Reviewed by David Williams (March 26, 2004)
What's shaking Norm?
All four cheeks and a couple of chins.
By the time the sophomore efforts of Cheers hit the airwaves in late 1983, the kinks had pretty much been ironed out and the characters, along with their personality traits, had evolved and would remain in place for the length of the series itself; one of the longest running and most popular sitcoms ever. Strangely enough, the show had barely managed to stay on the air because of the abysmal ratings for its first few episodes and by the second season, Cheers had only secured itself a respectable group of core viewers. Amazingly, it would still take a couple of more years before the show was consistently at the top of the weekly Nielsen ratings. (It’s scary to think that a show like Cheers more than likely wouldn’t survive in today’s TV climate. Ratings are king and that’s one thing that Cheers didn’t have in impressive quantities for quite some time.)
The second season picks up right where the first left off … with Cheers proprietor Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and waitress Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) trying to work out a romantic relationship. Their love-hate rapport would provide the cornerstone for the majority of season two, although other characters would have a chance to shine as well. Know-it-all mailman, Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), would graduate from the ranks of having his name roll in the credits after the show was over to getting top-billing with all of the other regulars on the show; Carla (Rhea Perlman) would have another child and have to deal with her slimy ex-husband coming back in to her life at the wrong time; Norm’s (George Wendt) problems at home would start spilling over into the bar … at times, with hilarious results; and fatherly old Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) would deal with the death of a good friend whom it’s learned tried to bed his wife years ago, and he even finds himself back in the game … this time, coaching some Little Leaguers.
For a second year, the show would take home a boatload of Emmy’s … another for “Outstanding Comedy Series”, an “Outstanding Supporting Actress” for Rhea Perlman, one each for “Outstanding Editing” and “Outstanding Writing”, as well as eight more nominations that didn’t quite pay off. Not too bad for a series on the verge of cancellation …
If you’d like a bit more background on the show and it’s premise, check out my review for season one. But if you’re already familiar with the show, let’s check out what would transpire during the second season.
- Disc One -
Power Play (Original Air Date: September 29, 1983)
Cheers begins season two right where season one left off … with Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane’s (Shelley Long) blooming romance. However, things don’t last very long as Diane throws Sam out of her apartment after only a few minutes and declares their relationship doomed. The rest of the crew at Cheers could really care less, but Carla (Rhea Perlman) offers Sam some advice that could have him back in Diane’s arms before the day is over. (This episode also finds John Ratzenberger’s character, Cliff Clavin, becoming a cast regular rather than a recurring character.)
Li’l Sister Don’t Cha (Original Air Date: October 13, 1983)
Rhea Perlman plays dual roles, as Carla (Perlman) goes on maternity leave and Sam hires her sister, Annette (Perlman), to help out at the bar. While Annette seems quiet and reserved on the outside, she’s more like Carla than anyone could ever imagine. Everyone at the bar sees right through Annette’s faux exterior except Cliff (John Ratzenberger), who thinks that she’s really a sweet, misunderstood girl.
Personal Business (Original Air Date: October 20, 1983)
With Sam and Diane’s relationship out in the open, Carla gets jealous and accuses Diane of getting preferential treatment because she’s sleeping with the man in charge. Diane decides to quit Cheers to prove that she can do better for herself without kissing up to the boss and she unfortunately finds out that her chosen field of work, the literary field, is full of sexual perverts too. Meanwhile, Norm (George Wendt) is ready to play the field again after his recent spilt with his wife, Vera.
Homicidal Ham (Original Air Date: October 27, 1983)
Diane’s homicidal date from season one, Andy Schroeder (Derek McGrath), returns and this time, it’s to rob the place. However, when Diane learns that Andy simply misses prison life, she tries to help him out with an acting career in order to turn his life around. On the night of Andy and Diane’s big opening … performing the strangulation scene from Othello with Diane as Desdemona … she realizes that Andy really is trying to strangle her!
Sumner’s Return (Original Air Date: November 3, 1983)
Diane’s former fiancé who left her stranded at Cheers in the premiere episode, Sumner Sloane (Michael McGuire), shows back up for Diane with the objective of getting their relationship back on track. This makes Sam more than a little nervous and although Diane swears that Sloane means nothing to her, Sam attempt to prove that he’s just as smart as the Professor by attempting to read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” in five days.
Affairs Of The Heart (Original Air Date: November 10, 1983)
When a nice guy named Hank (Don Amendolia) falls for Carla, she’s so cynical from years and years of bad relationships that she thinks something must be wrong with him; some sort of hidden flaw. Carla finally decides to go out on a date with the guy … and maybe even sleep with him … and Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) mentions to the rest of the gang that Hank has a bad heart and too much excitement may not be the best thing for him!
- Disc Two -
Old Flames (Original Air Date: November 17, 1983)
Local sportscaster Dave Richards (Fred Dryer) makes a bet with Sam that he can break up his relationship with Diane in 24 hours. Dave uses Sam’s infamous “little black book” as a ploy to place seeds of doubt in Diane’s mind. (This episode won an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series”.)
Manager Coach (Original Air Date: November 24, 1983)
Sam turns down the opportunity to coach a Little League baseball team and surprisingly, Coach jumps at the chance to take on the challenge. Unfortunately for the kids, Coach has a hard time differentiating between his former pro players and the kids on his Little League team and he treats them like a despot. The kids get fed up with Coach’s incessant riding and quit.
