August 6 - 12, 1989
Strangers' gets new time-slot,
spin-off as a lead-in
Bee broadcast writer
too many 5-year-olds are ready to have their own kids, but in the world of
television, most anything is possible.
"Perfect Strangers" starts its fifth season on ABC next month in a new
time slot and with its very own spinoff as a lead-in.
Strangers" moved to its new 9 p.m. Friday place in Channel 30's lineup last
week. ABC wants people used to seeing the show there when the new season
begins to attract viewers to the revamped Friday schedule.
Strangers" has had little trouble generating time-period-winning numbers
(last season against "Beauty and the Beast" on CBS and against an
ever-changing NBC lineup.)
o'clock, "Perfect Strangers" moves out of the traditional family hour
(8-9) and into an area where presumably more adult themes can be explored in a
show that has been maturing since its innception.
Strangers" began as a cartoonish cliche-filled story about Balki
Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) emigrating to Chicago. Balki was a goat
herder from the tiny Mediterranean island of Mypos.
settled with his cousin, Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker), who was an up and
coming photojournalist, who agreed to teach his cousin the fine points of
getting along in America.
comedy during the first few seasons came from the unrelenting conflict generated
by Balki's naivete and the cousins' romantic entanglements with a pair of flight
attendants, one as solid as Larry and the other as off-the-wall as Balki.
after three years of situations that were mostly focused on Balki's naivete
about American ways, the show focused more on the assimilating side of Balki.
then Larry was an investigative reporter at a newspaper and Balki was ensconced
in the mail room. That gave the show more to do, more areas to explore and
more characters to play with.
character who emerged was the acid-tongued elevator operator Harriette Winslow (JoMarie
Payton-France). Her scenes with the two and with others along the way were
impressive enough that her character won't be around much on "Perfect
Strangers" this fifth season.
she'll have a show of her own (with the help of a talented, funny cast),
"Family Matters," which ABC will run at 8:30 p.m. Fridays.
pilot for the show had the texture of a time-period perfect sitcom about a black
family in Chicago. It makes no point about race (a refreshing change from
most other shows in which black characters are leads), sticking instead to funny
situations that could affect any urban family.
VelJohnson, the police sergeant in the movie "Die Hard," plays a cop
again "Family Matters." (sic) He and Payton-France preside over
a family that includes their young children (Darius McCrary and Kellie Shanygne
Williams); her widowed sister (Thelma Hopkins), who has an infant son; and his
mother (Rosetta Le Noire).
comedy comes from the relationships among the group. There are several
friction points from the in-law relationships, especially that surrounding
Hopkins' character, who has been forced to live with her sister as she tries to
write a novel and raise her baby.
the recent TV Critics Association fall preview tour in Los Angeles, there were
suggestions that this was a kind of "All in the Family" for the 1990s.
the new show isn't is like other consciously black comedies of a decade ago:
"The Jeffersons" and "Good Times," as examples.
Payton-France told critics those shows had "too much
exaggeration." However, she added, "They did break ground, so we
have to give credit where credit is due."
don't think they did any real damage," said Hopkins of the old shows.
"Those of us who would like to do things differently would just hope that
when it's out (sic) turn we can maybe take those points that . . . we may not
have agreed with and do something about changing that."
wouldn't be up here today if it wasn't for those shows," VelJohnson said.
"Family Matters" will try to be, Payton-France told the critics, will
be a broad-based sitcom that is evocative (sic) of all working families and
promotes strong family values.
going to be right in the middle of the whole scope of what's happening in the
world situation," she said.
added, "I hope it will help all families. I hope that we will be an
example, not only to the viewing audience in the United States, but the viewing
audience in the world."