Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cheers 8.2: “The Improbable Dream, Part 2”

Airdate: 9/28/89

Robin and Rebecca jet off to Beverly Hills for some business, and he showers her with riches… and an new West Coast makeover. Cool Sammy seems nonplussed by it all, but a recurring dream, in which a dissatisfied-with-her-relationship Rebecca unmasks herself to reveal Al, leaves him sweating cold. The dream interpreters at the bar, professional and otherwise, seem to believe Sam himself has strong feelings for his would-be love, so he’s ready to march in to her office and declare that he cares, only Robin beats him to it. Sam’s only solace is learning that Robin and Rebecca did not sleep together – a tidbit of info he uses to confirm his suspicions that she cares for him too.

Wrap-up starts off Rebecca’s tryst with Robin, while tightening the screws on her sexual tension with Sam. So we’re back in Eva Drake territory, only this time, her beloved reciprocates her feelings – or at least it appears so. We’ll see, as we always do, where it goes.

Cold open: Everyone touches Lilith’s pregnant belly to feel her baby, but Frasier’s stomach grumbling proves to be a lot more interesting.

Cheers 8.1: “The Improbable Dream, Part 1”

Airdate: 9/21/89

Sam and Rebecca retreat to her apartment after their first date – and things get hot and heavy real fast. This is too good to be true, and it is: Rebecca wakes up from her dream, screaming, and yelling at a clueless Sam. It turns out she’s been having these erotic dream for weeks now, and her confidential session with Frasier and Lilith on the matter quickly turns public when Sam overhears everything. He plots to tranquilize Rebecca into a sound sleep so she’ll dream again, and then put the moves on her, pretending she’s still dreaming, but she wakes up abruptly – and angrily. The two discuss her potentially compromising her principals if only for the sake of having a man again, when Robin Colcord, a millionaire playboy, arrives just in the nick of time to put her head in the clouds again.

Things are gearing up for the new baby on the Frasier front, but the big news this season seems to be the introduction of this new guy – a potential love interest for go-getter Rebecca. (After all, she’s had a whole season without someone to moon over.) Broad humor continues (i.e. the entire bar sleeping during Sam’s hypnotic tape) but is still woven smartly with the witty.  Still not getting to the real nitty gritty of the charactizations like we used to.

Cold open: The bar razzes Frasier for putting a lime slice in his beer (this is ahead of its time) but putting everything but the kitchen sink in his beer.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cheers 7.22: “The Visiting Lecher”

Airdate: 5/4/89

Frasier eagerly awaits a peer in his field, Dr. Lawrence Crandell, a psychologist who wrote the end-all be-all book on fidelity. While in Rebecca’s office, though, he persistently questions whether his amorous feelings for her are mutual. They are not, she insists, and when she voices her anger to Sam and Frasier, they question her credibility. Apologizing to the doctor, she finds herself propositioned again when he plays footsie with her. Angrily, she barges into his hotel room (where he was coming on to the chambermaid) and tries to extract a confession while Sam listens in the closet (where the chambermaid is also hiding). All goes not according to plan, but when the Dr.’s wife drops by surprisingly, she wants to know the story. Again, Rebecca’s story doesn’t quite hold water (at least the way she tells it) and it seems Crandell’s marriage and career are saved when it looks like Rebecca’s gone off the deep end.
Amusing enough hijinks are practically undone by the sheer political incorrectness of it all (at least by today’s standards). Crandell’s behavior with Rebecca is clearly sexual harassment, and boys at the bar (and his wife) constantly taking his side can’t help remind one of the male culture undermining the seriousness of anti-female crimes, such as rape. I’ve certainly seen worse from this time period, but with Cheers it’s more cringe-inducing because it’s such a quality-written show.

Well anyway, that’s the season – see you for number eight!

Cold open: Carla vows niceness for one night due to a palm-reader’s prophecy, but she manages to get one in on Cliff, without him knowing it.