They Called Me Mayday (Original Air Date: December 1, 1983)
Dick Cavett guest stars and suggests to Sam that he thinks there’s a lot of people who would be interested in reading his memoirs from his days as a major leaguer. Diane gets a little peeved when Cavett fails to recognize her literary skills and then offers to be the ghost writer for Sam’s book. Meanwhile, Norm becomes depressed when it’s learned that an old high school rival is dating his estranged wife.
How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Call You Back (Original Air Date: December 8, 1983)
After receiving an unexpected gift from Diane, Sam casually tells her that he loves her. Taking the statement way out of proportion and in an attempt to analyze their current relationship, Diane feels that a week-long hiatus away from each other would serve them both well. However, it almost backfires on Diane as Sam starts to have second thoughts.
Just Three Friends (Original Air Date: December 15, 1983)
Diane’s best friend (Markie Post) moves to Boston and starts putting the moves on Sam. Sam tells Diane that he thinks her friend has the hots for him and she simply refuses to believe it … she claims that her friend, Heather, is just flirty. However, Heather lets it all hang out in front of Sam and Diane one evening and quickly makes a believer out of Diane.
Where There’s A Will (Original Air Date: December 22, 1983)
Upon learning that one of the locals is terminally ill (George Gaynes), Sam allows him to tend the bar for a few hours. Grateful, the eccentric writes out a will on a paper napkin and leaves $100,000 to the gang at Cheers. Unfortunately, he never states who gets how much and things get ugly as everyone fights over their fair share.
- Disc Three -
Battle Of The Exes (Original Air Date: January 5, 1984)
Carla’s sleazebag ex, Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya … and a great recurring character!), invites her to his wedding hoping to make her jealous of his hot new wife (Jean Kasem). However, when Carla strikes a deal with Sam to go to the wedding with her and play the role of her newest boy toy, the tables are turned.
No Help Wanted (Original Air Date: January 12, 1984)
As a good friend to Cheers regular, Norm, Sam offers to let the out-of-work accountant do the books for the bar. When Norm’s numbers come back and show that Sam is entitled to a hefty refund, he gets nervous and is sure that Norm did something wrong. When Norm gets wind that Sam went to his regular accountant for a second opinion, their friendship takes a turn for the worst.
And Coachie Makes Three (Original Air Date: January 19, 1984)
When Coach becomes so lonely that he begins spending all of his time with Sam and Diane and they can’t get any time alone, they decide that Coach needs some female companionship of his own and they set out to fix him up with a date.
Cliff’s Rocky Moment (Original Air Date: January 26, 1984)
All of the regulars at Cheers are quite accustomed to hearing Cliff Clavin’s thoughts on everything and have learned to simply let it pass. However, some of the newer patrons take issue with Cliff’s know-it-all attitude and one of them, Victor Shapone (Peter Iacangelo), actually challenges him to a fight. However, Cliff amazes everyone with the outcome. Meanwhile, Sam cannot understand how Diane has done so well with her weekly football picks.
Fortune And Men’s Weights (Original Air Date: February 2, 1984)
Coach is fooled into purchasing an old fortune telling machine that doubles as a scale and when all of the cards/fortunes it dispenses start coming true, the Cheers gang starts to believe that the machine actually has supernatural powers. Unfortunately for Diane, the machine bestows her a fortune that doesn’t give her good vibes about her relationship with Sam.
Snow Job (Original Air Date: February 9, 1984)
Sam and his old baseball buddies have an annual ski/skirt-chasing trip to Vermont and this year, he wants to go, but doesn’t want to hurt Diane’s feelings. Therefore, he tells Diane that he has to attend an Uncle’s funeral rather than telling her the truth. As you might imagine, the lie comes back to haunt Sam as Diane learns more and more about the “funeral” Sam’s supposed to be attending.
- Disc Four -
Coach Buries A Grudge (Original Air Date: February 16, 1984)
When Coach has a good friend, T-Bone, die, the crew at Cheers decides to have a memorial for him at the bar. However, Coach is shocked to learn that the man once attempted to have an affair with his wife. Understandably enraged, Coach is in a bind because he has already agreed to do the man’s eulogy at the memorial. Coach swallows his pride and delivers an unbiased and touching eulogy, but things get out of control when others start bringing up the man’s indiscretions with their wives.
Norman’s Conquest (Original Air Date: February 23, 1984)
Norm has an attractive new client (Anne Scheeden) that seems to be hitting on him and everyone at Cheers encourages Norm to make a play for her … except for Diane. She fells that Norm should remain faithful to Vera even though their relationship has been rocky at best.
I’ll Be Seeing You: Part I (Original Air Date: May 3, 1984)
Diane is rather infuriated that the majority of the Boston area still sees Sam as an “eligible” bachelor and the gang thinks that Sam could patch things up by having an eccentric artist, Phillip Semenko (Christopher Lloyd), commission a portrait of Diane. However, Semenko is so arrogant and tough to deal with that Sam refuses to do business with him … right about the time Diane is really digging the idea.
I’ll Be Seeing You: Part II (Original Air Date: May 10, 1984)
The second part of the two-parter concludes, as does the season, as Diane decides to have her portrait painted by Semenko against Sam’s wishes. Diane is so fed up that she wonders if their relationship is worth repairing when Sam fails to realize the importance of Semenko’s art. Are Sam and Diane finished? Tune in to season three to find out …
That’s all folks … and we’re left to wait another few months for Season Three. For me, it couldn’t come soon enough.