The Ten Best CHEERS Episodes of Season Three

Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Today we’re continuing our coverage of the best episodes from Cheers (1982-1993), one of the most consistently written situation comedies of all time and second only to I Love Lucy as my personal favorite. I’m pleased to announce that every episode has been released on DVD. 

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The staff and regular patrons of a neighborhood Boston bar share the highs and lows of their daily lives. Cheers stars TED DANSON as Sam Malone, SHELLEY LONG as Diane Chambers, NICHOLAS COLASANTO as “Coach” Ernie Pantusso, RHEA PERLMAN as Carla Tortelli, JOHN RATZENBERGER as Cliff Clavin, GEORGE WENDT as Norm Peterson, and KELSEY GRAMMER as Dr. Frasier Crane.

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The third season of Cheers has the dubious honor of following the first two, which both individually and collectively represent the best of this series (and frankly, this entire decade of situation comedy), and because the show is no longer at that extraordinary level of quality, the whole year gets a bit of a bad rap. Additionally, Season Three is marred by the evident physical deterioration of Nicholas Colasanto, who died during the production season, only making it into 18 out of 25 episodes (although the season finale features him in a cold open held over from earlier in the year). It’s a major loss for the series, and every single episode in which he does not appear significantly misses him. It’s the end of an era . . . and the start of another one, as Kelsey Grammer launches his 20-year run as Dr. Frasier Crane. For those who remember him best from his own series (which we’ll be covering sometime in 2017), Frasier’s a very different character here than he’ll ever be again: not as pompous, yet even less self-aware. He’s all “egghead,” and much more tightly composed than he’ll be next season even. He doesn’t share a lot of chemistry with Shelley Long’s Diane, and he’s brought on at the start of the season as her new love interest, but their characters do seem intellectually compatible, and that’s exactly what this arc needs.

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Unfortunately, Diane herself is a major reason why Season Three suffers in comparison to the preceding years. Shelley Long was pregnant, and because Rhea Perlman/Carla was also pregnant (again), the decision was made not to write in Long’s blessed event. This necessitated a complete restructuring of the season’s shooting order, also requiring that Diane be used less frequently in a handful of episodes. As a result, the last few offerings of the season find Diane and Frasier away in Europe, where they are featured in a handful of short cutaway scenes (filmed in advance). The inability to use the character the way she was used before, and the accompanying opening up of the action when she goes across the pond — note that this is the first time the show regularly journeys outside either the bar or Diane’s apartment (save a few short single-cam flashes earlier in the year) — irrevocably alters the season’s balance. And the tension between Sam and Diane suffers, never quite reaching the heights that it once could. (Part of this is the simple fact that getting Diane back to Cheers after the events of last season is a MAJOR stretch that’s never 100% believable. Heck, it’s not even 60% believable. ) Sure, there are great offerings here, and many of my favorites are Sam/Diane focused, but the extenuating circumstances do take their toll. Nevertheless, in revisiting the season, I think you’ll find that, while not as good as the first two years, there’s still a great standard of quality being met (in almost every offering), so I have picked ten episodes that I think exemplify this season’s strongest installments. For new fans, this list will give you a place to start. For seasoned fans, there might be a few surprises.

CHEERS, Nicholas Colasanto, 1982-93, (c)Paramount Television/courtesy Everett Collection

Here are my picks for the ten best episodes of Season Three. (They are in AIRING ORDER.) Every episode this season is directed by James Burrows.

 

01) Episode 47: “I Call Your Name” (Aired: 10/18/84)

Sam learns that Diane called his name while making love to Frasier.

Written by Peter Casey and David Lee

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After a heavy (although, perhaps necessary) two-parter that introduces Dr. Frasier Crane and gets Diane back to Cheers by having her stick around to save Sam from falling back off the wagon, this is the first installment to deal with the Sam-Diane-Frasier dynamic in a regularly plotted episode, and fortunately it’s very funny! The story of Diane calling out Sam’s name instead of Frasier’s is a bit sitcom commonplace, but the script (by Casey and Lee, taking a break from the miserable final season of The Jeffersons) is filled with such nuance, making for many great bits — like the Thor and Electra  nicknames and Diane’s attempted Sam Goldwyn deflection. It’s one of the few offerings that qualitatively operates on the same level as Season Two, but within the unique dynamic only provided by Season Three. Great character comedy.

02) Episode 49: “Sam Turns The Other Cheek” (Aired: 11/01/84)

Sam lies about a gunshot injury to his backside.

