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Warner Home Video presents
“Let me bathe in your beauty.”
DVD ReviewSome childhood TV shows will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter how ridiculous or dated they may look to today’s modern audiences. Near the top of my list is Perfect Strangers, a series that took a simple, not-necessarily-original concept and ran with it for a whopping eight seasons. Debuting in March of 1986 on the ABC network, the show grabbed people with elements that today’s sitcoms only dream of possessing; namely, a series of harmless, family-friendly storylines, and at least one character that virtually everyone can fall in love with. Warner Home Video finally allows us to revisit the show with their new DVD release of Perfect Strangers: The Complete First & Second Seasons.
Larry Appleton’s (Mark Linn-Baker) new life in Chicago (he has just moved from Wisconsin) is busy enough until his long-lost cousin, Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) arrives at his door. Balki is from the tiny Mediterranean island of Mypos, and to say his culture is much different from ours is the understatement of the century. Larry is initially reluctant to accept Balki and the burden he’s placing on his daily activities, especially his social life, which is a struggle to begin with. Balki is heartbroken, as he’s been taught in Mypos to accept everyone, regardless of their qualities, but he soon realizes that he has to make some changes himself to co-exist with his newfound cousin.
All six of the first season’s episodes are contained on Disc 1 (along with the first show from the second season), beginning with the series premiere, Knock Knock, Who’s There? Naturally, we see Balki’s arrival at Larry’s, but we’re also introduced to the Wisconsin transplant’s boss and landlord, Mr. Twinkacetti (Ernie Sabella). In Picture This, Larry sees a career opportunity when he hears that Dolly Parton is in Chicago, and is committing adultery. Larry’s attempts to land a picture of Ms. Parton’s misgivings goes awry and you can bet Balki is nearby. The rest of the Season One episodes, First Date, Baby, You Can Drive My Car, Check This, and Happy Birthday, Baby, do an excellent job of setting these characters up for their eight-season run.
The Season Two premiere, Hello Baby, delivers some of the funnier moments in the show’s history, as Balki invites his friend Gina, to stay with him and Larry, only to discover that this very pregnant woman could go into labor at any moment. Hunks Like Us finds Balki and Larry at the local health club, while The Unnatural involves Balki’s first foray into softball, and Ladies and Germs introduces us to a Myposian cold remedy. In Lifesavers, Balki is indebted to his cousin for saving his life, and Babes in Babylon takes the boys to wonderful Las Vegas. There’s more goofiness in the next four shows, Falling in Love Is…, Two Men and a Cradle, Can I Get a Witness, and The Rent Strike, but then, we get the show’s first holiday episode in A Christmas Story.
Dog Gone Blues brings a dog into Balki and Larry’s life, Since I Lost My Baby has Mr. Twinkacetti moving in with them, and there’s more Trouble in Paradise when a Myposian meal could derail their double-date with Jennifer (Melanie Wilson) and Mary Anne (Rebeca Arthur). Balki battles insomnia in Beautiful Dreamer, and Tux for Two and Ten Speed and a Soft Touch lead up to the two-parter, Snow Way to Treat a Ladyb. This involves a ski trip with Balki, Larry, Jennifer, and Mary Anne, during which they have to attempt to survive a deadly avalanche. After Up on a Roof and Get a Job, we get the second season finale, Hello, Elaine. The show’s second batch of episodes ends with the same joy and hilarity as the premiere, with Larry dealing with his sister’s decision to pursue a music career instead of going to college.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: Presented in their original full frame aspect ratios, these shows look as good as can be expected, given that they’re over 20 years old. Unfortunately, that means that the colors are far from vibrant. The images are generally lacking in detail, but it appears that efforts were made to clear away most of the print flaws and debris.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The original mono audio tracks are here, and, again, they’re pretty much what we’d expect. Comedies like this rely solely on dialogue and a laugh track, and both of those work well together in these mixes, with the actors’ speech remaining crystal clear throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 112 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsIt’s been a long time coming, but the adventures of “distant” cousins Balki and Larry can be loved all over again thanks to Warner’s Perfect Strangers: The Complete First & Second Seasons. While almost entirely devoid of extras, the audio and video are as good as can be expected, and, most importantly, we get the original, uncut versions of these 28 episodes.
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