WILD TURKEY

If you're fortunate enough to attend the filming of your favorite television show, you might be surprised to see how the cast and crew get around certain problems in filming.  For instance, what so you do when you've written a script where the cast interacts with several live turkeys and it turns out one of the stars of the show is allergic to turkeys?

An enthusiastic crowd cheered when the cast of Perfect Strangers was introduced on September 27, 1991.  Several girls yelled out "Balki!" during the intros, something which [warm up] comedian Robert Lee teased them about until the show began filming.

During the first scene, Bronson had a little trouble getting the frozen turkey to stay where he wanted.  He walked into the scene and threw the turkey on the counter, and it promptly rolled off.  They started the scene again, and once again Bronson's toss overshot the counter and the turkey fell on the floor.  The same thing happened the third time!  Finally Bronson managed to toss the turkey onto the counter without having it roll off on the other side.

Between scenes, Robert explained that Bronson was suffering from early flu symptoms and was particularly sensitive to the dandruff on the turkeys.  Instead of using live turkeys during this filming, they would just pretend the turkeys were there.  This way the reaction shots and close ups could be used and the scenes with the turkeys could be filmed later.

As the next scene began, Mary Anne "supposedly" let some turkeys in, and Bronson and Mark raced into the kitchen chasing after the pretend turkeys.  It was pretty funny watching them race around after nothing.  This included catching and carrying the invisible turkeys outside.  Mark mugged at the camera as he did so.

During the next scene, when Balki is supposed to be holding a turkey while Larry runs a metal detector over it, they used a stand-in . . . a teddy bear!  Before they started filming, Bronson placed the teddy bear's head in the clapboard (note: no teddy bears were hurt during the filming of this episode!).  At the end of the scene, they filmed a short segment where the kitchen door is being pummeled by turkeys from the opposite side.  Property master, Dominic Belmonte, crouched down behind the door and did the pummeling!  This shot was not used in the final cut, however.

A common occurrence at PS filmings were the t-shirt giveaways.  Robert Lee would bring four or five people down from the audience to either give an excuse why they should win a PS shirt or show off a special talent for a shirt.  On this night something happened which never had before.  All five people who got up won t-shirts!

When the next scene began filming, the sound wasn't reaching the studio audience, so filming stopped briefly as the speakers in the audience were turned on.  After they fixed the problem, Mark made sure by yelling out to the audience, "Can you hear this?"

During the scene in which Larry is harassing the neighbors during their Thanksgiving dinner, Mark was particularly crazy.  He kept going over the top with the yelling, ranting and raving.  At one point he yelled out, "What the hell is the matter with you?", which got the little girl sitting next to him laughing.  He patted her shoulder and laughed, too.  It was a charged scene in which everyone put in first-rate, energetic performances!

After the episode the actors did not come out to do questions and answers, probably because of Bronson's flu symptoms.  But, as a true showbiz trooper, the show had gone on!

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