Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cheers 8.16: “Finally!, Part 2”

Airdate: 2/1/90

Sam gets back to the bar, apprising everyone of recently elapsed events: in particular, the near-meltdown at Wally’s when Robin brought in his “other woman” with Rebecca still in the ladies room. Sam’s solution, to fake a fire and lead Rebecca out with her jacket over her head, seemed to work – for now. But Sam deep down knows that his boss needs to know the truth, especially with the mooshy, hopelessly-in-love way she’s been acting lately. It gets tougher when the cheater himself arrives at Cheers to break the news that he can’t make his date due to a meeting, and Sam calls him on it – but Mr. Colcort offers a lucrative proposition: keep mum, and he’ll help him buy the bar back. Despite this, Sam still does the right thing, and Rebecca, after initial disbelief, catches her paramour in the arms of another. Robin’s response – he’s a one-woman guy, still looking for that one woman, and he’s narrowed it down to two. Is she okay with this? Despite Sam’s reproach, and her own better judgment (and weakness for diamonds), she is.

The Robin/Rebecca romance continues, but we know now that his philandering ways will not sustain it viably – so expect a lot of forthcoming drama. Sam still has to plug away at buying the bar back, too, so we sort of have two parallel quests going, while the Sam-Rebecca union seems to be put on the back burner… for now.

Funniest scene (again involving Frasier): Frasier compares Rebecca’s potential denial of the end of her relationship with his own “to that bitch Diane!”

Cold open: Bill Medley returns, and all the guys buy him a drink. Woody wants to know why he changed his last name from Righteous.

Cheers 8.15: “Finally!, Part 1”

Airdate: 1/25/90

Refers to the long awaited act of consummation – no, not between Rebecca and Sam, but Rebecca and Robin. You see, Robin wants Sam to attend a $1,000 a plate dinner with Red Sox alumni so he can be briefed on baseball (much to Rebecca’s chagrin), but all is forgiven when she and Robin start to get hot and heavy on the limo ride there, giving Sam the boot (literally) in transit. The next day, Rebecca’s beaming face gives it all away, and assorted bar bets are paid out. The next night, Robin says those three magic words to his apparent beloved, but after a bar gang-attended celebration dinner at a seedy burger joint, Sam caches a glimpse of the millionaire locking arms, and lips, with a blonde beauty. He desperately signals a warning, but…. TO BE CONTINUED.

It’s finally happened, but it looks like Sam was right when he forewarned the moony-eyed Rebecca that sex will just mean another notch on his belt. Will this lead to the satisfaction of Sam’s lust (and probably love) for her? Tune in next time, Cheers fans, to find out!!! High point is probably Bill Medley singing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” in person, although his performance is mercilessly cut short!

Cold open: Frasier brings baby pictures and wants to know who young Frederick looks more like. He supposes it’s only fair, as his wife did “the hard part” for nine months.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cheers 8.14: “What Is… Cliff Clavin”

Airdate: 1/18/90

Cliff passes the test – to be on Jeopardy! He cleans up in the first two rounds, but blows it all in the final, leaving another contestant to win by only $400. A forlorn Cliff retreats to the bar, where Alex Trebeck himself stops by, and he helps the defeated mailman feel better by considering leaving the show for Tibet when he concedes there could be more than one answer for certain questions. Alas – it was all a ruse; Trebeck just made up the story because “he scares me!”

And on the Sammy front, the man himself discovers his lil’ black book’s gone missing. Whoever’s got it, he discovers, is calling his women, alphabetically, and asking them to wear sexy clothes at a meeting place (in this case, a roller rink!) – where no one will meet them. Up until now, all his “G” women have been targeted, so Rebecca Howe will serve as a decoy. The culprit finally shows – a teenage boy – and Sam admonishes the boy for his chicanery, but later winds up turning him around.

Fun episode involves another huge hit at the time (and still is), Jeopardy! It’s fun to see Trebeck playing himself, although the actual game could e funnier (we don’t get Cliff answering any questions, except the last one). Selection of categories, all pertaining to Cliff’s lifestyle, is pretty funny, though. Subplot functions well as clever joke and whodunit.

Cold open: An older man comes back to Cheers after 20 years and notices all the changes – but still recognizes Norm!

