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Cheers on DVD
Thanks to DVD, I'm just now discovering Cheers, a 1980's sitcom that holds up extremely well today depending on what season you're watching. I'd only seen a couple of episodes of the first season when the show first debuted, although I can't imagine under what circumstances since I don't think I owned a TV set in 1982.
There were plenty of hearty laughs during that year so I jumped back and started watching the first season - now THAT was a wonderful show, it's easy to see why Cheers became such a monster hit. Nicholas Colasanto's performance as Coach was priceless and the emsemble cast seemed to click right away. It seems as if the characters were fully drawn from the very beginning.
For me it was Coach that really provided the wind for the sails, especially during the first two seasons. There's a mighty good reason why he was nominated for an Emmy every year he was on the show. When Colasanto passed away in 1985, producers replaced him with a younger model (it was explained that the similarly dim-witted character Woody was a friend of Coach's who came to visit and ended up with his job.)
I skipped from year two to the fourth season which suffers from the cutes. Everything and everyone got so precious and adorable. Aaawww - Norm sings with a Barbershop Quartet. Aaawwww - Carla interviews her teen daughter's date. Aaaawww - they're having conversations about old TV shows. And the Sam & Diane show was getting stale.
It was my understanding that the cast encouraged Shelly Long to quit the series; they just wanted her gone for the sake of the show (she was hell to work with so the story goes) so they cheered her on to persue a film career after year 5 that ultimately went nowhere.
Although still wildly better than most of what's on today, by the seventh season the jokes became stuck in a particular rhythmic pattern - setup, joke. You almost expect a drummer to be just off camera doing rim shots with every other line. Cheers, which redefined the modern sitcom, seemed to become a near parody of itself with a too-predictable pitter pat.
As an aside, I remember when when I was working in the movie poster biz, one of the many films we were working on during the Christmas holidays was Camp Beverly Hills. Shelly Long, the star of the film, was kind enough to send over a huge basket of chocolate chips - potato chips that is, dipped in white chocolate. It was a nice gesture.
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For me, season 1 and season 6 of Cheers are the strongest.
Plot Synopsis: Sam Malone, a former baseball star, is the head of a nice little bar where Norm, Cliff, Dr. Frasier and all the other regular customers spend together a few hours every day, talking about their problems, laughing at each other's flaws, trying to be there when someone else needs them. "Cheers" is the place where everybody knows your name...
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