Sam allows himself to be interviewed for a “Most Eligible Bachelors of Boston” article, rationalizing it to Diane by claiming he’s drumming up bar publicity. But Diane isn’t buying it, and so Sam claims he told the interviewer how devoted he is to his one true love, Diane Chambers, lying through his teeth with every syllable. Sam confesses to the barflies that he’s nervous Diane will call his bluff by calling the magazine; she didn’t, but he lays all his cards out in eruptive honesty, and her rationale response is to strangle him with a telephone cord.
Hoping to patch things up, Sam calls enlists the services of an artist to paint Diane’s portrait. He arrives, in the form of an uber-pretentious Native American-sympathizer named Phillip Semenko, played by Christopher Lloyd, but Sam is so put off by his demeanor he fires him on the spot. Before Phillip leaves, he catches a glimpse of the ethereal beauty of Diane, and crashes to his knees on the spit in basking adulation. Offering to paint her for free, he predicts that this will drive a wedge between her and Sam. He’s right: Sam gives her an ultimatum that if she leaves with Phillip they’re through forever. She does.
Series co-creators Glen and Les Charles always tend to pen the pivotal Sam/Diane episodes, and they do a masterful job with this one: a potboiler building up to the unspeakable but probably inevitable breakup of Cheers’ most volatile couple. To sooth the edge they’ve written a plum role for Taxi regular Christopher Lloyd; his Phillip Semenko is just as quirky and offbeat as Jim Ignikowski but with none of the heart and all of the hilarity. A nice moment with Sam, in which he mulls over the current status of his relationship with Diane (“…there was a time”) telegraphs the ensuing heartbreak with knowing melancholy.
Cold open: Coach asks for volunteers for the 3rd Annual Cheers Picnic, and volunteers himself for everything when no one steps up. He warns that everyone better be on time for the meeting of committee chairmen!
Norm’s opener: Coach: “How you feeling, Norm?” Norm: “Naked, without my beer, Coach.”