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Soleil Moon Frye,
Balki Bartokomous, a sheepherder from the small Mediterranean Greek-like island of Mypos, travels to the United States in search of his relatives. He finds his cousin, Larry Appleton - who has recently 'escaped' from his large-sized family and is reveling in the unaccustomed luxury of having his own room to himself. They end up sharing accommodation in Larry's apartment - even though the two cousins could not be more dissimilar. For, while Larry is panicky, hyperventilative, business-like and mercenary - Balki is placid, unharried, sunny-natured and idealistic. Written by
David McAnally <D.McAnally@uq.net.au>
What can I say, except that those were the days! They really don't make it like this anymore-wholesome, scripted comedy, that people of all ages can appreciate.
I have been watching this show since I was around 7 years old, and in my experience, it has only gotten better with age. As a youngster, I think I enjoyed it because of the character of Balki-the naive sheepherder from a small developing island, faced with a massive culture shock when he arrives unexpectedly at the door of his distant cousin, Larry. I laughed along as Balki was dazzled by Western technology, taught Larry his bizarre Myposian rituals, made endless failed attempts at popular American sayings, and had his good nature taken advantage of time and time again. I must admit that at the time, Larry was just a character that was around so Balki could exist, and I really took little notice of him. But now that I am older, it is Balki that has begun to fade into the background. The character of Larry seems kind of straightforward-an average guy in his mid 20s who, despite himself, comes to learn many life lessons from his eccentric cousin. I would have thought they could have gotten any old actor to play someone like that, but now I see that I was wrong. Mark Linn Baker is subtly brilliant as Larry Appleton. He portrays Larry's neurotic, on-edge personality, without becoming tacky and predictable in his mannerisms. And despite being "the normal one", his use of physical comedy is hilarious. The 2 lead actors bounce off each other perfectly, and make this show work.
This show is pure fun, but also made a nice statement about morality, which made you care about the 2 lead characters. At the age of 20, I still shed a tear when Balki moves back to Mypos and he and Larry have to say goodbye. And when Jennifer accepts Larry's unrehearsed marriage proposal, over the proposal her new attractive, wealthy boyfriend. And I still laugh when I see Larry and Balki sneaking into Jennifer and Maryanne's apartment at night to swap Jennifer's engagement ring, fix up a house and accidentally get stuck in a chandelier, or dancing to the reworded limbo rock as they attempt to bake 3,000 "Bippy Bobkas".
As a disclaimer, I must warn that this show isn't exactly high-brow, to say the least. The story lines are often far from believable, the dialogue isn't always as funny as the raucous canned laughter would have you believe, and a "straight guy meets wacky guy" comedy isn't exactly cutting edge. But in all honesty-so what? This show may not be the height of intellectual viewing, but when you're just looking for a show to veg out in front of and forget your troubles for half an hour, then look no further. This show always leaves you with a smile on your face, and is a refreshing change from the myriad of recycled reality shows they beam to us at every opportunity.
Since this show was cancelled, a lot of shows have come and gone that I have loved for various reasons, but I have yet to find another sitcom that can hold the flame to this one. I prey that they will release this series on DVD. And if not, then I hope the reruns I recorded back in the 90s will last long enough for me to show to my children.
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