Friday, August 23, 2013

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.

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