Sam is invited to pitch against a team of girlie magazine models in a charity game, but his poor sportsmanship put everyone off when he gloats over his lopsided victory. Psychological sleuth Diane gets him to reveal the source of his over competitive nature: his inability to please his overdemanding parents. Sam rejoins by charging that she is just as competitive, and he proves it by challenging her to a game of ping-pong. After an all night game, she agrees to a truce if they both quit simultaneously, but she gets in the last swing, and wins the game.
Interesting show doesn’t set up the conflict until Act II, and then we get a classic Sam/Diane argument, to which the rest of the episode merely set up. In the tradition of all the best ones, this involves both the verbal and physical, and the removal of the defensive layers that produces greater and more intense comic energy. Subplots involve Norm’s visiting mother-in-law and Coach’s inability to turn salesmen down. Look fast for character actors David Peymer and John Hancock (Bitterman from Arthur).
Cold open: Coach buys a backroom table that can be converted, not too easily, to any bar game, including ping-pong (thereby enabling the Sam/Diane match).
Norms opener: Coach: “What’ll it be, Normie?” Norm: “Just the usual, Coach. I’’ have a proper beer and a snorkel.”