Season 3 is probably most notable for being Nicholas Colasanto’s last season as the beloved Coach. Colassanto died from heart disease in February of 1985; the last show he filmed was “Cheerio, Cheers” in November of 1984, at which time he announced his terminal illness. Reasons were given for his absence, until the last few shows of the season simply mentioned nothing. The producers aired a previously filmed cold open for the last show of the season, “Rescue Me.” The DVD set has a nice tribute to Colasanto, featuring some of Coach’s best moments.
I read online that both Rhea Perlman and Shelley Long were pregnant during this season. I figured Perlman was, as her character also become pregnant, but Long’s pregnancy was not written in to her character; producers feared it would unnecessarily open up a can of worms. The long-shot filmed sequences at the end of the season were filmed earlier, when she was not showing.
The DVD has some nice offerings, including the aforementioned tribute and a character highlight reel, but I got the biggest kick out of the “Bar Tour” feature, an interactive map revealing the stories behind various set props and the characters associated with them. Cleverly, the jukebox plays the Cheers theme, while the taps makes a pouring sound and the register rings up a sale.
Back to the season – At a full 25 episodes, this one really rounds out the cast and establishes a true ensemble feeling. Quips are quick and sharp but never at the expense of character, and the comedy is timed just perfectly – not too slow or, as in the case with all modern sitcoms, too joke-killingly fast. On to Season 4!!!