Cheers 7.21: “Sisterly Love”

Airdate: 4/27/89

Susan Howe, Rebecca’s sister, is in town, ready and willing to make peace with her estranged sibling. Sam sees himself as the peace maker, and is all too aware of the emotional vulnerability he can exploit in the process. Learning that the cause of their enmity was that Susan always stole his sister’s beaus, he passes himself off as Rebecca’s love, hoping history will repeat itself. It does, but eager for more, he thinks he can “ping-pong” back to Rebecca, who’s sure to seek revenge. Planning two dates with each sister for one night, he runs into trouble when Susan arrives early, full of lust and ready for action, followed shortly by Rebecca, who murders Susan in cold blood. Sam is mortified – and hurt – when he finds out he’s the victim of a practical joke, in which everyone has participated. But the silver lining: the sisters’ mutual thirst to see Sam hoist on his own petard has brought them together.

Clever variation on the classic Cheers trope of who’s zooming who is noteworthy mainly for the appearance of a pre-Melrose and Desperate Housewives Marcia Cross. She works quite well as a scream-queen actress ready for some familial reconciliation, and she bears more than a faint resemblance to Kirstie Allie – kudos to the casting. Subplot involves Frasier none-too-eager anticipation of seeing his mother-in-law again – he gets busted by his wife when the bar cronies recite all the jokes he had made at her expense.

Second episode to feature Rebecca aiming a handgun. Should we be worried?

BTW: I could be wrong, but I believe this to be the first episode to feature the interior of the upstairs restaurant Melville’s. Anyone want to check on that for me?

Cold open: Rebecca wants to institute a new designated driver policy. She may have second thoughts after her first job: driving a drunk to Philadelphia.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheers 7.20: “Call Me Irresponsible”

Airdate: 4/13/89

Carla is waiting, and waiting… and waiting for hubby Eddie to send her an anniversary gift from his touring ice show. One flower delivery turns out to be from the sympathetic Cheers crowd, another from Carla herself, who wants to prove to them that Eddie’s not a complete deadbeat. Even Eddie’s laundry holds no surprises. Finally – a call: Eddie’s schedule has been changed and he won’t make it home for another few weeks. Skeptical Carla thinks Sam reminded him, but Sam swears it ain’t so, although Carla’s swollen tongue curse almost makes him fess up.

Subplots: Sam teaches Woody the fine art of winning a gambling pool graciously, Rebecca takes heat for hosting that pool in the first place, and Frasier and Lilith want Norm to decorate their upcoming child’s nursery.

Ok show has the usual assortment of jokes, serving a couple of middling plotlines. It does seem to foreshadow some trouble on the LeBec homefront – this is not exactly a Ward Cleaver marriage. Funny bit about the Cranes’ nursery – the psychiatrists want no “baby” themes or gender indicators. A theme ahead of its time!

Cold open (a funny one): Sam doesn’t recognize one of his baseball fans, until she reveals herself as a regular heckler at his games. When he serves her a sub-par drink, she revisits old times by berating his bartending skills.

Norm’s opener: Woody: “What’s going on, Mr. Peterson?” Norm: “A flashing sign in my gut saying, ‘Insert beer here!’”

Cheers 7.19: “The Gift of the Woodi”

Airdate: 4/6/89

Woody is suspiciously invited to his girlfriend Kelly’s birthday party by her father, who doesn’t see the attraction. The Cheers gang thinks the Woodman may be walking into a trap, being intentionally embarrassed by his lack of riches, but he goes anyway, armed not by an extravagant diamond necklace or luxury car, but a song. Kelly admires the gesture, and then wants to know where the real gift is. Crestfallen Woody considers ending the relationship based on their different economic worlds, but decides on one last-ditch effort: hocking everything to buy a diamond jewel. Kelly likes it, but thinks it’s a matter of stopping at an ATM machine to get the money for the pendant itself. Woody straightens her out – he’s got no money, just a lot of love for her. She gets the message.