Cheers 8.13: “Sammy and the Professor”

Airdate: 1/4/90

Rebecca’s old college professor, Alice Volkman, comes to Cheers to reunite with her – not so overachieving former pupil. Actually, Rebecca the student isn’t much different from the way she is now: indecisive, and always trying to impress people by telling them what they want to hear. This still nettles Volkman, who never had a problem going after what she wants, and now that includes Sam, whom she beds on more than one occasion when the point of their meeting was supposed to be how to buy back a bar. Rebecca’s furious, and wants to call her instructor a slut, but even that ain’t so easy. She finally gets her validation when she gets back a long-in-the-writing term paper on the Carter administration; it gets an A.

Slight but charming story reminiscent of one from the Diane years, and of course Lothario Sam gets in on it – the main difference being that Volkman is an older woman – not really one of Sam’s “bimbos,” and there really isn’t much chemistry between the two of them (but then, there probably isn’t supposed to be). Subplot has Carla faking receipts willy nilly when she gets audited buy the IRS. When the fed shows up, it goes okay at first, until Norm inadvertently gets her in hotter water than she already is.

Cold open: “Where does the time go?” is Woody’s innocent query, but it escalates into a bleak, sobering meditation on death by Frasier, which brings everybody down.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cheers 8.11: “Sam Ahoy”

Airdate: 12/14/89

Sam needs a hefty sum of moolah in order to finalize his buying back of Cheers, so he hatches the idea of racing Robin’s boat, Rebecca, in an upcoming yacht race. Robin’s got extra security these days due to his recent, potentially fractious, political dealings, and lo and behold – what do Carla and Norm (Sam’s crew) find in the galley fridge but… a bomb! They decide to pursue the only option available: racing the boat as fast as they can to land to beat the 28-minute detonation time, and just barely escape to safety. Relived but bitter that Robin has made no overtures of concern for their well-being, Sam refuses pity-money from the millionaire and tells him to take a hike – but he doesn’t necessarily speak on Norm or Carla’s behalf when he refuses the $50,000.

Another white-knuckled suspense yarn, coming off the heels of “The Art of the Steal,” in which Sam and Rebecca are trapped in an apartment of high-tech laser beams. Have the writers been watching reruns of Mission Impossible again? Good to see Sam still endeavoring to buy back the bar, and fun to have a change of venue with the interior of the boat. And some funny double entendres involving the boat’s name of Rebecca – and the real Rebecca’s hush money payments to Carla for not cracking the all-too-easy jokes at her expense.

Cold open: Do-gooder Woody shames Rebecca with all his noble deeds – even offering suicide prevention services when her guilt becomes unbearable.

Cheers 8.11: “Feeble Attraction”

Airdate: 12/7/89

Norm has to fire his secretary, Doris (from the “Two Faces of Norm” episode), but the uber-sensitive, insecure girl reads her dismissal it as a love note, and proceeds to obsessively stalk her ex-boss wherever he goes, catering to his every whim and proclaiming her undying love for him. Norm has had enough, even appealing to the psych-smarts of Frasier for advice, who suggests building up her self-confidence so she doesn’t feel the need to be with a “do-nothing” loser. It works, to a point, but after a near-assignation with Cliff, she starts her mooning act with Norm again, who has no recourse but to hire her again, giving her purpose in life back to her, with no need to fawn over beer-swiggers for validation.

Subplots: Rebecca’s gift from Robin, a desk with directions to find a “ring” somewhere within, leads her to believe it’s an engagement ring. The delayed delivery of a compartment reveals the desk’s high value because of a ring from water damage… resulting from the writing of “Man and Superman” by George Bernard Shaw. They’re too late to stop an overzealous Rebecca from disemboweling the desk with a chainsaw. And Woody wants desperately to impress someone with his knowledge of the coldest day on Boston record.

Cynthia Stevenson reprises her role from 6 episodes back – and her pathologically obsessive Doris certainly gives Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction a run for her money. Evidently Norm still has the paint business going, and still seems to have a secretary despite nearly zero business. He must’ve had quite a bit saved up from his accounting days.

Cold open: The boys debate who the true heroes are, with Frasier concluding there are no real heroes in the 90s – until Sammy walks in with four babes.