Written by David Lloyd

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You’ll notice that three of David Lloyd’s (four) scripts for this season have made my list of the best, and like his past entries that we’ve highlighted here, they’re all marked by a slightly broader form of comedy, all generally building to a traditionally rendered climax. But he knows the characters’ voices better than any other writer in today’s post and given his extensive background, we all know that he really knows comedy. As for this episode, I find the story a bit ostentatious, as any time there’s a gun involved in a situation comedy, the results are either unearned dramatics or disorientingly cartoony. This installment is closer to the latter, but frankly, the laughs are there and the episode’s accompanying (and intentional) irreverence is appreciated. In some ways, the heightened silliness looks to what’s ahead, but we’re still in a logic-filled era.

03) Episode 52: “Diane Meets Mom” (Aired: 11/22/84)

Frasier’s visiting mother makes threats on Diane’s life.

Written by David Lloyd

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Sitcom fans and regular readers may notice the similarities that this episode shares with a second season Taxi offering that we highlighted here this past fall; the premise is essentially the same: regular character (Diane/Louie) meets the mom/folks of a love interest (Frasier/Zena) and the mom makes threats on his/her life. Lloyd’s take on the story is an improvement on Barry Kemp’s for Taxi, largely because it does a better job of structuring the idea, as more of the comedy comes not from nerves upon meeting the mother, but the reaction that ensues once the seemingly sweet mother makes her insanely violent comments. It’s an easy premise, but it helps to advance the Diane/Frasier arc, and because the comedy fuels the function, it’s a strong showing, with big laughs and probably among the year’s most memorable scripts.

04) Episode 54: “Diane’s Allergy” (Aired: 12/06/84)

Diane develops an allergic reaction after moving in with Frasier.

Written by David Lloyd

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I think this is the most consistently comedic script of the year, and actually, the season’s strongest because it does a great job of matching big laughs with a major development in the Sam-Diane-Frasier arc: Diane and Frasier moving in together. It’s an episode with a purpose, but Lloyd knows how to make it funny; he crafts the story around Diane’s supposed allergy to Frasier’s dog, Pavlov. Just to irk Diane, Sam agrees to take Pavlov (and rename her Diane, in another bid to be obnoxious), thus removing any obstacle in Diane and Frasier’s way. But Diane’s allergy only intensifies with a bizarre vocality (and this part, in particular, plays into that typical Lloyd broadness mentioned above), leading Sam to surmise that her reaction is actually “psychosomatic.” The storytelling is incredibly funny, very in character, and once again makes the most of the third season’s unique charms, which is what the best offerings this year do.

05) Episode 56: “A Ditch In Time” (Aired: 12/20/84)

Sam regrets getting involved with a woman Diane knew at the mental institution.

Written by Ken Estin

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Unlike most Cheers episodes, which are beautifully written but only thrive once given life by this fantastic ensemble cast, this is an installment that probably works better on paper than it does in execution. The story, about Sam unknowingly dating an emotionally needy and dangerously imbalanced friend that Diane met in a mental institution (as she was trying to cope with her break-up from Sam), is a great one for the show to explore, and the casting of Taxi‘s Emmy winning Carol Kane is a natural fit. But the energy is ever so slightly off, with Kane sticking out as she tries to inject larger-than-life spark in an offering that feels at half-mast. Meanwhile, some of the jokes, while of regular quality, don’t land as well with the audience. It’s a strange phenomenon, and I think it’s partly because of the diminishing tension between Malone and Chambers. However, in the larger context of the series, this is still a solid and worthwhile entry.

06) Episode 57: “Whodunit?” (Aired: 01/03/85)

Carla becomes pregnant with Frasier’s mentor’s baby.

Written by Tom Reeder

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Much credit should be given to Reeder, this episode’s author, and the entire creative team for doing what is essentially the same story from one they did in Season One, Carla becoming pregnant out of wedlock (even though she already has way too many kids), and doing it in a way that’s entirely fresh — and absolutely hysterical. What makes this episode work is that, before the pregnancy announcement (which itself begets some great stuff — like the guttural reaction that Diane has to the news), the story is mostly about Carla’s relationship with an overly intellectual stuffed shirt (James Karen). But this isn’t just any stuffed shirt, this is Frasier Crane’s mentor, which naturally gives way to wonderful interplay between Carla and both Frasier and Diane. It’s an underrated favorite, and even better than its aforementioned predecessor!

07) Episode 58: “The Heart Is A Lonely Snipe Hunter” (Aired: 01/10/85)

The men haze Frasier when Diane asks them to take him along hunting.

