When people make lists of the best TV shows you pretty much always find Cheers near the top. It is just one of those shows that has become so engrained in culture that even some 20 years after it’s final episode it merited an extended (and heartbreaking) reference at the end of the Adventure Time episode ‘Simon & Marcy’. This is a show I have been itching to see for a very long time… and I just can not stop watching it.
Now, how do you go about picking 20 episodes for a classic show that has 270 of them? Originally we went to The AV Club for some ideas, but after it became quickly apparent that this was a show we will be watching from start to finish we abandoned this idea. Instead, we watched a few random episodes after Season 5 (where the show really felt more like an ensemble piece) and then just proceeded to start from the beginning of Season 1.
If you want to see how a pilot episode is done you need look no further than watching the first episode of Cheers. I was laughing out loud within the first few minutes and this is something that has been a common occurrence throughout all the episodes I have sampled so far.
It may sound cliché to say this, but the reason Cheers works so well is that it combines clever writing and amazing performances from a large ensemble. Seriously, with a main cast that reached 8 at it’s peak there are no weak performances. I would try and single out a character that gave me the most laughs… but it’s difficult. The obvious candidates for me right now would be the likes of Carla (Rhea Perlman) or Coach (Nicholas Colasanto). The thing is, I have not seen enough of the later seasons to really comment on the later additions to the cast, apart from Frasier… since I’ve watched the spin-off show of the same name.
Considering how so much of the first 5 seasons centred around the Sam and Diane relationship it is amazing to think how this show was able to pull it out of the bag for 6 more seasons. Then again, as much as I love Shelley Long as the loveable snob I did not always miss her presence in later episodes.
Take the season 6 episode ‘Airport V’ for example. Without the central will-they/won’t they the focus can be on Carla’s fear of flying and Frasier’s attempts to help her. It’s a fantastic sequence in the plane and it’s something I can not see them spending a whole episode on back in season 1. A show that still manages to grow and evolve some 5-6 years after its conception is quite astonishing (you hear that Modern Family?).
I always had my reservations about how funny I would find Cheers since I choose not to drink alcohol and (with the exception of some episodes) this is mostly a bottle sitcom set in a bar. Now that I have watched it, I know that I have a new entry in my top sitcoms list. Knowing that, as of writing this, I have 250 episodes left to sample is absolutely amazing!!!