside, Robert G. Lee, warm-up comedian extraordinaire, keeps us entertained and points out that Darius McCrary, Eddie Winslow on Family Matters, is sitting in the audience!  At eleven minutes past seven the cast is introduced and by 7:17 p.m. the filming is underway.

The first scene was filmed once straight through.  The camera reset (changed position in preparation for someone's entrance or exit) after Gorpley's exit.  The U Can't Touch This number was performed in its entirety and received a great reaction from the audience!  After this scene was finished they went back and did it again from after the dance but had to stop filming when one of the film magazines turned out to be bad.  After reloading the camera the scene was filmed straight through again with Bronson only stumbling slightly on one line but repeating the line and continuing.

The race track bleachers were set up to the right of the apartment set and filled with extras to play spectators.  They took different parts of this scene about three times, capturing different angles and reaction shots of the cast members and background people.  One thing they did cut out of this scene was Jennifer stomping off after Larry lost their honeymoon money, which is the real reason why Larry turned to Balki with that horrified "I lost big!"

The next scene was the first one with special guest star Don the Horse.  When they started filming the director had to stop the action for some reason and someone's reaction to the sudden cut caused the horse to pull back, hitting his head on the top of the stable beam.  Fortunately Don was not hurt and filming was soon continued.

During the scene where Don was first in the apartment and Larry sleepily stumbles out of his room to get a drink, the horse had his head hanging down and the director asked, "Could you pick up the horse's head, please?"  As if on cue, Don immediately raised his head, which brought about a round of applause from the impressed audience.  After Mark performed a perfect spit-take the floor was cleaned up to do a pick up and as they started filming Don unintentionally padded his part by dropping several road apples onto the living room floor set, at which the audience died of laughter.  Mark coolly ignored the laughter, continuing with his part until the director yelled cut and he could finally walk over and see what the big joke was.  The set was quickly cleaned up as the next scene began.

Before the next scene began filming, Bronson was waiting outside the front door, which he would walk through on cue.  He was peeking through the door, then called to a woman on the set named Joy and asked her to follow him.  They both disappeared behind the door and after a few minutes, when the director was calling for everyone to settle, the door opened and Bronson and Joy were acting like they were kissing passionately.  "I'm ready now!" Bronson announced with a satisfied sigh.  They filmed the entire scene without a hitch, then went back to pick it up again.  This time Bronson appeared through the door before filming with three women who scurried away as he gave an elated sigh.  The entire scene was filmed again from the top.

As the next scene was prepared, the partitions were placed in front of the set so we couldn't see what was being set up.  When they were finally pulled away the audience could see Don the Horse was now sitting upon the couch!  This scene was filmed once straight through without a problem.  As they set it up again and a new carrot cake was brought out, Bronson wandered about munching on a piece.  By this time some of the audience members who had come in a bus group had to leave and as Bronson saw their mass exodus he let out a mumbled "Oh my God!"  Some of the girls in the audience began to shout out about wanting some carrot cake, so Bronson got some pieces and began handing them up to the audience members!  They started the scene again before realizing the medicine jug had been left in the wrong place and had to start again.  When the scene started again, Don the Horse kept pushing his nose into the bucket when he wasn't supposed to and Mark tried to keep it away from him.  Don then nipped at Mark's arm when he couldn't get at the bucket.  The scene was finally completed.

Once again the partitions were placed in front of the set to keep us from seeing the set up for the next scene.  When they were pulled away, Don was lying on the floor and the filming started right away.  As Balki started to get up to talk with Larry in the kitchen, the horse got up, too.  "Oh, he's better!" Bronson announced.  They tried this again and again, but each time the horse would get up when Bronson did.  They finally solved the problem by having Bronson get up very slowly.  But they had the same problem when they have to come running back in with the parsley.  The horse would react to the fast movement by trying to get up or rear his head.  Then when they ran back to try again, Bronson ran to get the parsley before realizing he already had it in his hand from the last take!  The crew finally had to pull the partitions over to get the horse to lie down again and after several tries they learned to move slowly into the scene and the shot was successful.

It was finally time to shoot the last scene and at the end of the first take Mark went nuts with the crying and sobbing as they walked up the stairs (this was cut from the show that aired), crumbling and ending up on his knees.  During a pickup, they are supposedly watching the race as the announcer explains the action.  Miles (Kristman) held up two fingers and walked in front of the set to give the actors' eyes something to follow.  At the end of the race, the announcer didn't say who'd won and as the cast waited for the final result, Mark finally shouted "I guess we won!" and everyone proceeded to go crazy and cheer as if they had!  Before the last retake, Bronson leaned over to tickle the clapboard lady with the telescope he was holding.  A few moments was taken out to get the extras to cheer for a wild track and then the filming was done!

The cast came out to answer a few questions afterward and one person asked how they'd gotten on the show.  Bronson answered "They asked me after seeing Beverly Hills Cop" and Mark answered "They asked me after asking him after seeing Beverly Hills Cop!"

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