1 9 8 6 – 1 9 9 3 (USA)
150 x 30 minute episodes
This slapstick comedy explored America and its ways, through the eyes of a newly arrived immigrant.
Balki Bartokomous was a shepherd from the Mediterranean island of Mypos, who showed up one day unexpectedly at the Chicago apartment of his distant cousin Larry Appleton.
Balki’s heavy accent, fun-loving nature, wide-eyed naiveté, nutty Myposian customs, and a tendency to take quite literally everything Americans said to him caused considerable disruption for Larry but he still took him in – After all, it was not going to be easy getting started as a shepherd in Chicago.
Larry aspired to be a photojournalist but worked downstairs from his apartment at the Ritz Discount Shop, run by a greedy, insensitive man called Donald Twinkacetti (known as Twinkie).
Larry’s nurse friend, Susan lived upstairs but was soon replaced by Mary Anne and Jennifer, two stewardesses who also lived in the building.
Balki’s comic misadventures – as he learned about America, studied citizenship at night school, and chased girls with Larry – caused many funny and frustrating situations.
His answer to every problem seemed to be, “Don’t be ridikalus!” and his basic grasp of the English language meant he often came out with sayings like “We are lean cuisine, fighting machines” or “You’ve made your cake, now lie in it”.
In 1987 both Larry and Balki began work with the Chicago Chronicle – Larry as a cub reporter and Balki in the mailroom.
This introduced new characters to the series; Harriette (the wisecracking elevator operator), Harry the editor, Lydia the neurotic advice columnist, and Mr Gorpley as Balki’s scrooge-like boss.
Eventually Balki earned his high school diploma and drew a comic strip featuring a sheep named Dimitri, Larry was assigned to write dialogue for the strip, and by the end of the series’ run, Larry and Jennifer got married and moved into a big Victorian house where they take in Balki and Mary Anne as boarders.
When the series was abruptly cancelled, Balki was about to marry Mary Anne. Several original episodes were aired in the summer of 1993, in which that marriage finally took place and both couples had babies.
Mary Anne Spencer
Jo Marie Payton-France