Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cheers 5:24: “Cheers: The Motion Picture”


Airdate: 4/2/87

Woody’s dad writes him and wants him to come home, thinking his place of employ is full of seedy lowlifes. Diane hatches a plan: make a short film proving him wrong, documenting the lives of all who drink and work at Cheers and what kind of people they really are. The big premiere reveals just that; unfortunately, it reveals just that, replete with Norm’s gluttony at the Hungry Heffer, Cliff’s incompetence as a mail carrier, Carla’s brood of hellacious children, and Frasier’s office window revealing a falling suicide committer. Diane’s attempt to reedit it into an art film doesn’t help much either, but she sends it to Woody’s dad regardless, and he still wants the boy home. Only after he receives a simple letter does he change his mind, reading, “Let your son choose his own path, and they will always lead back to you’: it was written by Al, the semi-regular senior who sits in the back.

Interesting episode shows the supporting Cheers characters in other settings, and it’s fun to see things like Cliff riding in his mail truck, or what the Hungry Heifer looks like. Of course, the technology gets a few liberties – Diane appears to be filming with a video camera, but it turns out to be Super-8; the final product has sound, which Super-8 does not – but it’s still great looking at visuals that don’t center on the bar set. Actually, this is sort of a sitcom staple: remember the Brady Bunch home movie of the ‘20s?

Cold open: sets up the plot. Woody gets the call to come home. His dad thinks the Cheers crew are losers, and Cliff's antics don't exactly prove him wrong.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cheers 5:22: “The Godfather, Part III”


Airdate: 3/19/87

Coach’s niece, Joyce, is in town to go to college, but her father, concerned for her safety, leaves a note for Sam to look after her. Feeling bound to honor the request but short on time, he asks Woody, whom he considers “a Disney character without fur,” to be her escort. After several days of steady dating, they drop the bomb on Sam: they’re getting married. Frantic, Sam starts spinning his wheels, devising any way he can muster to talk tem out of it short of begging – no, cancel that, he begs, and pathetically at that. It ultimately works, until the couple returns and announces their cohabitation. This time it’s Diane’s turn to do the talking-out-of, and again, it works, albeit rather laboriously. Sam and Diane stop and think about their efforts, and what they’ll do when their own children face a similar dilemma.

Cute episode may not deliver comedy fireworks but does feature Danson doing a lot of neurotic humor during his scene with the all-too-happy couple. Subplot continues Frasier’s relationship with Lilith when he gets a present from her he despises: a tie (funny scene involving his utter destruction of it).

Cold open: Diane has tickets to Shakespeare but Sam won’t go, so she invites Carla, who only accepts when Sam gives her the afternoon off for it. Diane bcks out when Carla offers a hint of what she’ll do at the cultural event.

Fictitious movie title, as title of episode, would only be 3 ½ years from becoming a reality, as Coppola’s sequel that should have never been!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheers 5:21: “Simon Says”


Airdate: 3/5/87

Frasier’s old college bud, Simon Finch-Royce, is now an esteemed marriage counselor; upon hearing this, Diane thinks it would be a dandy idea if he would evaluate her and Sam’s marriage potential in an actual session (Frasier agrees to foot the bill as a wedding present). After hearing about their backgrounds and the answers to two simple questions about honesty, he glibly proclaims that they are completely incompatible and are “an accident waiting to marry.” Diane’s not about to take this lying down; she and Sam go to Simon’s hotel room, first to confirm that his no verdict was all but a test of their resolve (it wasn’t), then to challenge his assessment, again and again and again. The good doctor finally breaks, changing his pronouncement to the affirmative (albeit sarcastically). A satisfied Diane: “See?”

Definitely one of the best episodes of the series thus far. John Cleese absolutely delivers in his role as Dr. Finch-Ryce, a role that’s tailor-written for him, mixing all together his usual trademarks: haughty contempt for Americans, ultra-dry sarcasm, and a cool, collected poise that slowly deteriorates into a frazzled, manic breakdown (those expected a typical Cleese wig-out scene will not be disappointed). He’s sort of a surrogate for Frasier here, as the bearer of bad news a la the “Triangle” episode – of course, we get far more Yankee barbs this time. Interestingly, the second episode in a row about honesty in a relationship; equally interesting: both arguments seem to favor dishonesty!

