Watch . . . and Learn!
Issue #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 season:

Perfect Strangers 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 Defiant Guys.

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 broadcasts!

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! 

Continue on to the next Watch . . . and Learn!