The Woody/Kelly saga continues, and the two make a durn cute couple (with, of course, the requisite conflict being their have/have not status). Two subplots here: Cliff has “invented” the beetabega, a hybrid of a beet and rutabaga, but is having a tough time selling it, while Rebecca is taking lessons from Lilith on how to be a powerful businessperson by eliminating her sex appeal. I thought the latter would have a more moralistic payoff (something like you don’t have to trade femininity for power), but the show didn’t go that route.

Cold open: Cliff announces his aforementioned beetabega, and the Cheers crew enlists Norm as the truthteller of his best friend’s folly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cheers 7.18: “What’s Up, Doc?”

Airdate: 3/30/89

To prove he’s still a Don Juan after getting shot down by Rebecca for the umpteenth time, Sam bets he can bed the next dame that walks in Cheers. She’s Shelia Rydell, and – not interested. Sam concludes it’s because she’s an egghead psychiatrist, and friend of Frasier and Lilith’s, but that makes his lust for her no less. He hatches a plan to get closer to her: pretend he’s a patient, suffering from impotence. At her office, she’s immediately on to him, and invents a crazy treatment for him conducted by a former Nazi, but later on, beguiled by his readiness to make a fool of himself for her, she accepts his date offer. It goes well, until afterwards at the bar when Sam wants an honest assessment of his psyche. She concludes his life is utterly empty, with the exception of women and sex; he’s so horrified by this he kicks her out and abruptly ends the date. Rebecca tries to lift his spirits, attempting to come up with any non-sex interest he might have. She does: the Three Stooges!

Shelia fills in for Diane in this episode, assuming the long-absent duties of reminding Sam what a dunderheaded horndog he is. 80s film actress Madolyn Smith is stunning in the role, to the extent that it’s nearly impossible to believe Sam would refuse having sex with her, no matter how psychologically wounded he is. Ploy of using impotence as a fake illness is clever too, and has some funny comic payoffs.

Cold open: Rebecca and Woody host a “guess the number of jellybeans in the jar” contest, but Woody inadvertently gives the number away, and Norm eats the spare beans slated for a do-over.

Cheers 7.17: “Hot Rocks”

Airdate: 3/16/89

Sam and Rebecca get stood up by their respective dates for a ceremonial event on the U.S. Constitution warship. After getting rejected by Rebecca, Sam attends stag but meets and brings back to the bar the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. (playing himself).  Especially in awe is Cliff, whose unfettered patriotism is a far cry from Frasier’s condescending disbelief of the Chairman’s identity. Rebecca’s impressed as well, until her $35,0000 earrings have gone missing, and she learns the only one in her office at the time was Crowe. Fingers get pointed, Cliff threatens charges of treason, and Sam suggests they recreate the incident to solve the whodunit. In the end, it’s all as simple as a mistakenly switched water glass, and when Sam retrieves the earrings, he makes Rebecca pay up on her promise to do anything for the successful sleuth  - and guess what that is! Again, Sam’s turned off by her heart not being into it, so they each open up honestly to each other on their true motivations, all ending in a kiss, and resulting in Sam’s being moved from Rebecca’s “no” category to “maybe.”

Well-written storyline includes a guest appearance, a crime mystery, relationship drama – and even some science experiments, in the form of how to make blue sparks appear in your mouth after chomping down on a peppermint life saver. Cameo by the CJCS is a bit odd (maybe he really likes the show), but the writers craft a pretty decent story around it.

Cold open: Woody is annoyed by Norm’s knuckle-cracking. Frasier explains it scientifically (after Cliff’s BS answer), and Woody wants to learn how Carla wristles with her fingers. First she has to crack her knuckles.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cheers 7.16: “The Cranemakers”

Airdate: 3/2/89

They say pregnant women glow, but Lilith is positively nuclear. Celebrating her fertility at Cheers ad nauseum, she eventually pushes Frasier to his breaking point. But he later regrets his hasty words to her, and when he hears the heartbeat of his in utero son, he and Lilith decide to go live in a wooden cabin, stripped of all civilization and reliant solely on all things natural for civilization. A fire building exercise proves to be the ultimate test, which he of course fails, and it doesn’t take long for the urbane twosome to grab a charter flight back to Beantown, just in time for seating at their favorite restaurant. Subplot: Rebecca orders Woody to take a vacation to Italy; he spends a week at the airport, loving every minute of it!

