Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shouldn't Every Day Be Diane Chambers Day?

The season four finale of Cheers is a three-parter. This seems to be the norm with this show as the last two seasons had multipart finales and from the snooping around I did before starting this blog, the show ends with a three-part series finale as well.

Before getting to the finale, however, the show decides it wants to throw in as many curve balls as possible in regards to the SamAndDianeWillTheyWontTheyMelodrama. Throughout the season, Frasier has had to come to terms with losing Diane, which he seemingly ends up doing. Sam, meanwhile, convinces himself they are through but both he and Ms. Chambers exude a “never say never” attitude throughout the season.
Still, everything seems to be on an even keel. That is until a mysterious, never-before-referenced ex of Diane’s shows up in Boston. Before he comes by Cheers, the gang have some questions, leading to this exchange:

Diane: He's a man I dated for a bit in Europe.
Woody: Is that before or after you dumped doctor crane and sent him into an alcoholic tailspin?
Diane: After...
Frasier (standing right behind an unbeknownst Diane): How long after?!?

The old flame, simply known as Jack, is a mature, bearded and manly fellow whom Diane spent time with in and around Europe, supposedly. Additionally, he’s the exact image I see when I think of myself.

Loud, boisterious, and jolly, Jack takes no time to meet everyone at the bar and challenge Sam to an arm wrestling contest. Within 20 seconds of him being on screen, Sam and the Fras bond over their mutual hatred for the guy.

Not only is this dude a world traveler, but he's also a pilot (again, the exact image of how I view myself). So, naturally, the episode focuses on this ex-BF of Diane's taking her and Sam up in his plane. He has the two handle the controls while he checks out something in the back. And, in the nature of things, he dies, leaving S and D scared, crying, and fearing for their lives as they struggle to handle the controls. In the heat of the moment, they admit to still being in love and vow to marry should they survive.

And, once more in the nature of things, Jack wakes up, pronouncing he was pretending to be dead so that Sam and Diane could realize what they mean to each other. Fair enough, I guess...

The next episode is the oddly titled "Banditos (AKA Diane Chambers Day)" in which Sam and Co. finally feel bad for not accepting Diane as "one of the gang" after four years of working at the bar. This epiphany comes about after Sam invites everyone but her over to his place to watch a movie, leaving Ms. Chambers to feel like an outsider.

To make up for the slight, the gang -- which should be noted does seem to officially include Frasier -- decide to plan a day around Diane's interests rather than sports games. The group struggles to get a plan together until Frasier mentions that Diane's favorite opera is being shown in Boston and he could look into getting tickets for everyone. Carla, naturally, doesn't attend, while Frasier for some reason doesn't go either. This leaves Diane to be escorted by Sam, Woody, Norm and Cliff for her night out on Diane Chambers Day.

As you can see below, the gang are seated in a balcony box. And, naturally, display their fish-out-of-waterness within seconds of the opera beginning as Norm cracks open a beer. (Alcoholism: Hi-larious!)

The episode ends back at the bar with a scene not unlike that in the season 1 and 2 finales. Sam and Diane close up shop, with Diane still belieivng Diane Chambers Day and the opera trip were Sam's ideas. She drops her purse and, as they both bend down to pick it up, the two lock lips.

It's a lot of the same ole, same ole to be sure, but what's redeeming about the scene is Sam's admission that the ideas were Frasier's, not his own. He's begun to grow as a womanizing, good-timing tom cat. And that's just the kind of character development that's made this season so interesting... and impossibly long to get through and blog about.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things Get Real for Mayday

At the end of the day, Cheers is a series about a bar, it’s owner and his waitstaff, and the drunks they serve. That said, it’s also really, really good.

I say this not based on the show’s reputation and lasting relevance, but on the strength of this fourth season which has taken me an eternity to finish. The whole Frasier meltdown intertwined with the SamAndDianeWillTheyWontTheyLoveDrama has been interesting to watch. Yet the more dramatic elements of the show have been spaced out enough this season that when they do occur, they seem to hit with a poignancy that’s atypical of sitcoms.