Sort of a subplot involves Frasier allowing the Sam/Diane intrusion as revenge for getting stiffed with a $1,5000 counseling fee.

Cold open: Norm leaves Cheers to go to a health club, which his wife had gotten him a membership to. He’s going to do 25 in the pool. “Laps,” asks Frasier? “No, cannonballs!”


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cheers 5:20: “Dinner at Eight-ish”


Airdate: 2/26/87

Frasier and Lilith are now POSSL-Q’s (Persons of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters), and to celebrate their cohabitation they invite Sam and Diane to their place for dinner. The night gets off to a rocky start when Lilith breaks down over the pressure of hosting, and from there it gets worse before it gets – worser. Just about every little detail, mainly involving Frasier and Diane’s engagement, sends either woman, or both, into the bathroom in fury, postponing the dinner again and again. Not that it would have mattered, particularly when they finally sit down to eat it and are shocked to learn its identity: lasagna. Subplot: Cliff volunteers to babysit Carla’s kids – little does he know what he’s in for.
Very funny episode giving the most screen time to date for Bebe Leuworth as Lilith Sternum, a character with all the analytical skill of Freud… and all the warmth of Spock from Star Trek. Her psychological observations certainly have merit, but they’re delivered, prodigiously, as if coming from a textbook, outside the necessary element of human context. But of course, we don’t want to see those walls being torn down – that’s certainly the appeal of her character. I also love it when the set gets used as a comic device: in this case, the bathroom door.
Cold open: Norm tells Frasier about a speech he has to give to his wife’s women’s auxiliary club. He’s a nervous wreck; the speech is about poise.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cheers 5:19: “Dog Bites Cliff”


Airdate: 2/19/87
Cliff gets bitten by a dog during one of his postal rounds and plans to sue – to the tune of $200,000. He quickly changes his tune, however, when he meets the dog’s owner: a gorgeous blonde bombshell with a figure that could stop a diesel truck and eyes for… Cliff? The Cheers gang smells a rat, but Cliff thinks otherwise, especially when she pops up with a statement her lawyer wants him to sign, promising he won’t sue, and rips it up. Now, she says, they can continue with their relationship, and, specifically, consummating it in a hotel room, but before the big moment she feels shaky that they still have the lawsuit hanging over the heads. She just happens to have another copy of the statement, and this time Cliff signs it, right before she leaves to see her husband, a missing POW from a Chinese prison camp. Sam and the rest roll their eyes, but Cliff muses plaintively that they were a couple never meant to be, like Romeo and Juliet!
Diane takes off early in the episode, departing for a 2-week, soul-searching retreat at a monastery before the wedding, so the rest of the show covers the Cliff story. Of course, we know that once a sap always a sap, but his own obliviousness to it is what makes his character, and the episode, so endearing. Best scene is when he explains to cold-water-in-the-face Carla that it doesn’t matter if he’s being played; the important thing is that for these fleeting hours, he’s somebody with a babe on his arm. Shades of Marty here for this “Requiem for a Loser”-style treatment.
Cold open: Diane des her nails, and is in too good a mood for Carla’s jibes to work. “You’ll just have to get at me some other way.” She does – by slamming Diane’s hands down so her wet nails stick to the cottonballs.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cheers 5:18: “One Last Fling”


Airdate: 2/12/87

Sensing Sam’s slow descent into madness from wedding shopping, the boys at Cheers plan a bachelor party for Boston’s greatest bachelor, but Woody, against their objections, asks Diane to be the girl inside the cake. She accepts, believing it to be the world’s greatest irony, but when the cake comes out, Sam starts lamenting the dwindling days of his singleship, and a very angry Diane emerges, at the ready with a handful of cake to be smeared into her betrothed’s face. In the office, Diane belives that the only way for Sam to get over this is for him to sew his wild oats, so she gives him a 24-hour pass to indulge in any carnal pleasures he wants. Of course, it’s mutual, so she gets the same pass, much to his consternation. 24 hours come and go, and a very tired Sam accosts Diane after learning she never went home; he had spied on her the whole night. The reason? She was spying on him too.

