New York Daily News
March 25, 1986

A Chaotic Clash of Cultures
by Kay Gardella

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.

Appealing characters

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 tube."

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.