One great example of the show blending typical comedy with drama is the aptly titled “Dark Imaginings” in which Sam and Woody go head to head in racquetball. This, of course, comes about when Sam gets the impression people think Woody is more athletic and younger than he is. The problem, of course, is that Woody is more athletic and younger than Sam.

Mayday ends up with his whole body aching, leading to some rare physical comedy on the part of Ted Danson. Cue laugh track, end of show, right? That’s exactly where a show like, say, Everybody Loves Raymond would call it a day. Yet, Cheers takes it a step further with Sam not only going to the hospital with a hernia, but also going to great lengths to hide his injuries from the other characters.

Back at the bar, Diane overhears a table of nurses talking about a sexy patient they’ve been looking after named “Lance Manyon.” Diane drops a glass and declares, “My God, it’s Sam!”

Concerned, Carla, Woody, and Diane visit Mayday. Once the others leave, Diane talks Sam into letting her read for him. He agrees and lets her sit on his bed before slowly creeping away and pushing an end table against the hospital room door. Diane continues reading as Sam lowers the lights and shuts the curtains. Once aware of what ole’ Mayday is up to, Diane explains things will not be going how Sam intended. “This is a once in a lifetime chance to play doctor in a real hospital!” Sam protests, to no avail. Instead, his once (and probably future) lover takes pity on him by explaining he doesn’t have to use his libido to prove to himself he’s still young. Rather, Ms. Chambers argues, growing old is a good thing, particularly for men who she says become more distinguished in mid-life.

From here, Diane bids Mayday adieu and Sam is greeted by a roommate who recognizes him from his Red Sox days. The two have a conversation about accepting being in middle age before the new roommate is greeted with his own guest. She’s introduced to Sam and the three continue to make small talk for a minute before, naturally, Mayday hits on her and tells her if she’s everything thinking about leaving her boyfriend she can call up Sammy any time.

I should reiterate that last season on his way to break-up Diane’s wedding to Frasier, Sam hit on the stewardess of his flight. It makes perfect sense for him to hit on the wife/girlfriend of one of his fans. Worse than a casual rejection to his causal proposition, Mayday is hit with being told matter-of-factly that the woman is not the guy’s girlfriend, but his daughter. The two look down on Sam for his audacity and leave the room for a walk.

The studio audience gets a get laugh out of this, sure, but it leads to a great image in which Sam sits down at the chair near the window and looks out over the Boston night sky. No more laughter. No applauding. Just the audience looking at the main character of a sitcom being hit with the cold hard truth that he’s a tomcat for whom life just may have passed by.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Things Are Looking Up for the Fras...

It's taken me forever to get through season 4 of Cheers. This has been for a number of reasons, such as my other professional obligations.

But perhaps one of the reasons it's taken me months to get through this season is the fact that Frasier's downfall is (pathetically) hitting a little too close to home for me. This of course led to the well-received posts on what I dubbed "the art of hitting rock bottom." And throughout the season, the Fras has floated along on this show being depressed, unable to stand being around Diane while simultaneously unable to stay away from her, and trying in vein to fit in with Norm, Cliff and the gang by being just one of the regular joes.

And through that drifting along, something curious has happened -- Frasier has let go of Diane. It happened in episode 15, the appropriately titled "Triangle." In typical sitcom fashion, Diane convinces Sam to fake being depressed so that the actually depressed Frasier can get his mojo back by professionally treating Sam. Fras buys into Sam's depression but is convinced that it spurs from his love for Diane, thus complicating matters even worse than they were before.

By the episode's end, Frasier is able to accept that Diane and Sam are made for each other and pushes Sam to admit this fact to himself and to Diane. This all comes from the contrived nature of sitcom plots, sure, yet the episode's last scene has some realistic weight behind it with Frasier forcing Sam and Diane to address the elephant in the room. Of course it's a laugh out loud moment since Frasier ends up screaming at the two of them for being so naive to not see the obvious, but it still works as a great scene.

