York Daily News
March 25, 1986
Chaotic Clash of Cultures
An off-the-wall comedy, "Perfect
Strangers," steps into the slot temporarily vacated by "Growing
Pains" tonight (Ch. 7, 8:30 - 9). Judging from its premiere, the ABC
show won't be a stranger for long.
Bronson Pinchot, a hilarious standout in
"Beverly Hills Cop," is cast as Balki Bartokomous, an immigrant from
an unidentified Mediterranean island country. One day, he bursts into the
Chicago apartment of Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker), whom Balki insists is a
distant relative -- so distant, in fact, it's hard to make the connection.
Appleton has just settled into his first
bachelor pad, having recently arrived in the city from a small Midwestern town
for his first full-time job, working in a small discount store. Of course,
Larry doesn't know Balki from Adam. The young immigrant, dressed like a
peasant and carrying his belonging in a basket, has come to America -- the land
of his dreams.
Both characters have tremendous
appeal. "You have no idea how many people don't know
you," says Balki to Larry in a thick accent that could be from
anywhere. He's amazed when he sees pink lemonade, and despite his naivete,
he tries to pretend he's hip and knows more than he does. His favorite
response is "Don't be ridiculous."
You could call him a quick study, but he
gets things only half right. When he's asked if he can fix a problem in a
radio, he replies, "Of course I can. It's probably in the picture
Larry, who explains that he's from a large
family, tells Balki: "I want to live alone." "Don't worry
about me," replies the devastated immigrant with a stiff upper lip, as he
prepares to leave, "I know where I'm going."
"Where are you going?" asks
Larry with concern. "I don't know," says Balki.
Appleton's girlfriend, Susan Campbell, is
fetchingly played by Lise Cutter. When Balki sees her, he declares,
"I can die happy now." When he can't find ads in the classified
for shepherds -- his family's occupation for generations -- he goes to work with
Larry, whose boss is a portly, no-nonsense, profit-hungry type named Donald
"Twinkie" Twinkacetti (Ernie Sabella).
Here, the real fun begins. Left on
his own, Balki is ordered to stand in one place and not move. "You're
not exactly pushing me to my outer limits," he responds, remaining
motionless just as a buyer comes in seeking a chair. Balki tells him to
look at the price tag. Sensing he has a rookie on his hands, the fellow
says, "You don't go by the price tag. You negotiate."
Later, when Larry is shocked to find his pal has sold a $125 item for $45, Balki
tells him: "Don't be ridiculous. You don't go by the price tag."
While we're not comparing it to "Mork
& Mindy," it does have the same offbeat, refreshing impact of the
earlier ABC series. The two headliners work well together, and since both
are likeable, one would easily consider visiting them again.
The script is by co-executive producer
Dale K. McRaven, who created and produced "Mork & Mindy" (Robin
Williams, Pam Dawber) and "Angie," starring Donna Pescow. The
other executive producers, Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, held the same
positions on "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," Bosom
Buddies" and NBC's new hit, "Valerie." Director Joel Zwick
has a nice feel for comedy. The show is definitely worth a try.