Cheers Chats #4: Homicidal Ham

Annddd we’re back. And in season two, no less! We’ve been going through some classic episodes of Cheers since the beginning of this year (you can find the rest here) and we’ve moved on to season two, in which Sam and Diane are finally together and the rest of the crew has to deal with it. This particular episode has a storyline that seemingly comes out of nowhere, but provides for quite an entertaining show. Here we go with Homicidal Ham!

Episode 2.04: Homicidal Ham

Originally aired: October 27, 1983

Netflix synopsis: Against Sam’s better judgement, Diane tries to help her former homicidal blind date, Andy, become an actor.

T: No matter how many times I read the episode title, I still picture a honeyglazed ham holding a knife. I’m sure this says something about my pscyhe.

M: I’ve been staring at the title in our post queue for weeks, and every single time I read Cheers Chats #4: Homicidal Ham as “Homicidal 4 Ham,” which I imagine would be a Hunger Games-y Hamilton lotto that a lot of people would be into.

Previously, on Cheers

(Brief synopsis of what happened prior to this episode)

T: Carla gave birth to her baby in the second episode, but instead of showing up as Carla, Rhea Perlman pulls a Tatiana Maslany and plays Carla’s sestra who seems like an uptight gal and totally opposite from her sibling. It was a fun ep. Also, Rhea Perlman was pregnant IRL in 1989, but I think by the time they shot season 2, she had her daughter already, so I think she’s wearing a fake belly for the first episode?

M: Also was the sister even the same one that Carla said “gets everything” because she was a cosmetologist and like 5’1?

One Hit Wonders

(Characters we don’t expect to be seeing again)

In full disclosure, this entire episode is based on a character I don’t think we’re ever going to see again. But who knows.

T: The ex-convict Sam paid to date Diane shows up at Cheers. He allegedly murdered a waitress? How is he an “ex-convict” if he murdered someone? Unless it’s just hearsay on the streets of Boston.

M: Wait, you’re right! If his conviction is on unsexy tax stuff or whatever, that doesn’t make him a waitress-murderer.

M: Maybe the world has changed a lot since the early 80s (OK, the world has changed a lot since 2 weeks ago and I need like 3 memes explained to me), but this plotline would maybe never fly now? Surely some sort of group would launch some kind of Twitter thing?

T: Yeah, this would definitely not go over well in 2016. Anti-gun groups, Pro-pig groups, Actors Equity Association…

So What Had Happened Was…

(Basic recap of the episode’s main plot)

T: Holy shit Andy is STILL crazy and pulls out a gun because he’s holding up this entire bar. This is v jarring to me, as I don’t expect a gun-wielding nutjob to be walking into America’s Favorite Bar™. Is this going to be an Orange is the New Black/Making a Murderer type of life lesson in this episode? This show keeps surprising me.

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M: Yeah, definitely wouldn’t happen now, unless it was a Very Special Gun Episode like that Family Matters one where everyone turned in their guns. I feel like in the 80s a rando pulling a gun in a bar was still sort of a wacky tv plot, and from the sunny shores of 2016 we’re nodding along like ‘yeah, that IS a thing that sometimes happens in our public spaces. As you were, Cheers.”

T: He def wants to get caught because he hates life in the real world and has no skills wants to go back to prison. His dream is to become an actor. In fact, he sounds like an actor, which makes sense because this show isn’t real and he’s legit an actor. Diane agrees to help him become an actor by running lines with him, and sets him up with a potential job by having him audition for Fake James Lipton.

“Prison is my home.” Andy, who I’ve deemed Crazy Andy.

M: Doesn’t Crazy Andy have a creepy face? He has beady Ted Cruz eyes and emotes like a community theater actor.

T: Diane is friends with “America’s foremost drama coach” because of course she is. This dude has “contacts with every theater on the Cape.” As someone who worked at a theater in Boston, I am offended she’s not looking for a job for Crazy Andy within Boston proper.

M: I think maybe she’s trying to get him into summer stock. Anyway, I’m going to be a lot of not fun for a moment, but I left my last fuck behind in around 2013 and I don’t have any left to give.

IT IS NOT DIANE’S JOB TO SAVE CRAZY ANDY AND IT IS NOT ANY OF THE DIANES JOBS TO SAVE ANY OF THE CRAZY ANDYS OF THE WORLD.

I’m’a send Diane a copy of The Gift Of Fear from the future, and the writers a manual on how to write believable female characters who would have made it to their 30s (?) without getting serial killed, also from the future.

