Stranger [1995]

Relying on the tried-but-true odd-couple set up, Perfect Strangers focuses on the comical lives of Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) and Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot). Larry is an uptight American who has moved away from his family's Wisconsin home for his own apartment in Chicago. His life is changed forever when his childlike cousin Balki--a sheepherder from the fictional island of Mypos--shows up on his doorstep with the goal of becoming a U.S. citizen. A hit sitcom for ABC that ran from 1986 to 1993, Perfect Strangers offers some heartwarming storylines, a few laughs, and some genuine chemistry between the two leads. The first few years of the comedy are among the show's best, as Larry and Balki get accustomed to each other's ways. Linn-Baker plays the straight man who sets Pinchot up to deliver the best lines. While Pinchot definitely has the showier "fish out of water" part--and "Don't be ridiculous!" tag line that became a catchphrase for a year or two--Linn-Baker creates the more relatable character. He's working in a small shop, but his dream is to become a photojournalist. The show actually does a nice job of making sure Larry never loses sight of his goals, even as Balki is dragging him from one adventure to another. The four-disc DVD set includes all six episodes from the first mini season, as well as 22 episodes from the show's second full season. Other than a "Dance of Joy" extra--which includes a montage of dance clips from the first two seasons--there are no special featurettes. Fans of high definition may be disappointed by the video transfer, which clearly dates the series. At its worst, Perfect Strangers is an outdated show that isn't as funny as it thinks it is. But at its best, it projects giddy innocence and is easy viewing. Flash-forward to 2005 when Pinchot is throwing himself at Janice Dickinson on the reality series The Surreal Life: Now that's not easy to watch. --Jae-Ha Kim

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