The Cranes rough it, or at least attempt to, but of course the problem is that their idea of living off the land exists in theory only. We know how this is going to end – futilely – but there’s plenty of overanalysis and head-talk along the way. Lilith’s opening scene, in which she sings the mawkish praises of her fertility at Cheers, is hilarious.

Cold open: A lawyer comes and tells Carla of her grandfather’s passing, and about the $20 million fortune he amassed. Does she get an inheritance? Nope, except for the lucky quarter that got the old man started.

Cheers 7.15: “Don’t Paint Your Chickens”

Airdate: 2/23/89

Norm’s painting jobs are beginning to dry up (pun intended), so go-getter Rebecca believes she can put her marketing degree to good use by managing and advertising his business, complete with a jazzy new logo and separate phone line at the bar. They get one job – far less than expected – but that’s enough for Rebecca to feel confident enough to tell the company CEO just what she thinks of him passing her over for an executive marketing position, jeopardizing her Cheers job. When the sole painting job cancels, Norm races to corporate to deliver the bad news to Rebecca via (since security had kicked him out) a window-washers scaffold. She gives the old man what for anyway; he admires her nerve and promotes her…. just before getting busted by the FBI for insider trading.

Norm seems to be back to painting (after a brief stint at interior decorating), as indicated by his episode which also highlights Rebecca’s perennial drive to work with the big boys in the head offices. Gotta laugh at the designer phone she chooses for “AAAA,” their paint company, which is an unfortunate letter off from being an auto service. Subplot is about Sam chasing the fountain of youth again, this time in the form of nubile young lady 15 years his junior. She’s super-athletic, and his labor in keeping up with her causes his much exhaustion. He finally fesses up – she’s not active enough for him, and she relievedly confesses she’d rather stay home in bed all day and take bubble baths. “Ironic, isn’t it?” as Frasier notes.

Cold open: Frasier wants to hear a layman’s opinion of his dissertation on Ingmar Bergman. It turns into an Abbott and Costello comedy routine with the boys at the bar, and it sends Frasier out in a frenzy.

Norm’s opener: Woody: “Beer, Norm?” Norm: “Have I gotten that predictable? Good.”

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cheers 7.14: “I Kid You Not”

Airdate: 2/16/89

Carla’s son Ludlow (the one she had with the esteemed psychologist a few years back) recognizes the opera about to be attended by Frasier and Lilith, and the couple is instantly beguiled by the boy. The threesome begin spending very waking moment together, much to the dismay of Carla, who’s starting to feel too uncultured to really connect with Ludlow. All that changes at a posh French restaurant, where Frasier’s epicurean “tutelage” forgets that Ludlow is still just a prankish tot – something Carla knows all too well. Her parental confidence restored, she leaves the psychiatrist couple alone to talk… about their new baby!

The Cranes take center stage here – and this show sort of acts as a precursor to their upcoming parenthood. The kid who plays Ludlow is pretty cute, even if he’s not thoroughly convincing as a wise-for-his-years intellectual. Subplot continues Woody’s courtship with Kelly; he wants to borrow Sam’s car – a feat easier said than down given how overprotective he is with his autos (renowned for their aphrodisiac qualities).

Cold open: Woody wants to borrow Sam’s car. Sam can’t stop laughing at the request.

Cheers 7.13: “Golden Boyd”

Airdate: 2/9/89

At a party hosted by Rebecca for a VP’s spoiled daughter, bartender Woody adds a few comments to an overheard conversation – and incites the ire of one of the WASPY guests, who challenges his irritant to a fistfight. Poor Woody gets clocked after one punch, but his aggressor’s girlfriend, Kelly (who also happens to be the VP’s daughter), also finds Woody kind of cute - so he asks her out, first to get “revenge,” but later because he enjoys her company. The blue-blooded boor wants Kelly back, but she’s not so sure – and decides to continue dating the Woodman, with whom she has far more fun.