Norm’s opener: Woody: “Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Mr. Peterson?” Norm: “Yeah, now let’s get Joe Beer nipping at my liver.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cheers 8.10: “The Art of the Steal”

Airdate: 11/30/89

Rebecca wants to surprise Robin at his posh apartment when he returns home from a business trip – so she goes over, ready for him while in the buff with a bottle of champagne. Sam hears of this and decides to deliver the message in person that the millionaire is running three hours late. Rebecca’s not amused, but becomes even less so when she accidentally triggers the high-tech, laser-beam security system. No help seems likely, so she and Sam wind up spending the night – clothed and physically separated from each other – talking. The next morning the maid arrives to set them free, but she’s impressed by his platonic behavior.

Further Sam/Rebecca development, and the increased likelihood that her bedding of Robin may just never happen. Cool laser effects in the apartment scenes suggest an increased budget for the show – no wonder, as Cheers, by this point, has become a huge hit (it will be #1 next season). Subplot involves an all-boys game of Monopoly, which stemmed from Norm’s lesson on economics to Woody.

Cold open: the aforementioned lesson on economics, with Norm demonstrating devaluation by ripping up Cliff’s dollar.

Cheers 8.9: “Two Girls for Every Boyd”

Airdate: 11/23/89

Woody gets a big break: playing the starring role of George in Our Town at the community playhouse. His co-star, Emily, playing Emily, has noticed that he has trouble acting like he’s in love with her, so she tries getting him to open up. Hopelessly in love with Kelly, he backs off – but she catches him and Emily kissing in the pool room. After much explanation, Woody gets a crash course in method acting, but it’s the rear of getting fired from the play hat really gets his Stanislavski going. Equal plot: An unshaven Sam is the inspiration for the boys at he bar to have a beard-growing contest, judged by Carla. Cliff wins – but his fake beard may require a hospital stay to remove!

Emily is played by Lisa Kudrow, who of course would later star in James Burrows’ Cheers follow-up, Friends. Funny to see her here as a brunette, but she has the exact same voice and mannerisms as she would later exhibit as Phoebe. But for my money, the beard story is funnier, if for no other reason than the image of all the normally-clean shaven Cheers barflies with facial that turns them into everything from Freud to the Wolfman. It looks like the actually grew the beards themselves, even Cliff, whose beard is supposed to be fake!

Cold open: Frasier and Lilith celebrate a night out sans baby – with all baby-oriented activities. The boys wonder why his blonde au pair is not making Lilith jealous; it’s because she’s a he!

Norm’s opener: (Introducing his beard) Woody: “What can I get you, Mr. Peterson?” Norm: “Got any flea powder?” Get me a beer; I think I’ll drown the little suckers!”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cheers 8.8: “For Real Men Only”

Airdate: 11/16/89

Frasier and Lilith are having a briss for their newborn son, Frederick (Sam is relieved to hear it’s a circumcision for – the baby), but the Cheers crew, all men, appears to be squeamishly bailing out of the event, including Frasier! With baby in hand, he makes a fast getaway to the sanctum of Rebecca’s office, but Lilith holds a marathon coaxing session, with the end result being the continuation of the snipping ceremony – in the pool room, the same venue as a Rebecca’s-hosted retirement party for one of the corporate “deadheads.” Everything, including a wet T-shirt contest (long story), turns out to be a success. All in a day’s work at Cheers: your one-stop shopping for any event hosting you need!

We learn that Lilith is Jewish (I suppose the name was a giveaway) and that her and Frasier’s son will be raised the same way. The concept of a briss just lends itself to comedy, and the Cheers’ scribes mined that vein thoroughly. Subplot is also a follow-up: Carla wants to pass around a petition to have her late husband Eddie’s hockey number retired (even if she has to forge half the names). It doesn’t pass; but she does get what she originally wanted: season tickets.

Cold open: Woody shares his boyhood memory quilt – which contains relics, and reminders, of his multiple brushes with death. How cheerful.

Cheers 8.7: “Death Takes a Holiday on Ice”

Airdate: 11/9/89

Carla’s getting tired of Eddie’s excuses for his constant in absentia, until she gets the biggest one of all: he’s dead. He had gotten run over by an ice machine in pushing a fellow cast member out of its way. A silent Carla appears to be in shock – but she’s got lots to say at the funeral, when the other Mrs. LeBec comes forward for the eulogy, and soon an all-out brawl ensues amid the chaos of the revelation. Stewing over mixed feelings, not the least of which is wondering whether or not he really loved her, she receives a visit from Eddie’s other better half, who wants to settle their rivalry once and for all. Oddly enough, it takes a letter (hand delivered by Goldie, he man whose life Eddie saved) to confirm Carla’s husband’s true love for her – and both wives agree to let bygones be bygones.

