The Washington Post
March 25, 1986

Perfect Strangers review
By Tom Shales

(Warning!  This is not a favorable review and certainly does NOT express the opinions of this website - Ed.)

Sitcoms are not a dime a dozen.  Inflation has driven them up to 12 for 25 cents.  The airwaves are choked with them now (with "The Cosby Show" getting shares in the 50s, what would one expect?), and soon there will be so many that backlash will set in, and we'll be back to cop shows again.

Ah, well.  As sitcoms go, ABC's new entry "Perfect Strangers," premiering tonight at 8:30 on Channel 7, is unremarkable but certainly not awful.  It clearly is an improvement over the egregious "Growing Pains," whose time slot it occupies, and the naggingly stupid "Who's the Boss?," which precedes it.

Bronson Pinchot, who was so hugely funny in such a small part in "Beverly Hills Cop" (as Serge, the epicene art gallery host), is back in dialect again in "Perfect Strangers," which is both a male "Laverne and Shirley" and a "Mork and Mindy" on which the Mork is definitely of this earth -- but a distant corner of it, somewhere in an unidentified Mediterranean island country where sheepherding appears to be the national pastime, sport and major occupation.

Playing foil to Pinchot's Balki Bartokomous is Mark Linn-Baker, the kid who chased Peter O'Toole around in "My Favorite Year" and has since been seen mainly in irritatingly sappy commercials.  He has a rather irritatingly sappy persona, come to think of it, and is certainly the less perfect of these two strangers.  Mainly he stands around looking worried as the bungling but lovable cousin Balki plops from one puddle of hot water to another.

Pinchot's performance is the only thing that elevates the comedy beyond grim predictability.  The predictability is personified in such characters as Donald Twinkacetti, who, as proprietor of the discount store where the two young men are employed, is nothing more nor less than Stock Comic Villain No. 3, a dull cousin of the Louie DePalma character played by Danny DeVito on "Taxi."

The immigrant played by Pinchot could be considered a cousin of the late Andy Kaufman's Latka Gavras from the same show, but not a dull cousin.  Pinchot has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve and considerable charm, and he brightens the show immensely.  He's not given quite enough to work with by the writers and producers, however, and given the population explosion of sitcoms now on the air, "Perfect Strangers" comes off looking bluntly expendable.