Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Cheers — “I Call Your Name” (S3:E3)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on October 24, 2013

Forget the next 8 seasons. Let’s just give Frasier his own series now. Seriously, how great is Kelsey Grammer in this role? This episode is clearly an important set-up to the rest of the season, showing how Frasier can get along with Sam, and enjoy the bar atmosphere, thereby easing him into the rest of the group later on. Even though we don’t get to see his private moments, like we do with Sam or Diane, following them more, we can easily see that he’s talking about him and Diane, not Thor and Electra. And Sam can see it too, because he’s never actually as dumb as others mistake him.

The scene between him and Frasier after the bar closes is so good, I forgot there was half an episode left. A half of the episode where we get to see Sam being smug, Diane not knowing what to do with herself, and Frasier being pompous. I was surprised Diane actually did yell Sam’s name…I thought there was going to be a twist showing Sam jumping to conclusions. I’m disappointed I was wrong, though, because that already belabors the point that DIane and Sam have a thing for each other and keeps prolonging the inevitable.

And then, I was surprised, when the show dealt with that issue head on. But that only led to more frustration, as Diane and Sam convinced Frasier he was wrong. Then came the funny, but perplexing move by Diane at the end. Let’s take a poll. How many people would be ok with their boyfriend or girlfriend kissing their ex passionately, just to prove a point? You don’t do that. That’s cheating on Frasier. Much like when Carla and Sam kissed, although that had more emotional stakes. Also, why did Sam need to be taught a lesson here anyway? What was the point? In a modern sitcom, this would come back as a plot point later, but not in the 80s, I’m assuming.

Sam Scarber, former NFL player

Another nice thing about this episode is that it gives a lot of time to the B-plot. Cliff’s mix of conviction and cowardice has already become a defining character trait, but they mined new material by playing him against his intimidating coworker. And for a while, I thought that was actually the main plot until Frasier came in. That’s why this is an ensemble show, despite all the big episodes given to Sam and Diane. I liked the humanity of Lewis to let Cliff off the hook, and as always, Ratzenberger played it great in response. I do wish they hadn’t undercut the moment by showing Cliff wrote someone else’s name down. Just like last season’s karate revelation, it would have been nicer to give Cliff a karmic win.

Other notes….

– The difficulty of watching classic television is understanding the era. For instance, when Coach makes an accidental dirty joke about pinkies, is that something all shows were doing and I didn’t notice because I was young and it went over my head? Or was “Cheers” breaking the mold?

– I grew to love television in an era of serialization. Dramas and sitcoms nowadays like to keep reoccurring characters around. “Cheers” does that, with characters like Harry the Hat, Andy Andy the killer, and now Lewis, Cliff’s fellow mailman. But I do wish character developments carried over from episode to episode, too.

– Remember when I was wondering if Frasier was the same character that I knew from his spin-off? “I’ll have a tankard of your finest lager.” “I understand the local Boston Red Sox baseball franchise has a herculean task in front of it to qualify for the postseason tournament.” Yep, he is. Gloriously so.

– Diane’s apparel has been the most 80’s thing about this show. I find myself wondering if and why people actually wore those blouses. I thought her outfits have been much more reserved this season, though, including a flannel to start the episode. I hope that continues.

– Best Joke — Frasier: “Tell me. You’ve been with a lot of women. When you were with one of them, did she ever call out another man’s name? ” Sam: “Well, I don’t think so, but then, who listens?”

– Cliff’s Notes — “I can’t endorse anarchy….Yeah, sure it’s only a perfume sample, but if the other employees see him getting away with this, they’re gonna start taking things too. First, whole magazines go missing. Then social security checks. Before you know it, grandma’s fruitcake doesn’t make it to little Bobby, Peggy and Sue.”

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One Response to “Cheers — “I Call Your Name” (S3:E3)”

  1. Nathan said

    I love reading these. I’m watching Cheers through your eyes. It’s pretty awesome.

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