Okay we can have fun now.

T: 

T: Diane’s mission to save Crazy Andy has turned into her being his acting sensei and she’s a) taking advantage of boyfriend Sam being her boss and just taking a break whenever and b) forgetting that 5 minutes ago she thought he was an insane killer and now she’s offering to go out alone with him to help him with scene work.

M: Diane = a less murderous Alison Hendrix, sometimes. Of course she loves amateur theatre.

T: Plot Twist – After spending time together running the Othello scene, Crazy Andy thinks Diane is into him romantically. He says I love you to her and she says it back, but clearly not in the same way he means it. Ruh roh.

M: Didn’t this happen in a Full House episode? Or some kind of 80s-90s family sitcom.

T: Or nearly all 80s-90s sitcoms.

T: So when Crazy Andy walks out in his Shakespearean garb and sees Diane kissing Sam, he has CRAZY EYES.

T: He’s using his anger towards Diane for the scene and surprise, surprise, his lines involve love, jealousy, and murder. I know it’s not going to happen but, sincerely concerned Crazy Andy is going to actually kill Diane during this scene and everyone’s going to think he’s just a really good actor. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t kill her.

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: “He stands here as an embodiment of the failure of our penal system. This man doesn’t belong in prison. We, mostly I, can save this man’s life.” In regard to this quote, I actually don’t want Diane to shut up because she’s spitting the truth but stays humble at the same time. 

M: Okay. I actually really hated what they did with Diane this episode. Someone waving a gun around for attention – even unloaded – may not need prison, but they probably need more help than Diane DeWitt-Bukater. Sam called the police and then Diane had him call the police back and tell them not to come which a) isn’t a thing police do; and b) is probably preventing a sorely needed mental hygiene hold.

“One murder does not a murderer make.” Diane? Shut up.

Little Ditty About Sam & Diane

T: Diane secretly carved her and Sam’s initials into the actual bar wood, because apparently she’s a 13 year old girl who likes to deface property. (ugh I’m old)

“If you want romantic, we should have our buns tattooed.” Sam, who is a reasonable adult and is annoyed Diane carved into his bar.

M: Which also doesn’t even feel like a Diane thing? Diane would calligraphy their names with an 18th century replica quill on recycled parchment, if anything.

The Luke Danes of 1980s Boston

(In which we gush over dreamy yet often grumpy bartender Sam Malone)

T: CA assures Sam his murder was a “terrible moment of temporary insanity”, and that he doesn’t hear the voices in his head anymore. SAM MALONE. DO NOT LET YOUR WOMAN GO TO A SECOND LOCATION WITH THIS MAN.

M: Sam is surprisingly cavalier about this Crazy Andy’s waitress-killing predilections. But since he’s Sam Malone, Dream Man I’m just going to focus on how he lets Diane live her life (stupidly) the way she wants to (which is like an idiot).

T: Sam apologizes for thinking Crazy Andy was still crazy – which is a sure sign he’s still right about this in the sitcom world. (otp)

T: “Yeah, sure she’s just gagging, Coach” SAM. LISTEN TO COACH. YOU ARE WATCHING YOUR GIRLFRIEND GET STRANGLED BY A MURDERER DRESSED IN ELIZABETHAN CLOTHING IN YOUR BAR RN.

Carla’s My Boo

T: After Crazy Andy pulls out his gun, Carla makes a run for it and is a freaking bad ass by grabbing his arms, and Sam takes the gun away while Coach takes the money back Crazy Andy attempted to steal. Beavis and Butt-Head (Norm and Cliff) take action 5 seconds later. Diane is…. who cares.

M: Carla’s first suggestion was that Diane run around flapping her arms to draw his fire. I feel you, boo boo.

T: During Crazy Andy and Diane’s “audition” in the bar, Carla sits in the front row and asks, “What time’s the second show?” with sandwich in hand.

M: Diane’s background work in this scene was the very definition of ‘giving me life.’

LLOL

(Literal Laugh Loud Loud moments from the episode)

When CA holds up his gun, these fools are *whispering* and trying to come with a plan to take Crazy Andy over, but they’re speaking at full volume.

M: I mostly LLOLed here because it felt like this was neither the first or the last time Carla has had someone waving a gun around at her.

T: This is brilliant- the barflies are deeply engrossed in the boxing match on TV and when it goes to commercial, Sam has already set up a conveyor belt of sorts for full glasses of beer. This is NOT what the real Cheers does. Or any bar does, for that matter. Norm goes up like four times.


