Friday, May 24, 2013

Cheers 3.21: “The Executive’s Executioner”

Airdate: 3/7/85

Norm is caught in the toilet stall by his boss, Mr. Hecht, who offers/threatens him with a promotion, but not an entirely lucrative one: to be the company ax-man, responsible for firing those who do not fit in with the company’s new “organizational changes.” Chosen because he is seen by inferior to everyone at the firm, and thus not enviable in any way, Norm executes his job as executioner with so much pity he becomes a basket case himself, reduced to a blubbering mess with each pink slip he delivers. When he starts to become emotionally numb, however, he knows it’s time to quit, only everyone at the firm hangs up on him for fear that they are next on the chopping block!

Sort of a 25-year precursor to Up In the Air, this entry gleans just as much comic mileage from the concept, but at about 90 fewer minutes. Highlight: a dreamlike filmed sequence of Norm’s nightmare, in which he gleefully pushes accountants down an elevator shaft, until he realizes his next victim is himself. The Cheers filmed sequences are fun (remember Diane at the funny farm), but a verbal description of the dream would probably have done just as well.

Subplot is funny too: Cliff’s noisy neighbors push him to the limit, so acid-tongued Carla helps him draft a vitriolic letter to the guilty party. When he resolves the matter himself,  the letter is just about to go out, so Cliff, in a very un-Cliff-like manner, seizes the post from a letter carrier and intercepts its mailing. Whew!

Cold open: Carla berates a departing customer for his cheap tip of 25 cents; when the intimated man offers a ten and asks for change, she throws the quarter back at him, telling him to beat it.

Norm’s opener: Sam: “What will you have, Normie?” Norm: “I’m in a gambling mood, Sam. I’ll take a glass of whatever comes out of that tap.” Sam: “Oh, looks like beer, Norm.” Norm: “Call me Mr. Lucky!”

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