Clever concept, but of course it’s been used in movies before (Bachelor Party) and since (Hall Pass). Here, it’s a second-act idea that sets things up for the inevitable “Neither one cheated” payoff, but for my money, it’s the bachelor party scene that had me rolling, with Sam’s cronies tacitly imploring him to “shut up” about his lustful longings. And Diane looks pretty darn good in that negligee, even though she’s mad as heck.
Cold open: Woody tells a roundabout story to Frasier about how he broke his thumb. Roundabout? It actually has nothing to do with how he broke his thumb.  (Woody will wear a cast now for the next several episodes.)


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cheers 5:17: “Never Love a Goalie, Part 2”


Airdate: 2/5/87

With Eddie now in a nine-game slump, tongues are wagging that quite possibly his relationship with Carla is a jinx. Of course, no one at the bar has the guts to tell her, so Norm, by luck of the draw, has to be the bearer of bad tidings. Once she’s sure it’s her, Carla breaks up with her beloved Bruin, but secretly hopes he still plays poorly to prove she’s not. But Eddie is back to his winning ways, and when he comes back to Cheers, he leaves a tape with Carla so she can remember him. In the epilogue, we discover they still go out, but ritualistically “break up” before every game to keep his streak alive. In other news, Diane is appalled when the wife, who accused her husband of attempted murder at the trial Diane was juror on, drops all charges. She’s even more horrified to see the couple ordering drinks at the bar, but elated to see them arguing ferociously, proving her own judicial intuition to be accurate after all.

Good wrapup to all things considered, except for the final tag (showing Carla and Eddie sill “dating”); they should’ve left it with the scene of her listening to his tape. Peccadilloes aside, this is solid stuff, even extending the Diane subplot about her jury duty.

Cold open (and best scene): Sam checks his voice messages, which include Carla’s announcement of her lateness, and Woody’s relaying of Diane’s “I love you” message, which he qualifies as not being his own sentiment.. but on second thought… maybe it is.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheers 5:16: “Never Love a Goalie, Part 1”


Airdate: 1/29/87

Eddie LeBee, hockey goalie for the Boston Bruins, drops by Cheers to all themen’s delight, and Carla’s schoolgirl infatuation. He gives her two tickets for that night’s game (she gives the other to down-in-the-mouth Frasier, who winds up getting arrested after a brawl with a man he had asked to remove his hat), and she’s over the moon – even more so when Edde returns and kisses her. But Carla can’t help but be pessimistic about the future of their coupleship; after all, isn’t she just “a barmaid with six kids and a mortgage up to her neck”? Well, a girl can dream, can’t she, although it’s a bit hard when your true love misses a shot and winds up losing a big game for his team.


Subplot: Diane can’t hold her tongue about the details of an attempted murder trial for which she’s serving as a juror.

Part one of a classic relationship-gone-sour storyline for a Cheers supporting character (remember Coach’s short-lived engagement) is not necessarily hilarious but still full of fine subtle humor, abetted notably by veteran character actor Jay Thomas as Eddie. We know there’s heartbreak in store, foreshadowed by the big loss at the end of the episode, and something tells me that with Carla involved, it won’ be pretty. But for my money, Kelsey Grammar as Frasier yet again steals the show with his opening dourness over hearing of the loss of a famous test chimp in psychological experiments!

Cold open: Cliff and Norm, after 17 hours, have to leave the bar because it’s closing time – until they realize that it’s daylight savings time and they still have an hour left!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cheers 5:15: “Spellbound”


Airdate: 1/22/87

Carla’s ex-hubby, Nick, is in the doghouse again – Loretta caught him cheating and needs a shoulder at Cheers to cry on. Diane willingly (and Carla not so much) obliges, but wants the trophy wife to stand up for herself, not crawling back the way she usually does. She asserts her new independence with a singing gig at the bar, but Nick shows up to take her home, and when Sam intercedes, he thinks the two are a couple. Seeking revenge, Nick tries to woo Diane with his allegedly hypnotic powers of female seduction. Needless to say, they don’t work – not even a candlelight dinner with a small orchestra – leaving Diane to implore the greaseball to go after his cuckolded beloved and profess his undying love. He goes, but viewers had to tune in to the new spinoff The Tortellis, which started airing one day before this episode did.

