Monday, September 7, 2015

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Last week I started watching old episodes of Cheers on Netflix. I'm on the fourth of eleven seasons of the sitcom that started in 1982.  Cheers was the name of a popular Boston bar where patrons met, drank, socialized and ... as the song goes ... where "Everybody Knows Your Name".

What a timeless series. If you never saw it or weren't alive when it aired, get Netflix and tune in.

Sam Malone (Ted Danson) was the bar owner. He was a former relief pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, who loved women and all the women loved him. He drank himself out of baseball, cleaned up his act and ironically bought a bar. Sam reminds me of my buddy Joe Sambito ... also a former reliever with Boston and Houston. He even looks like Sam and the ladies loved him too. (note: Joe didn't drink himself out of baseball ... Tommy John surgery did). Joe and I went through divorces together and hung out at a few Cheers bars ourselves. He was the guy who attracted all the good looking women and I was his wing man. That meant I usually gave their roommates a ride home.

But I digress ...

Sam's love interest was Diane Chambers (Shelley Long). In the pilot she was left at the bar by her boyfriend, a stuffy professor who went back to his wife. Diane became a cocktail waitress and had an on and off again fiery love relationship with Sam, her exact opposite. She was apparently not enamored with the real Ted Danson and left the show after Season 5. She was hard to work with and a little stuck up ... a lot like the character she played.

Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) was the first bartender. He was Sam's former coach and was beaned a number of times when he was in baseball. Despite the fact that he didn't quite understand everything that people said, he seemed to solve their problems. He was written out of the series as dying of a heart attack in year four. He actually did die of a heart attack that year. Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson) took over for Coach in Season five. He was the young naive kid from Indiana who was a younger version of Coach.

Norm Peterson (George Wendt) was the in and out of work accountant who spent all day at the bar drinking beer. When he came in, everyone yelled "NORM" followed by a comeback line to greetings like: "Hi Norm ... What's going down?" Norm: "The beer you're going to serve me." Norm was married to Vera, the butt of all his jokes who was never seen (except the episode where she accidentally got a pie thrown in her face by Diane, still not showing her face).

Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) was the mailman who always showed up in his too-tight uniform and white socks. He was forever the expert in every field, commenting on everything and of course making no sense at all. He liveed with his mother.

Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammar) played the psychiatrist that became the premise for his spinoff show. He was the other love interest for Diane who left him at the altar. He ultimately wound up with Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) fellow psychiatrist and strait laced cynic.

Rhea Perlman stole the show often as Carla Tortelli, wisecracking, cynical waitress who treated the customers badly and was often pregnant.

Kristie Alley (Rebecca Howe) started in season 5 when Diane left as the new manager of the bar that Sam had sold to a corporation. Sam was depressed that Diane left, so he bought a boat, he sold the bar and ultimately begged for a job at the bar when his boat sank. Sam tried to woo her but Rebecca became more neurotic in each season, dated rich guys and Sam lost interest eventually. When he bought the bar back, Rebecca was the one to beg for a job later.

Anyhow ... watch it when you get a chance. It's still one of the best comedies ever written. I gotta go. Carla just married hockey player Eddie LeBec when he found out she was pregnant with twins but he lost his job and ... oh I don't want to spoil it for you.


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