Are you one of the many Americans suffering from frequent bouts of “ain’t what it used to be?” Of course you are. Don’t be ridiculous.
When those waves come a’crashin’ down on me, I often find the best remedy to be a healthy, heaping portion of the good old days. Rich in nutrients and part of a balanced breakfast.
As. . . oh. . . about five or six people close to me know, I am a huge fan of the show Perfect Strangers. For those unaware (and those who wouldn’t mind a whimsically worded refresher), Perfect Strangers was the late 80’s answer to The Odd Couple. Along with Full House (which I not-so-secretly despise), it was the first to anchor ABC’s uber successful TGIF lineup of feel-good, family friendly sitcoms that reigned supreme for more than a decade.
The show starred Bronson Pinchot as Balki Bartokomous, a happy-go-lucky immigrant from the tiny Mediterranean island of Mypos, who drops in the lap of his distant . . . distant . . . city dwelling cousin, Larry Appleton, played by Mark Linn-Baker.
Perfect Strangers enjoyed a healthy 150 episode run from the spring of ’86 to the summer of ’93, thanks in large part to the tremendous comedic chemistry (both physically and musically) of stars Pinchot and Linn-Baker. The format was pretty simple. Cousin Larry’s high-strung neurotic yin would get the boys in high water, Balki’s free-spirit yang would bail them out, and everyone would learn a lesson of some sort.
Warner Brothers released Season 1 and 2 on DVD to decent success followed by a 12 episode “best of” set available on services like iTunes and Amazon Prime. As of yet, there are no current plans to release seasons 3-8 with the studio citing music rights issues (Larry and Balki would frequently burst out into various show-tunes as part of their weekly antics.).
Thankfully, good-natured folk around the ol’ interweb have made it possible to view the series in its entirety. It takes a little digging. But the prize is certainly worth the effort, crappy low-resolution be damned.
Having recently caught up with the cousins of 711 Caldwell Avenue in the great city of Chicago, I truly feel the show is as enjoyable today as it was back then. Sure it comes with the sometimes unflattering baggage of 80’s/90’s cheese, but if you can push your 2015 cynicism aside for an itty bitty minute and embrace the goofy, silly, masterfully effortless comedic rapport of Pinchot and Linn-Baker – – well, you’ll be glad you did. Having the luxury of time to put things in perspective, I look back and realize that those boys were truly unappreciated for the tremendous physical comedians that they were.
I could easily sit here document my love for the show for another eleven and half pages, complete with a best episode countdown, favorite quotes, and explaining how a short, curly haired goofball with no upper lip could land a foxy bombshell flight attendant, but that’s not why I’m here.
Part of my routine when I “rediscover” old movies and TV shows is to dig up various trivia tidbits about said oldies.
After completing my newest trek with the gang from Perfect Strangers, I unearthed this little nugget (pictured above). Did you know that in the early nineties, to cash in on the success of their Friday night juggernaut of family ha-ha shows, the next step in ABC’s master plan was to launch a barrage of Saturday morning cartoons based on the same material? In 1991, there was to be an Olson Twins cartoon, followed by some form of animated Urkel adventures, with – – you guessed it – – a Perfect Strangers cartoon bringing up the caboose.
Now whether or not the intentions noted in the above paragraph are true – – the fact is, I completely made it up. Though it wouldn’t have surprised me to hear there was an Urkel cartoon in development at one point, there was never a plan to spin off Perfect Strangers into its own animated series. And that nifty poster is my own doing. I. . . I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.
Anyhoo. I love Perfect Strangers. The end.