Written by Heide Perlman

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Whether this was the episode’s intention or not is unknowable, but this is the installment that proves Frasier’s durability as a character, as the series establishes a way for him to exist among the other members of the ensemble. We learn that Frasier really wants to be included and treated like “one of the guys,” and this sets up an identity for him beyond the overly analytical shrink who exists solely as an obstacle for Sam and Diane’s inevitable reunion. This new aspect of his personality will remain for the duration of the series. But aside from its necessity in the series’ trajectory, this installment is also notable for being delightfully funny and showcasing each member of the cast in a comedic and believable manner. Grammer and Long, in particular, both do some fine work, and this was on a short list of MVE contenders for the season.

08) Episode 59: “King Of The Hill” (Aired: 01/24/85)

Sam mercilessly beat the Playboy Playmates in a charity softball game.

Written by Elliot Shoenman

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Strangely, this is an offering that I think functions like “A Ditch In Time,” as the idea behind the episode is strong and its overall construction would otherwise indicate another classic, in line with the iconic Sam/Diane material that made the first two years so delectable. But the collective performance is off. The audience is quieter than usual, the pace is slower than normal, and the players seem to hit the beats as if they’ve already played them all before. This is Shoenman’s only script for the series (his best credits are some laugh-heavy Maude offerings), and while it does have a formulaic quality, the premise — Sam’s competitiveness trumping his lust — is richly funny and worthy of exploration. In some ways, the simple plot makes the episode feel like it would better belong in the first season. Good-but-not-great territory.

09) Episode 60: “Teacher’s Pet” (Aired: 01/31/85)

Sam and Coach go back to school to get their high school diplomas.

Written by Tom Reeder

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“Albania, Albania . . .” This episode has become synonymous with Coach’s last hurrah, even though it’s neither his last aired nor last filmed appearance. But it is the final story that makes major use of his character, and this knowledge definitely infuses the episode with a special quality, as everyone’s sweet treatment of Coach takes on a poignant sentimentality. But that doesn’t hamper any of the comedy, because Reeder has made sure that both the story and his storytelling are treated with big laughs. Naturally, Sam is polishing more than his teacher’s (the aptly named “Ms. Purdy”) apples, and this revelation means great material for Sam and Diane; it’s a testament to the script, that the performances in their office scene are so effortless, clicking with a durable quality from which several of the above installments could have benefited.

10) Episode 66: “Cheerio, Cheers” (Aired: 04/11/85)

Frasier asks Diane to move with him to Europe.

Written by Sam Simon

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After a string of episodes without Coach, this installment marks the last time that he appears in a full episode. (His actual last appearance is in a held-over cold open used in the season finale.) But you’ll notice by his appearance (and Long’s smaller belly) that this offering was shot earlier in the season. This had nothing to do with Colasanto, but was a result of the heavy usage of Diane, whom they knew would be all but out-of-comission by the time this script would have otherwise come up in sequence. The European arc has never been a favorite because it takes us out of the bar and yields no great payoffs, but this installment comes the closest to any episode this year of recapturing the excitement that once previously existed between Sam/Diane, as their brief reconciliation is a beautiful letting of explosive energy.The tension that had been missing this season resurfaces, just in time to burst and, once again, evaporate.

 

Other notable episodes that narrowly missed the list above include: Behind Every Great Man,” a misunderstanding driven installment that should appeal to Sam/Diane fans, “If Ever I Would Leave You,” my favorite of Nick Tortelli’s appearances in the Diane era, and “The Bartender’s Tale,” a really funny offering and the best of the Coach-less, Diane-lite offerings (and the one closest to making the above list).

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The third season, in my opinion, sees the beginning of the series’ great cold opens, and thanks to a suggestion from regular reader Brandon, I’ll be sharing with you my favorite seasonal teasers for the remainder of these nine posts (well, for the seasons that have teasers worth mentioning). The best cold opens from Season Three are from “The Heart Is A Lonely Snipe Hunter,” in which “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” travels across the bar until it reaches Coach, and “Behind Every Great Man,” in which the patrons celebrate the death of the old beer keg with “Taps” and the birth of another with “Hail To The Chief.”

 

*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Three of Cheers goes to…..

“Diane’s Allergy”

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Come back next Tuesday for the best from the fourth season! And tune in tomorrow for a new Wildcard Wednesday post!

