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Perfect Strangers season one episode reviews


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Episode 1. "Knock Knock, Who's There?" This is as good as any episode of Perfect Strangers. Which is amazing when you consider how polished the comedy is on this show. And how vital the chemisty is. Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker are perfectly at home in their roles from the get-go.

Episode 2. "Picture This" contains several classic sequences. Larry teaches Balki to say "No" to people (because he feels that people are taking advantage of the innocent foreigner). This immediately blows up in his face when Balki refuses to do him a favour. Later, there is a fantastic sequence where the boys are not speaking to one another followed by Larry offering up an eloborate Myposian apology (minus the chicken!). Finally they have a squabble in a crowded restaurant while Larry is trying to get a photo of a celebrity to sell to a sleazy paper. The joy of Perfect Strangers is that the comedy is genius-level slapstick and the chemistry of the two stars is such that the bit-at-the-end-where-Larry-learns-a-lesson-of-some-type always comes across as genuine and very effecting.

Episode 3. "First Date" The joy of this show is in watching Balki, who is clueless about everyday life, learn about stuff from Larry, who is also clueless but hides it better. It's all rather sweet how they lean on one another for support and - somehow - manage to educate each other as they stumble along. The other joy, of course, is the flawless slapstick. While the concept for the series is strong, and guaranteed to provide opportunity for laughs no matter who was cast, the slapstick/chemistry is a different matter. Nobody but these two actors could have accomplished what Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot. Their easy genius at their roles is a shart contrast to the rest of the season 1 cast: Lise Cutter and Ernie Sabella who are bland and forgettable. Basically it feels as if two characters from an inferior sit-com have wandered onto the Perfect Strangers set. And while the early episodes are still wonderful, the show won't truly be complete until Jennifer and Mary Anne arrive. No sign of them this week (but they are not far away) and romance is in the air, as Larry teaches Balki how to meet women. Classic.

Episode 4. "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" Some of the best physical comedy from the first season occurs on the coffee table as Larry and Balki sit there and Larry teaches Balki to drive.

Episode 5. "Check This" Two of the standard elements of Perfect Strangers are present in this episode: Balki creates problems by making an innocent mistake and there's lots of physical comedy involving Larry. This is the one where Larry convinces Balki to move his money (all one hundred and twenty eight dollars of it) to a bank, instead of keeping it under his mattress. Balki, of course, misunderstands how a bank works and spends over three thousand dollars on new furniture. While all of this is going on, Larry is dealing with the pains of a sore back, which means he is bent over double for a good portion of the episode.

In what is probably a unique situation in the history of TV, series regulars Belita Moreno and Sam Anderson appear in this episode but neither one is playing the character they will eventually play on the series. Both make strong impressions with their guest work so it's obvious why the producers wanted to use them later in the run, and ditch Lise Cutter and Ernie Sabella. Cutter is sweet and nice, but she's just not funny. Sabella can be funny sometimes but his comedy style is wrong for the tone of the series. Moreno and Anderson, by sharp contrast, are both very funny and have great chemistry with the boys. Anderson is a great straight-man and his short scene with Balki (in the bank) produces many laughs.

One of my favourite elements of this show is the fact that it always has a message, something to say. This episode has one of very best, when Larry goes crazy over the loss of his original furniture and explains why (he comes from a large family where nothing was ever 'his'). It gives all of the comedy a great grounding in reality. And adds a consistency to the character(s) that lasted for years.

Episode 6. "Happy Birthday" Mindful of the fact that this series had a very long run and the lives of the characters changed a lot over the course of the series, there is an extra level of pleasure to be had in this season one finale, when Larry takes stock of his life and all the things he wants to accomplish. It's a sweet episode, with some wonderful sentiments expresed between the cousins at the very end. It's also a very funny episode. There are two birthday parties in the story. The first one is abandoned when Larry is in a bad mood, which means Balki has to hide not only the decorations, but also the guests. Hilarious. My favourite part? Balki throws the birthday cake out the window, as the window closes... keeping the cake in the room!

The second party is just a funny, Balki fills the appartment with random strangers he finds on the street at 3am! I love this show.

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