T: Diane realizes she actually might die in a sec and tries to put off the scene, and when Sam tries to calm her down, she yells, “DON’T TOUCH ME, I BARELY KNOW YOU” as to not anger Crazy Andy more and oh my GOD I just think Shelley Long’s delivery is so perfect I am laughing so hard and had to watch it multiple times.

M: I rewound it too! To be clear, I sometimes don’t like how Diane is written, but Shelley Long is one of the best things to happen to this show or any show. She was killing it like Crazy Andy this whole ep. Too soon?

T: Cliff and Norm holding down CA after he chokes Diane is solid gold.

Are you going to be OK? – Sam

I’m having a little trouble breathing. – Diane

No, I meant for tonight. – Sam

OH MY GOD I LEGIT LOLED hahahaha you crazy horny kids

Say It Again, Sam

(Memorable lines from the episode. Not exclusively from Sam Malone.)

T: Carla comes back from maternity leave in this episode, and she’s pretending to still be pregnant because she says she’ll get better tips this way.

Coach is not advocating this, and says to Sam, “Maybe you should tell her to get rid of it.” To which Sam replies, “I can’t coach, she’s Catholic.” Abortion jokes, what a riot!

M: When Crazy Andy is choking her, Diane says “help, he’s trying to kill me” which Coach calls “the only line of Shakespeare I’ve ever understood.”

T: Coach, still problematic, legit tells Crazy Andy to not call him by his real name Ernie and says, “Please, call me Coach”, as he takes the money out of the register. You are being held hostage have some emotion.

“You know what they say, “Use a gun, go to Cape Cod.’” – Sam, basically ripping off motivational signs you find at Michaels

Cheers Queries

T: Why are they doing CA’s acting audition in the bar??

M: And where did they got these medieval costumes? I could see Diane going to Ren Faires sometimes TBH.

T: Is this episode titled Homicidal “Ham” because Crazy Andy is a first-class over actor??

M: Crazy Andy seems relatively young, so exactly how long was he in prison for killing that waitress?

T: Does this episode remind anyone else of the Saved by the Bell ep where they do Snow White and the Seven Dorks, and Kelly and Slater essentially sabotage the show because they think Zack and Jessie have a thing for each other after catching them kissing (as practice for the show)?

M: The hip-hop musical has come so far.

Barfly Fashion

Diane’s outfit looks more modern than usual?

Her hair wings also seem to be going a different way than they used to.

Crazy Andy in a 12 year old hardy boy’s outfit

Everyone in this picture

  • Diane in her RenFaire dress
  • The acting coach and his cane
  • Crazy Andy’s little league uniform

Sam looks exceptionally tall in these pants.

When I first saw it I thought “Sam should wear more blue,” so there’s a note for wardrobe, I guess.

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 17, Fortune and Men’s Weight.

Cheers Chats #1: Give Me A Ring Sometime

Let’s take it back. It’s 1982, we’re not alive, and maybe you aren’t either. The wacky, Studio 54-era disco-and-drugs ’70s were over, but the serious perm and shoulderpad business of the ’80s hadn’t really started. If you wanted to pitch a tv show about normal-looking people who wear a lot of brown and go to a bar sometimes, you were right in the zeitgeist. That’s the world that gave us Cheers.

Okay, now let’s take it … well, a little bit less back: August 2015. We got together to knock out a quick Pop Culture Blind Spots post. Neither of us had seen Cheers and together we were going to change that. By the end of the pilot, we were absolutely obsessed with this 33-year-old show that everybody else already knew was good. It became clear that we needed to devote more than a single post to Sam (The Luke Danes of 1980s Boston), Diane (Shut Up, Diane), Our Boo, Carla and all the others who we’d prefer you not tell us about because we haven’t seen the whole series yet, thanks. We shelved the post until we had more time to devote to the series.

So here’s what’s up: the last Friday of every month we’ll be posting Cheers Chats, where we discuss the top-ranked episodes of the 1980s smash hit, Cheers. Come join us, because our love for this neighborhood bar and grill is only going to grow. If you love the show too, or are watching along, jump into the comments … because sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Episode 1.01: Give Me A Ring Sometime

For starters, here’s our collective Cheers knowledge:

  • It’s Boston
  • They’re in a bar.
  • Sam and Diane are a thing, maybe. Like Ross and Rachel?
  • Norm is the mailman. No, scratch that – CLIFF. Cliff is the mailman.
  •  Norm is George Wendt – aka Jason Sudeikis’ uncle. He is a barfly. Barfly’s a word right?
  • It’s just that “barfly” looks like it would be pronounced “Barflee” and would be the name of a mischievous dog on a PBS sitcom from the 90s (which originally aired on CBC).
  • Frasier is a spin-off of Cheers. (Traci typed this; Molly exclaimed “yes, that’s right!” like a child correctly recited the Alphabet for the first time. I repeat: we did not watch Cheers.)

