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Perfect Strangers

By Wikipedia

Perfect Strangers is a sitcom television series which ran for eight seasons from 1986 through 1993 on ABC. It is about Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker), a high-strung Chicago resident, sharing his apartment with his distant cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot), a shepherd from the (fictional) island nation of Mypos. Balki is naive, idealistic, and new to America; he often misunderstands the culture (with humorous results). Many episode plots involve Larry's schemes getting the better of him, causing him to subsequently need Balki's rescue. The series is rich in slapstick physical comedy.

Although Balki's home country of Mypos is discussed as an independent nation on the show, it is evident that it is based on the Greek isles. The Myposian accent Pinchot performed in the series was originally based on a Greek accent, but later into the show is morphed into more of a Russian dialect. Balki's catch phrase is, "Of course not, don't be ridiculous!" (usually said in response to having been found out for something he did). Balki and Larry occasionally celebrate good fortune by dancing the "Dance of Joy," a silly cross between a Do-Si-Do and the Hokey Pokey with "jazz hands" that Balki learned during his days on Mypos.

The series begins with Larry and Balki living in an apartment somewhere in Chicago (a few different addresses were mentioned). Their apartment is above the Ritz Discount Store, where they both work for Donald Twinkacetti (Ernie Sabella). In the beginning, the show has a very 80s flavor, with Balki singing songs and making references that have become somewhat dated. Susan, Larry's original girlfriend in the series, is replaced early on by Jennifer Lyons (Melanie Wilson), who lives upstairs with her roommate and Balki's girlfriend, Mary Anne Spencer (Rebeca Arthur). After a while, Larry and Balki get jobs together in the basement of the Chicago Chronicle, a fictitious newspaper, with Larry Burns as their boss.

Around 1991, Perfect Strangers began to change. More emphasis was placed on the romantic relationships, and Larry's "plans" became more far-fetched. The show was moved around in the prime-time lineup and eventually landed on Fridays as part of TGIF. By this point, the flavor of the series had changed completely; it is considered to have began to decline when Larry and Balki married their girlfriends, moved into a huge castle-like house, and were promoted to the top floor at the Chronicle. The last handful of off-the-wall episodes had their impact diminished by the fact that they were aired few and far between, and it was hard to predict when they were being shown. The series ended with a two-part episode where Larry, Balki and Jennifer went up in a hot-air balloon to try to induce labor. After both families had given birth, the show ended with a heartwarming musical montage of memorable scenes from the series.

Perfect Strangers spawned the spinoff series Family Matters, also set in Chicago, which ran from 1989 to 1998.We've not had time to write about this TV show yet. If you were a fan, we'd love to have you help us out by writing a synopsis or review!

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of Perfect Strangers? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Perfect Strangers was the funniest of sitcoms to come along in a long, long time. The casting was outstanding. Each actor couldn't have done better with their character. Not to mention Bronson Pinchot's flexability as an actor. He showed his great talent by portraying many different types of characters. A shy sheepherder new to America, his cousin Bartok (minus the accent of Balki), TV Game Show host Lance Edwards, Stan Laurel, Ed Norton and more. I enjoyed the chemistry between Bronson Pinchot & Mark Linn Baker. They should have won Emmy awards for their portrayals, but most importantly they won the hearts of the TV public. Hats off to Bronson Pinchot, Mark Linn-Baker, Melanie Wilson, and Rebecca Arthur. They were fantastic!"

--Anonymous

"I loved this show, my favorite sitcom of all time. I think my favorite show was the one in which Larry and Balki climbed to the top of that building where the billboard was located. It had something to do with their staying there until Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won another basketball game. The billboard had a windmill going around, associated with an aerosol spray for the undersarms. It would spray every ten seconds or so. Balki occasionally took advange of this, and lifted up his arm to get a spray at his underarm. I laughed and laughed at this. Bronson Pinchot and Mark Lin-Baker were a perfect fit for this show, a great comedic team. Perfect timing. Good writing. I miss the show a lot."

--Anonymous

"I love the episode where balky gets the plant from his country that can cure the common cold!"

--Beanie

"My favorite episode would have to be the one when Larry and Balki go and work out to impress Jennifer and Mary Ann. I remember watching this one, with my family and laughing so hard. When Larry and Balki wake up before their big date and they are so sore they can't even move. The funniest part is when Larry tried to open up the wine bottle that Balki is holding and Larry falls over when he pulls the cork out. CLASSIC"

--Frankfort

"Even though I was only born in 1986 I have to say that "Perfect Strangers" was a great show. My sister and I used to watch it all the time over the summer. I'll never forget the famous quote..."i tild you once...I told you twice...I told you two times!" My favorite episode is when Balki is hypnotized to be Elvis."