Classic theme of money as oppressor and love as liberator serves up a hefty-helping of Woody-based comedy. Gou who plays the rich jerk is easily hateable, and his girlfriend just as easily loveable. Money seems to be he main loam of joke material here; more than one punchline caps off a joke with a character expressing sentiment or integrity, then negating it by the prospect of fast cash. Classic bit, but overused here.

Cold open: Cheap Cliff needs a present for his mother, who’s turning 70. Carla shows off a gift her son had given her – an arts and crafts project she cherishes for its sentimental value – and readily sells to Cliff for three dollars.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cheers 7.12: “Please Mr. Postman”

Airdate: 2/2/89

Cliff’s in charge of training a postal newbie, Margaret O’Keefe, and his doubt turns swiftly to commendation when he sees how seriously she takes working for the United States Postal Service. Things improve even more when she starts getting warm for his form – and the two trollop off to a seedy motel to get down and dirty. Things no sooner get started when a cop enters, informing them that a postal truck parked outside has been reported stolen. Nervously, they tell their bosses that crooks stole the trucks – a lie that gets them off the hook, but Margaret’s integrity and loyalty to the badge take a beating, and now she’s no longer attracted to Cliff for the same. They fess up; she gets fired and he gets temporarily demoted, but now with a clear conscience she’s motivated to deliver mail in Canada, and wants him to join. Eager at first, the Cheers crew sings “The Ballad of the Green Berets” to change his mind.

Cliff-centered episode deals with another love conquest (but what happened to his previous girlfriend?). She’s basically a distaff version of him, and it’s a hoot to see their love for the mailbag keep them together. Subplot involves Sam’s quest to discover the song that acts as a sexual stimulus for Rebecca. It’s “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” but when he plays it, her delayed reaction causes her to kiss… Norm! BTW: If this is a goof, it’s a major one – why does Sam’s radio play “Unchained Melody” instead?

Cheers 7.11: “Adventures in Housesitting”

Airdate: 1/12/89

Against her sense of dignity, Rebecca winds up house-sitting for a corporate bigwig, specifically looking after his Doberman. A bit scared being all alone in a big, dark house isolated in the moors, she has mixed feelings when Sammy shows up to keep her company – but just after kicking him out, the dog escapes. The two enlist a search party (the boys at the bar) to look, but only Woody has luck; the problem is, he’s found another identical Doberman, but they wind up using him temporarily when the homeowner returns early. After pulling off the switch – barely – they return to Cheers to find that Woody has kept the other dog. Oh, don’t worry, he’s safe unless he hears a specific word – Cochise – and then he’ll attack. But when Frasier says it... nothing. It’s actually Geronimo, which Cliff finds out the hard way. Carla cals to get the countercommand – but she’s not telling.

Madcap antics, the sort of which the show is fast becoming known for. The heady exchanges are few and far between these days, and so we get the same snappy dialogue, albeit in the service of the old switched dog routine (Meet the Parents used cats instead). Kudos to one clever twist: the code word that the Doberman uses as an attack command. Ya just know someone’s gonna say it, and that dog will lunge. Frasier’s subplot is slight but amusing, in which the psychiatrist can’t stop laughing when picturing his audience naked and only wearing black socks: an anxiety-relief exercise conceived by… Carla!

Cold open: Cliff and Norm exchange old toy train stories, resulting in their beating each other back home to play with one.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cheers 7.10: “Bar Wars II: The Woodman Strikes Back”