Chit-Chat Club

(Off-topic Cheers chatter.)

M: Netflix says Cheers is from 1992. Like … is it sure? I feel like this started in the late 80s and that I was super, super little when it was on. I also felt like it was one of those shows that ran for a million seasons.

T: 1992 is 23 YEARS ago. That is a college graduate.

M: WE WERE RIGHT. 1982 – 1993. 1992 is neither of those years. It’s just … a year. We were 6. Home Alone 2 came out. I wore a lot of stirrup pants.

T: Who do we write to about this? Mr. Netflix? I’ve got a strongly worded comment box for you.

T: This is the first time we’ve live-blogged together in the same room. And it’s weird.

M:  I feel like we’re about to turn it into the chit-chat club up in here and forget to type.

This Theme Song

We love this tune by super well-known singer/songwriter Gary Portnoy, but in the pilot, they play the theme song for real and it sounds kind of depressing? Maybe it’s the old-timey cartoon illustrations of folks in the 1900s in the opening credits (because they’re like, all dead)? Either way, this song still holds up.

Later on, they do that thing where they play the theme song, but instrumental and sad, before what would have been the commercial break.

Bahhston Tahhlk

Last week, Seth Meyers did this absolutely brilliant sketch about actors and Boston accents and it is so incredibly dead on. In saying that, not everyone in Boston has an accent, and if they do, it’s not always thick. At one point in the pilot, this kid attempting to get a beer at the bar says, “How bout a beeahh (beer), chief?” Stop exaggerating. Like, did he “Park his car in Hahhvahd Yahhd” too?? (NO ONE DOES THIS).

Also,  it felt like everyone was talking like they’re from a 1930s movie. At one point, it felt so garbled that we had to rewind three times then turn on closed captioning to figure out what they’re saying ( it was: How long is the wimp convention in town?”). Again, everyone is very muffled, like if you listened to that 1930s movie through one headphone.

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The Luke Danes of 1980s Boston

So Ted Danson – kind of a hottie? We never really put too much thought into him before, but NOW we are. You want to know why? Because Molly realized that Sam Malone is such a Luke Danes (Traci promptly shrieked “That’s why!” and dissolved into laughter upon this epiphany. She also started sweating because of this fact). (Note: That was very diplomatic of her, but if Traci was sweating that’s because it was August and 90 degrees and I don’t have an air conditioner. Enjoy the cooling breeze of a BOX FAN, friends! – M)

The Netflix description for the pilot reads: “Sam Malone, an ex-baseball player turned bar owner, operates a saloon that’s always filled with quirky customers and even more eccentric staff.” Hey, you know who ELSE played baseball?

scott was seriously too handsome to be a baseball player. he needed to share his good looks with the rest of the world as an actor.

GUYS I CAN’T UNSEE IT. I CANNOT. Also, does that make Diane Lorelai? Let’s dissect this – Diane’s husband-to-be is a professor at BU who references Proust – MAX MEDINA, MUCH?? And at some point, Sam gives Diane a drink JUST LIKE LUKE GIVING LORELAI COFFEE.

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Unrelated to Luke Danes, Sam is a recovering alcoholic who owns a bar. In season 7, are we going to see a dark storyline of Sam battling his demons and has to go to rehab? (Read: Ted Danson filmed Three Men and a Little Lady). Probably. Picturing a Bailey Salinger plotline.

Carla’s My Boo

Rhea Perlman busts into the bar and immediately goes on a rant:

“OK, I’m late! My kid was throwing up all over the place. You don’t buy that excuse, I quit. I don’t work for a man who has no compassion for my children. And you’re not exactly swamped here. I’m usually punctual. If you don’t like it, fine. This ain’t such a great job. I’m gonna change.”

A) Love her already.

B) She’s younger than we remembered.

C) She’s clearly the feminist of the show. Later on, she suggests to Diane that she stop waiting around for her fiance to come and just leave him. This coming from a woman whose husband used her to go to TV repair school then left her and their 4 kids behind once he graduated. All day Carla. All Day. Forever.