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29 thoughts on “The Ten Best CHEERS Episodes of Season Three

  1. Good review. I can’t wait to hear what you think of Woody. Btw I came across this review of Cheers a couple months ago and the reviewer has a few choice words about the 3rd season that I want you to take a look at

    Btw speaking of cold opens what is that one cold open where Cliff yells at Carla and said he has had enough of her wise cracks…something like that

    • Hi, Track! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Interesting review that you linked — one that I disagree with on most points. Our ideas regarding what works and what doesn’t seem to be at complete odds. As has already been stated, I prefer the earlier years to the later seasons simply because the scripting is tighter and the stories are more grounded in logic. However, as you know, I don’t disagree that Season Three is something of a disappointment. Whether it’s the worst, however, that’s a judgment call.

      You’ll have to be more specific regarding that cold open. Although I don’t believe this is the one of which you’re thinking, the teaser from this season’s “Teacher’s Pet” features Cliff begging Carla not to tease him about his mom, his untidiness, or his ears. It’s a memorably funny bit.

  2. While I find much to enjoy in season three, the series never managed to recapture the tension that existed between Sam and Diane in seasons one and two. Perhaps it’s just because we know, by this point, that there’s no way these two are ever going to be able to click as a couple, no matter how hard the series works to remind us of the basic spark that exists between them..

    I find the way Diane was brought back into Cheer so hopelessly contrived and hard to swallow that it really gets in the way of my being able to fully enjoy the year’s first few episodes.

    • Hi, Nick! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I agree with you on both counts. The two-part opener, in particular, sets the season up on an inferior, and as you noted, contrived footing. However, I think one of the strengths of the somewhat nebulous fourth season (for which my sentiments are admittedly circuitous) is that there are times when we almost wish for a Sam/Diane reconciliation, despite their diminished connection and the inevitable doom. Stay tuned . . .

  3. Worth mentioning that Frasier’s mother was played by the great Nancy Marchand, who 15 years later would go on to play Livia Soprano, one of the most horrific TV mothers of all-time.

    • Hi, Guy! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yep, and a four-time Emmy winner for LOU GRANT, which I’m seriously considering covering in some capacity soon. (It’s possible you’ll start seeing other genres of television on Wildcard Wednesdays, because the sitcom flops of the ’80s are collectively worse than the flops of the ’70s. In fact, there have already been a handful of single season shows intended for coverage that I’ve had to ultimately reject due to my inability to find enough worthwhile qualities to highlight. No more THE ROPERS!)

      Also, Marchand gives a fantastic performance in the live 1953 production of MARTY, which I believe is significantly stronger, in many ways, to the 1955 film. Discussed last September here: https://jacksonupperco.com/2015/09/23/live-the-golden-age-of-tv-drama-i/

  4. This season holds a special place in my heart because it was the first I watched live on a weekly basis. What did you think of the season final, “Rescue Me”? I was transfixed when it first aired but have since come to like it less since the Dvds.

    • Hi, Elaine! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      And thanks again for your kind email — I’m glad you enjoyed your copy of the “Chuckles Bites The Dust” script!

      I think “Rescue Me” is actually one of the season’s weakest offerings. Not only is it minus Coach, but the energy is completely off because of all the location scenes and the fact that Sam and Diane are separated for its entirety, excepting a ridiculously unfunny dream sequence. (It’s the equivalent of the better part of MOONLIGHTING’s fourth season; that series will get some coverage on Wildcard Wednesdays soon!) Also, from a storytelling point-of-view, the script is all plot, with little time for character moments from both Sam and Diane — and even less time for the ensemble.

      I actually wish the season had concluded at 22 episodes like the prior two years, ending with “Cheerio, Cheers,” which in addition to featuring Coach for one last time, also has a bittersweet ending that is almost as much of a cliffhanger as the one in “Rescue Me.” In general, the Coach-less episodes are mediocre, and aside from the three honorable mentions (all of which are without Colasanto), this output reveals that the fewer they could have produced without him, the better. (Although, I think “The Bartender’s Tale,” the only Coach-less and Diane-lite offering to be mentioned in the above post, is the best of this Coach-free lot!)

      • You know, I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right. “Cheerio Cheers” would have been a MUCH better finale for this season. I actually think that’s one of the few episodes this year where Sam and Diane are as hot as they were in the first two seasons. But I still think the introduction of Frasier makes this season really special and underrated, they did a good job of building his character. And I think the writing is a trifle sharper here than the loosey gooseiness of later years (although, with hindsight, not as good as season one and two.)

      • Just jumping in to voice my agreement with Elaine about this season’s tightness in comparison to the later, looser years. But in direct contrast to season four, I think that year ends up being much more consistently funny than season three (as a whole).