Airdate: 1/12/89

Time for Boston’s annual Best Bloody Mary Contest, and time again for Gary’s Old Towne Tavern to take the prize, but not if Cheers can help it. Sam arranges for a secret ingredient to arrive, but Woody accidentally sneezes away the laboriously procured black cardamom, and breaks a secretly smuggled jar of Gary’s recipe as well. When Woody tries to go undercover as a nun at Gary’s, he’s tied up and suspended outside the bar door; worse yet, he quits when everyone at Cheers calls him stupid for his efforts, and takes a job at the competitor’s. Gary suspects foul play at first, but gradually trusts him. Perhaps he shouldn’t – Woody was a spy all along, and delayed giving a message to his boss that the contest was moved up two hours. Frantic, Gary and his minions race to Cheers and get their Bloody in last minute, but the contest turns out to be a fake – the real judge has yet to arrive. When he does, Gary comes back, again, winning and crowing that he can’t be fooled. Carla is seen handing some cash to the judge – another fake-out – the “judge” is an old neighbor; the real judge is a female arriving in 30 minutes. Gary returns, and the Cheers crew think the jig is really up, but he just wants his wallet back.

Another Bar Wars, another guessing game of Who’s Zooming Whom, with Cheers having the last – the very last – laugh. Title is a bit of a spoiler, as we’re not sure what Woody’s up to with his quitting, but I suppose we all had an inkling of suspicion. Gary is a great villain, and his secret videotaping and broadcasting of the Cheers crew praising his cocktails is an ace move.

Cold open: Carla coaxes Lilith into revealing Frasier’s secret oedipal foreplay requests; she then proceeds to share them with the boys in the back. Ooooh, that Carla!

Norm’s opener: Woody: “Hey Mr. P., there’s a cold one waiting for you.” Norm: “I know, and if she calls, I’m not here.”

Cheers 7.9: “Send in the Crane”

Airdate: 1/5/89

Rebecca needs a clown for a company children’s party she’s hosting, and thinks struggling actor Woody would be perfect. But when the Woodman bows out after getting a call to fill in at his theater company, all eyes are on Frasier, the one who suggested Woody in the first place. After a rocky start, Frasier warms up the crowd quickly, but Woody forgets to give him his clowny boxer shorts: a necessary article of clothing when the handkerchief is pulled… and the pants fall! (Frasier currently has on a pair of French underwear, which more closely resemble an eye patch.) Fortunately, that hanky stays unyanked, until the very end when al the kiddies have gone home.

In other news, Judy, one of Sam’s old flames, is back in town, and she’s got her daughter, a girl who used to be a like a daughter to him but now is all grown up and looks it. Ol’ Sammy seems to be on the brink of having one of his fantasies fulfilled, but his double-header dreams are dashed when the daughter has an important question for him: will he give away her hand in marriage – to a swell feller she met at school?

Both stories good here, with one being broader than the other (guess which). Actually, the big payoff never really happens, and that’s probably a good thing too, as a clown in adult underwear is about as inappropriate as… well, you imagine something. Sam’s story is really just a triangle the writers would’ve gotten around to eventually, but boy, did they ever hire a hottie to play the daughter!

Cold open: Woody’s word-association response (“thermostat” to “bottom”) baffles everyone, including Frasier, struggling desperately to find a connection. Rebecca ends all confusion when she bends over to adjust the thermostat.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cheers 7.8: “Jumping Jerks”

Airdate: 12/22/88

Cliff, Norm and Woody return from a Magnificent Seven film festival hopped up on testosterone, lamenting the lack of bravery-testing trials in the modern age, when an eavesdropper suggests skydiving. He’s an instructor willing to take the trio up and give them their shot at adventuring, but when they go up in the plane, they chicken out. Back at the bar, they tell their fish tale pretty convincingly; even Woody manages to lie for the first time, though it’s clearly eating him up inside. Sam is impressed, so impressed, in fact, that he wants to go up, and when they agree to it, he calls them out on their lie when they chicken out a second time. Now the four of them, back at the bar, have to live with their falsehood, when Rebecca suggests they go up again and advertise Cheers by holding a banner. Here we go again – but Woody’s so torn up he jumps just to sleep at night, followed by Sam, who’s turned on by the prospect of Rebecca being turned on by a skydiver, followed by Norm, followed by Cliff (nudged just a bit after being falsely told the plan is going down). The trip is a success – as rite of manhood and publicity stunt, though Rebecca’s turn on steers her in the direction of… the instructor.

