'Perfect' Start to a Beautiful Friendship
By Tom Green - USA TODAY
HOLLYWOOD - Perfect Strangers
has taken an unlikely pair of pals and converted their friendship into one of
this spring's biggest TV hits.
The ABC comedy, about a
sheepherder from the mythical isle of Mypos who moves in on his distant Chicago
cousin, is a major hit because of its dynamite Tuesday time slot nestled between
ABC's Who's the Boss? and Moonlighting, and its stars, Bronson
Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker.
"Bronson and Mark are as
good as it gets," says co-executive producer Thomas L. Miller. And
casting is the key to making a friendship show work, adds Miller, who has worked
on other buddy hits, The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley, Bosom Buddies
and Happy Days.
What gets across to audiences,
Miller says, is that Pinchot and Linn-Baker have become close friends off the
set. That happens in many successful friendship shows, the producer
says. Ron Howard and Henry Winkler still are close years after working
together on Happy Days.
"That is an 'X' Factor that
somehow gets on the screen," Miller says.
It happened between the two
actors immediately, he says. Linn-Baker had not been the first choice to
play the U.S. cousin. But when the role was recast, Pinchot took to the
new guy when they first read together. "There has not been one blowup
between them," Miller says.
He offers no explanation of why
there haven't been more great friendship comedies on TV. Maybe producers
feel uncomfortable with something so obvious. Maybe they're afraid the TV
executives will hear about the idea and say, "Oh, puhleeze . . .
" In the meantime, Miller and his partner, producer Robert Boyett,
seem to have tapped into something successful.
"Friendship has never gone
out of fashion."