United Press International
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 lemonade.

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 whopper."

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 salesman.

"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 "Morningstar-Eveningstar."

Produced by ex-NBC President Fred Silverman, and starring such veterans as Mason Adams and Scatman Crothers, "Morningstar-Eveningstar" (Tuesday 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 removed.

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.