Sam’s new date is a bit on the young side, and with his back turned she plans a racquetball date with Woody. More than a little insecure about his age, Sam challenges the 20-years-his-junior bartender to a friendly game of racquetball themselves, and, jazzed by his renewed vigor, plans an athletic skiing trip, only to be hospitalized with a hernia from the ensuing strain. Diane drops by to cheer him up, as does the entire Cheers gang a bit later, but nothing can quite chase away those getting-older blues, especially for a man perpetually in the prime of his life.
Simple story, especially the second act, but highly meditative. Sam reveals himself to be quite vulnerable, once you peel away the layers of bravado, machismo and savoir-faire. Final shot, completely joke-free, is among the best endings in the series’ history. But I’d sure like to know where that hospital, rife with beautiful nurses, is located!
Cold open: Norm satisfies his lifelong dream to sing in a barbershop quartet when one happens by, conveniently needing a bass. When they offer him the job, he declines – he already realized his dream.