Sam returns from Italy furious – intending to stop Frasier and Diane’s wedding. he goes to the wrong church and gets arrested, only to be freed, make that “purchased,” by the local magistrate. Frasier returns equally irate – he got jilted at the altar, and he reasons that Sam is to blame, going so far as point a gun, albeit a unloaded one, at the man. Diane has returned, once agan trying to make spiritual sense of the madness, by cleaning and cooking for nuns at a local abbey. Sam goes after her, finally fessing up that he crossed a ocean for her. Still she waits for a sign from above, and gets one: Sam’s hasty return to all-female habitation to look for the men’s room.
But there’s sad news at Cheers these days. Coach has passed away, but his pen-pal, a wide-eyed hayseed from Indiana, has arrived looking for work. Sam agrees to hire the over-earnest boy, and it looks like it’ll all work out. Even Norm is celebrating the end of his efforts to get Vera pregnant. No, she isn’t; she just stopped making him try.
Season 4 opener ties up all the loose ends from season 3. Obviously the emotional highlight here is the death of Coach. Interestingly, the producers decided no to make such a big deal of it. They, probably wisely, chose to have the character die unceremoniously; the only references to his passing come from Sam, who tells Woody the news, and during the exchange between Sam and Diane at the abbey. In a sense, a greater emphasis on the situation could be seen as exploiting it. And Cheers was never a show to dwell on the melodramatic or potentially mawkish – it’s a choice in tone that may have been too intense for the show’s tenor (think of the lack of ceremony on the show’s finale). And I think Nick Colassanto would’ve wanted it that way.
FYI: Woody’s first line: “This is amazing! Hundreds of bottles. Red and white wine glasses. Nawgahide stools. Brass rails. Big city bartender with a joke at the ready!”
Cold open: Sam explains what happened to him in Italy (see above synopsis).
Norm’s opener: Sam: “What to you say, Norm?” Norm: “Any tawdry thing that’ll get me a beer.”