Skip to main content

Celebrating Perfect Strangers



Hi Zeitgeisters,

From 1986 to 1993 the whole planet rocked with laughter as it enjoyed the mirth-filled antics of Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) and Cozzin (Cousin) Larry in 150 derivative, yet formulaic episodes of the sitcom Perfect Strangers.

Balki, a “sheepherder” travels all the way from the Mediterranean island of Mipos, in order to live with his Cousin Larry, a would-be writer in Chicago. It soon transpires that Balki is a screw-up in his native Mipos and basically has no where else to go!

Cousin Larry (Mark Linn-Baker) is fussy, stitched-up and an order freak. Balki (Bronson Pinchot) is a crazy, out-of-control, good-hearted, funny foreigner. Yes, indeed, it’s The Odd Couple meets Mork and Mindy. And only about one-quarter as funny.

Series creator Dale McRaven was actually one of the creators of Mork and Mindy and had writing credits on television’s The Odd Couple, so clearly it wasn't a stretch to bring together these elements and twist them slightly in order to make Perfect Strangers.

Its the predictability of the plots that make this sitcom less than classic. However, the lead performances are quite excellent. Linn-Baker and Pinchot had real chemistry and energy that meant that even the worst episodes of this show had their snap and sparkle to carry it through.

For those who wish to see either actor in a non-Perfect Strangers capacity; Pinchot was memorable as Serge in the first Beverly Hills Cop (1984) but also good in the so-so Vibes (1989). Mark Linn-Baker is probably best seen in the 1982 movie My Favourite Year (directed by Richard Benjamin).

So why do we celebrate this series? Because for one short period, it was a thread in the complex tapestry of our lives. Unless you have cable, in which case you probably saw it this morning.

Elevate the Insignificant

Mr Trivia


Jo-Marie Payton Noble, who played the elevator operator Hariette Winslow was later spun-off into the television series Family Matters (yes, the one with Urkel in it).

Comments

Graeme Watson said…
I laughed out loud the moment I read the name 'Balki Bartokomous', seriously.

I used to watch this show on GWN, it used to be on in the afternoons over the school holidays. It was really bad, the only thing it had going for it was the performances.

In the final series, I think they married the two girls from next door, moved out of the apartment complex and bought a farm in the country, seemed to loose the plot a bit there.
OmegaWolf747 said…
It soon transpires that Balki is a screw-up in his native Mipos and basically has no where else to go!

A blatant falsehood. Balki was a very good shepherd and was well loved by his family in Mypos. He left because it had been his dream to move to the USA since he was a child.
Mr Trivia said…
Thank you for setting me straight, Omegawolf. You are quite right - Balki did not screw up.

Not a 'blatant falsehood' on my part but a misremebered strand of a series from more than 20 years ago.

Cheers.

Popular posts from this blog

What's with George Eads' Hair?

DailyCeleb.com & David Edwards


Hey Zeitgeisters,

Bet you thought this blog would never top “What’s with Bradley Whitford’s Hair?” For those of you who weren’t part of that historical blog entry, it was the glittering moment where I wondered what’s with West Wing star Bradley Whitford’s hair. Good times.

However, tonight, while watching the current series (in Australia) of CSI :Original Recipe, I was forced to witness the unpleasantness of George Eads’ new(ish) 'do and I felt compelled to blog on’t.

George plays the part of Nick Stokes and has spent some 5 or 6 seasons with a haircut “you could set your watch to,” as Grandpa Simpson might say. It was always short; it always had that US Marine Corps vibe; it was always as dependable as the ebbing and flowing of the tides.

Now in something of an El Nino effect, I note that someone in Jerry Bruckheimer’s organization has decided to mess with the length of George’s crowning glory.

Although I chiefly watch CSI waiting for Grissom…

What’s with Bradley Whitford’s Hair?

Okay, Zeitgeisters, that’s as shallow an attention-grabbing start as one could ever want, but I really want to know. And sure, I’m really talking about Josh Lyman’s hair. (I’m like one of those people who insist on calling an actor by their character’s name – only in reverse. e.g. “Go Knight Boat!”)

Whitford plays Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, in the Aaron Sorkin-created, NBC television series The West Wing. He plays this part to a tee and now he’s set to do great things in the new Sorkin drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I know this last bit because the Angriest Ex-Video Store Clerk in the world told me.

Oh, and Whitford’s married to the awesome Jane Kaczmarek who plays mom, Lois, in the series Malcolm in the Middle. So Mr Whitford’s your regular pop-cultural icon and yardstick for excellence. We’re here in this, frankly, puzzling cultural landscape, because I’ve just finished watching season four of The West Wing on DVD. And Josh Lyman’s hair has bothered me throughout. It’s…

Institutional Memory

Note: If you’re here, you were connected with Perth’s Film and Television Institute at some point. The FTI in the form that we know it, is being wound up and some of its functions are being taken over by ScreenWest. This is my idiosyncratic tribute to the FTI as it was formerly.
I’m not someone who plans things. Depending on how well you know me, you might be saying “Amen to that” right about now. There was no plan to have anything to do with filmmaking when my friends and I entered our first efforts in the WA Film and Video Festival almost 35 years ago (forerunner of the WASAs). We made experimental films on Super 8 movie film; in-camera editing, falling down sand dunes, raw meat and tomato sauce representing the terrible effects of our filmic violence. Super-8 was the cheapest type of movie film. 8 millimetres in width. You could shoot two-and a-half to three-and-a-half minutes depending on your frames-per-second. We had no money, so shot “longer” at 18 fps. Our tiny epics, like “Mea…