Surprising turn of events effectively ends Jay Thomas’s featured role as Eddie LeBec, and his untimely demise is wisely handled a la Chuckles the Clown’s farcical fate on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Funeral fistfight is just perhaps a bit broad, but the quieter moments do lend a great deal of poignancy, as when Carla ruminates on her marriage and finally allows herself to “grieve” at episode’s end. Frasier probably has the funniest scene, when he tries to get Carla to spill her unresolved feelings and winds up doing so himself – over the loss of his own mother.

Cold open: Rebecca can’t figure out why the phone bill’s so high: it’s Cliff, jawing away to some dude in Tokyo. She severs the phone line with a cleaver.

Look sharp for an early appearance by Thomas Hayden Church (Sideways) as Goldie Brown, who delivers the note to Carla.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cheers 8.6: “The Stork Brings a Crane”

Airdate: 11/2/89

To celebrate Cheers 100th anniversary, Rebecca pulls out all the stops: inviting the mayor and TV news crew, hiring a barbershop quartet, and tracking down a 106-year old man who remembers when the bar first opened. Things go south pretty fast: the centenarian turns out to be a lecher, Cliff gets arrested when the mayor recognizes him as the writer of threatening and potentially seditious letters, and Lilith goes into labor. That’s right – Frasier’s better half is rushed to the hospital, where an accompanying Sam and Frasier wind up giving Lamaze breathing lessons to the pregnant woman in the next bed. Lilith goes home after being notified of her false labor, but when her husband returns, he discovers she had given birth… in a taxicab, no less. The stork did indeed deliver a crane – but is the newborn ready for a world of crazies, the likes of which made a catastrophe of what should have been Cheers’ finest hour?

Milestone episode has much going on – but of course the highlight is the birth of Frasier’s son (in keeping with classic sitcom births amidst some other chaotic event). There’s much to enjoy about this one – particularly if you’re a barbershop quartet-hater. The mayor of Boston, Raymond Flynn, plays himself, and we learn some tidbits of Cheers trivia.
  1. Cheers was established in 1889, not 1995, as the sign outside reads (and reminds us at the top of each episode). Sam made up the year so as to gibe with Carla’s belief in numerology.
  2. The address of Cheers is 112 ½ Beacon Street.
  3. The bar was originally called “Mom’s” and began, to Rebecca’s utter dismay, as a house of ill repute. 

Remember this next time you need a TV wedge when playing Trivial Pursuit.

Cold open: Cliff is testing out the new model railroad on the bar, and sends a beer over Carla’s way to prove its effectiveness at bartending, but Norm switches tracks and sends it his way.

Cheers 8.5: “The Two Faces of Norm”

Airdate: 10/26/89

Norm’s spreading himself thin with his painting job (pun intended), so he heeds the advice of Woody (or Rebecca, depending on whom you ask) to hire some assistance. The three helpers he recruits turn out to be fun-loving goofs, eager to go bowling but taking advantage of their boss at every turn. Frasier suggests adopting a firmer alter ego, so Norm becomes Mr. Schweitzer, a tough-as-nails order-barker that has the positive effect of keeping the boys in line. Soon productivity is increased, so Norm buys an office and secretary for “Mr. Schweitzer,” but his employees feel he’s being too hard – they go to the office. Norm beats them there, and pretends to intercede on their behalf. Ironically, they think Norm was too hard; their imaginary boss would still have been better than softie Norm, so they quit. Rudy (the head painter) goes to Cheers to tell Norm he’s on to him – but he thinks Schweitzer is his real identity, with Norm just the fake. Norm’s bar buddies don’t exactly prove him wrong, either.

Norm’s still a painter – and his assumed identity is relatable for anyone who’s divided their identity to get any job done. Subplot involves Sam’s ongoing quest to sock enough money so he can buy the bar back (Robin’s idea from two episodes ago); he decides to sell his Ferrari and get a Volare (apparently a cheap car – I didn’t know). His love life suffers as a result.