As mentioned above, this sort of carries on the cheating scandal that was evidently established in the Tortellis pilot, using it as a crossover plot to generate interest in the new show. Didn’t help: The Tortellis was cancelled after 13 episodes. Both Nick and Loretta are terrific supporting characters, but just lacking in the necessary dynamicism that keeps a successful show afloat. As for the episode itself – just so-so, and totally upstaged by the subplot, involving Frasier’s inability to admit losing chess to… Woody!

Cold open: The aforementioned chess story (and board) is set up, with Frasier waxing nostalgic on his college days of chess playing and fencing.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Cheers 5:14: “Diamond Sam”


Airdate: 1/15/87

The recently engaged couple arrives at Cheers to share news of their nuptuals, but Carla is curiously non-reactive; Frasier diagnoses her behavior as a classic case of denial, and offers to give her treatment. Meanwhile, Sam needs to get an engagement ring, but the $5,2000 price tag for Diane’s choice is a bit steep, so he drops 1,500 for the same ring from a wholesaler friend of Norm’s. It goes well – until Diane’s wants the box as a memento – so Sam has to buy silver corn holders at $900 just for the package. Diane wants to look at a dress, but Norm reminds Sam that she might see the ring is still there, so add the price of all four pink dresses to the tally. Now she wants to get it appraised, so Sam winds up buying the ring at full price and switching it. When the wholesaler calls, Diane picks up, and is apprised of Sam’s misdealings, so she angrily tosses her “fake” out the car window, only to be informed it was real when Sam brings the car to a halt, and gets hit from behind by another car. Searching vainly for the ring in a street sewer, they both realize that love has no price, and that their knockoff ring is the best emblem of their mutual feelings.

Oh and Carla? She comes to in a blood-curdling scream – the last utterance of the show.

Well, it’s real, and looking like a running story for the second half of the season. The ring story is a classic TV trope: it never pays to lie, and its execution is a glorious comedy of errors that depletes Sam’s wallet as much as it provides uproarious laughter. Ending is sweetly moralistic – and represents another great theme: there’s no price on love. Whether this is requited love or not is another story.

Cold open: Cliff, Norm and Frasier trade famous impressions, until Woody gets in on the act, and impersonates an obscure figure: the mayor of his Indiana hometown.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cheers 5:13: “Chambers Vs. Malone”


Airdate: 1/8/87

Diane has a woman’s intuition that Sam will finally propose to her. Sam scoffs, but Carla wars him to take it seriously, as women and their “cycles” have preternatural accuracy in foretelling the future. After hours, Sam lays dow the law to Diane, telling her enough is enough with the marriage bit; when she sobs uncontrollably, he proposes out of pity, and then chases after her when she rejects him yet again. The next day, Sam finds himself in court, with neophyte lawyer Tom Babson defending him against charges made by Diane that he caused her neck injuries and sprained ankle during the chase. Diane, hoping to expedite the not-so-speedy trial this will entail, explains the whole story to the judge. Tom proposes that Sam propose to get her to drop the charges. He does, and she does, and after Sam suggests that he was serious in keeping his word, they both may say “I do” in the near future.

A wrinkle in the Sam/Diane relationship has potential wedding bells in store for TV’s stormiest sitcom couple. A great premise, Sam having to propose to avoid jail time, is given expert setup and development under the pen of story editor David Angell, and subplot of semi-regular Tom Babson finally passing the bar exam and getting his first case is woven neatly into the main story as well. We’ll see where this leads!

Cold open: Three drinking men think each other is the designated driver; Sam calls them a cab. Relatedly, Carla tries to pick up a non-drinking patron by requesting he be her designated driver. (Remember, this was the era of MADD and “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” so this was a timely topic).

Norm’s opener: Woody: “How’s it going?’ Norm: “Never been better. But just once I’d like to be better.”


