Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Created by Dale McRaven, the popular ABC slapstick sitcom Perfect Strangers proved beyond all doubt that Laurel & Hardy were alive and living in Chicago. Mark Linn-Baker starred as Larry Appleton, a would-be photographer living in his own Chicago apartment. Larry's calm, well-organized lifestyle was set on its ear with the unexpected arrival of his distant cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot), a native of the mythical Mediterranean island of Mypos, where he'd been a professional sheepherder. The comedy arose from the relationship between the long-suffering, easily excitable Larry, and the wide-eyed Balki, who never quite got over his wonderment at living in "The Land of the Whopper," who spoke in a bizarre, near-incomprehensible foreign accent (his catchphrase: "Dun't be ridi-ka-louse"), who innocently took everything literally and everyone at face value, and who persisted in honoring the most bizarre of the "typical" Myposian customs. During the first two seasons, Larry and later Balki both worked at the Ritz Discount Shop, run by the misanthropic Donald "Twinkie" Twinkacetti (Ernie Sabella). Beginning with season three, the roommates were employed by "The Chicago Chronicle," Larry as a reporter and Balki as a mail clerk under the thumb of ill-tempered Sam Gorpley (Sam Anderson). Eventually, both Larry and Balki joined the editorial staff, and by the series' seventh season, they were collaborating on a comic strip about a talking sheep named Dmitri. Their superiors at the "Chronicle" included editor Harry Burns (Eugene Roche) and publisher R.T. Wainwright (F.J. O'Neil). Throughout the series' run, there were several women in Larry's and Balki's lives, beginning with Larry's upstairs neighbor, nurse Susan Campbell (Lise Cutter). Introduced in season two were the boys' toothsome new neighbors, stewardesses Jennifer (Melanie Wilson) and Mary Anne (Rebeca Arthur). Perhaps inevitably, romance bloomed between the boys and the girls, with Larry marrying Jennifer in season seven and Balki wedding Mary Anne in the final season (in which both ladies became mothers, just in time for the series finale). Belita Moreno was seen in the earliest episodes as the irascible "Twinkie"'s equally contentious wife, Edwina, and later resurfaced as the "Chicago Chronicle"'s uptight advice columnist, Lydia Markham. Also, Alisan Porter began making sporadic appearances during season six in the role of Larry and Balki's new neighbor Tess Holland. Last but far from least, Jo Marie Payton-France joined the cast in season three as Harriette Winslow, the sarcastic elevator operator at the "Chronicle." It was eventually established that Harriette was the wife of Chicago cop Carl Winslow, introduced as a one-shot character in 1989 in the person of actor Reginald VelJohnson. Before long, both Harriette and Carl were spun off into their own series, Family Matters. Reruns of Perfect Strangers were seen on ABC's daytime schedule from 1989 through 1990. The prime-time version of the show was abruptly canceled on April 18, 1992, but returned to tie up loose plot ends with five new episodes, which aired from July 9 through August 6, 1993.