Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cheers 1.12: The Spy Who Came In For a Cold One

Airdate: 12/16/82

A mysterious stranger tells Carla he’s a spy, but Diane pokes holes in his stories right and left. Finally, he confesses to all that he’s simply a bored writer, tale spinning for attention, much to the chagrin, and unpopularity, of Diane, who feels terrible for being a wet blanket to his barroom illusions. When he returns, he elaborates on his story by claiming to be a poet, but when Diane gets him on the horn to Atlantic Monthly, his purloined verse is revealed, again to Diane’s embarrassment. Finally, he writes a check to buy the bar for a million dollars, and Sam naturally disbelieves him and rips it up, but when a chauffer arrives and seems to confirm his wealth, the “spy” seems to have the last laugh.

First half of this episode is fantastic, in which Diane’s hypocritical lie-puncturing leads to Sam’s great mini-speech, explaining the “bar purpose” of allowing regular folk to “shoot off their mouths and et away with it.” When the patronage casts her with stones as a result of her behavior, she has the opportunity of some deep reflection and reformation, but the second half continues the spy’s duplicity (ending with the theme of “we should have had fun with this guy all along). It’s a chance for some real character development, which Cheers is perennially so good at; unfortunately it went a more sitcomely route.

Raab in the "A Life in the Theater"
Character actor Ellis Raab is both charming and cryptic as the titular spy  - and it’s always good to see Diane cut down to size, with Sam even getting the last word, the very last word, in!

Cold open: Norm, none too enthusiastically, is meeting his wife in remote Maine, then hands off directions to meet her to a young Naval officer. At the last minute, he takes them back, explaining, “I couldn’t do that to the Navy!”
Norm’s opener: (Diane: What’s new, Norman) Most of my wife.

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