Saturday, November 3, 2012

After The Break-up, Cheers Season Three Returns The Sitcom To Its Form.

The Good: Funnier, Some decent character development, Good acting
The Bad: Very familiar plots
The Basics: After Sam and Diane break up, Coach gets Diane to return to Cheers to save Sam and her return quickly reestablishes the familiar dynamic in Cheers Season Three.

As my wife and I make our way through Cheers, I am discovering just how much I appreciate Frasier (reviewed here!) for the character development. The characters on that show are intriguing and the series took its time to really delve into the characters. By comparison, Cheers, based upon my experiences with seasons one (reviewed here!) and two is much more preoccupied with setting up the next joke than it is with developing the characters.

That said, Cheers season three picks up shortly after season two (reviewed here!), following the break-up of Sam and Diane. Before restoring the status quo, the characters have to react to that fallout and the relationship between the two former lovers becomes complicated by the fact that Diane is now in another relationship. More often than not, the show returns to episodic works following the initial serialized moments and the final arc of the season.

Months after Diane left Cheers, vowing never to return, Sam is a drunk who has isolated most of his friends. Carla is strung out covering the bar and Coach is similarly disappointed. When the opportunity arrives, Coach finds Diane and convinces her to return to Cheers. After she returns, now dating the therapist Dr. Frasier Crane, Diane begins to work to keep her cool and get her life back in order, while watching Sam date new women.

This season capers center around Cliff meeting the woman of his dreams on Halloween, Nick fighting to get one of Carla’s kids from him, and Frasier being astonished when his professional mentor falls in love with Carla. Norm and Vera begin working to make a child and Coach falls in love with a woman who then wins the lottery. Norm tries to change his life by abandoning everything and moving to Bora Bora, but chickens out and Diane tries to convince Sam not to go out with a woman who was in the mental hospital with her. The season culminates in Frasier getting a job in Europe and Diane going off with him, leaving Sam pining over her.

Cheers improves quite a bit with the inclusion of Frasier Crane in the mix. Balancing Diane’s pretentiousness, Frasier is smart but seems to appreciate Sam’s barbs against Diane. Episodes like the gang setting a depressed Frasier up on a snipehunt and Sam becoming over competitive over a charity game against the Playboy softball team show a decent psychological appreciation that is deeper than just the one-liners.

The characters in the third season of Cheers features:

Sam – Having fallen off the wagon after Diane leaves, Diane brings Frasier in to get him sober. When he finds himself dating a married woman, he accidentally shoots himself in the butt! A charity event brings out the worst qualities in him and he slowly realizes that he and Diane have a bond worth fighting for. He has to marry a woman named Jacqueline Bisset to win a bet and keep the bar,

Diane Chambers – Now in a relationship with Frasier, she takes her job at Cheers back to help everyone out. As her relationship with Frasier gets deeper, she suddenly develops an “allergy” that both Sam and Frasier realize is psychosomatic. Even so, she nervously commits to Frasier and takes the opportunity that he offers when Frasier gets a job in Europe,

Coach – Manipulates Sam, Diane, and Frasier into getting Diane her job at Cheers back. He tries to believe in love when his fiancĂ©e wins the lotto and abandons him and otherwise keeps slinging drinks at Cheers,

Carla – Falling in love with Frasier’s mentor, she gets pregnant yet again. She loses a tip bet against Diane and fights for her children when Nick shows up again. When Nick is abandoned by his wife, everyone in the bar tries to convince her to hook back up with him. She tries to get revenge upon one of the nuns who used to teach her. She continues to trade barbs with Diane,

Cliff Clavin – Returns from Florida at the season’s open to find Sam still heartbroken. He spends the whole season referring to Florida. He goes on a date with an equally shy woman around Halloween. He leaves Norm to rot in prison when Norm does him the favor of delivering his mail and gets caught doing so,

Frasier Crane – A psychiatrist who worked with and now is in love with Diane. He brings his mother to Cheers and she threatens to kill Diane. Frustrated at how Sam and Diane continue to be emotionally entangled with one another, he leaps at an opportunity to take a job that takes her away from Cheers,

and Norm – While Vera tries with him to have a child, he looks to sell his house. When Cliff shows an interest in buying his house, he is thrilled. He goes to prison for Cliff and becomes a corporate ax man, firing people for his company. Otherwise, he just occupies his bar stool, drinking beer.

In the third season, the acting is honed and all of the performers know their marks. Kelsey Grammer easily joins the ranks of the more gelled cast and while none of them are given real challenges in the third season, Cheers allows the actors to play off the chemistry the performers have to deliver snappy one-liners. This season, the comic timing is fast and well-delivered, making for a show that is funny, even if it is not enduringly great.

For other works with Kelsey Grammer, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Swing Vote
X-Men III: The Last Stand
15 Minutes
“Cause And Effect” - Star Trek: The Next Generation


For other television reviews, be sure to visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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