Our reviews of Cheers: The Complete First Season (published July 14th, 2003), 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.
"A Freudian Slip is saying one thing and meaning a mother."
The second season of Cheers has hit the streets, in an offering almost identical to the previous season. Sporting a new digital transfer, this DVD is the perfect vessel to preserve the posterity of the show for all of time.
Not that it really needs preserving; most of us can recite these episodes in our heads. Nevertheless, Paramount has put together a great DVD box set of one of the most endearing television shows of all time, and it deserves the respect that a gigantic robot terrorizing and eating people would deserve.
A lot, in case you were wondering. A lot.
Facts of the Case
Cheers: The Complete Second Season contains all 22 episodes from the second season, unedited and digitally remastered:
Battle of The Exes
Coach Buries a Grudge
Cheers is the product of a different era in television; a time in television history where a show with absolutely no ratings would be allowed to stay on the air, until it found an audience, even if the process took years, hemorrhaging money along the way. Alas, it seems that nowadays, a show only lasts a few episodes on a network before being endlessly shuffled from timeslot to timeslot before being unceremoniously dropped. Luckily for Cheers, it only took a year for the world to catch on.
Truly amazing, then, that a show that ranked absolutely dead stinking last in the Nielsen ratings the week it debuted (a staggering 77th place) could spawn into one of the most successful, most heavily syndicated, and longest-running television shows in the history of the medium. If you count the Fraiser spin-off, the franchise has had staying power for an astonishing 22 years.
As a child, Cheers was one of the only television shows I ever truly attached myself to with any seriousness. Very few other shows have had such endearing, multi-faceted characters or such extraordinary longevity. Personally, my fondest memories of the show are seasons four and five—the Woody years, with the addition of Frasier to the cast, but well before the departure of Shelly Long (Diane), at which point, the show strapped the Fonz to its back and jumped the proverbial shark.
In one of the supplementary extras, during a discussion about Diane's character, she is described as the absolute best female role ever created for television. I am inclined to agree with this statement. At times, Diane is the show, and truly you will not find a more complex, intelligent, precocious, or challenging female character anywhere else. If such a metaphor could be applied, these early seasons of Cheers were the "salad years" of the show—things sure got clumsy when Shelly Long left the show to pursue a "glamorous" and "successful" acting career. Though it did suffer, the show did avoid complete and utter disaster, even after the departure of two major cast members—yet another testament to the incredible staying power of the sitcom.
In terms of development, many things happen in the second season of Cheers, like Diane and Sam beginning their tumultuous relationship…and, er…well, actually, that's basically it. No kidding. And, amazingly, this is more than sufficient to fuel the show for an entire season. This is, if anything, a credit to the producers and writers of the show, who were hot off the heels of their hit show Taxi and knew exactly what to do with Cheers to make it a stunning success. Season two was also the year that John Ratzenberger (AKA Cliff) was added to the cast as a regular member; in the first season, he was merely a secondary star and was billed at the end of the show.
Considering the footage is 20 years old, the show looks fantastic. The transfer is superb, and though the occasional scratch or dust particle rears its head, the show has never looked this good and will never look this good again. Paramount has immaculately restored and remastered the original source material, and it shows. Compared to the previous season, the colors even look nicer this time around, vibrant and full of definition, and black levels are quite impressive. There are no peculiar transfer defects or harsh edges; everything is sharp, clear, and full of detail.
The sound is less spectacular, but still quite a good presentation. Dialogue is always clear, at times, cavernous and echoic (merely how the show was recorded), and mixed very naturally and neutral. With a surround sound receiver, the laugh track ends up in the rear channel, which is acceptable, because there is nothing else back there anyway.
Paramount was also kind enough to include chapter stops at appropriately opportune moments that coincide with the commercial break. I mean, after 11 years, most of us are sick of hearing the Cheers theme song, and being able to skip it cleanly is something to give thanks for. Surprisingly, some television shows still do not include this feature, and so it is worth noting.
The extras consist primarily of short featurettes with titles like "Cliff's Notes: The Wisdom of Cliff Claven" and "Strictly Top Shelf: The Guys Behind the Bar" and include recycled episode footage, archival interviews from 1983 with cast and creators, and some modern interview footage with Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, and George Wendt. They are nothing spectacular and on par with the fairly poor offering from the previous season. A gag reel is also included, and, despite its brevity (a mere four minutes), it offers some genuinely amusing gaffes mastered from a very old, very poorly preserved videotape.
Cheers is the comfort food of syndicated television. It is the channel-surfing equivalent of whatever your mother cooked for you when you were a kid that, to this day, will still make you feel safe and good and secure.
The DVD is a trickier sell to the casual viewer, since even today, the show is syndicated at an extremely aggressive rate; but for everyone else who loves the bar in Boston, these DVDs are no-brainers. They look good, they sound good, and at the touch of a remote, you can have your good old-fashioned home-cooked television anytime you want.
I have to actually recommend this? What's wrong with you people? It's freakin' Cheers, man!
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Scales of Justice
• Strictly Top Shelf: The Guys Behind the Bar
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