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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Perfect Strangers - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Warner DVDs)

Perfect Strangers: The Complete First and Second Seasons (Warner DVDs)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B



The Odd Couple, Lucy and Ethel, and any of the other wide ranging opposite pairings that have been put on television in the last 50 plus years all have used the same formula and by 1986’s Perfect Strangers, nothing was new.  This reviewer remembers this series from back in the day and has fond memories laughing along.  After over two decades since its premiere this reviewer still finds the idiotic stylings of the series fun and entertaining.  Is it the best piece of television to ever air? No, far from; but if it can still bring a smile to the viewers’ face that says something.  Surely the God awful sweaters Larry wears are annoying and sure Balki’s jokes can be seen from a mile away, but there is still an essence of classic comedy there that manages to pull in a strong audience.  The series lasted a total of eight seasons (running 1986 – 1993) and with a strong fan base left a lasting impact on television; such an impact that even Lucille Ball listed the series among her favorite shows before her passing.


The basic premise of Perfect Strangers was that a Wisconsin man named Larry had finally moved to Chicago to grab life by the horns and become a Photo Journalist.  Meanwhile on the other side of the world Larry’s long lost relative (though no one knew he was missing), Balki, moved from his homeland of Mypos to America, to find the ‘American Dream.’  To make things short, Balki finds Larry and convinces Larry to let him move in.  Balki soon finds a job with Larry at an antique store and comedy ensues.  The setup for the series is much like a Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello venture, in which Larry is always the straight man and Balki is the bumbling ‘idiot.’  What makes the series even better is Balki’s perception of American life, most of which he has obtained from pop-culture stereotypes.  Balki is always enlisting Larry’s help to figure out many new American dilemmas he encounters; but in the end Larry is just as inept, if not more, than Balki.


Surprisingly (or maybe not) the series Perfect Strangers was overseen by the same people who created past buddy hits like Mork and Mindy and Laverne and Shirley.


The technical features on the first Two Seasons in this 4-Disc set are by no means impressive and often feel more like an analog VHS transfer than a DVD.  The picture is presented in its original 1.33 X 1 aspect ratio and has many color issues.  Beyond the fact that the flamboyant colors of the 1980’s are bad enough, the picture presentation in this set is equally bad due to blindingly bright colors and an overall picture softness issue.  The sound is presented as a lackluster Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is adequate at best and has an excessive audience effect, with blasting laughter infiltrating many scenes.  The extras are minimal and boring only offering fans a single featurette entitled ‘Dance of Joy: Merry Montage of Balki and Larry’s Signature Two-Step Throughout the Show’s First Two Seasons.’  Besides having the longest extra title this reviewer has ever seen, this single extra feature is pointless, has no commentary, and is useless to fans.  The extra is a simple conglomeration of clips from the first two seasons that make no sense and would have been better skipped.  Overall, the technical features are very disappointing.


Seeing as how this series has basically disappeared from the face of television, this is a must have for fans.  One could presume if you don’t buy this set there is no other way you will be seeing these episodes.  Is that because the series is bad or horribly dated?  No, this reviewer would just say with the array of good and bad TV that is on today, people have just forgot about Larry and Balki.  Now if only the studio would fix up the picture, sound and extras, this reviewer could do ‘The Dance of Joy.’



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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