PIPE DREAMS

Once in a great while, maybe only once in a lifetime, you may attend a great event where you know you are witnessing history in the making.  For instance, you might be lucky enough to actually be in the stadium when your favorite team plays in the Superbowl or the World Series.  Just when you think it can't get any better, your team wins!  Such special moments don't come along very often, but when they do you feel fortunate to have been part of it.  And that's what happened one night when a studio audience in Culver City knew it was watching the making of a classic!

December 22, 1987 was a brisk, chilly day in Culver City.  The sidewalk alongside the huge walls of the Lorimar studios on the Washington Blvd. side were lined with anxious people waiting to see the filming of a television show.  Eagerly waiting at the end of a long line we chatted with the people around us.  The night was just beginning to fall as we were taken inside and seated.

It was just before Christmas, and the audience was filled to capacity.  Since production on the show started so much earlier in 1987 (to be prepared for a possible strike) this would be the last show filmed for the season.

The warm up comedian was in excellent form, getting us in the mood for a fun evening.  Finally the cast made their curtain calls, the apartment set was exposed and the filming began.

The first scene went very steadily, setting up the plot for the entire show.  Jennifer and Mary Anne have a flight to Paris, and Jennifer asks Larry if he will call the plumber to confirm an appointment to come out and put a new shower head on her shower.  After the girls leave, Larry promptly calls and cancels the appointment, informing the Pipe Dreams Plumbing people he will be doing the job himself.  And "No, you may not invite all your friends over to watch!"

The newspaper set was not used in this episode, but the third set was revealed and we could see the girls' bathroom, intact.  The second scene was filmed here.  And that's when things started to get a bit silly.

Mark hooked the wrench to the pipe and went through his dangling routine, then Bronson walked in and said, "Cousin, can I get you anything?  A towel, a . . . a towel?  What am I talking about?" and promptly walked out.  (He was supposed to say "a tool" instead).

Little mistakes and forgotten lines seemed to plague this scene.  They filmed it once, then went through it again.  It was during the second take that the funniest moment happened.

Mark and Bronson were repeating the scene.  The audience was laughing as much (if not more) than before.  Suddenly there was a pause.  It was Bronson's line, and he seemed to have lost it.  The set grew completely silent.  If Bronson could remember the line in a moment or two, he could continue the scene and the editor would easily put it together.  Mark stays totally still, holding onto the wrench with both hands, looking at Bronson over his shoulder.  It's as if the entire crew and audience were trying to feed Bronson his line telepathically.  The tension was almost unbearable as everyone silently rooted for him to get a hold of that next line!

The moment grew far too long.  Finally, very softly, Bronson started singing, "We were sailing along . . . "  Mark completely lost his composure and burst out laughing.  Director Joel Zwick yelled cut in exasperation and walked onto the set to give the guys a friendly good talking to.

When they resumed filming, the scene went smoothly.  The part in which Larry tells Balki, "I'll hold the wrench.  You have the hammer.  When I nod my head you hit it!" got so much laughter from the audience it almost threw the actors' timing off.  The audience easily laughed at least twice as long as was used in the final episode that aired!

If you've ever attended a TV taping, you may have seen monitors hanging over the audience so you could see what the cameras were taping and get closer to the action.  Since Perfect Strangers is done on film, there is no video signal to monitor.  But as a courtesy to the audience, monitors were installed and an individual cameraman armed with a video camera fed a separate signal to them so people sitting on the far side of the audience could see what was going on when scenes were being filmed on a far-away set.  (Nowadays the video camera is mounted on Camera B, which usually covers the medium shots anyway).

When a scene is very detailed or requires a lot of special effects, it is not filmed in front of an audience.  At this point in the show, the comedian explained that the next scene was filmed the day before, and the editors had been busily putting together a rough cut of it to show us.  Bronson and Mark climbed over the railing and sat on the steps in the audience to watch the scene, which they hadn't seen themselves yet!  The lights went down and the now-famous shower scene was shown over the studio monitors.

Needless to say, the audience went wild.  The choreography of that scene, and the expressions on Balki and Larry's faces just made it so classic!  The applause was deafening after the scene ended, and it was apparent from Bronson and Mark's faces that they were very proud of what they saw.  They returned to the set for the filming of the last scene.

More often than not, more is filmed than ever used in an episode.  We hope to share some of those lost jokes and scenes with you in this section.  One line cut from this episode happened when Balki and Larry were sitting in the demolished bathroom before any water actually started spraying, and Balki asked Larry if he thought the girls would notice their bathroom tile was blue instead of green.  Larry assured him they would not.  This would explain Mary Anne's line later in the show when she states "I could've sworn when we left, our bathroom tile was green and now it's blue."

The last scene in the apartment was filmed in front of the audience, and so we got to watch Balki and Larry, along with Jennifer and Mary Anne, get doused with water!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect show!

When the cast came out to answer questions, the guys were still very wet and in robes, yet they enthusiastically answered many questions until it was time for them to go.  The show was considered to be so good that ABC first aired it on March 4, 1988; the night Perfect Strangers made its big leap from Wednesday to Friday night.  It is often mentioned as a favorite episode by both the fans and the people on the show.  And it not only stands out as a great Perfect Strangers episode, but one of the funniest sitcom episodes ever.  Pretty good for not knowing Bo-Diddley about plumbing, huh?

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