A fan favorite, this one has all the crowd-pleasing elements – and the comedic device of repetition – to make it a home run. Cowards that they are, we just know they have to jump by episode’s end, and they do. Third episode to feature chaos on an airplane; Cheers recognizes the comic potential of the situation.

Cold open: Rebecca nixes ideas from a suggestion box, but one holds her interest, until she discovers it’s a proposition for sex from Sam!

Cheers 7.7: “How To Win Friends and Electrocute People”

Airdate: 12/15/88

A worried Cliff is s going under the knife for appendicitis, but the busy folk at Cheers forget to call or visit him. When Frasier belatedly delivers a card, he finds Cliff, recovered from surgery but forlorn that no one saw him, and realizing that perhaps he’s not the most popular guy at the pub. So the morose mailman takes part in a shock-aversion experiment; his “doctor” will administer a light shock every time he feels his subject is acting a bit jerky (gee, how could this go wrong?) So far so good, until Cliff calls into question some of the shocks he’s been given, ultimately responding with a brawl to try and wrestle back the trigger. He fesses up his scheme, the Cheers gang apologizes, and all’s well that ends well – except he’s still getting shocked. Al!!!

Subplots: Sam gives Lilith driving lessons in preparation for a cross-country trip with Frasier, but Lilith turns out to be insanely aggressive behind the wheel. And Rebecca’s got her picture in the paper for article celebrating women in business, but it winds up in the wrong section: the obituaries.

A premise founded on pathos but really providing the setup for a hilarious scene. What works about it is its building: the shocks actually work in making him a better person (better, not funnier), but once he gets asked, “Where did the postal credo originate?” all bets are off!  There’s just something inherently funny about getting shocked – who knew? The two subplots are thin, but Lilith makes the most of her wild woman role, ad Sam’s good as her white-knuckled passenger. FYI: We finally get to see the subsurface vestibule outside Cheers front door when Cliff preps for the shock treatment scene.

Cold open: After hours Woody calls a phone-sex line advertised on TV – and gets Cliff.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cheers 7.6: “Norm, Is That You”

Airdate: 12/8/88

Frasier and Lilith need to redecorate their apartment, but their current designer, Ivan, is insufferably pretentious (and impractical). With no good eye for layout themselves, they surprisingly discover that Norm (their painter) is an expert, and so they make him their interior decorator. Soon, he earns their favor enough for them to recommend him to others, specifically a yuppie couple willing to pay – big- but once they see Norm’s crass ways they change their tune. Frasier informs a befuddled Norm that they want a stereotypical designer, in other words: gay. Needing the work, Norm starts to play along, even advertising Cheers as a gay bat and touting Sa as his lover. It’s not long before the jigs is up, and the yuppies agrees to part ways with the hefty hetero­sexual – until Norm aggress to the job for half the rate.

Mildly amusing but hopelessly un-PC offering does reveal the change in the depiction of homosexuals on TV since the 80s. While not as offensive as it could have been (I was cringing at the prospect of Norm doing a broad gay lisp), it’s still one of the extremely rare Cheers episodes that feels a bit dated, although it is fun to see how once-trendy food items like fajitas and sushi have become so standardized.

Cold open: Carla’s on the phone with Eddie, telling him where to look for unidentified objects. Cliff inquires; they turn out to be the twins.

Cheers 7.5: “Those Lips, That Ice”

Airdate: 11/24/88

The ice show’s in town, and with it, the return of Eddie LeBec, much to Carla’s celibate delight. Joy turns quickly to suspicion when Eddie starts showing the newest member of the show, a gorgeous East German brunette named Franzi Schrempf, around town. Carla’s fit to be tied – as per her usual ways, she resorts readily to fisticuff when her hubby drops even the slightest suggestion of infidelity, and a news article revealing an affair between Franzi and “a melon-headed skater” doesn’t help much either. Sam advises Carla that maybe she oughta be a bit nicer if Eddie does indeed have wandering thoughts – and maybe some low cut dresses too, so Carla hosts Eddie’s next poker game like a cross between a Stepford Wife and a Victoria’s Secret model. Sam drops in to tell her the illicit affair does not involve Eddie, and so she breaks up the game abruptly – later facing her husband’s admonition to be more trusting of him, while still retaining that “Carla-ness” that made him fall in love with him.

