Hamilton Spectator TV Times
June 13 - 20, 1987

These Guys are a 'Perfect' Match
Written by: Eric Kohanik

HOLLYWOOD - Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker have got what folks in "the biz" like to call "chemistry."

The actors co-star in Perfect Strangers (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., Ch. 7, 11, 24), a situation comedy revolving around a former Mediterranean shepherd named Balki (Pinchot) who has moved in with Larry, his American cousin (Linn-Baker).

The naive-immigrant premise is reminiscent of past shows, including the old Mork & Mindy series.  (In fact, some of Balki's innocent observations of North American lifestyles seem to echo Robin Williams' comical views as Mork.)

Perfect Strangers was introduced last year as a limited-run spring series.  Critical and audience response to the initial six episodes were strong enough to convince ABC to bring the show back as a regular series in the fall.

"I was surprised it did as well as it did as fast as it did," admits Pinchot.  "But I was expecting it to do pretty well because I liked it."

Pinchot says he suspects that one of the reasons for the show's success is that it is simple entertainment -- comedy with no message.

"When I first started to read the scripts, the thing I liked about it is that it skipped over all the topical stuff," he says.  "It's just pure comedy."

Pinchot and Linn-Baker both studied drama at Yale University, although neither new the other until later.  Linn-Baker's work in commercials and New York theatre led to guest spots on several TV series and a starring movie role opposite Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year.

 Pinchot, meanwhile, made his movie debut in Risky Business.  He didn't gain widespread recognition, though, until his brief but hilarious appearance as Serge, the odd art-gallery clerk in Beverly Hills Cop.  It was that performance that attracted producers when it came time to cast the character of Balki.

Pinchot says he was concerned at first about doing another character with a foreign accent.  "But, over the course of a few months," he explains, "it clicked that the major thing about this character is his way of looking at the world, and not his way of talking."

Linn-Baker is quick to agree.  "This show is a combination, so I think we have it both ways," he says.  "It's a completely innocent, admiring viewpoint from a foreigner who has come here and just thinks everything is wonderful.  And it's also a little more realistic viewpoint from somebody who lives here who has doubts about whether the way things work here are completely right or correct or just.  So I think we get a balanced view of that."

Pinchot admits he bears certain similarities to Balki's character.  "I'm incredibly impulsive," he explains.  "And I'm very gullible and I'm very apt to do rather uninhibited physical things.  And I'm very curious about the world.

"I think the main thing that I do when I play the character is that I just try to lift all of the adult, urban, tense, mindful things off and just be like a complete kid."