And with this episode, it seems Frasier Crane has come into his own as a main-stay character on Cheers. He will forever be intertwined into the SamAndDianeWillTheyWontTheyLoveDrama (which I'm stylizing as one word because, honestly, at this point it deserves to be it's own pronoun). But rather than just being the third person involved in the triangle, Frasier begins to come into his own as a character as season 4 pushes towards its conclusion.

He's beginning to come into the bar without any pretext of wanting to speak to Diane, leading to more scenes between he, Norm and Cliff, which works well with the three's dialouge bouncing off one another. And it doesn't hurt that nearly everything Frasier says goes over Woody's head, similar to what we used to see in the first two seasons of the show with Coach misinterpreting nearly everything coming out of Diane's mouth.

Another important development of Frasier's resurgence is the debut of Lilith, the character who becomes Frasier's wife and ex-wife. He introduces the gang to her as they stop by for a drink on their first date.

If you're familiar with Lilith at all, it should come as no surprise that she comes across as cold, impersonal, and uptight. The big laugh from her debut is her declaration that Frasier should not expect any sugar post-date. This would be fine with, and probably welcomed by, the Frasier we once knew. But fully developed Frasier, who considers Mayday Malone a good friend, is more than frustrated by the declaration.

Thus, sparks do not (yet) fly between Fras and Lilith in season 4. So, once again feeling the need to help out a friend, Mayday sets Fras up with one of his countless number of bimbos. Note that bimbo is not editorializing on my part, the actual description of the episode reads "Sam sets Frasier up with one of his young bimbos."

The bimbo in question here is a young Jennifer Tilly who plays her role pitch perfectly. She's exceptionally dumb, even by Mayday's low standards. But the kicker is she is just what Frasier needs after his bad date with Lilith. The two have nothing in common yet hit it off and get engaged. Of course typical sitcom storywriting rears its head and the two come to their senses after a talking down to by Sam and Diane. Still, this is a Frasier more personable and laid-back than we've seen before.

And perhaps most important of all, it is clear that Frasier has finally come into his own because Kelsey Grammar has finally been moved from a guest star to a regular cast member.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Love Song of Trevor and Colette

Around the start of the new year, I tweeted that I just watched the funniest episode of Cheers ever. I also mentioned I'd be writing about it the following week -- clearly, that didn't happen. Yet the month gap between saying I'd be writing about it and then actually doing that writing -- and the fact that I went back and re-watched it -- has only reaffirmed my love for the episode.

For those of you keeping score at home, it's episode 11 of season 4, entitled "Don Juan is Hell." In short, the premise is this: Diane, forever and always in grad school for some reason, is stressing out over her upcoming paper for her psychology class. Finding out that the focus of the paper is human sexuality, Sam is more than willing to lend a hand anyway he can. Crunched for time, Diane agrees and uses Sam as the subject of her paper, "The Don Juan Syndrome in Modern Culture." As you can probably gather, hilarity indeed ensues.

In the back office, Diane interviews Sam for her case study asking him about his sexual history, beginning with the loss of his virginity. To this question, Mayday responds "Well, I couldn't get to her house until the crossing guard showed up..."

Disgusted at the answer, Diane presses Mayday on his second encounter. "Well, that would've been the crossing guard." From there, Mayday http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifgoes on to freely give many more examples before Diane stops him. ("I'm writing a case study, not a resume!")

Sure, the jokes here are fairly one-dimensional and a bit immature. But the after three and a half seasons together, Ted Danson and Shelley Long certainly have great chemistry on screen together and their delivery of dialogue is pitch perfect for their characters. And besides, as someone who will forever cite Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is the greatest comedy of all time, this episode is certainly in my wheelhouse.

Later on, Diane's professor swings by the bar -- because, you know, talking to her after class is just too particular -- to give her warm reviews for her paper. He's amazed that such a man as Mayday, renamed in the paper as "Trevor", exists in this day and age (of 1985). Diane is delighted to learn he finds it publishable, but is embarrassed to hear that the professor feels the paper would benefit from her interviewing one of the self-esteemless bimbos who has served as one of many of Trevor's conquests. Wanting the paper to get published, she adds in some material from "Colette" who, of course, is herself.