Jay Thomas makes another appearance as Eddie, and Carla gets to show her stripes yet again as a feisty, volatile and thoroughly irascible barmaid. The only problem is I didn’t find her likable in this episode the way I always have before, warts and all. I think that’s another indicator of how sometimes mean-spirited the writing has become. We always had acerbic put-downs and rough-edges before; now, they feel belabored, and missing the crucial element of humanity (and not at the 11th hour, either). If I were Carla’s husband in this episode I’d be cheating too, right after recommending a therapist to treat her pathological hostility.

Subplots: Cliff, Norm and Frasier all vie for Woody’s other hockey ticket, via a footrace that Frasier barely recovers from. And speaking of Frasier, he’s got a cell phone (at least a 1988 version of one) inside his briefcase, but he can get it open, and the ringing throws everyone off.

Cold open: Rebecca needs quiet in her office, but Woody keeps interrupting her, even after being put in charge. Her berating him makes him cry, and her feeling guilty about it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cheers 7.4: “One Happy Chappy in a Snappy Serape” (Part 2 of 2)

Airdate: 11/17/88

Rebecca staves off Teal’s proposal by admitting lingering feelings for Sam. It works, for now, but Teal gives Sam a one-month bartending job down in a Cancun resort, partially to test his fidelity. Of course, he’s having the time of his life in sunny Mexico, and has no interest in coming back – so he doesn’t. After a month, with no Sammy in Boston, Rebecca goes down to convince her betrothed beloved to do at least one nice thing, and if her pleading doesn’t work, perhaps a gun will! Ultimately Sam returns, smooches a very drunk Rebecca to cement the ruse, and Teal is convinced. Could this be yet another opportunity for Sam? Nope, Rebecca passes out cold.

Good wrap-up, with all loose ends tied, and the hilarious revelation tat Teal’s subversively ironic admin is really his father! At the end of the resort scene we actually do get Sam’s admission that beneath his constant lust for Rebecca he really does care for her too. Kirstie Allie looks pretty natural pointing a handgun (although the action is a bit farfetched) – actually, this was he same year she was in an action thriller Shoot to Kill, so maybe it’s a residual trait.

Cold open: Rebecca delivers a recap via her call-in to a radio talk show. She wants advice, but it’s a gardening show she’s called.

Cheers 7.3: “Executive Sweet” (Part 1 of 2)

Airdate: 11/10/88

Martin Teal, the new executive VP, wants to see Rebecca in his office. The main man, however, looks all of nineteen – but that doesn’t stop him from putting the moves on Rebecca. Turned off by his youth but grateful that he just promoted her to sole manager of Cheers, she finds herself in a sticky situation, one she remedies, for the time being anyway, by lying that she and Sam are together. Teal calls Sam to “size up the competition,” but sensing that he’s being used, Sam “breaks up” with Rebecca, leaving the two to date – and face harassment by the Cheers gang for their age difference. No one’s laughing, however, when Teal bestows his beloved with a perfectly sinful diamond ring – as a proposal of marriage. To be continued…

Rebecca’s on her way back to head honcho, but there’s a catch, as there always is: figuring out what to do with an ever header-honcho that’s half her age. Teal seems a bit modeled after Michael J. Fox, particularly his Alex P. Keaton character, or the one he played in The Secret of My Success. He’s good, but his scenes are handily stolen by the man playing his assistant – an older gent trying to be dignified but all too obviously a yes man, even though Teal “hates yes men.” Subplot involving Woody’s beekeeping is quite funny – best scene: Frasier frantically rips off his shirt when Carla tells him there’s a bee under it. (When will the Cheers gang ever stop listening to Carla?)

Cold open: Cliff’s new idea: a postal worker-themed amusement park, which salutes the brave and noble men and women carrying the mailbag. That’s where the real money is – not in the current dead end job he currently has!

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