The question for anyone who disagrees with this review of the single Warner Archive May 28, 2018 DVD release of the final two seasons of the 1986-93 ABC sitcom is how many of these releases have you reviewed? How many? Your not-so-humble reviewer has reviewed the prior four single-season Archive DVD releases of the series. Any who gets this opening joke likely will enjoy (and agree with) this post.
Remember as well that I have a plan and that everything will work out just fine.
The "Starngers" release is notable both for allowing owning the complete series and for coming on the heels of the (reviewed) Archive DVD release of the ninth and final season of the 1976-85 CBS sitcom "Alice." That TV Land series set in a Phoenix diner has many parallels with the equally amusing "Strangers." These common elements extend well beyond parallel episodes about live Thanksgiving turkeys.
The "Strangers" premises is that uptight Chicago resident Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) opens his apartment door in the pilot to find his goofy naive fresh-off-the-boat cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) standing there. This sets the series-long premise of this bonded odd couple having their conflicting personalities and world views exasperate the "sit" of the week that provides the "com" for the episode.
The first few S7 episodes revolve around the period leading up to the wedding of Larry and series-long (and long-suffering) girl of his dreams flight attendant/neighbor Jennifer. A very special two-part episode has love conquering all when the couple is comically waylaid on their way to the chapel to get married.
A dual homage comes in the form of Larry and Balki transforming into Laurel an Hardy in a black-and-white episode that has them building a gazebo; a black-and-white S6 episode has our leads become Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners."
"Mork and Mindy" veteran producer/writer Dale McRaven takes a page straight out of fellow Garry Marshall series "Happy Days" by having Balki and series-long (and long-suffering) girl of his dreams flight attendant Mary Ann have the EXACT same form of reconciliation as Joanie and Chachi before that couple ties the knot in the "Days" series finale. Of course, hilarity ensues in the period leading up to the wedding ceremony of Balki and Mary Ann.
Compared to the long and twisted path to the altar for the Arcolas and the Bartokomouses, the variation of the Disney "Shaggy Dog" movie as to Mork marrying Mindy relatively is a wedding-cake walk.
McRaven also "Marshalls" his skills regarding several S7 aand S8 episodes. Just as "Mork" increasingly focuses on Mork home-planet Ork (including a visit to that world), many of the final "Strangers" episodes revolve around the Mediterranean island of Mypos from which Balki hails. The king of the country dying while visiting Chicago creates great turmoil that requires posthumous shenanigans in an episode with shades of both "King Ralph" and "Weekend at Bernies."
We also get a special two-parter in which the oft-mentioned mama of Balki is finally seen; the family resemblance is due to Pinchot playing both roles. The "sit" this time is that Mama guilts Balki into returning to Mypos, and Larry follows to persuade his cousin/best friend/rooommate to return to Chicago.
The trip to Mypos highlights an odd aspect of the final seasons of "Strangers." Even accounting for the girls being flight attendants, Larry and Balki spend very little time with their new wife and (through much of these episodes) special girl respectively.
Balki again follows the lead of "Coosin Larry" by putting a bun in the oven of Mary Ann soon after Larry knocks up Jennifer; this relates to an earlier "Perfect Strangers Babies" episode in which Linn-Baker and Pinchot portray toddler versions of their characters
All of this builds to a series finale that covers many bases regarding both "Strangers" and sitcom cliches. An overdue Jennifer convinces the boys to take her up in a hot-air balloon. Ala an "Alice" episode, a comical mistake that is true to the series results in the balloon going out of control.
Jennifer goes into labor in the balloon as Larry and Balki experience having an outing turn into a life-threatening adventure one last time.
The cliches continue with flashbacks in the final minutes of the episode and the cast taking their final bows as the end credits roll.
All of this (along with the catchy "Strangers" and "Alice" themes) show that Archive is the go-to source of the ones that they no longer make 'em like.