As an average (though incredibly precocious) American child of the ’80s, I watched a lot of television. Many shows stick out from these early years: ALF, Punky Brewster, Small Wonder, The Cosby Show, Night Court, Mr Belvedere, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Often, though, when watching something from one’s youth again after years of reminiscing, the viewing leaves much to be desired. Favourite movies of one’s childhood don’t hold up to the expectations we have, and this goes true for cartoons and sitcoms.
This isn’t always the case, as Jim Henson’s films have proven to still be all kinds of awesome. But those of you who have recently seen some reruns of MacGuyver are probably wondering, “How did I ever find this entertaining?” After seeing a few old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for example, I still puzzle over how I used to love the show. Maybe it was because I had a pre-tween crush on Wil Wheaton. Oh yeah, and Data. I can’t really explain that one.
Well, the library I work at has many of these old shows on DVD, and, on a trip last month to the library downtown, my friend Marie snagged a copy of disc 3 from the Perfect Strangers box set of the first and second season. One Saturday evening, we all wound up watching the Perfect Strangers DVD.
And it was awesome.
Well, at least Marie and I thought so. I think even Hao enjoyed it. Perhaps because the three of us are children of immigrants, if not actual ones (my status is sort of debatable, since I wasn’t made a citizen straight away–it’s weird), but, after freaking out over the 80s-style teased hair (seriously, ladies, what the hell?!), Cousin Larry’s odd assortment of sweaters, the laugh track and the cheesy jokes…
Perfect Strangers is still a great show. No, really. Really.
Okay, so some of the jokes are outdated, but often in an endearing way. So the episodes are formulaic, but in today’s glut of television plot twists resembling pretzels moulded by infants, the straightforward life lessons in each show are a bit refreshing and cute. Yeah, there’s nothing particularly deep about this show, but it’s great to watch on a Saturday night when you can’t afford the bars and don’t feel like hobnobbing. It’s also good to watch on a Monday night when you can’t go out because you just had a tooth extracted (like myself right now).
It’s a cute show, and the physical slapstick, often performed by an elasticised Bronson Pinchot, can be silly in good or bad ways,depending on your mood. I often find myself enjoying it, since, at least for now, it’s unexpected–like in the episode “First Date” when Balki proceeds to shine Susan’s shoes with his chest, and well-done. The chemistry between Mark Linn-Baker (aka Cousin Larry) and Pinchot’s Balki really shows in the series, making it still enjoyable, despite some very unfunny jokes, often coming out of Cousin Larry’s mouth in attempts at sarcastic, sardonic humour which doesn’t get translated into the 21st century very well.
I guess someone could say Perfect Strangers is my newest guilty pleasure. But I don’t feel guilty! The show’s great, cheesy, clean fun, and it’s free to watch if you live in Orange County and have a library card, or if you have a friend who is crazy-face into the ’80s and actually bought the DVD box set. I don’t know if I would, but I like watching the episodes. Maybe I’d buy it used.
Here’s DVD Talk’s review of Perfect Strangers – The Complete First and Second Seasons. There’s also this fan site, which really is “The Ultimate Perfect Strangers Online Fan Resource Site,” since I did use a few photos from their gallery in this post. And have a look at Wikipedia if you’re curious to know what Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot are up to now.