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cheers 5:12: “Dance, Dance, Dance”


Airdate: 12/18/86

Diane enrolls in a ballet course evaluated by a super-tough Russian instructor, but her grade (hand delivered by a meek assistant) is not exactly stellar, and when the Cheers gang watches her dancing on a video tape, they find out why. Sam and Frasier realize such a harsh critique would destroy Diane, whose lifelong dream to dance professionally has evidently blinded her of her own awfulness, so they write a fake, effusively glowing appraisal. Diane is over the moon, but now she sets her sights on the Boston ballet, and arranges her own audition. Barging in on their rehearsal, she rhapsodizes, ad rationalizes, her intrusion by exclaiming her passion for the art of dance. Frasier and Sam arrive at the eleventh hour to spill their secret, leaving Diane to exit stage right with a meek “Never mind” to save face.

Very funny entry has both belly laughs (especially when the boys’ ruse almost becomes dismantled) and a poignant theme about regret and never letting dreams go unchased. Finale, shot on location at a real theater, is funny but bittersweet, as Diane must let go of her lifelong ambition of dancing. Best scene: Diane and Norm, alone, talk about dreams: she sees their value while he feels they just get your hopes up. That is, until she leaves and he’s alone at the bar. “Maybe dreams do come true,” he concedes.

Cold open: Woody becomes a human antenna for  the broadcast of a football game that’s not coming in very clear.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Cheers 5:11: “The Book of Samuel


Airdate: 12/11/86

Sam’s out of town for a few days, so he delegates authority to Woody. Thingsaren’t too bright for the not-so-bright barkeep these days, however, as he has just received a Dear John letter from his back-home sweetheart, Beth, who happens to be in town with her fiancée before departing for their wedding. Woody desperately wants to look like he’s got a girlfriend to keep Beth from pitying him, so he steals Sam’s little black book and arranges a date with one of his four star… cleaning ladies. The double date works for a while, but Woody fesses up to his once beloved that he’s still single, and the two reconcile their feelings over the separation. Forlorn and heartbroken, he’s still compassionate enough to keep a coffee date with Desiree – the cleaning lady.

Charming, well-balanced episode revolving primarily around Woody, and features, presumably, the last appearance of Beth (Amanda Wyss). This one really does show Woody Harrelson’s comic timing – his funniest scene is the one where he reads the letter, admitting it’s not “one of her better ones.” Sometimes I think being the simpleton character in a sitcom is harder, since you have stricter parameters within which to move. The archetype for this type of role was of course Edith Bunker – but certainly Woody Boyd belongs in the top 5! Second funniest scene: the Cheers employees all devise different ways of determining who gets to run the bar.

Cold open: Friasier notes the similarities between his job and that of a bartender, and envies Woody’s ability to listen – or not!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cheers 5:10: “Everyone Imitates Art”


Airdate: 12/4/86

Diane, self-delusionally, thinks a form rejection letter from a literary magazine is a way of telling her they won’t publish her poetry – just yet. Sam tries to give her the cold truth, explaining that he could submit something and get the same exact letter, but she takes him up on it. Her dare turns to horror when his poem does get published, and she, convinced that it’s plagiarized, scours every poetry book she can get to find its source. Sam, seeing that she’s suffered enough, confides that the poem came from one of her love letters to him. She goes from euphoria that she’s not a bad poet after all, to fury that Sam did this in the first place, then back to euphoria after noticing how he must have saved all of her love letters (he denies this, claiming he saves everything). Despite his eye-to-eye insistence that he no longer loves her, Diane is still giddily hopeful when she sees that he did indeed save all her epistolary outpourings to him.

Charming Perlman-scripted love-game episode, with Diane’s insecurity with her intellectualism as the comic engine here. Fun to see her in a manic state, cigarette-smoking, coffee swigging, going through book after book to doggedly find that doggone poem. Tone shifts toward the end with talk about the finality of Sam and Diane’s relationship, but as that is the running theme of this season, it must be kept going.

