Hey there chums! Welcome to the third part of our Cheers Chats series, where we breakdown 12 of the best episodes over the course of Cheers’ 11 seasons. Today we’re at the home stretch of the first season, and delving into the second part of the two part season one finale. Things are really heating up in the bar, so let’s check in with our current favorite TV Bostonians and see what the haps is as we wrap season one.
(BTW, we’re going by this list from AV Club if you’re wondering what our plan of attack is).
Episode 1.22: Showdown, Part 2
Originally aired: March 31, 1983
Netflix synopsis: Sam’s brother, whom he feels inferior to, shows up at the bar and sweeps Diane off her feet. Sam doesn’t have the guts to admit he wants Diane.
Previously, on Cheers
(Brief synopsis of what happened prior to this episode)
T: Boy oh boy was Part One of the finale great. Sam’s brother Derek is in town (face not seen for some artistic reason I guess?) which Sam is not happy about. Derek ends up hitting on Diane and Sam is totally jealous. At one point, Carla points out that ever since Diane walked into the bar, Sam hasn’t been as much of a ladies man like he used to be, which is also something I noticed over the past few episodes, and I appreciate that it’s been a slow realization of his affinity towards Diane instead of all at once. Anyways, Derek invites Diane to jet off to Martha’s Vineyard with him, but she’s torn because she knows in her heart Sam feels the same way she feels about him, and it results in one of my favorite scenes to date:
Sam: Whatever you and my brother Derek want to do is OK with me. I don’t care.
Sam: (under his breath) Please don’t go.
Diane: What? What did you say?
Sam: I said I have no feelings about this.
Diane: No, after that. You said something. It sounded like ”Please don’t go.”
Sam: Please don’t go? Are you crazy? You gotta get over this egotism of yours. Go, with my blessings. Have a good time, really. (under his breath) Please stay here.
Diane: Wait a minute. What was that? There at the end you said something.
Sam: You’re hallucinating. Get outta here and have a good time. Go on.
Diane: OK, l’m glad you understand.
Sam: (under his breath) If you go, l’ll die.
Diane: What? l heard you say something.
Sam: You’re coming unglued. Please go. Have fun.
Diane: OK, l’ll go. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go freshen up. (under her breath) I’d rather stay with you.
Sam: What? What did you say?
Diane: I didn’t hear anything.
Carla’s My Boo
T: I’m pretty sure this is the first time it’s happened, but in a voiceover, Carla (not Rhea Perlman – Carla the character) recaps what happened in the previous episode. She says: “Last week on Cheers – is Diane about to fall for Sam’s brother? Will Sam’s heart be broken? Will Norm find happiness in his new job? (Norm got fired and hired somewhere else) Will Coach return to coaching in Venezuela? (he got an offer to coach for a baseball team there) Will Carl Yastremski please call Cheers and ask for ‘The Spitfire’?” This whole thing is odd but endearing because Carla says it?
M: It is so weird to hear a “previously on” for Cheers. Especially since I just watched 5 episodes in a row. (BTW, the full previously segment was just reasons Sam and Diane should do it already.)
M: Carla calls Diane Lady Di Job. STOP IT CARLA. Stop it, my boo. You’re too much.
T: Carla’s so so preggo. I researched it and Rhea Pearlman was also so so preggo with her first kid, daughter Lucy, who is also an actress.
M: Several episodes ago, Carla went from zero to very, very pregnant in, like, a minute. But as Carla said in part one of this episode, she always falls for “the wrong man, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, with the wrong birth control device.”
By the way, like Sam, Carla has a sister who “got everything” (read: she’s 5’2. And a beautician.)
Shut Up, Diane
(We just have a feeling we’re going to be saying Shut Up, Diane at our screens KIND OF A LOT.)
T: Diane’s in the bar on her day off and she’s bummed bc Derek is flying off to Paris and she doesn’t know what to do.
M: How about Sam?
M: Sam refers to Diane as Carla’s “skinny coworker,” so I guess we were still going with skinny being an insult in the early ‘80s.
T: “Well, l, Diane Chambers, bred and educated to walk with kings, once offered a full scholarship at the Sorbonne, have become attracted to a six-foot-three-inch bubble-gum card.”
M: WHO WROTE THIS CHARACTER. Also, finally.
T: At one point during her fight with Sam, she goes into his office with a blackboard and scrapes her nails on it and I legit said out loud “OH NO. OH NO NO NO NO NO.”
M: Know who’s got a lot in common with nails on a blackboard? DIANE.
(On the serious, I am somewhat warming to Diane, am v much a Diane/Sam shipper, but just have some problems with how the character is written.)
Little Ditty About Sam & Diane
T: The tension between Sam and Diane that has been building up the entire season explodes in this episode, so a lot of the plot centers around these two maybe lovebirds. Diane ended up going to the Vineyard with Derek and when she comes back a week later, Diane tells Sam that Derek also asked her to go to Paris with him so she’s saying goodbye. His solution to this is to fire her and tells her good riddance. Obviously. Carla is happy about this.
M: As I brought up in our Gilbert Blythe post, if you hate somebody, it’s not because you secretly love him. This is a harmful trope that makes people think someone who antagonizes them does it because they really like them. But in the case of Sam and Diane, sorry, they clearly hate each other because they secretly love each other.
T: But before Diane bids adieu to Sam, she basically attempts to make him jealous (read: secretly get him to stop her from going).
“We’ll be Diane and Derek Malone. We’ll buy a spread somewhere and call it the Double-D. It’ll make a nice brand.”
