Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cheers 7.2: “Swear to God”

Airdate: 11/3/88

Sam’s old flame, Denise, wants to show him something: his son. Actually, the paternity test isn’t in just yet, but Sam makes a vow to God that if he can get out of his pickle he’ll swear off women for three months. The test comes back – he’s in the clear – but Carla holds him to his promise, and now Sammy Suave must take a metaphorical cold shower every time a buxom beauty steeps into the bar. Though he seeks help from the Catholic church for spiritual guidance, and Frasier for psychological, he learns that his best support must come from within. When a hot ski bunny returns and promises a steamy romp in the hay, he gives in, but stops short when he gets a sign – a bible ­on the hotel nightstand. In fact, there’s one in every room! Frasier almost tells him that it’s not necessary a miracle, but Carla continues the delusion, and Sam could be wearing that chastity belt just a little longer. Subplot has Woody understudying Moses; it provides the setup for a timed sight gag involving Sam’s promise to God.

Clever concept is given the Cheers treatment. Actually, the same idea was done later in the 2002 film 40 Days and 40 Nights starring Josh Hartnett (hey, remember him?), but here it’s an hour shorter and a lot funnier. Scene in the church rectory is amusing, as is Frasier’s advice to sublimate his sexual frustration into piano playing (it provides a nice coda). Interesting, Rebecca’s role here is a non-sequiter; she seems to still be a manager, still in her office. Don’t tell me she coaxed her way into getting her old job back!

Observations: Cliff’s unsolicited outpouring of worthless information is getting to be less trivial and more obviously BS. And Woody’s increased role as a part-time actor seem to be based on Harrelson’s expansive acting abilities – listen for his Moses voice; it’s pretty good!

Cold open: Woody rehearses Moses, proclaiming the entrance of the Canaanites, and a host of other “ites.” Cliff wonders about the cellulites? “They landed on Vera,” wisecracks Norm.

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