The only place where everyone knows Judge David Johnson's name is in the makeshift cock-fighting pit behind his pal Sergio's convenience store.
Our reviews of Cheers: The Complete First Season (published July 14th, 2003), 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 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.
The sixth season in this gold standard of '80s sitcoms brings big-ass changes to the small Boston bar and its loyal patrons. Departed is Shelley Long and with her 50 percent of the one of the most dynamic situation comedy duos ever. In her place: a pre-titan, super-bodacious Kirstie Alley.
Facts of the Case
Hey, it's the place where everyone knows your name. You know it, I know it, but let's do this for the handful of adobe-dwellers who may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the Cheers drinking establishment.
Manning the bar, you've got Sam Malone (Ted Danson, Three Men and a Baby), the womanizing ex-jock, and Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson, EdTV), the simpleton farm-boy. Smart-mouthed Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) takes the drink orders, usually from regular patrons Norm (George Wendt), Cliff (John Ratzenberger), and Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer).
This season introduced Kirstie Alley (Look Who's Talking) as Rebecca Howe, the neurotic new manager that quickly becomes the object of Sam's sexual pursuits.
Here's what we know going into the season: after the aborted wedding between he and Diane, Sam sold the bar, took the cash, bought a boat, and headed for open seas. Unfortunately, his ship sinks, and he ends up back at the bar, looking for a job. The corporation that purchased Cheers has installed Rebecca Howe as the manager.
Initially repelled by Sam's sleazy antics, Rebecca denies him his job, but after her highers-up realizes that Sam, the former Red Sox great, will be good for business they press her to hire him back. So the gang is back, with a new spitfire of a female character to play foil against Sam's rakishness.
Cheers—The Complete Sixth Season features 25 episodes on four discs:
Cheers is a classic, a truly funny show buoyed by memorable characters. What I came away with after revisiting the Boston bar after a long hiatus (besides the sporadic scavenging of reruns) was the sense of familiarity with the show. It's not hyperbole to reaffirm what the theme says about getting away to places where everyone knows your name. The skill of the players, and the setting itself, make Cheers one of the exceedingly accessible sitcoms of all time.
The big news of course it the huge casting change that imported Kirstie Alley. Gone to pursue an eventually underwhelming movie career, Shelley Long left some big heels to fill.
Now I don't know if there are rabid Cheers fans out there divided into competing "Diane" and "Rebecca" camps or if they come together on an obscure chat room and rant on all day about the merits of their preferred character, but I didn't have a problem with the switch.
While I recognize the tension and eventual romantic storyline that manifested between Sam and Diane is the stuff of coaxial legend, I have to confess I never really took a strong liking to Shelley Long's character. Yeah her pretension was her quirk and all, but the simple fact is, I never found her that funny.
This sixth season, lacking that dramatic punch from the Sam/Diane romance—and the resulting seriousness that their stories would often spawn—features 25 episodes that offer individualized bites of comic comfort food.
The only running themes in this season are Sam's pursuit of bedding Rebecca, Rebecca's hopeless infatuation with corporate hotshot Evan Drake (Tom Skerritt), Carla's rocky romance with her husband and eventually birthing of twins, and Frasier and Lilith's marriage. But save for a few episodes, these stories are largely omnipresent and in the background.
Plus, they're funny. The one-liners are as sharp as ever and the acting is great. This cast boasts some of the most impressive comic timing I've seen on television. As is the case, the best stuff always happens in the bar, and when episodes lulled, for me, it was because of scenes taking place elsewhere.
It didn't help that most of these external scenes were often accompanied by outlandish set-pieces that fell flat, e.g. Cliff training an orangutan to paint his house (?), Rebecca trapped under Evan Drake's bed, and Cliff's house being demolished while he's handcuffed to the archway. Some of these yuks-attempts were just too forced.
But that's the nature of television comedy—it's hit and miss. This season of Cheers is no different, but it's still laugh-out-loud funny.
Well I'll say this for Paramount: they packaged this set nice. Unfortunately, once you wade deeper into the discs you'll find there's not much to be discovered. The tech specs are about par for the course—full screen presentation and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo—but the lack of extras is disheartening. For one of the most celebrated series in TV history, you'd think there would be at least a molecule or two of supplemental grist floating around out there. Worse, there aren't even episode synopses anywhere in the set, meaning you'll either have to recognize the title or search blindly for your favorite show.
A lackluster presentation detracts from the set, but the content is strong. There's a lot of funny to be had with this season, even if you are committed Diane Chambers apologist.
Not *hic* guilty.
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