Watch . . . and
#6, August 1990
We promised to continue
our look at some of the consistencies that have stayed true throughout Perfect
Strangers' history but because we devoted issue #5 to the fifth season we
had to leave it to this issue. But we never forget our promises, so now
we'll continue to look at some more of the things that have been carried over
from one episode of the show to another and have remained the same season after
has always relied on running jokes as a good part of their humor. Catch
phrases carry on from show to show and have become well known to fans
("Don't be ridiculous!" just being one of them!) But more subtle
jokes also enjoy recurrences and have become precious to the fans . . . these
things help us to believe the characters are real.
For instance, there's
Larry's bad back. Mentioned as early as the episode Check This,
which was one of the original six episodes filmed, Larry first threw his back
out trying to fold the broken sofabed. His back became a running joke
within that show as Mr. Twinkacetti used the fact to torture Larry by having him
move body building equipment. Poor Larry obediently followed orders, if
just to spite Twinkie, and arrived back in the apartment bent but not
defeated. At the end of the episode, Balki finally managed to fix Larry's
back (even though Larry couldn't move his arms after that).
It took a while but
Larry's bad back came up again in Piano Movers when Balki offered to get
a rented piano up to Lydia's apartment for a party. Larry was quick to
point out his bad back but Balki insisted on helping so they did get the piano
to her apartment building where they discovered the only way to get it to her
apartment on the tenth floor was up the stairs! This, of course, did not
do Larry's back much good!
Finally, this season in Lie-Ability
Larry's back was once again thrown out after the cousins were rear-ended in the
car. The scene in which Larry snapped his back into place was hilarious,
showing just how familiar Larry is with his own back problems.
Another somewhat subtle
running joke is Larry's lucky pen. It gave Claire Hayden some pretty scary
premonitions in The Horn Blows at Midnight and also helped fuel Larry's
anger when he found out Balki had borrowed it to write a letter to his mama in The
Larry seems to be the
brunt of many running gags in the show. His "plans" have become
one of the show's staples and also growing in frequency are his disastrous
vacation plans. After risking everyone's lives and limbs in a mountain
cabin during a ski trip, he led them into a harrowing river-rafting adventure
and then proceeded to book them on a "trip to hell" at Club
Paradise. It was funny the way Jennifer and Balki recollected the ski trip
incident when the idea for the camping trip came up!
One of the best plot
developments carried over from one show to another was when Larry decided to
enter the Chicago Gazette's photo contest. An entire episode was devoted
to his efforts at getting the perfect picture (which led them to Twinkacetti's
rooftop in order to shoot the cross on the church across the street . . . a
photo Larry never got). Larry's subsequent photograph of Mr. Twinkacetti's
terrified face framed by lightning won him tenth place in the contest and the
episode ended on a happy note. This led to another episode, in which Larry
was invited to attend a black-tie party for a photo exhibit of Roger Morgan's
work (Roger Morgan being one of the judges in the Chicago Gazette's photo
contest). Oddly enough, though, these two episodes aired in the wrong
order with Tux for Two preceding Up on a Roof in the original
The writers of the show
aren't above bringing back a guest character but have so far they've had the
habit of bringing back criminals for repeat performances, which has led to some
hilarious moments! Notable was the return of Vince Lucas, the racketeer
Balki and Larry testified against, sending him to prison. The very next
season Vince returned when Balki invited him to stay at their apartment before
starting his new life. Vince became a very funny and likeable character in
this second episode, further emphasizing Balki's philosophy of not forgetting
those who have gotten into trouble.
Also sent through the
criminal courts system and returning to haunt the cousins (Larry specifically)
was criminal mastermind Marvin Berman, who tried to blow the cousins up because
of being overlooked in the money-laundering article Larry had researched for
Marshall and Walpole. Marvin returned to thank them for all they'd done
before he entered the Federal Witness Protection Program and two fifth season
episodes were culled from his escapades!
Mention of Marshall and
Walpole brings us to another consistency. Larry first suggests the idea of
the Chronicle having an investigative reporting team in High Society.
Although the idea was scoffed at by the paper's owner, the owner's father, Bobo
Sr. (who had controlling interest of the paper) liked the idea but didn't think
Larry was ready to be part of the team. However Larry did become
"assistant research liaison to the investigative reporting team of Marshall
and Walpole" and even though we have never seen or even heard Marshall or
Walpole they have been mentioned many, many times!
Just a few more
consistencies to throw your way: the "bibbibabka" episode, Just
Desserts, was extremely popular among the fans, and this is especially
apparent in the episode High Society when Balki is cooking up pig snout
to take to the Endicott's party and says, "You bet your bibbibabkas!"
which inspired some cheers of recognition from audience members. A Raisin
Puffs box made appearances in both The Karate Kid and The Lottery
episodes (albeit, the Raisin Puffs somehow turned chocolate brown in the latter
. . . were they that old?). Balki punished himself by "sitting among
the ashes" in The Rent Strike and the next season did the same after
accidentally telling Larry about his raise in My Lips Are Sealed.
And finally, the fact that Mypos only has one phone came up twice; once when
Balki was suffering from a recurring nightmare and also when Larry was suffering
from a terrible cold.
One can only wonder what
consistencies and inconsistencies we may face in the sixth season!
on to the next Watch . . . and Learn!