Wanting to verify the accuracy of the paper, the professor meets Mayday who, without having read the paper, reassures the prof it's all true though "we had to change a few of the names to protect the satisfied." Besides the wittiness of the dialogue, the other joke here is the fact that, in the sitcommy nature of things, Sam hasn't read the paper beyond the title and has no idea Diane paints a portrait of a man who is pathetic, insecure, lonely and a clear case of arrested development.

One of the great delights of the episode is the professor's continual astonishment that Trevor/Sam/Mayday is an actual living, breathing human being. Whether intentional or not, it serves as a little bit of poking at the fourth wall seeing as the chauvinistic, oversexed Mayday is a character who in the real world would have been sued for harassment a thousand times over and/or murdered by a scorned lover for his tomcatting ways.

The prof suggests he hold the next class session at Cheers, an idea Diane is wholeheartedly against. Mayday, of course, is game. "It'd give some of students a chance to see the case study in the living flesh," the professor says, attempting to twist Diane's arm. "Well, I'm not gonna promise that, but we'll see how the evening goes," replies Sam, to thunderous applause from the live studio audience.

Diane reluctantly agrees and pleads with Sam that he read the paper before the class comes over. Obviously, he doesn't read a word of it, so when the class comes in for their meeting, he gathers them around and begins holding a Q & A session on his sexual history and methods, going so far as hitting on one of Diane's classmates in the process. From there, Mayday asks a male student how he approaches women and interrupts the kid once he says he politely asks a girl out and tries to take things slow and let love blossom naturally. ("Ok, now can anyone tell me where Barry here fell off the beam?")

Embarrassed, or perhaps ashamed, Diane puts a halt to the Q & A and speaks with Sam in the office. She reads from her paper, making sure it sinks in to Sam that the portrait painted in her case study is anything but flattering. Rather than get angry, Sam becomes dejected and buys into the argument Diane has made in her paper.

Saddened to see Mayday's feelings hurt, Diane protests that he is capable of having a relationship with a woman without sex serving as an ulterior motive. She uses the two of them as an example of a relationship Sam has with a woman where the friendship is mature, mutual and platonic. "I wish there was some well to prove it to you," Diane says. This, of course, prompts Sam to respond with "Maybe there is... sit on my lap."

Diane, understandably, is hesitant but does agree to the idea and together the two sit and try to have a conversation to prove they are two adults of the opposite sex who can maintain a professional, mature friendship. The cohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifnversation goes from the weather to vacationing in the sun to the idea of getting sunburnt to preventing sunburn through the rubbing of oil. They change topics to music and then religion, both times ending up speaking in sexual metaphors before quickly agreeing their relationship is clearly platonic.

So why, exactly, did I find this ep so funny? Again, the dialogue is witty and delivered brilliantly. But what I think makes the episode really stand out is the fact that it's 1985 and while the subject matter is mature, the actual dialogue is pretty PG. And as someone who is a fan of modern sitcoms that ere on the raunchy side, I can appreciate the subtlety of the hilarity.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On 8th Grade, Surrealism, Realism and Adam Sandler

When I was in eighth grade, I broke my leg in three spots by snowboarding in my front yard. It is an infamous story of which every person that went to Carman-Ainsworth Junior High School in 1998 is aware.

To make a long story short, it was kind of a rough several months. I was in a cast up to my thigh and spent several weeks in a wheel chair. This made me popular for a brief moment in time as students would fight over who would push me to my next class (getting dismissed 5 minutes early in the process). I then had a cast put on that went past me knee and used clutches to get around. Eventually a smaller cast was put on me and finally a walking boot. I went through months of physical rehab and eventually had to walk with a cane, which would sometimes get taken from me at lunch by obnoxious assholes who I assume now are all leading miserable existences. :-)

The reason I bring all of this up is because of the fact that I was out of school for two weeks. Again, this was 1998, otherwise known as the heyday of America Online and that magical, trailblazing thing known as the private group chat. From my family's dinning room (where my dad had placed our Compaq computer)I would eagerly sit awkwardly and wait for my friends to get home and get online.

