Monday, July 1, 2013

Cheers 4:21: “Fear Is My Co-Pilot”

Airdate: 3/13/86

Jack Dalton, a Hemingwayesque adventurer, drops by Cheers to see Diane, whom he had brief dalliance with after she broke up with Frasier in Europe. 100% bravado and bluff, Jack wants to take Diane up in his plane so she can live a little, but she insists she’s settled down now. They reach an agreement; she’ll go with Sam, and so the three fly off in his single-engine plane. Things take a turn for the catastrophic when Jack suddenly keels over, dead as a doornail, leaving Sam and Diane to fly the plane, and confess they would’ve gotten married when they think they see death staring them in their faces. All a joke, however, as Jack gets up and has a hearty laugh at their expense, but they’re not laughing. Safe and sound back at the bar, they both agree not to confront their deathbed confessions, at least not yet.

Pretty good, and surprisingly suspenseful, episode highlighted by the scene-stealing presence of Jack Dalton, an outsized personality who turns the bar on its ear as soon as he walks in and picks everyone up! Of course, he’s the catalyst for the real wrinkle here: another reminder that Sam and Diane are still hopelessly, madly in love with each other but admitting it would betray everything they’ve stood for all their lives. In the close quarters of a doomed biplane, all is revealed like a truth serum, but of course, on terra firma, the couple goes back to estrangement.

Cold open: Frasier helps Woody deal with a blowhard, and his suggestion to just walk away is heeded – by the Cheers members who consider him the blowhard.

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