Cold open: Rebecca returns from a seminar on positive thinking. She manages to see the bright side of everyone at Cheers – except Cliff. Carla succeeds, however, noticing “Way to make a dork out of yourself, Clavin!”

Norm’s opener: Woody” Got room for a beer, Mr. Person?” Norm: “No, but I am willing to add on.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cheers 8.4: “How To Marry a Mailman”

Airdate: 10/19/89

Margaret O’Keefe (from “Please Mr. Postman”) is back from Canada, and she wants to make Cliff her beau. But the letter carrier discloses he has an unfortunate malady related to his relations with the opposite sex: blindness. During moments of anxiety (translated: commitment) he’s as blind as a mole, and so his “big night” with Maggie requires some assistance from a professional – that would be Sam. After a comedy of errors (and Sam’s departure), Cliff takes a backward spill off the balcony and into the pool. After drying off at Cheers, Cliff is followed by Margaret, who apologetically, and sadly, ends their union. When Cliff steps up to the plate and stops her retreat – announcing that he will have her – he finds he can see again, but now he’s paralyzed from the waist down.

Welcome reappearance by Annie Golden as Margaret illuminates this otherwise cornball offering – and does beg the question: why didn’t this blindness ever occur before, as Cliff has had several assignations of a potentially lurid persuasion? Ah, no matter; it’s just another broad premise of which to fill with the usual Cheers irony-laden, snappy jokebook. Subplot too silly to mention.

Cold open: Cliff and Norm try to job Robin’s memory of the show The Millionaire so he can give strangers (them) a boatload of dough. Cliff offers to pay for the bigwig’s drink: a Louis XIII cognac costing $75 a glass.

Cheers 8.3: “A Bar Is Born”

Airdate: 10/12/89

Robin’s back from Europe, Rebecca’s head over heels – again – and Sam talks confidently about his own lack of material success. But his boss’s request for the bowls to be filled with beer nuts gets him down, and so he buys his own bar, on the bad part of town, and calls it “Sam’s Place.” It’s gonna take a lot of work to turn a profit, as entreprenureal sage Robin reminds him. “Why not,” he advises, “follow your real dream?” That would be to buy back Cheers, but first he needs Robin to get him out of his current sour deal. He does, but Sam learns he had bought out the entire block (his idea) and plans on transforming, and improving, the neighborhood. Well, that’s big business.

At least Sam’s showing a little gumption to be the big boss he used to be. Whether that will pan out, time will tell. Best scene: Sam crows about the freedom of his lifestyle, but that quickly devolves into self pity when Frasier backhandedly praises his courage when anyone else would’ve a bullet in their head a long time ago. With friends like these….

Cold open: Frasier makes a rare late-night appearance at Cheers, owing to a visit to a pizzeria to get something for pregnant Lilith. His description of the place makes everyone hungry for a pie.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cheers 8.2: “The Improbable Dream, Part 2”

Airdate: 9/28/89

Robin and Rebecca jet off to Beverly Hills for some business, and he showers her with riches… and an new West Coast makeover. Cool Sammy seems nonplussed by it all, but a recurring dream, in which a dissatisfied-with-her-relationship Rebecca unmasks herself to reveal Al, leaves him sweating cold. The dream interpreters at the bar, professional and otherwise, seem to believe Sam himself has strong feelings for his would-be love, so he’s ready to march in to her office and declare that he cares, only Robin beats him to it. Sam’s only solace is learning that Robin and Rebecca did not sleep together – a tidbit of info he uses to confirm his suspicions that she cares for him too.

Wrap-up starts off Rebecca’s tryst with Robin, while tightening the screws on her sexual tension with Sam. So we’re back in Eva Drake territory, only this time, her beloved reciprocates her feelings – or at least it appears so. We’ll see, as we always do, where it goes.

Cold open: Everyone touches Lilith’s pregnant belly to feel her baby, but Frasier’s stomach grumbling proves to be a lot more interesting.