        • I think you two are both right. Season Three is probably better written (Elaine), but Season Four is probably funnier (Jeff). In general, however, I think the high points of Season Four are collectively stronger and more memorable than the high points of Season Three. That noted, I actually wouldn’t define Season Four as consistent, even in terms of the comedy. I think Season Three, with all its ills, gives us more of an even and level quality — well, at least for the 18 episodes in which both Diane and Coach are regularly featured. In fact, had Colasanto survived the season and Long not been pregnant, I think there would be little debate about whether or not this year was superior to the two that followed. But, to both of your points-of-view, I myself go back and forth over which I personally prefer, Season Three or Season Four. Season Five, meanwhile, is a whole ‘nother entity; stay tuned!

      • Jeff, I’m not saying the show isn’t funnier in other seasons. I just think this year is overall better than the fourth season,in particular. However, I will freely cop to a bias for Season three — the first one I watched every week!

        I do agree with you Jackson about what you said. There are some excellent episodes in season four, even though its less consistent than the earlier years. Honestly every season of this show is great!

        • Yes, playing favorites is tough because every season of CHEERS has its merits. In fact, I’ll spoil now that there’s really only one other season ahead that I think comes closest to being a disappointment. Stay tuned!

  5. Recently discovered this great blog, and wanted to compliment you on these lists you have compiled. Really appreciate the work you’ve put into this.

    I loved Coach’s final scene, where he says “In some ways, he can see more.” Perfectly summed up the innocence and kindness of the character. I think the decision not to have Diane pregnant was the correct one. In the minds of many viewers, it would have tied her to whoever they decided the father would be (Sam or Frasier), and would’ve limited her storyline possibilities for Season 4.

    I was a little surprised not to see “Bar Bet” listed, as it’s my personal favorite from Season 3. What was your opinion on that one?

    • Hi, Tim! Thanks for reading and commenting — and for your kind words.

      I agree with you about the show’s wise decision to not write in Long’s pregnancy. I am not fond of kids in adult situation comedy, and it would have dragged down the show considerably to have one so prominent in the narrative. Interestingly, the choice that the producers made was as much about story as it was about the possibility of having two unwed mothers on the same show at the same time.

      As for “Bar Bet,” I don’t like the episode at all. I think the premise is trite and circumstantial, with conflict coming from a presupposed outside source — not the core characters and choices they make. Furthermore, there’s not enough comedy to support the shortcomings in the text. (Not surprisingly, this was Jim Parker’s only script for the series.) But it is a chance to see a young Michael Richards, and I know that does appeal to a lot of viewers! I think it’s a generally well-liked offering.

  6. Thanks for taking my suggestion about the cold openings. “Sunny Side of the Street” is my favorite this season as well.

    Once again, great summary of the best of Season 3. In my opinion, it’s the weakest of the Diane years.

    Although I agree “Rebound Parts 1 and 2” are a bit hard to swallow, there are some great comedic gems in it such as Sam having to tell Carla that Diane’s coming back to work at Cheers and Kelsey Grammer’s great line delivery on, “oh great, I’ll bet this is important”.

    I’m looking forward to your opinions on Season 4. It’s a season I’ve always been fond of because it’s truly an ensemble season with focus shifting among every character throughout. There’s also some great laugh-out-loud episodes like “Cliffie’s Big Score”, “Diane Chambers Day” and “From Beer to Eternity”.

    • Hi, Smitty! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Although ST. ELSEWHERE is not something to which I’m looking at this time, I’m an obvious sucker for all that is MTM, so it’s a possibility! As of this week, the only confirmable drama/dramedy you’ll see on upcoming Wildcard Wednesdays is MOONLIGHTING. Stay tuned . . .

  7. I think it’s worth pointing out that, based on CHEERS-based discussions I’ve had with people and have read online, there seem to be quite a few folks out there who don’t see Sam and Diane’s relationship as being destined for failure, in spite of the feelings they may have for each other. Now, I don’t agree with that and don’t really see any evidence in the series that these two are ever going to end up anywhere but split up, but there seem to be a lot of folks out there who don’t agree with that. Maybe it’s just that they WANT so badly for Sam and Diane’s relationship to work. I’ve noticed that these are the folks who tend to get really angry with the note on which their relationship ended in the show’s finale.

