Our reviews of Cheers: The Complete Second Season (published March 8th, 2004), Cheers: The Complete Third Season (published July 12th, 2004), Cheers: The Complete Fourth Season (published February 9th, 2005), Cheers: The Complete Fifth Season (published July 6th, 2005), Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season (published October 10th, 2005), Cheers: The Complete Seventh Season (published November 15th, 2005), Cheers: The Complete Eighth Season (published June 21st, 2006), Cheers: The Final Season (published February 12th, 2009), Cheers: The Ninth Season (published April 23rd, 2008), and Fan Favorites: The Best of Cheers (published March 8th, 2012) are also available.
"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…"
It took me a while to figure out the appeal of Cheers. Why do I always stop when I encounter it in my channel surfing? Why was I excited to see the first season appear on my review docket? There's nothing terribly unique about the series; it's a sitcom fueled by the sexual tension between the two leads and fanned by a well-rounded supporting cast, a portrayal of the attempts of a downtown boy to win over an uptown girl—it's all been done before.
No, the charm of Cheers is not in its innovation; it's in its predictability and its comfort. Just like the patrons of the bar, when you watch the show, you know what to expect. Sam and Diane will bicker, Carla will bite your head off, Cliff will bore you to tears, Coach will amuse you with his befuddlement, and Norm ("Norm!") will ask for another beer. And everybody will know your name.
Facts of the Case
"Give Me a Ring Sometime (Pilot)"
"The Tortelli Tort"
"Sam at Eleven"
"Any Friend of Diane's"
"Friends, Romans and Accountants"
"Truce or Consequences"
"Coach Returns to Action"
"One for the Book"
"The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One"
"Now Pitching, Sam Malone"
"Let Me Count the Ways"
"Father Knows Last"
"The Boys in the Bar"
"Diane's Perfect Date"
"Pick a Con…Any Con"
"Someone Single, Someone Blue"
"Show Down (Part 1)"
"Show Down (Part 2)"
Despite the lack of innovation I mentioned earlier, Cheers still ranks high on my list of all-time best sitcoms. It's got it all: smart writing, impeccable comedic timing, and amazing chemistry. Because I was a mere four years old when the series started and I've never watched the episodes in order, I assumed Cheers was like most shows and didn't really start to click until its second or third season. But I was wrong; Cheers was a quality show from its inception. From Carla's acerbic wit ("I love sailing. After seeing Ordinary People, I've been trying to get my kids interested in it.") to Coach's dim wit ("Is there an Ernie Pantusso here?" "That's you, Coach."), it never failed to entertain.
I'm obviously quite enamored of the show, so I was especially disappointed by this lackluster DVD set. To start with, the menus are ugly, boring, and actually a little creepy (characters stare at you as you make your episode selection). The extras reek of a last-minute job. Other than a brief (eight minutes) interview with Ted Danson and a 12-question trivia game, all we're given is three clip montages, of Sam and Diane fighting, of Coach being idiotic, and of Norm quipping. As all the clips are from the first season (of course), you won't get much out of the montages after having watched all the episodes. Fortunately, the interview with Danson is enlightening, but why couldn't they sign him (or anyone else) on for a commentary or two? And, why couldn't they give us more fresh material, such as outtakes or behind-the-scenes footage?
The sound for this set is rich and full of bass during the theme song and good enough elsewhere. With one exception, I could hear the dialogue easily and I was satisfied with the quality of the sound. That one exception is the episode "Pick a Con…Any Con." In this episode, the sound is distorted and almost metallic and the dialogue is often incomprehensible. The sound on the other four episodes on the disc is better but still not quite as good as on the previous three discs, so perhaps the disc itself is somehow defective. The full screen video is best described as adequate, as I saw nothing that stood out as either good or bad.
As heartily as I recommend the show, I cannot in good conscience encourage you to buy this DVD set. The audio and video are only adequate, and the extras are barely worthy of being called such. Why pay for the shows when you can watch them in syndicated reruns with about the same quality?
Help Paramount learn the lesson that we're not going to pay for a show we can watch on network TV unless it gives us a good reason (such as commentaries or outtakes).
Paramount is found guilty of believing its customers to be uninformed chumps and is sentenced to pay our bar tabs until they give us what we want.
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Scales of Justice
• "Setting the Bar: A Conversation with Ted Danson"
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