Late at night, I would watch 90% of all Winter Olympics programming while during the day I watched the news (the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was just developing). Additionally, I spent those two weeks doing something else -- I watched the movie Happy Gilmore in its entirety every single day.

(I also ate a pepperoni Hot Pocket every day, which is why I'm typing this in gym clothes as I struggle everyday to get my BMI to a respectable level, but that's neither here nor there...)

So it is within this context that I hope you can imagine my irrational excitement when Norm has a meeting with a potentinal client whose wife is Grandma Gilmore! As you can see, Grandma looks practically the same here in 1985 as does in 1996. As the episode progresses, we learn she's playing the wife of a diary farmer, leading to Norm trying in vain connect with the couple. Naturally, Cliff easily makes friends with them and the three leave the bar with Norm having not closed the deal.

Despite playing the wife of a diary farmer, Grandma Gilmore doesn't request a glass of warm milk as she did, so hilariously in 1996:

Back in the summer, as this blog began taking shape, I wrote about the guest appearance by Shooter McGavin, who played a former teammate's of Sam Malone. Thus, we have two principal actors from Happy Gilmore making appearances on Cheers.

Coincidentally, the connections don't stop there as another actor from a 1996 Adam Sandler film stops by Cheers:

This guy, who played Carl in Billy Madison, has an even more minor role than Grandma Gilmore both in the Sandler movies and in their respective cameos on Cheers.

And for those of you keeping score at home, both Grandma Gilmore and Carl had notable roles on Seinfeld . (First one to leave a comment on this post and name who they were on that show will win an imaginary prize!)

Leaving behind the surrealism of seeing people who played a significant role in my life in the mid to late 90's showing up in Cheers episodes that aired when I was 2, I want to lastly talk about realism for a minute.

For nearly four seasons, Cliff Clavin has been seen wearing his uniform at the bar in every non-Halloween inspired episode. Yet in an episode that occurs on a Sunday, Cliff is wearing a plaid shirt and a vest. He makes no mention of not working, but by now everyone realizes he's a mailman, and thus wouldn't be working on Sunday. It's a nice, subtle touch. I appreciate the nod to realism while at the same time, seeing Norm donning a suit on that same Sunday, I can't help but criticize the show's lack of consistency.

Then again, who the hell am I to talk? I just took you from 1998, and the days of AOL, the Lewinsky scandal, and Hot Pockets, to an in-depth discussion of no-name actors to an unrelated discussion of Cliff Clavin's wardrobe. Consistency ain't this blog's bag...

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Few More Words on The Art of Hitting Rock Bottom

It's been over a week since my last post in which I discussed the character of Frasier's seemingly un-organic search for rock bottom. Since that time, I've talked to a few of my friends who read the post while also getting into watching the second half of season four. And because of both those things, I've decided to write a supplemental piece.

I can write all day about rock bottom. The problem, though, is that there isn't a whole lot more to be said about hitting rock bottom through the prism of Frasier Crane as a character in season 4 of Cheers simply because, well, he's been nowhere to be seen.

He spends only a few episodes serving as the maintenance man of the bar. This provides us with a few humorous scenes in which he's sweeping or wiping things down while still dressed in his usual dress shirts and vests. Yet he soon fades away. In fact, he's gone for several episodes (including a landmark episode I will be getting to next week) and is barely even referenced.

These episodes are good, but do little in advancing the love-triangle between Diane, Sam and Fras. Andy Andy, the serial killer Sam set up with Diane back in season one, returns and gets arrested in what seems to be his annual cameo. In an attempt to liven up the place, Diane brings in a mime in one episode, pissing Sam off to no end in the process; leading to the mime also losing his cool and Woody exclaiming "He spoke! It's a miracle!" And the Cheers gang play baseball against cross-town pub, Gary's, in what is the beginning of a rivalry that occurs every year throughout the show's run. Good, decently funny episodes, yes, but nothing applicable to my last post.