Cold open: Woody listens interestedly to an ad for a stenography school, but can’t keep up to write the phone number down.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cheers 5:9: “Thanksgiving Orphans”


Airdate: 11/27/86


The holidays are nigh, and nearly everyone is depressed (except cockeyed Woody), mainly because no one has any real plans for Thanksgiving. Of course, Diane is engaged to attend a student party at her university, full of literary lions and bookish bigwigs, but feeling sorry for the rest she arranges a turkey-day get together at Carla’s, which everyone winds up going to, including Diane. Everything seems okay at the heavily sports-themed repast, but when a minor quibble escalates into spiteful insults, well… can you say, “Food Fight!!!”? When he dust, and gravy, settles, all that’s left is for Diane to deliver Sam’s comeuppance – in the form of a flying pumpkin pie. Unfortunately it lands smack dab in the face of a surprise guest: Norm’s wife, Vera, rendering her completely unidentifiable.

A sort of sitcom trope (remember the classic T-Day episode of The Bob Newhart Show?) is given madcap Cheers treatment, with the aforementioned food fight ending you’ll either love or… not love (I’m in the latter camp). Still, some hearty laughs up until then, mostly from Diane and her mostly futile attempts to inject some class into a rather hambone affair. Carla’s new digs look swell – but hard to believe it’s the same place she moved into just a few weeks earlier.

Cold open: Woody and Sam love “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” until Frasier passionately deconstructs it as a psychologically unhealthy song.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cheers 5:8: “Knights of the Scimitar”


Airdate: 11/20/86

Diane confides in Sam that she and a college student could very well be an item, despite their age difference. He just happens to be good-looking on the level of a Greek god, so much so that Sam doesn’t believe he exists. Enter Lance Apollonaire, dreamboat extraordinaire – so real, in fact, that Carla passes out twice. He’s asked Diane out for a weekend in Vermont, but she delays answering, mainly because she’s hoping it will make Sam insanely jealous. Does it? After playing it cool, he teaches Diane a lesson on how to make another man green with envy – by planting a passionate smooch on her to indicate that perhaps he’s got some longing for her after all. Subplot: Cliff gets Norm to join his lodge, the Knights of the Scimitar. Reluctant at first, he starts warming up to his “brothers,” until they pass a referendum… to ban beer at all meetings.

Despite its title, this episode is really more about the Sam/Diane story, and it’s a good one. The hitherto episodes about Diane still trying to reclaim Sam’s heart after declining his marriage proposal may be over – what comes next could be anyone’s guess. Funniest scenes involves Carla’s throbbing lust for Lance, especially the final joke in which she kisses him to show how to make someone jealous.

Cold open: one of Cliff’s postal co-workers busts his chops for a uniform violation. Cliff gets back with the old “peer through viewfinder and get inky eye” trick.

Norm’s opener: Woody: “What’s the story, Mr. Peterson?” Norm: “Zsa Zsa marries a millionaire, Norm drinks a beer. Film at 11.”


Monday, July 15, 2013

Cheers 5:7: “Young Dr. Weinstein”


Airdate: 11/13/86

Diane embarrasses Sam when she tells him he’s not important enough to make a reservation at a posh French restaurant, The Café, and goads him into trying. Bitter and vengeful, he cancels her reservation for that night, taking her place as an esteemed heart surgeon and gourmand named Dr. Weinstein. Angered that she and her date are now tableless, and even angrier that Sam ad his date isn’t, she does everything in her power to sabotage his ruse, even faking a cardiac emergency so he’ll be clueless as to what to do. At the end of the night, Sam feels sorry that Diane hasn’t eaten, so uses his clout to convince the waiter to give her a few morsels. Aw, why not, he even joins her for a second meal, but she has the last laugh when he’s out of cash – and can’t use his credit card because it’s got Sam’s name on it!

Sam and Diane are up to their usual games of one-upmanship, but Sam oughta know better: it sitcom land, if you use a fake identity, you’ll always be busted. Subplot is pretty funny too: Woody is hell bent on creating the ultimate original cocktail – and he does – but he forgets what the ingredients are!

Cold open: Carla chews out a customer before realizing she’s in the wrong. Se apologizes with a sob story to end all sob stories, and lands a 10-dollar tip for it. She figures it might just work a second time when she forgets a customer’s napkin.



