Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday and more of our second annual RERUN series, designed to give yours truly a chance to get further ahead in coverage of our last few ’90s comedies. Regular programming will resume next month, but in the meantime, I’m excited to resurrect and re-examine some of my favorite Sitcom posts from this blog’s nearly six year run!
As with last year’s series (begun here), my intention is to provide a link to each original piece and then offer a tiny bit of updated commentary, either on episode picks I’d call differently now (like in my famous “Regrets” post) or on something broader, like evolving thoughts on the year/series as a whole. I’ve picked a few goodies, so I hope you’re as excited as I am about revisiting our favorites… But please be gentle! Many of the posts you’ll see were written a while ago. The standards here have changed as I’ve changed. (There are plenty of typos, juvenile “hot takes,” and places where more information would now be appreciated.)
This week, I’m rerunning… The Ten Best CHEERS Episodes of Season Seven. See it here: http://jacksonupperco.com/2016/03/01/the-ten-best-cheers-episodes-of-season-seven/
My positive appraisal of Cheers‘ seventh season, the sophomore year with Kirstie Alley, hasn’t changed much: I still find it stronger than its two neighbors — both of which have narrative interests that cloud the simple character-rooted style of comedy for which the series was otherwise known. While Six struggled to adapt to a new leading lady and sought to define her through predetermined constructs (instead of letting the regulars and their relationships guide her utilization), Eight also put all its figurative chips on a narrative arc that didn’t seem to understand what was best for the series and these characters, Rebecca especially. Now, many fans choose to celebrate Eight — and that Robin Colcord arc — but I maintain that the year ends up regressing her characterization, for in its attempts to reconcile the idea of Rebecca (on the page) with the reality (on the stage), it turns away from the ensemble and focuses on an external, unlikable, empty vessel for story (Robin) that mitigates all the positive, with-the-current, comedic movement that occurs between Rebecca and the others in Seven… Yes, Seven is a better showing for Rebecca, and for everyone, for even as the writing continues to broaden (and there was a regime change mid-year), most of the stories prioritize interaction among the regulars, keeping things relatively simple and character-oriented… which is most noticeable in comparison to two surrounding seasons that, with their story interests, are less attuned to the series’ low-concept premise… Now, the reason I’m highlighting Season Seven here is that I regret choosing “Norm, Is That You?” as my MVE. At the time, I was just thrilled to find a Norm entry that actually worked and was funny. Today, I’d probably go with my gut and select “Hot Rocks,” for even though it’s never as comedic as I’d like, it’s all character and progresses the Sam/Rebecca dynamic in a way that’s engaging, without being manipulative…
Come back next week for another Sitcom Tuesday rerun! And stay tuned tomorrow for a new Wildcard Wednesday!