Friday, July 20, 2012

Cheers 1.21: "Showdown, Part 1"

Airdate: 3/24/83

Sam’s brother, Derek, is in town, but Sam, having always been in his shadow, is less than elated. Diane tries to convince him that he shouldn’t feel inferior to anyone, but that’s easier said than done when Derek wows everyone at the bar with opera singing, pool tricks, tap dancing and teaching Coach Spanish! Even Diane falls under his spells, even agreeing to fly with him on his personal jet to Martha’s Vineyard. Sam’s secret longing for Diane starts to show when he semi-subliminally implores her to stay; she seems to respond accordingly. So heavy does this weigh on his thoughts he can’t even concentrate on his knockout date for the night! To be continued…

We know season one would come to a head like this, and the writers were wise to mine all the soap it was worth in a two-parter. The fractious chemistry between the two yields some fantastic give-and-take, the likes of which we really hadn’t seen since those classic ping-pongy screwball comedies of the 1930s – interesting to note how ABC was doing the same thing, with sleeper hit Moonlighting.

Interesting touch: We never see, only hear, Sam’s brother.

Cold open: Diane forces culture on Cheers by playing opera on the bar TV; an outraged crowd feigns sleep so she goes away, exasperated. They agree to give it one more chance… for 2 seconds.

Norm’s opener: Norm’s already at the bar.

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