October 2nd: Perfect Strangers

Moving right along.

Look, I know I promised variety on this adventure, and I swear we'll get there. But, right now, it's Friday night and the mood is right, so...

Perfect Strangers

Perhaps what made these Strangers so Perfect, was how imperfect they really were.

That is what the last sentence of this blog would be if it was a think-piece. Fortunately for us, this is not that - we're watching television here, so rest easy. There will be no thinking.

Hey, who doesn't remember Larry and Balki, two self-involved Chicagoans played respectively by Mark "Major League Biotch" Linn-Baker and Bronson Arroyo Pinchot Grigio. These two twits spent the back-half of the 1980s trafficking in two-man comedy tropes the world had not seen in almost hours. Between Perfect Strangers, Bosom Buddies, Working Stiffs, and any other goofball/abrasive straight-man routine you can dredge up from the septic tank of your cultural memory, this genre was a force unto itself. By which I mean, it was something that forced itself upon us.

Not that we minded, of course - no, this is the show that anchored the original TGIF lineup, and spun off a certain rare-condition you may have heard of, called Family Matters. Those of us who had never been to Chicago were offered a vivid tourism experience; it was as though we were actually there, running late outside of Wrigley Field, or locked in battle against that trademark wind while huddling against the facade of a dreary skyscraper, just as they were locked in battle with that crazy revolving door. And who could forget that theme song? It is the most triumphant of all sit-com themes this side of The Jeffersons, one that all subsequent shows chased but were unable to surpass, directly resulting in this modern age of cold opens.

Sure, Balki is so stupid that one questions whether Mypos was bombarded with pesticides during his gestation, and sure, Larry's moral code descends ever-closer to undistilled sociopathy over the course of the series, equalizing only when he's caught red-handed and forced into contrition by an appalled civilization, but then, he has been saddled with being caretaker for his idiot cousin, so can we really blame him? Sure, maybe this wasn't the best show, but it was apparently good enough at the time. And maybe what made these Strangers so Perfect, was how imperfect they really were.

Oh, goddammit.

Space: Chicago, IL
Time: October 28th, 1988
Episode: "Aliens" - Season 4, Episode 3

This is more like it - right off the bat we see an improvement in the spirit of the holiday. Larry and Balki are having a Halloween party to watch the vaguely-named "Horror Movie Marathon." You know, the Horror Movie Marathon. On the Channel. They've invited everyone they know (Harriet Winslow in the house!), and no one has RSVP'd (they clearly run with a savvy crowd). Only their inexplicable girlfriends, Jennifer and Mary Anne, bother to show up, but soon realize the error of their ways and promptly leave. Hopefully to take some time to reconsider the life-decisions they've made that have led them to dating these guys.

Within minutes, we're delivered a fine rendition of the classic Balki-catchphrase, "Of course not, don't be ridiculous." Was this really in every episode? Oh, did you miss him saying that? Just wait a couple minutes, because he says it again. Oh my.

But look at how the fellas have invested in their decorations! It's almost as though they've maintained the mentality of children! You could almost say they're man-children. You could almost say that.

Anyway, from there, we progress into some silly business, wherein Larry suspects that Balki might be an alien. He's laserblasting his meals, denying the pod in the closet, and walking through closed doors.

Larry's suspicions are confirmed when Balki starts flying.

Sure, why not.

And check out how decked-out the Chicago Chronicle is with their decorations! Slow news day, huh? And yet, this is a sign of some high-quality behind-the-scenes folks: you take Full House's $45 Halloween ep. budget from the episode that aired the same night as this one, and you invest it in paper products.

Because streamers, party garlands, and skeleton cut-outs are cheap and can cover immense amounts of surface-area when you really want to crank that vibe. Hell, I might set my own place up like this - no more fretting about not being able to paint your apartment! People, in this digital world we live in, this could save Big Paper.

And to top it all off, lest we heap too many laurels on these goofballs, your deus ex lazy writing resolves everything with that classic chestnut: It was all just a dream.

Goddammit.

Grab the candy and let's get the hell out of here, before we're invited to their next party.