How perfect! A Halloween themed episode a few days before Halloween. I’m a sucker for special holiday episodes. I love making lists about them. As I demonstrated, there are a lot of classic Thanksgiving episodes. Tons of Christmas ones. Valentine’s Day gets used a lot, though not a lot of classics jump out at me. Occasionally a show will surprise me, like “Raising Hope,” which did a lovely episode about Arbor Day, which was actually about holidays in general.
So I’m trying to think of great Halloween episodes. A lot of shows have tried, because it allows writers to go crazy places. But not a lot of them land. The ones that come to mind first are “The Simpsons,” “Roseanne,” and “Home Improvement,” which made Halloween episodes a regular feature. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” did some great episodes, like where the characters turn into their costumes. “Community” has done great work on Halloween, like the zombie outbreak episode. “The Slutty Pumpkin” is a classic for “How I Met Your Mother.” “ER” often had wacky occurrences on All Hallow’s Eve. I even liked “Modern Family’s” haunted house episode back when it was a funnier, less repetitive show.
So, how does “Cheers'” measure up?
Not well. I was very disappointed in this episode, at least in the beginning. Again, it might be my modern day prejudices, because my problems are primarily with long-term storytelling. The whole “is Cliff gay?” plot was stupid. All anyone had to do was remind the barflies that Cliff dated, and was going to propose to, Carla’s sister last season. So not only has he been with a woman, he was ready to commit to her. The stupidity of that rushed storyline aside, it happened and the writers shouldn’t ignore it. That would never fly nowadays. Nor would Norm’s insult about Cliff being unable to talk to women, when he can’t either…although that can be explained as Norm trying to save face.
What especially aggravates me is that in the same conversation, the writers show that they’re not completely opposed to lingering plot strings. Cliff talks about Florida and the barflies groan about him talking about the Sunshine State again…just like he did the first two episodes of the season. Either each episode stands on its own or this is a complete series. Make up your minds writers! I imagine they won’t.
Another frustrating element of this episode…Frasier’s naivety. How can he go from quoting “The Raven” to thinking there’s no problem letting Sam go to the concert with Diane. The Frasier we know from later years would never let that happen. Another reason I don’t think Frasier was intended for more than a plot device in season three. (I have since looked this up…I was right. He was going to only be in a few episodes).
The episode did get better when Cliff met his masked fairy (no pun intended based on the prior conversation…at least not on my part). I like Cliff because I’m similar to him. A trivia lover who has historically had trouble with the ladies. So I feel one with his excitement when this woman also takes an interest in the biggest alligator shoes in Florida and explorer history. But again, the writers pick and choose what sticks with the character. Later on, when he can’t form sentences with a woman, that calls back to last season…but how do you explain Carla’s sister. Maybe I should just accept that as the outlier, and not this. To be fair, it was Cliff’s first standalone episode.
But on the other hand, that episode set up the strength and greatness of Norm and Cliff’s friendship, which was reiterated here. So we can’t just toss that episode out. How can I rectify it in my mind?! And will Sharon O’Hare ever return? I’m guessing not.
– I loved Cliff’s gleeful release when Sam let him drop his guard at the end of the Halloween party. Very sweet and funny.
– Much less creepy for everyone to lurk in the background watching Cliff’s interaction with his mystery girl than if they just kept doing their business behind the bar.
– Sometimes a joke or moment goes too far. I thought it was sweet how Sharon couldn’t pronounce her name either from nerves, and funny when neither knew what to do next. And my favorite flavor of Sam is when he’s helping his friends, like he did play the jukebox. And it was funny when they didn’t get the hint. But then it became stupid when Sam moved them like statues in “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” That was over the top.
– Not much more to say about Sam and Diane. Again, just setting up the inevitable. I like that it was the B-plot, though.
– I don’t want to keep talking about fashion…it’s way out of my league. But while it makes sense Cliff would wear white socks with his suit…wouldn’t he realize that’s a faux pas for his big date?
– Best Joke — Cliff: “I guess [I’m] Ponce de Leon.” Sharon: “Oh, the Fountain of Youth guy who discovered Florida!” Cliff: “<gasp> Will you marry me and bear my children!?!”
– Cliff’s Notes — “Well there are many theories as to why the Florida orange is far superior to its California counterpart. I personally think it’s the trace mineral element in the Floridian water. That’s obviously due to the frequency of the typhoons and the nitrogen-enriched alligator guano.”