T: In full disclosure, they are really stretching this out and it’s killing me. Just get together already. However, I will commend them for making the entire scene between Sam and Diane feel like a Sorkin-esque scene or a really good tennis match. It’s such great writing and acting on their part. For example, instead of just going in for the smooch, they’re talking through their first kiss and fighting on how it should happen, which makes so much sense for their characters and potential relationship. In another line, Sam says this whole thing might be a mistake. They’re breaking up and they literally haven’t even started dating.
M: Do not Dawson and Joey this, Cheers. Do NOT. (To be clear, I’m Pacey/Joey all the way, but the way they set up the audience to want Dawson/Joey to happen, then broke them up after a few episodes, was low).
T: The phrases “phoniest fruitcake”, “shut your fat mouth”, and “I always wanted to pop you one (possibly domestic violence inspired?)” are all said during this heated exchange. (Diane also threatens Sam that he’s going to be “walking funny tomorrow”). Finally it happens.
Sam: You disgust me.
Diane: I hate you.
Sam: Are you as turned on as I am?
*they go in for a kiss. pause. then kiss.*
Sam: I’m gonna nibble on your ear.
Diane: Don’t tell me.
M: They have such good chemistry, and they go back and forth like they work in a newspaper office in a 1930s detective movie.
T: I get why it’s one of the most memorable first kisses in TV history. Because of James Burrows tribute last month, Entertainment Weekly did a article about the kiss in a recent issue, and I was v excited to see some behind-the-scenes secrets from a show that was on 33 years ago.
Pour It Up, Pour It Up
(Drinks at the bar)
T: There are two ladies who Carla waits on who can’t make up their damn minds. They legit start with orders of hot tea and sherry, and it goes to white wine then beer then a shot of whiskey then boilermakers (which is apparently a glass of beer AND a shot of whiskey) featuring Wild Turkey and a Budweiser. It’s taxing.
M: Those women are like two Dianes in 20 years.
The Luke Danes of 1980s Boston
(In which we gush over dreamy yet often grumpy bartender Sam Malone)
T: Cold open Sam has his leg up on the counter in such a precarious way it’s distracting.
M: You ever notice how in older shows (70s – 90s) men used to always sit weird ways and act casual about it? See: A.C. Slater, always backwards on his chair.
T: It’s also worth noting that I just noticed you can see the lights at the top of the photo, as seen in the screenshot above. Apparently this is a thing that happens often with shows not made in the past few years (you can see lights, etc. in the Netflix versions of the early seasons of Gilmore Girls) because the show was originally shot in (get ready nerds) an aspect ratio of 4:3, but when transferred to streaming services like Netflix, they use 16:9 – basically means a larger version that was meant to be cropped out when originally aired. Nerd time over.
how it aired on the teevee
M: Sam apologizes to a woman for “shrieking the wrong name.” With God as my witness, that name better have been Diane.
(Literal Laugh Loud Loud moments from the episode)
THE ENTIRE BAR AT THE DOOR LISTENING TO SAM AND DIANE FIGHT IN HIS OFFICE. THAT IS TV GOLD
Say It Again, Sam
(Memorable lines from the episode. Not exclusively from Sam Malone.)
- Sam: It took my mind off my brother and your skinny co-worker. I don’t even care where they are any more… Where are they? Carla: Well Bobby and Susie saw them at the drive-in sharing a Cherry Coke and fries.
- Norm: Those are rich people cheating on taxes. And who has to foot the bill? Honest folks. Like me and you, and all you nice people at the bar that l’ve listed as my dependents.
- Coach: “It’s a damn sure bet that if he’s not expressing himself to you, he’s nuts about you… Or he couldn’t care less.”
T: Am I the only one who doesn’t care for Coach? I don’t really care for his character. I mean he’s sweet and all, but some/all of the jokes they write for him aren’t that funny.
M: Like when Coach says “crazy, Carla?! Crazy like a doorknob.” What is the joke? I assume it’s just that doorknobs aren’t crazy but I wonder if it was culturally relevant at the time, maybe?
To your point, I sort of feel like Coach is the character they keep around in case they need something poignant to happen to someone. Like, if someone has to get cancer or lose their house, it’ll be Coach.
T: James Burrows won a directing Emmy for this ep but there were a few weird zoom-ins that felt weird to me, did it feel that way to you?
M: There were a lot more times where I watched it and went “oh, Cheers is definitely trying something here.” Even the opening shot of the street outside the bar looked different. But ultimately Sam and Diane are finally doing it and that’s a little ditty I’ll always be about.
T: Speaking of James Burrows, he directed 243 of the 270 episodes of Cheers, including the pilot. One of the reasons why James is such a successful director is because he’s directed a ton of classic sitcoms, including more than 60 pilots of TV shows. And he’s def rolling in the dough because if a director helms a pilot and that pilot gets picked up to series, the director will get royalties on every episodes that airs thereafter, even if they never direct another episode again. For example, he lucked out when he directed only the pilot of The Big Bang Theory, but maybe not so much with the pilot of S#!t My Dad Says.
T: Diane’s pale pink suit seems like a more mature? look for her? Or more upscale librarian? And also is her hair is straighter?
T: Carla’s plaid shirt that reminds me of an azn woman selling fish at an outdoor market in Thailand.
M: You’ll also notice that Carla has started wearing her hair in a ponytail with some barrettes. Barrettes were huge in the ’80s. I feel like either she’s growing it out or can’t perm it during pregnancy.
Next Up: We are basing our watch list off of AV Club’s 10 Episodes That Show How Cheers Stayed Great For 11 Seasons. We’re going chronologically, so stop by next month when we’ll discuss Season two, episode 4, Homicidal Ham.