March 24, 1986
Two new shows:
perfect and pap
By Mark Schwed, UPI TV Editor
Bronson Pinchot, the swishy Serge in the
hit movie "Beverly Hills Cop," makes his television sitcom debut
Tuesday night as a Mediterranean sheep herder in Chicago.
"Perfect Strangers" is one of
two new ABC shows debuting Tuesday, the other being "Morningstar-Eveningstar."
One is near perfect, the other pure pap.
In "Perfect Strangers," (8:30
p.m. EST), Pinchot discovers the brave new world of capitalism and wallows in
the wonders of whoppers, color television, American girls, potato chips and pink
Pinchot plays Balki Bartokomous, a
wide-eyed sheep herder who unexpectedly arrives at the doorstep of his distantly
related American cousin, Larry Appleton, played by Mark Linn-Baker, the young
lead from "My Favorite Year." Talk about an odd couple.
The funny part comes when Pinchot attempts
to blend into the American way of life. He plays the part well and the
writers give him plenty of good lines.
"This is America, open all
night," Balki tells Linn-Baker. Itís the "land of the
Larry agrees to let Balki stay in his new
"bachelor pad" apartment even though it is Larryís first time away
from his eight brothers and sisters.
Would Balki like some pink lemonade?
"You have pink lemons? Only in
America," Balki says.
Balki starts reading the classifieds to
find a job but discovers there is no work for a professional sheep herder.
Cousin Larry explains that one does not
stumble upon the American dream in the classifieds. Larry, himself, is a
frustrated photojournalist who works in a second-hand junk store.
Balki visits the shop long enough to sell
a few hundred dollars worth of stuff for $45. He believes he is a master
"And to think Iíve been wasting my
time poking animals on the head with a stick," Balki says.
Next Balki meets Susan, his nextdoor
neighbor. She is attractive.
"Would it be impolite to ask if I
could be your slave for life?" Balki asks.
Sure, there is some fluff, but one gets
the idea that "Perfect Strangers" will be around much longer than
Produced by ex-NBC President Fred
Silverman, and starring such veterans as Mason Adams and Scatman Crothers,
8-9 p.m. EST) should have a pretty good shot at success -- but it doesnít.
The one-hour show is nothing more than a
whitebread melodrama that is crippled by stereotypes: the obligatory long-haired
kid, the fat boy, the sister with a brother who hasnít talked since Mom died,
the cranky old man, the old southern belle peacemaker, the nice "Hugh
Downs" type, the eccentric old woman who cares for stray pets, and the kind
and loving directors of the two homes.
"This is a story of some young people
who needed a home and some senior citizens who needed love and how they became a
family," says the announcer at the start of the show.
After fire burns down the orphanage, the
kids temporarily move to "Eveningstar," pending county board approval.
"Man, weíve ended up in the
waxworks," one kid says to another. A meltdown is appropriate.
Like the sugar on Cocoa Puffs, "Morningstar-Eveningstar"
is sickeningly sweet.
The story: the old woman who keeps a zoo
in her room (birds, raccoons, cats and a dog) befriends the kid who canít
talk. The cranky old man complains about the zoo and the animals are
The zoo-keeper woman runs away from home
and gets beat up by street bums. The kid who canít talk, who also ran
away with his sister after he was accused of starting a fire in the old folks
home, finds the beat up woman with her shopping cart and brings her home.
She is near death, although the only
visible wound is a bruised cheek. The doctor says heís seen it all
before. The woman just doesnít want to live.
Miraculously, the kid who canít talk
says, "Please donít die. I love you."
In the end, the kids can stay in the old
folks home, the lady recovers, the kid talks, the animals return, the cranky old
man becomes a softy and everybody lives happily ever after.
Too predictable, too stereotyped, too
easy, too sweet -- itís so pat itís pap.