Cheers 8.1: “The Improbable Dream, Part 1”

Airdate: 9/21/89

Sam and Rebecca retreat to her apartment after their first date – and things get hot and heavy real fast. This is too good to be true, and it is: Rebecca wakes up from her dream, screaming, and yelling at a clueless Sam. It turns out she’s been having these erotic dream for weeks now, and her confidential session with Frasier and Lilith on the matter quickly turns public when Sam overhears everything. He plots to tranquilize Rebecca into a sound sleep so she’ll dream again, and then put the moves on her, pretending she’s still dreaming, but she wakes up abruptly – and angrily. The two discuss her potentially compromising her principals if only for the sake of having a man again, when Robin Colcord, a millionaire playboy, arrives just in the nick of time to put her head in the clouds again.

Things are gearing up for the new baby on the Frasier front, but the big news this season seems to be the introduction of this new guy – a potential love interest for go-getter Rebecca. (After all, she’s had a whole season without someone to moon over.) Broad humor continues (i.e. the entire bar sleeping during Sam’s hypnotic tape) but is still woven smartly with the witty.  Still not getting to the real nitty gritty of the charactizations like we used to.

Cold open: The bar razzes Frasier for putting a lime slice in his beer (this is ahead of its time) but putting everything but the kitchen sink in his beer.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cheers 7.22: “The Visiting Lecher”

Airdate: 5/4/89

Frasier eagerly awaits a peer in his field, Dr. Lawrence Crandell, a psychologist who wrote the end-all be-all book on fidelity. While in Rebecca’s office, though, he persistently questions whether his amorous feelings for her are mutual. They are not, she insists, and when she voices her anger to Sam and Frasier, they question her credibility. Apologizing to the doctor, she finds herself propositioned again when he plays footsie with her. Angrily, she barges into his hotel room (where he was coming on to the chambermaid) and tries to extract a confession while Sam listens in the closet (where the chambermaid is also hiding). All goes not according to plan, but when the Dr.’s wife drops by surprisingly, she wants to know the story. Again, Rebecca’s story doesn’t quite hold water (at least the way she tells it) and it seems Crandell’s marriage and career are saved when it looks like Rebecca’s gone off the deep end.
Amusing enough hijinks are practically undone by the sheer political incorrectness of it all (at least by today’s standards). Crandell’s behavior with Rebecca is clearly sexual harassment, and boys at the bar (and his wife) constantly taking his side can’t help remind one of the male culture undermining the seriousness of anti-female crimes, such as rape. I’ve certainly seen worse from this time period, but with Cheers it’s more cringe-inducing because it’s such a quality-written show.

Well anyway, that’s the season – see you for number eight!

Cold open: Carla vows niceness for one night due to a palm-reader’s prophecy, but she manages to get one in on Cliff, without him knowing it.

Cheers 7.21: “Sisterly Love”

Airdate: 4/27/89

Susan Howe, Rebecca’s sister, is in town, ready and willing to make peace with her estranged sibling. Sam sees himself as the peace maker, and is all too aware of the emotional vulnerability he can exploit in the process. Learning that the cause of their enmity was that Susan always stole his sister’s beaus, he passes himself off as Rebecca’s love, hoping history will repeat itself. It does, but eager for more, he thinks he can “ping-pong” back to Rebecca, who’s sure to seek revenge. Planning two dates with each sister for one night, he runs into trouble when Susan arrives early, full of lust and ready for action, followed shortly by Rebecca, who murders Susan in cold blood. Sam is mortified – and hurt – when he finds out he’s the victim of a practical joke, in which everyone has participated. But the silver lining: the sisters’ mutual thirst to see Sam hoist on his own petard has brought them together.

Clever variation on the classic Cheers trope of who’s zooming who is noteworthy mainly for the appearance of a pre-Melrose and Desperate Housewives Marcia Cross. She works quite well as a scream-queen actress ready for some familial reconciliation, and she bears more than a faint resemblance to Kirstie Allie – kudos to the casting. Subplot involves Frasier none-too-eager anticipation of seeing his mother-in-law again – he gets busted by his wife when the bar cronies recite all the jokes he had made at her expense.

Second episode to feature Rebecca aiming a handgun. Should we be worried?

BTW: I could be wrong, but I believe this to be the first episode to feature the interior of the upstairs restaurant Melville’s. Anyone want to check on that for me?