--Anonymous

"I loved the episode where Larry is teaching Balki how to say mail. It has got to be my favorite episode. I have watched it over and over for about 10 times."

--Jen

"Perfect Stranger's was one of the best comedy television shows in the late Awesome80s and early 90's. Bronson Pinchot who played Balki and Mark Linn-Baker who played Larry were excellent. One of these days they should release Perfect Strangers on DVD."

--Anonymous

"Episode Name: Knock Knock, Who There's? Episode #: 001 Synopsis: Larry Appleton has just settled in his new Chicago apartment after leaving home of one of nine kids and took a job at the corner discount store working for his greedy landlord Mr. Twinkacetti until he can eventually become a photo journalist. But one evening, Balki Bartokomous, his distant cousin and a Mediterranean sheep herder from the island of Mypos shows up on his door step looking for a place to stay. So Larry takes him in and tries to get him a job at Twinkacetti's store which may mean risking his own job."

--Anonymous

"Episode Name: Picture This Episode #: 002 Synopsis: Larry tries to kickstart his career and gets tipped off that Dolly Parton is in town committing adultery. So he decides to follow her until he could get a picture to sell to newspapers. Meanwhile, Balki will do a favor for anyone who will ask for it so Larry teaches him to say "no" once and a while, but it backfires on him."

--Anonymous

"The episode I like the most is where Larry and Balki are in the dentist's office. Larry does something to make the laughing gas pour into the office. It makes both of them real silly. Then to top it off Larry puts the needle full of novacaine in Balki's arm. CLASSIC AND FUNNY"

--Jen

"As someone who can relate to being driven crazy by reletives you love but have little in common with, I've always loved "Perfect Strangers." My favorite episode comes from the 6th season. Balki is to fight a duel with a family rival...but Larry gets involved with the fighting when he inadvertantly insults the rival. Bronson Pinchot did a fantastic job in the sword fight, and poor Mark Linn-Baker was equally funny trying to avade the duelists' blows. I know how it all comes out, and I'm stil breathless in the end!"

--starwenn

"Fun, underrated slapstick sitcom. Although the physical comedy it often embraces is no longer as well-regarded as it was more than fifteen years ago, the show holds up well, thanks to the updated "Laurel and Hardy" personalities of laid-back, sweet Pinchot and uptight Baker. "

--starwenn

"It's already been a decade since it went off the air, yet "Perfect Strangers" still remains my favorite sitcom of all time. The duo of Larry and Balki is perhaps the most underrated comedy team to ever grace the television screen. Sure, the storylines were at times bizarre and unrealistic, but isn't that what comedy is all about? It's a shame that this show doesn't get enough recognition, because honestly, I laughed out loud at least once in every "Perfect Strangers" episode.

It was the little things that Larry and Balki did that made me crack up. I don't know how he did it, but Mark Linn Baker had some crazy bug-eyed facial expressions. I always laughed whenever he got angry at Balki, like when they went to Las Vegas and he stole Larry's gambling chips. Or when Larry went nuts trying to lose seven pounds, hiding food from Balki.

Honestly, I can't tell you what episode was my absolute favorite, because if I tried narrowing it down, there'd be about 8 or 9 of them. Thankfully, I still have plenty of the episodes on tape, and I still watch them every now and then. God bless Perfect Strangers!"

--Nurm

"I love the episode when Cousin Larry is addicted to gambling. His insane faces were to die for. I heard that Balki was "Short for Balcony." According to Bronson Pinchott on a talk show (the one with George Hamilton), as a child his sister got a puppy and he told her "Name it Balki." and she got mad and said "That's not a real name!!!!" And he said "Yes it is it's short for BALCONY"."

--A die hard BAlki fan

"A slapstick comedy where a man from the island of Mypos comes to America to find his cousin in the city of Chicago."

--Anonymous

"Perfect Strangers was the last really funny sitcom that I ever saw. I loved the chemistry between Bronson Pinchot and Mark-Linn Baker. The casting was phenominal. I recorded every single episode on tape, but because I watched them over and over again the tapes, one by one, became ruined. If I had known that this was going to happen, I would have made a few duplicate copies, one of these copies would have been transferred to DVD. My favorite episode? I have quite a few: The one where Balki goes to the Dentist, and both Balki and Larry end up in the chair. I love the one where they take karate. Also, the show where Balki is hypnotized and believes that he is Elvis whenever he hears a bell ring. Don't you just love it when Balki turns into Elvis when he and Larry are in the auditor's office. Larry jumps across the desk and pulls the phone out of the wall. Hilarious!! When are they going to release this show on DVD!!??? I will buy every single season no matter what the cost!!!"