LLOL

(We used the LLOL acronym when we’d talk on AIM as teens – it means LITERALLY laughing out loud, as opposed to LOL as the typographic version of a smirk)

We genuinely LOLed throughout this entire episode. Like way more than we typically would during a pilot.

Exhibit A: 

Carla, after answering the phone: “Who isn’t here?”

Every male sitting at the bar in the middle of the day: “ME!”

Exhibit B: 

Cliff: Women have fewer sweat glands than men, but they’re larger, more active. Consequently, they sweat more…  (To Diane) How about you, miss? What are your perspiration patterns?

Exhibit C: 

Sam: Still working on that novel?

Coach: Yeah, coming on six years now. I got a feeling I might finish it tonight.

Diane: You’re writing a novel?

Coach: No, reading one.

 One-Hit Wonders

(Characters we don’t expect to be seeing again.)

This episode features Diane and her version of Rachel’s dentist husband. We hadn’t bothered to remember his name, which is a sign he might not be returning for the rest of the series.

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T: Also, I haven’t even bothered to remember Diane’s fiance’s name. I’m assuming he’s gone by the end of this episode.

M: Same. Barry, for now?

T: Barry it is.

M: Where Everybody Knows Your Name… except Traci and Molly. Who don’t care. He is very old.

T: Barry is going out to talk to his ex-wife, and leaves Diane behind, but why is he leaving her in a bar by herself in Boston? This bar is not the only place to visit in the city.

M: Old North Church is open, like, all the time.

T: EW DIANE’S FIANCE’S NAME IS ‘SUMNER’

Carla (answering phone): Cheers. Just a minute. (To Barry) If you’re not, I apologise, but is your name Sumner Sloane?

Barry/Sumner: Yes, it is.

Carla: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Shut Up, Diane

(We just have a feeling we’re going to be saying Shut Up, Diane at our screens KIND OF A LOT.)

Diane’s got a book out and a bunch of pencils while sitting at the bar. GO TO THE LIBRARY, DIANE. To add more to the Gilmore Girls parallel, Diane could also be one of Paris’s friends, Louise and/or Madeline. Or Lindsay’s crazy mom Theresa. Or the mom who convinced Luke and Lorelai to speak at Stars Hollow High for career day.

Diane and Sumner act rich, even though we’re pretty sure professors don’t make that much money.

Diane uses the bar phone to cancel the flight reservations to Barbados since Sumner hasn’t come back.  A) a PHONE. B) She knew the number to the airline by heart? C) She immediately got through to a customer representative? She says she wants to change the flight reservations and Traci screams ‘THEY’RE ON IT!’ As in that dumb Sumner took his ex-wife to Barbados on his wedding day to Diane. Not even mad that we called it.

Diane says “now look, Buster!” because this sitcom was written by a man at a typewriter wearing a trilby with one of those journalist tags in it.

Sam ends up hiring Diane to be a waitress after Barry/Sumner leaves her, but why is she acting like a hostess? I thought bars don’t have hostesses? All Day Carla would NEVER.

Little Ditty About Sam & Diane

T: We’re at the first scene between Sam and Diane and TBH, I ship it already. Why am I so into Ted Danson right now??

Barfly Fashion

Diane. It is your first day on the job. What are you wearing? This plaid peasant shirt. Why is the apron so short? Is this a denim skirt? And with these knee highs?

This elderly lady is living her BEST LIFE. In a wheelchair, wearing a fancy hat, and sipping on a beer. Goals.

We are Team Carla All Day, but can we just discuss this empty purse? She’s a mother of 4, why is it filled with nothing. Also these pants. V 80s.

Cheers Cheers

(Raising a glass to our new favorite old sitcom.)

We literally had to adjust the TV set during Cheers because we thought it was too dark. The TV was fine. The show is dark. That’s also why we weren’t watching it in 1992. Too dark, no appeal to 6-year-olds. But now we’ve seen it, and while we shouldn’t feel surprised that the most beloved sitcom pilot of all time is good, here we both are. Those 22 minutes went by so fast, which is what we were afraid was going to happen. Looks like we’ll both be binging on Cheers for the next several months. Like Sam of two years ago, we think we may have a problem (too soon?). 

Next Up: We are basing our watch list off of AV Club’s 10 Episodes That Show How Cheers Stayed Great For 11 Seasons  (plus one, because the Pilot didn’t make the cut). We’re going chronologically, so stop by next month when we’ll discuss Episode 1.08, Truce Or Consequences.