Yet the concept of rock bottom applies to the character of Norm in one particular Frasier-less episode. With Sam busy preparing for an interview on local sports radio, the episode focuses on Norm and the allegations that his wife, Vera, is sleeping with his neighbor. The wife of that neighbor is the one to bring Norm the news, which he refuses to believe. Throughout the episode, he reiterates he trusts his wife, even when the neighbor presents evidence that points to the affair being real.

I've said before that Norm Petereson is essentially the second male lead on this show. And this episode supports that with Norm not only being the focus, but also being once again shown in a more realistic, serious light. His torn emotions with the allegations come across as authentic: he talks to Sam, Diane, and his best friend Cliff about the allegations and even pours his heart out to Woody once he begins to believe Vera is cheating on him.

And, as seems to be way of things, the episode solidifies its seriousness with a scene in the pool room, the setting for so many previous serious conversations in the past. Norm and his neighbor's wife share their thoughts on being broken-hearted and kiss one another. Just as this happens, the detective the two hired walks in, disgusted at what he sees. He presents them with audio of the neighbor proposing to Vera they go all in on the affair. Vera, never before heard, says she can't go through with it because she loves Norm.

Now relieved, Norm has another problem on his hands as he's now kissed his neighbor's wife. The reason for me summarizing all of this is to point out how rock bottom can come in different shapes and forms. In what was a serious episode, Norm felt the incredible low of believing his wife has cheated on him. Yet things are more or less tied up at the episode's end in the traditional, cliched sitcomy way.

Additionally, Frasier comes back half-way through the season. He tells Diane he'll be leaving town to go clear his head and then desperately asks Diane to come along. Sam as mentioned previously that Diane drove the Fras mad (presumably explaining his absence), and this seems to come to light with Frasier apologizing to Diane one minute then lashing out at her the next for using incomplete sentences.

It may be too soon to say because I'm not completely finished with season 4, but it seems Frasier may have taken a transformation. He comes across much more like the Frasier I grew up with (which is to say the Frasier from Frasier). He's smug, bitter, at odds with himself. And in his attempts to hang around the bar (simply to spite Diane with his presence), he's hesitant and struggles to relate to the layman, much like he and his brother did for 11 seasons in Seattle.

Nevertheless, as I've said before rock bottom, however it formulates, is something that is universal. Which is why some friends I've spoke with have applauded my playlist of rock bottom songs while others have brought to my attention some glaring commissions (namely, U2's "With or Without You" and the entire Ryan Adams and Elliot Smith catalogs). And the universality of rock bottom is also why this Saturday Night Live skit from a few weeks ago is so great:

Whether your fiancee calls off your wedding, driving you to work as a bar janitor and irrationally exploding at her imperfect grammar or you left work too late for the 100 wings for $0.20 special at T.G.I. Friday's, rock bottom hits us all. And sometimes it can hit hard. And sometimes it lasts in love. Sometimes, though, it hurts instead...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Art of Hitting Rock Bottom

As has become tradition in this space, I'll begin this post like most others by offering an explanation for the lack of regular updates. This time, however, the reasoning is a bit different. I've had the time to write this post and to be honest, I've had a lot of it written in my head or on my nearly filled legal pad I've been using for note-taking while watching Cheers.

Yet, I've been reluctant to write (and finish) this post because the idea of what I want it to be keeps evolving in my mind. At any rate, let's start at the genesis of the idea which is this: Cheers, season 4, episode 2. Frasier Crane, who just one episode ago pulled a piece out on Sam, has now amassed a bar tab topping $500. He's down for having lost Diane, and he's trying his best to be both down and out. He doesn't only want to drink his sadness away, he wants to be seen drinking his sadness away. He wants to be a depressed, pathetic drunk. The goal, he admits to Sam, is to fall from grace and hit rock bottom.