--Shar6687

"perfect strangers is a show I loved eversince I started watching it and I would love to have every episode made brought out on dvd I have been waiting on this show to come out for a long time and I would like to have the collection to add to my dvd collection and I don't know why it hasn't came out on dvd as of yet I have video tapes of this series but the tapes are starting to wear out I was wondering when this series was going to come out on dvd I will still wait on it and hope to see it at stores where dvds are sold this was a fun show and I would love to see this show out on dvd soon as other shows are coming out from around the time perfect strangers did "

--bigfeet

"Perfect Strangers is one of the best sitcoms of all time. A classic in my book. Exceptional acting by Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn Baker. I really wish that they would do a reunion that would be great. Bronson and Mark should have won emmy's for their roles as Balki and Larry. Perfect Strangers will live on."

--Anonymous

"Itīs a bit like classic movie slapstick from the 20s, but now in color and in the Awesome80s environment. Thereīs definitely no other sitcom through the last years like Perfect Strangers, and sometimes itīs closer to a theatre show than TV. The quality of script and direction as well as the number of gags per minute is really incredible. Iīve seen the episodes on tape for so many times now and I can still lough about. What a nice Mypos > Chicago story, hope to get the whole show on DVD someday. "

--Anonymous

"My favorite episode was the Bibby-Bobkas (sp?), a bizarre pastry that had to be made according to a specific protocol or they, well, exploded. After the pastry experiences a sudden surge in popularity, Balki is enlisted to make a boatload of them. Don't recall what happened to Balki, but Larry ended up making them, skipped a few steps after much confusion, and the whole lot exploded all over the kitchen (and all over Larry & Balki, of course). I can still sing the Bibby-Bobka song (pretty close)!
"When you're rolling out the dough

Just be sure to roll it slow
If you roll the dough too quick
Bibby-Bobka make you sick
When you put the feeling in
Just make sure you wear a grin
If you smile at what you bake
Bibby-Bobka turn out swell!"

Hey, thanks for leaving THAT song in my head umpteen years later!"

--armydiller

"I loved this show! My favorite episode was when Larry was getting pushed around at a bar so him and Balki decided to get self-defense lessions. I nearly died laughing when Larry came home from the store & Balki was dressed in all black & jumping around trying 2 be silent so Larry wouldnt know he was there so he could do a sneek attack & then when they finally started fighting the phone rang & Balki paused while Larry answered the phone & then they started fighting again.

All the shows were great tho, wish it was still on, I miss it alot!"

--Heavenzkiss

"Remember the time when they baked those cakes, (the "Bibi Babkes") all night long, while they sang a song that they had to repeat over and over? That was a hilarious one. As always, Larry's greediness killed a potentially good business deal!"

--Anonymous

"Perfect strangers is my all time favorite show. It was, dare I say, perfect! I laughed at Balki's eccentricities and winced when Larry tried to teach him the "right way" of doing things. It was never right! Oh the joy this show brought me over the years.

My favorite episode is "Hunks Like Us". Larry and Balki tried to impress Jennifer and Marianne at the Gym, but the over did it, and (gasp) they woke up too sore for their dates! They could hardly move! I can barely bring to words how hard I was laughing when they were tossing the food for their dates back and forth because they could move their arms. They were too sore! The irony of trying to impress them to earn the date, but not being able to appreciate said date! A priceless moment in television history."

--#1 Perfect Strangers Fan

"Perfect Strangers is the funniest show I can ever remember watching! Every Friday night, my sister, mom and I would hurry to the TV to watch it. We laughed so hard we'd cry. The jokes would be repeated and laughed about for days. In fact, I still repeat them occationally ("There's a goose down in this bag!") and have been known to do the Dance of Joy. Our very favorite episode was the bathroom one where Larry tried to fix a leak and ended up with holes in the wall, water spurting everywhere, with he himself, of course, in a frantic frenzy. I have been hoping for this series to come out on DVD so I can relive the comedy with my own children."

--Julie Bumgardner

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: March 25, 1986 - August 6, 1993

Cast: Bronson Pinchot, Mark Linn-Baker, Ernie Sabella, Belita Moreno

Network: ABC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song: 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now' performed by David Poweranz

SpinoffsFamily Matters

Image courtesy of ABC


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