Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cheers 2.5: “Sumner’s Return”

Airdate: 11/3/83

Another return, this one of Diane’s ex-fiancée, Sumner Sloane, who had jilted her in the pilot episode. Agreeing to let bygones be bygones and wanting only forgiveness and friendship, he invites her to diner to meet his new love – she accepts, but does not invite Sam. When he finds out, he accuses her of being ashamed of him, and to prove otherwise she invites him to the dinner after all. Ill-advised by Cliff and Norm, Sam reads War and Peace in five nights to prove he’s no intellectual lightweight, and after the dinner, punch drunk from sleep deprivation, he shows his annoyance over having been sidelined all night, correctly accuses Sumner of trying to get back together with Diane (claiming his new love interest was “sick”), and entertains the notion maybe their pairing may be the best outcome after all. Diane returns to Sam, a bit incredulous, who asks why; after all, “he read War and Peace too.” Diane: “Yes, but he didn’t read it for me.”

The guest actor who started it all – Sumner – makes a triumphant, and pretentious, return to Cheers, and thinks Diane is the same snooty highbrow she was before. Well, she is, but maybe just a bit more rough around the edges. The salt of the earth at Cheers will do that to a girl!

We’re expecting the dinner date to be the real laugh fest of the second act, but that scene is never depicted; rather, it’s Sam’s punchy condition in the aftermath, and his frustration and insecurity over his relationship with Diane, that mines most of the comic gold here. Oh, and stay ‘till the end – this has one doozy of a last line!

Cold open: Sumner’s actual return; he defends his presence to a clueless Coach and a not-so-forgiving Carla.

Norm’s opener: Returning from a ball game, he mutters a few remarks before it is revealed he was kicked out of the stadium for taking his shirt off – it was creating a distracting glare for the athletes.

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