New York Daily News
July 14, 1986

'Perfect Strangers' Familiar Hit
Spring tryout bounces onto ABC's fall lineup

by Kay Gardella

In TV terms, Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot are certainly not strangers, at least not to the viewing audience.

The two young men are the co-stars of ABC's "Perfect Strangers," which almost overnight became the hit comedy of last season.  Although it ran for only six weeks in the spring, Nielsen ranked the show 11th for the season.  This fall, the series -- about a Mediterranean immigrant who barges in on his distant relative in Chicago -- goes full-time into the ABC schedule, airing Wednesday nights at 8.

Although they're now part of a confirmed hit, and cabbies now ask Linn-Baker, who plays Larry Appleton, "Where's Balki?", they're both well aware that he vicissitudes of TV fortune depend a great deal on the competition, and theirs is formidable: NBC's "Highway to Heaven," and CBS' new sitcom, "Together We Stand," starring Elliot Gould and Dee Wallace.

"If we finish a respectable second," says Pinchot -- Balki Bartokomous to his fans -- "we'll be satisfied."

Pinchot is best known to most viewers from his work in the smash-hit film, "Beverly Hills Cop."  In it, playing Serge, the haughty art gallery clerk, he commanded almost as much attention in a bit part as Eddie Murphy did in the starring role.  Linn-Baker is most familiar for his excellent work in the film "My Favorite Year," playing the pivotal role of the young comedy writer assigned to baby-sit Peter O'Toole's swashbuckling movie star.  Both actors went to Yale, but they never met there.

Both stars have horror stories to tell about their prior experiences in television.  Pinchot played the homosexual in the sitcom "Sara," which had been hailed, before its cancellation, as the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" of the 80's.  Pinchot still can't understand why it failed.  "We were all ready to do good comedy.  We had each other in stitches.  But it never happened."

Linn-Baker, whose first love admittedly is theater, shudders when he thinks of his time with CBS' "Comedy Zone," and how a lot of good Broadway writers and stars got buried under a mass of "bureaucracy" and "were prevented from doing good work."

One reason both are willing to give the tube another try, they both say, is because of the undeniable fact that it's a great chance for exposure and a possible stepping stone to better theatrical projects.

"One thing it has done for me," says Pinchot, "is (that) people no longer yell at me, 'Give me a twist."  Balki has replaced Serge.