The irony of course is that Frasier's downward spiral at the start of season 4 mirrors Sam's at the start of season 3. (Which I wrote about .) The difference, it seems, is that Mayday's fall from grace was authentic. He fell off thehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif wagon, began boozing and became a horrible bar owner and manager, sleeping with every new waitress he hired and alienating most of his employees and customers in the process. With Frasier, rock bottom isn't so much as the location but as the destination. He wants to get there. And he wants it to be known he's there.

And that's fine. But what Frasier's aiming for here isn't rock bottom -- or at least it's not a real rock bottom. Rather, it's something that feels like rock bottom, feels like the worst emotional pain and torment imaginable. It's that pit of despair, that bout of depression, we all go through in life.

This is the very reason I've had trouble finishing this post-- Frasier's pursuit of rock bottom is so universal Sometimes it lasts a day or two, sometimes it drags on. Sometimes no one else notices, sometimes it seems as if the whole world is aware. The pain, the sorrow (whatever words you want to use, because we all have our own way of verbalizing these times in our lives) is indeed serious, but not as always as severe as we make it out to be.

There's a plethora of examples from movies and TV shows where a character goes off the deep in, so to speak. Yet a clear cut example, and one often quoted amongst my close knit group of BFFs, is Owen Wilson's character in Wedding Crashers:

The above, to me, is similar to Frasier's rock bottom in that depression is real (as may even be the suicidal thoughts), but the person's life and world is otherwise in tact and sound. Obviously being heartbroken from losing a girlfriend/fiance/what-have-you isn't the only way a person hits rock bottom. Death is another, more serious, way. And TV provides us with a perfect example of what I'm speaking of with season 4 of another NBC Thursday night sitcom, Scrubs:

These scenes with JD's brother, Dan, spending his days following his dad's death in a bathtub are no doubt meant to be funny (and they are). But there's a scene of realism to it as well. Anyone who's lost a loved one or even been severely heartbroken by the end of a relationship knows that feeling of wanting to stay in bed for days on end. Or in some cases stay in a bathtub drinking room temp Budweisers.

Sometimes being at rock bottom comes out of hopelessness -- not knowing what to do or where to turn, thus the lying in bed or a bathtub. Other times rock bottom serves as a last stand-- a final attempt to lay it all on the line and win back everything lost. Ironically, Zach Braff provides us with an example of this with the extremely underrated film The Last Kiss:

As you can see in the video above, Zach Braff's character has vowed to not leave the porch of the home he shares with his girlfriend until she takes him back. Interestingly, his girlfriend has hit her own rock bottom, we learn, as she explains the pain she felt when saying goodbye to her dying grandma is the same pain she's feeling in saying goodbye to her relationship. The dialogue in this scene, to me, is just fantastic because it's very, very realistic.

This is another reason I found difficulty in finishing this post because some of these examples are beginning to hit a little too close to home for me. Despite pointing that out, I should say that I'm going to deliberately not get personal here with this post. Granted the whole point of this blog was for me to record and relate my experience of going through every single episode of one of America's beloved sitcoms, and by that goal alone I could easily justify going into my own feelings. But this, like the show Cheers itself, is for everyone to read and share. This space is not a diary, never will be.

Sometimes ending a relationship can feel like mourning the loss of a loved one. That seems crazy and foolish until you experience it for yourself. And there's an added guilt that goes along with those feelings because you hate yourself for going through a mourning that shouldn't be as serious as a real, actual death. But sometimes that's how we function as humans.

And it's from that fragile, sometimes irrational, emotional state that we derive at rock bottom. In Frasier's case, rock bottom is running up a $500 bar tab and beginning the man who may or may not be in direct competition with him for the love his life to hire him as a janitor to repay his debts. In Owen Wilson's case, it's crashing weddings, and funerals, while coming home to a trashed apartment and reading don't kill myself books.

