It ain’t easy to out-odd The Odd Couple, but it helps if you have a wacky shepherd from the isle of Mypos. As luck would have it, Perfect Strangers had just such a shepherd in Balki Bartokomous, and paired with “Cousin” Larry Appleton, this Myposian native turned an ABC sitcom into one of the most memorable buddy comedies of the late 80’s.
In the first Perfect Strangers episode, Balki emigrated from his grassy Mediterranean isle to come live with his distant cousin Larry in Chicago, Illinois. Larry wasn’t exactly expecting this funny-talking visitor, but the two soon became roommates. In the early going, Larry worked at Ritz Discount Store for the crabby Donald “Twinkie” Twinkacetti (who doubled as their landlord, since they lived upstairs from Ritz), and the two cousins got into all sorts of mischief.
Balki wanted to experience everything about America (“Land of the free—Home of the Whopper”), from singles bars to baseball to Las Vegas casinos. The problem was, Balki wasn’t quite up on his Americanisms. While that made for some entertaining language mistakes (“Cousin, are you going to have a nervous breakdance?”), it also got the two cousins in a bit of hot water from time to time. Also adding to the hot water quotient was Larry’s reputation as an eternal schemer, and not a very good one at that. Regardless, the pair usually found a way out by show’s end, and if things turned out really well, we at home might be treated to a Myposian Dance of Joy.
Perfect Strangers debuted in March of 1986, and by the start of the fall season, Larry and Balki had a pair of new neighbors upstairs. Jennifer and Mary Anne entered the show as aerobic instructors, but before long the two had settled into careers as flight attendants. Either way, they were cute, and romantic sparks were kindled over the show’s run. As the seasons continued, Larry and Balki both got jobs at the Chicago Chronicle (Larry as a reporter, Balki as a mailroom worker), where their circle of co-stars expanded to include advice columnist Lydia Markham (played by the same actress who played Mrs. Twinkacetti in the first season), Balki’s mean mailroom boss Mr. Gorpley, and elevator operator Harriette Winslow, who was eventually spun off to the hit series Family Matters.
More changes came as the 1990’s began: Larry and Balki teamed up on a newspaper comic strip starring Dimitri the Sheep, and precocious seven-year-old Tess Holland moved in for a while as a new neighbor. Larry eventually married Jennifer, but not even a move to a new home could break up this match made in Mypos. Balki married Mary Anne, moved in with Cousin Larry and Jennifer, and by the show’s final run in 1993, both Jennifer and Mary Anne were pregnant. Together forever, the cousins and now best friends even got to experience the miracle of life together in the final two-part episode—a miracle that just happened to occur while the two couples were stuck way up in the sky in a hot air balloon.
Perfect Strangers was a solid hit during its several years on ABC, eventually joining Full House and others as part of the network’s “TGIF” Friday family lineup. Silly dialogue, slapstick pratfalls and one very useful catchphrase (“But of course not, don’t be ridiculous…”) made Perfect Strangers a favorite of all ages, and the show remained successful in syndication long after its last prime time episode. You’ve come a long way, Balki…
Louie Anderson played Larry Appleton in the unaired pilot.
“Standin’ tall on the wings of my dream,
Rise and fall on the wings of my dream…”
“It’s my life and my dream,
Nothing’s gonna stop me now!”
USA / ABC – Miller – Boyett Prod. – Lorimar – Tal Prod. / 150×30 minute episode / Broadcast 25 March 1986 – 6 August 1993
Executive Producers: Thomas L. Miller, Robert L. Boyett, Dale McRaven / Theme Vocal: Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now by David Pomerantz
Mark Linn-Baker as Larry Appleton
Bronson Pinchot as Balki Bartokomous
Melanie Wilson as Jennifer Lyons
Rebeca Arthur as Mary Anne Spencer
Ernie Sabella as Donald “Twinkie” Twinkacetti
Jo Marie Payton as Harriette Baines Winslow
Belita Moreno as Edwina Twinkaceti/Lydia Markham
Lise Cutler as Susan Campbell
Clochemerle (BBC-2 1972, Cyril Cusack, Roy Dotrice)
Period sitcom, based on a novel by Gabriel Chevallier that was adapted by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, that saw the French villagers of Clochemerle kick up a fuss over plans to install a new toilet.
CYRIL CUSACK as Major Piechut
ROY DOTRICE as Ponosse
KENNETH GRIFFITH as Ernest Tafardel
WENDY HILLER as Justine Putet
HUGH GRIFFITH as Alexandre Bourdillat
BERNARD BRESSLAW as Nicholas the Beadle
MADELINE SMITH as Hortase Girodet
GEORGINA MOON as Rose Biraque
PETER USTINOV as Narrator
Writers: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson
Novel: Gabriel Chevallier
Producer: Michael Mills
Network and Production Companies: BBC Two – Bavaria
Duration: 9×30 minute episodes
Aired From: 18 February – 14 April 1972 Fridays at 10.05pm
Clairvoyant, The (BBC-2 1986, Roy Kinnear, Sandra Dickinson)
In Roy Clarke penned sitcom The Clairvoyant used car salesman Arnold Bristow is knocked down in a car accident and suddenly finds himself with psychic powers – or so he believes. There was a pilot broadcast 27 Nov 1984.
ROY KINNEAR as Arnold Bristow
SANDRA DICKINSON as Lily
HUGH LLOYD as Burma
SHAUN CURRY as Newton
GLYNIS BROOKS as Dawn
CARMEL CRYAN as Carmen
Writer: Roy Clarke
Producer and Director: Alan J.W. Bell
Network and Production Companies: BBC-2
Duration: 6×30 minute episodes
Aired From: Pilot – 27 November 1984 and Series – 15 May – 19 June 1986
Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)
Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017
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