Cold open: Rebecca wants to institute a new designated driver policy. She may have second thoughts after her first job: driving a drunk to Philadelphia.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheers 7.20: “Call Me Irresponsible”

Airdate: 4/13/89

Carla is waiting, and waiting… and waiting for hubby Eddie to send her an anniversary gift from his touring ice show. One flower delivery turns out to be from the sympathetic Cheers crowd, another from Carla herself, who wants to prove to them that Eddie’s not a complete deadbeat. Even Eddie’s laundry holds no surprises. Finally – a call: Eddie’s schedule has been changed and he won’t make it home for another few weeks. Skeptical Carla thinks Sam reminded him, but Sam swears it ain’t so, although Carla’s swollen tongue curse almost makes him fess up.

Subplots: Sam teaches Woody the fine art of winning a gambling pool graciously, Rebecca takes heat for hosting that pool in the first place, and Frasier and Lilith want Norm to decorate their upcoming child’s nursery.

Ok show has the usual assortment of jokes, serving a couple of middling plotlines. It does seem to foreshadow some trouble on the LeBec homefront – this is not exactly a Ward Cleaver marriage. Funny bit about the Cranes’ nursery – the psychiatrists want no “baby” themes or gender indicators. A theme ahead of its time!

Cold open (a funny one): Sam doesn’t recognize one of his baseball fans, until she reveals herself as a regular heckler at his games. When he serves her a sub-par drink, she revisits old times by berating his bartending skills.

Norm’s opener: Woody: “What’s going on, Mr. Peterson?” Norm: “A flashing sign in my gut saying, ‘Insert beer here!’”

Cheers 7.19: “The Gift of the Woodi”

Airdate: 4/6/89

Woody is suspiciously invited to his girlfriend Kelly’s birthday party by her father, who doesn’t see the attraction. The Cheers gang thinks the Woodman may be walking into a trap, being intentionally embarrassed by his lack of riches, but he goes anyway, armed not by an extravagant diamond necklace or luxury car, but a song. Kelly admires the gesture, and then wants to know where the real gift is. Crestfallen Woody considers ending the relationship based on their different economic worlds, but decides on one last-ditch effort: hocking everything to buy a diamond jewel. Kelly likes it, but thinks it’s a matter of stopping at an ATM machine to get the money for the pendant itself. Woody straightens her out – he’s got no money, just a lot of love for her. She gets the message.

The Woody/Kelly saga continues, and the two make a durn cute couple (with, of course, the requisite conflict being their have/have not status). Two subplots here: Cliff has “invented” the beetabega, a hybrid of a beet and rutabaga, but is having a tough time selling it, while Rebecca is taking lessons from Lilith on how to be a powerful businessperson by eliminating her sex appeal. I thought the latter would have a more moralistic payoff (something like you don’t have to trade femininity for power), but the show didn’t go that route.

Cold open: Cliff announces his aforementioned beetabega, and the Cheers crew enlists Norm as the truthteller of his best friend’s folly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cheers 7.18: “What’s Up, Doc?”

Airdate: 3/30/89

To prove he’s still a Don Juan after getting shot down by Rebecca for the umpteenth time, Sam bets he can bed the next dame that walks in Cheers. She’s Shelia Rydell, and – not interested. Sam concludes it’s because she’s an egghead psychiatrist, and friend of Frasier and Lilith’s, but that makes his lust for her no less. He hatches a plan to get closer to her: pretend he’s a patient, suffering from impotence. At her office, she’s immediately on to him, and invents a crazy treatment for him conducted by a former Nazi, but later on, beguiled by his readiness to make a fool of himself for her, she accepts his date offer. It goes well, until afterwards at the bar when Sam wants an honest assessment of his psyche. She concludes his life is utterly empty, with the exception of women and sex; he’s so horrified by this he kicks her out and abruptly ends the date. Rebecca tries to lift his spirits, attempting to come up with any non-sex interest he might have. She does: the Three Stooges!

Shelia fills in for Diane in this episode, assuming the long-absent duties of reminding Sam what a dunderheaded horndog he is. 80s film actress Madolyn Smith is stunning in the role, to the extent that it’s nearly impossible to believe Sam would refuse having sex with her, no matter how psychologically wounded he is. Ploy of using impotence as a fake illness is clever too, and has some funny comic payoffs.

Cold open: Rebecca and Woody host a “guess the number of jellybeans in the jar” contest, but Woody inadvertently gives the number away, and Norm eats the spare beans slated for a do-over.

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