So with the above in mind, and because Christmas is just around the corner, let me end this post with my suggestions for a playlist to which you can listen to while sitting in a bathtub, be it drinking in a disgusting, lukewarm pool of water or fully clothed in an argyle sweater.

Coldplay - "The Scientist"

Warning: Coldplay's going to show up on this list a lot. I can't help it, so many of their songs are brilliantly depressing. That's why Zach Braff chose their song "Warning Song" for the aforementioned scene in The Last Kiss.

Here with "Scientist," the lyrics are just as emotionally charged and vivid. Plus when I was a freshman in college, I thought the video was the greatest thing ever made.

Best/most depressing line: "No one ever said it would be this hard. / Oh, take me back to the start."

Dave Matthews - "Stay or Leave"

In 2003, Dave Matthews released his first and only solo album with this song being one of the highlights. Of the many live versions hanging around YouTube, I went with the Live at Radio City version because it features some great acoustic guitar work by Tim Reynolds.

Best/most depressing line: "Remember we used to dance and everyone wanted to be you and me... I want to be, too."

Adele - "Someone Like You"

Obviously the go-to hanging-on-by-a-thread/rock bottom song of the moment.

Best/most depressing line: "I hoped that you'd see my face and be reminded that, for me, it isn't over."

The Verve - "The Drugs Don't Work"

A fantastic song by a fantastic band. 1997's Urban Hymns is one of the greatest albums ever and this song is one of the reasons why.

Best/most depressing line: "I hope you're thinking of me as you lay down on your side because the drugs don't work, they just make you worse, but I know I'll see your face again."

Travis - "Writing To Reach You"

Speaking of all time great albums, 2000's The Man Who by Travis deserves to be mentioned. Just yesterday, I cited this as one of the greatest sophomore albums by a band ever. This song is one of the reasons why.

Best/most depressing line: "It's good to know that you are home for Christmas. It's good to know that you are doing well. It's good to know that you are no longer hurting. It's good to know I'm feeling not so well."

Coldplay - "Violet Hill"

Another great, depressing song from Coldplay. Rather than post all the others that could go on this playlist, I'll just list a few of them: "What If?", "Trouble", Lost?", and "X & Y."

Best/most depressing line: "If you loved me, why'd you let me go?"

Counting Crows - "A Long December"

A fitting song for sitting in your bathtub while wearing you're best argyle, yet it's a good (depressing) song to listen to any time of the year.

Best/most depressing line: "I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower / Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her."

Young The Giant - "Cough Syrup"

A newer band that I've recently gotten into. This is definitely one of their best songs and goes along well with the others. I mean, how couldn't it, the song begins with the line "Life's too short to even care at all..."

Best/most depressing line: "If I could find a way to see this straight, I'd run to some fortune that I should have found by now."

Audioslave - "Like A Stone"

A great band who, much like The Verve, created a lot of fantastic music in only a few short years. But of course Chris Cornell, as he's wont to do, had to let his ego get in the way and ruin everything...

Best/most depressing line: "I confess I was lost in the pages / of a book, full of death / reading I would die alone."

Stereophonics - "Since I Told You It's Over"

Truth be told, I somehow forgot about this sing when I first published this post last night. And I'm kicking myself for that because if there was ever a song that perfectly sums out the emotions one feels when hitting rock bottom, it is this.

Best/most depressing line: "You can't tell me this now, it's too far down the line / that you're never, ever gonna get over me."

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Brendan's Death Song"

The first time I heard this song, I listened to it three times in a row. The lyrics are beautiful and touching while Chad Smith's drum work is phenomenal. A great song for any playlist, but it certainly fits here.

Best/most depressing line: "Like I said you know I'm almost dead, I'm almost gone. And when the drummer drums, he's gonna play my song to carry me along."

U2 - "One"

Far and away the greatest rock bottom song ever. It baffles me that, to this day, some people have chosen this for a wedding song! It's not a love song, far from it. But what it is is, well, brilliant.

Best/most depressing line: "And I can't be holding on to what you've got when all you've got his hurt."