Friday, September 28, 2012

Here’s to Cheers

Not a lot of time for scribbling today, although I did want to post a quick note about this nifty (and long) oral history of the sitcom Cheers that appeared over on the GQ site yesterday. Anyone who remembers the show should find the collection of remembrances from cast and crew members interesting, I think.

Not too long ago I noticed we have one channel among the many in our line-up that airs a couple of Cheers episodes each weekday. They come on late in the afternoon, and I’ve found myself dialing up the shows frequently of late.

I was a fan of Cheers when it originally aired from 1982 to 1993, and probably continued to watch reruns for a few years after it signed off. But I hadn’t seen it much for a while, and so was pleasantly surprised to find it as funny and smart and engaging as ever. I literally will laugh out loud multiple times every episode at the seemingly endless supply of funnies provided by Sam, Diane, Carla, Coach, Woody, Rebecca, Norm, Cliff, Frasier, Lilith, and others.

For example, last week the episode titled “The Book of Samuel” (from the fifth season) aired, one in which Woody finds Sam’s “little black book” and from it calls a woman for a date. At the end of the episode -- after things don’t go as planned for Woody -- he expresses remorse to Diane for his behavior.

“I feel so ashamed,” he says to Diane. “Promise not to tell my mother?”

“Mum’s the word,” says Diane with a nod, and Woody starts to walk away. Then he turns back.

“Promise not to tell my mum?”

One thread that emerges from the oral history is the fact that many today aren’t really aware of Cheers, which really is too bad as it probably stands as one of the best examples ever of the half-hour situation comedy. If you’re a television fan and somehow have never bothered to check out the show, there are tons of grins -- not to mention endearing characters and some genuinely moving moments -- to be found in those 275 episodes (all streaming on Netflix, btw). Seriously, Cheers is (or should be) like the Beatles of sitcoms, a show everyone likes.

As it happened, I was reading the oral history yesterday as the show came on. It was an episode titled “License to Hill” (from Season 10) which in fact included a subplot involving characters playing poker.

Although primarily set in a bar, I don’t really remember there being too much poker in Cheers. I do kind of remember one episode, though, in which Sam and Diane are thinking about buying a house together, and Sam wants to hang a particular picture to which Diane strongly objects.

That’s right, “A Friend in Need,” a.k.a. “Dogs Playing Poker.”

In fact, the poker is mostly incidental in this episode, too, although they do have some fun showing Woody (the country bumpkin in the big city) cleaning up versus the others.

I don’t have time today to delve more deeply into the many reasons why Cheers is such a great show, although as I say anyone who saw it probably knows already why I’d say as much.

Those of you who are familiar with Cheers... do you remember any other episodes involving poker?

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