    • Yes, and I think it would be relatively safe to assume that the majority of fans who prefer the Diane years to the Rebecca years do so BECAUSE of the relationship between Sam and Diane. So I think there is a bit of an objectivity issue for them in defining quality and discerning the show’s intention, but there can’t be any judgement because we all have preferences. For instance, I’m naturally drawn to episodes that play with an element of theatricality (not exaggerated unbelievability — a connotation that is often attached to theatre — but with a close and immediate aesthetic, like a stage play), and that affects the way I personally view quality. In fact, my overall favor for the Diane years is expressly due to this quest for the TV one act. (Also, I think the writing is generally tighter in this era because the show doesn’t ask us to suspend our disbelief as often, but I digress…)

      I like many of the Sam/Diane heavy episodes in these early years because I think that’s where the show most often functions on all of its metaphorical cylinders, but as you know, it’s not because I want them to ride off into a magical sunset. In fact, I don’t find myself “shipping” any couples on television beyond appreciating both when the writing is sharp and the performers have chemistry. This is one of the reasons that I wanted to cover MOONLIGHTING; I am not a typical fan because I don’t believe the show’s strongest offerings are concentrated on the David/Maddie relationship. Therefore, I feel like I have a fresh perspective for commentary. (Side note: The confidence in having a new “take,” along with whether or not the time commitment seems worthwhile, is what influences what other non-sitcom shows you’ll be seeing on upcoming Wildcard Wednesdays.) On this blog, I don’t mitigate or disguise my predilections — they comprise my collective perspective — but I do strive for as much objectivity as muster-able when it comes to what a show is actually presenting, despite the impossibility of actually doing so.

  8. This was an interesting comment and response. My sister is exactly that way about CHEERS. To her, CHEERS is Sam and Diane, and any episode that’s anything other than Sam and Diane was a waste of film. To her, the Rebecca years of CHEERS amount to nothing more than a second-rate spin-off, destined to fail because while they may have had Sam, they had Sam without his Diane. And no, she has never forgiven the producers of the show for not letting Sam and Diane have the fairy tale ending she believes they should have had, whether before Diane left the show or in the final episode.

    She and I have had discussions about this, but they’ve never gotten us anywhere. I don’t get why she can’t see that no matter how much Sam and Diane may have been attracted to each other, the differences between them were sufficient to make a relationship between the two of them impossible to sustain. She doesn’t get why I can’t see that Sam and Diane were perfect for each other, but never got a real chance. I don’t get why she can’t enjoy the Rebecca years. She can’t get how I can stand to sit through them.

    Other people avoid talking about politics and religion. My sister and I avoid talking about CHEERS.

    Thank you, by the way, for posting those scripts of the second season two-parter. They made fascinating reading.

    • Hi, Jason! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I don’t think your sister’s reaction is uncommon. (But she’s missing a lot of wonderful moments from the Rebecca era, as I’m sure you’ve tried to tell her!) Meanwhile, I also don’t think it’s uncommon to find fans who prefer the Rebecca years simply because they loathe Diane and her relationship with Sam. Both sides are fervent in their preference and, in my estimation, they represent two sides of the same imaginary coin.

      Interestingly, if Long hadn’t left the series when she did, I actually think Sam and Diane would have married and been “endgame,” but I believe this would have gone against the series’ own point-of-view, so her departure was an artistic benefit (in my eyes, as always). And by ’93, the show had changed so much that a Sam/Diane reconciliation could never be viable, for that would have negated Sam’s evolution. Yet I still get why people remain invested in Sam/Diane — they share great chemistry and are usually well-written.

      To tell you the truth, I’m actually more fascinated by the viewers who champion a Sam/Rebecca pairing, which I think is a harder sell given what was actually presented on screen. Although the series spends about three seasons toying with the possibility, I think it’s clear by the end of Alley’s first year that it’s not ever going to work — but, to the show’s credit, there are moments when the idea does seem attractive (particularly in Season Seven). Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself; more on that in upcoming weeks — stay tuned!

      • Like Jason’s sister, I loved Sam and Diane. But I wasn’t angry at the show for how it all turned out. I guess I just enjoyed the heartache of knowing how wrong they were for each other. That’s part of why I liked and rooted for them. If they were perfectly matched we wouldn’t have been so invested!

        But to another point you made, I HATED Sam with Rebecca. No romantic chemistry. They were more like best friends. I thought Kirstie actually had more chemistry with Kelsey Grammar

        • I feel similarly about Sam and Diane. However, if and when I root for them as a pair, it’s only when the show is well written enough to make me forget both how mutually destructive they are when coupled and also how much better the storytelling works when they’re not romantically paired, allowing the show to exploit the tension.

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