Wonder Woman 3.24: The Phantom of the Roller Coaster, Part 2


Airdate: 9/5/79


No, she didn’t die in that car crash (I guess it was a pretty quick transformation), but now Diana’s madder than bees, and ready to kick butt. It turns out the park owner knows that his bro’s down under, but he wants the recluse to turn over his hostage, or risk exposure. No, says the phantom – he can’t risk being the laughing stock – but al that changes when Diana accidentally finds his hiding spot and tries to make him feel better about his grotesque visage. Well, that will have to wait; Fynch has just planted a special detonator that disintegrates metal: the coaster’s toast unless WW ca step in, and she does. Fynch gets traced to his explosive, the boy is returned to the outside world, and the two brothers reuinite, to continue creating rollercoaster revelry for years to come.


Last disc of the set includes a mini-documentary: “Wonder Woman: the Ultimate Feminist Icon.” This is probably the lamest of all the extras thus far, as it simply includes a bunch of windbags of dubious credentials going on about how WW was the first feminist icon and how she changed culture, etc, etc. It’s stuff we’ve already heard, and would be better suited to a college term paper. Only Carter herself adds anything of value here.

Well, it's been great, folks - another series under our belts... gold belts, that is!
The last shot of the series - a freeze frame of Diana, of course!



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cheers 5:6: “Tan ‘n’ Wash”


Airdate: 11/6/86

Norm’s accounting acumen impresses everyone at the bar, and perhaps his investment savvy is not far behind. He’s in the know on a new franchise: a combination tanning salon and Laundromat company, and everyone at Cheers wants in on it. Hesitant at first because he feels he’ll be blamed if it goes under, Norm accedes to pressure and starts selling shares right and left, with everyone getting tans (and burns) to help advertise. With a hot Indian summer diminishing profits, the hitherto elated gang of investors is now a mightily unhappy bunch, and they scorn Norm (even not greeting him as he enters the bar). Fed up, he buys out their shares, but when snow hits, and the business turns around, they’rer still mad – this time because he’s making a profit and they’re not. When everyone finally agrees to get along, he lets them in on a secret: he never bought their shares after all, and he hands out dividend checks. Now they’re happy again, until… news reaches Norm that snow caused the ceiling to cave in at “Tan ‘n’ Wash,” and they’re not insured.

Solid up/down, up/down seesaw of comedy, with greed and the foolishness that attends it the theme this week. Diane is dating a dude named Chad, and she thinks it’s driving Sam insanely jealous, but of course, it’s not. Funniest scene: seeing everyone in tans to advertse their business.

Cold open: everyone trades universal dreams they’ve had, except Woody, who announces a specific, extremely bizarre dream involving a restaurant.

Norm’s opener: First: Woody: “Hey, Norm, how’s the world treating you?” Norm: “Like a baby treats a diaper.” Second: (Everyone hates him now so he has to welcome himself) Norm: “How you feeling today, Norm?” Norm: “Rich and thirsty, pour me a beer!”


Wonder Woman 3.23: The Phantom of the Roller Coaster, Part 1


Airdate: 9/4/79

Diana’s would-be sting of a dangerous wiretapper leads to a more lucrative prize: a man named Harrison Fynch, an evil tycoon bent on owning an amusement park, by any means necessary. Those means involve bugging, and the mysterious disappearance of a teenager on a field trip. But as it turns out, the boy has been abducted by someone else – would you believe a mysterious, disfigured man, the brother of the park owner? The “phantom” was wounded in Vietnam, and assumed to be dead. He feels he’s a liability to business in his current condition (outside of being a freak show attraction), so he has resigned himself to wandering corridors of the Super Loop alone. He seems innocuous enough; well, except for the kidnapping… and a bomb he’s taken from the bad guys. Part 1 ends as one of Fynch’s henchmen plows into the driver’s side of Diana’s car, presumably killing her, but I wouldn’t be so sure now.

First part of the two-part series conclusion starts incomprehensibly, and doesn’t get much better. Frequent WW scribe Anne Collins once again overwrites the plot, and so we alternate between confusing and laughably ridiculous, particularly once we get into the stuff about the “phantom.” They must have asked her to concoct a byzantine, spy-novel of a storyline – but throw in a roller coaster for the kids! Probably why I was more of a Hulk fan; more human-based stories, fewer megalomaniacs and their not-so-simple plans to take over.


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