Phillip Semenko agonizes over his portrait – he’s “lost his talent” until he realizes it’s his subject: Diane is too placid, too content. But after ruing the state of her relationship with Sam, she falls into deep despair, and Phillip finishes his painting: a haunting, dark-eyed study in sadness. Sam goes off on his own and buys a peace offering – a study in velvet – that he found in a TV Guide ad, much to the derisive delight of the Cheers crowd. Diane thinks Sam will love the painting, but Phillip says he won't, and advises she be alone with him, because that’s the last time they’ll be together. With everyone at the picnic, Diane brings the painting to show Sam, but rescinds it because she thinks he’s too filled with animosity. Things get worse when insults (he resents her treating him like a trained chimp) turn to slaps, and then to a nose-tweaking impasse that seems even low for Sam. Finally, the two reach the end – Sam orders Diane out of the bar, and the gravity of their respective tones means indicates that this is it. In silence, Diane leaves. Sam checks the painting out… and likes it.
Classic second-season finale is one for the books, and the last ten minutes is nothing less than the greatest breakup scene in American sitcom history. The aforementioned Charles/Charles script pushes both characters to the brink, even infantilizing them, to reveal how “love makes such fools of us all,” particularly when we’re trying desperately, futilely, to salvage it. Alternating, masterful use of rapid-fire dialogue, physical humor, silence, and even visual gags (utilizing the stair window), adds to the powerhouse comedic effect this episode yields. Bravo to all – on to season three!
Cod open: Carla invites a man over and guesses that he’ll put the moves on her. He says he’s not that kind of guy, put her predictions are more of a set of instructions!
Norm’s opener: Coach: “What’s up, Norm?” Norm: “The temperature under my collar!” (Not really a joke – just a line setting up the scene.)