The Hollywood Reporter
March 28, 1986

by Richard Hack

Passing in Review: "Perfect Strangers" (Tuesday, 8:30 - 9 p.m., ABC).  Only in America!  Where else could a lowly sheepherder from a small Mediterranean island travel thousands of miles and locate his fifth cousin, three times removed, who's a step-uncle to a would-be photojournalist in Chicago?  But, of course, this is the USA on an ABC Tuesday night, so such things happen with lots of laughs but without a blink.  Bronson Pinchot (of "Beverly Hills Cop" fame) plays Balki Bartokomous, who arrives one day into the life of Mark Linn-Baker.  Baker plays Larry Appleton, an OK sorta guy away from his family of eight brothers and sisters for the first time on his own.  But not for long.  Before you can say Balki Bartokomous, the naive herder has set up housekeeping with his reluctant cousin, and begun to experience the fruits of America, "land of (his) dreams and Home of the Whopper."  Or as Balki says, "Isn't this just like America -- another happy ending."

Much as the unique comedy of Robin Williams was custom-crafted to create "Mork and Mindy" several years back, so too are Pinchot's talents made-to-order for "Perfect Strangers."  His charming accent, watermelon smile and undefeatable energy for life makes this new comedy from Miller-Boyett Prods., in association with Lorimar Prods. Inc., a welcome addition to the ABC comedy lineup.  The chemistry created between Pinchot and Linn-Baker goes beyond performance as Bartokomous marvels at all the joys that the "land of opportunity" has to offer.  Color TV, potato chips and two-two-two-mints-in-one all hold a special place in our hearts as Balki quickly reminds us with his excitement.  Dale K. McRaven (who is co-executive producer along with Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett) wrote the opening night script which establishes both the set-up and the relationship, while director Joel Zwick is wise enough to let his performers beguile each other and the viewer as well.  Supplying healthy supports are Ernie Sabella as Twinkie Twinkacetti, the owner of the secondhand shop where both guys end up working and Lise Cutter as their neighbor Susan -- a girl for whom Balki wants to be a slave for life ("Just let me kiss your painted toes.")  Following the hit comedy "Who's the Boss" for a six-week run should get an ample sampling to ensure it a guarantee pickup for the fall.  There's only one problem that's faced by supervising producers Michael [Warren and William Bickley, as well as] line producer Jim O'Keefe and producers Chip Keyes and Doug Keyes: How to explain a title like "Perfect Strangers" after this show becomes the long-running hit it's destined to be?  After only the first half hour, Balki and Larry are like family to each [other] -- and to us.  "Strangers?"  Well, only in America.