Sunday, July 24, 2011

Siane vs Jam

Season 2 of Cheers begins right where season 1 left off, with Sam and Diane sharing their first real kiss. In face, the actual first episode of season 2 begins with the last minute or so of the previous season's finale, much like most films of the Rocky franchise began with the final scene from the prior installment.

This technique makes a lot of sense given that it was 1983. It's not like there was YouTube or bloggers like Alan Sepinwall around in 1983 that would allow fans of the show to relive keys moments of the first season before the second second premiered.

So it's extremely logical for season 2 to begin with the ending of season 1. That said, the moment reminded me of another NBC-Thursday-Night-First-Kiss-OMG-Moment, one that is more of my own generation. Of course, I'm talking about Jim and Pam. For two seasons, I watched Jim admire Pam from afar and sit by idly as she went down the road to marriage with Roy (whom I've met in real life, by the way; nice guy, very approachable). It's not until the finale of season 2 of The Office that Jim decides to take the plunge and tell Pam how he feels.

There's the obvious reason the Sam and Diane kiss reminds me of the Jim and Pam one -- they're both long awaited kisses between the romantic leads of their respective shows. The only reasons is because, similar to what we have in episode 1 of season 2 of Cheers, the following season of The Office includes a flashback. The difference is that Cheers simply begins with replaying the scene diving right into what happens after the kiss whereas The Office goes with a awkwardly executed flashback in which we see Pam starring at Jim's empty desk then fade to the flashback in which the actors REENACT THE KISS MONTHS LATER. This, of course, lets us know that the show's writers weren't sure where to go with the storyline (which was initially written so brilliantly by Steve Carrel himself).

So in terms of build up to the kiss, I give the nod to The Office, easily. In terms of executing the picking up point for the following season, I think Cheers handles it much better by going the Rocky route.

And, of course, there are numerous similarities between Sam and Diane's relationship and that of a myriad of NBC Thursday night characters. For some reason, these people can never kiss and live happily ever after. There's always got to be some kind of conflict or obstacle. (Again, Sitcom Writing 101, I presume...) And since Sam and Diane are the trailblazers of this storyline, they of course are no different.

Not wanting to dive right into lovemaking in Sam's office, Diane suggests they go somewhere else. Mayday suggests his place where he says he'll give Diane "my famous guided tour, starting in the bedroom and ending in heaven." (This guy is nothing, if not on all the damn time!)

Diane has second thoughts on the idea as she realizes she doesn't want to be just one of Mayday's many, many conquests. She wants to go somewhere that Sam has himself never had sex, which she finds out may be tricky within the Boston city limits after Mayday admits the number of women he's been with is somewhere north of 400. To this, Diane literally gasps and Mayday tries correctly himself by saying "Four honeys!" (That's either quite the gaffe or quite the lie there, Mayday...)

Eventually they decide to go to Diane's place and the two step out of the office and pronounce their love to the bar. Things are back on track until Sam discovers Diane's bedroom is full of stuffed animals. And, in the nature of things, the two begin to argue. And the audience is treated to this exchange between the two, heard behind Diane's bedroom door:

Diane: Sam Malone, those animals happen to be part of me and if you can't accept that -- what are you doing?!

Mayday: I'm taking my pants off.

Diane: Why?!?

Mayday: Well, not to give Mr. Buzzard a target...

Diane: We're arguing; we're having a fight. How can you take your pants off when we're having a fight?

Mayday: It's not gonna last all night. I don't want to be overdressed when it ends.

And wouldn't ya know - Diane is not pleased with Mayday and throws him out. He returns to the bar, essentially lies to the fellas to save face and returns at night to Diane's apartment where she wants nothing to do with him, leading to this epically romantic scene.

From there, Diane goes to her room to call the cops on Mayday, which puts him in a panic. She eventually tells him she was JK and he throws some stuffed animals out the window and the two, we are led to believe, get it on.

Okay, on second thought, maybe The Office handled things better...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The End of Season 1

One of the benefits of of this blog is that it's all about Cheers, a show all of us have seen and upon which we have a collective substantial knowledge. (If you're saying to yourself "That statement does not apply to me," then you can get out of your chair, turn around and walk yourself right out of America, pal.)

So of course this means I'm approaching my "challenge" of watching every single episode in order with a fair amount of hindsight and insight. For instance, we all know the sitcom is essentially split into two eras, marked by Shelley Long's and Kirstey Ally's runs as the female lead of the show. From seasons 1-5 we have Diane Chambers and from seasons 6-11 we have Rebecca Howe.

And when it comes to the "well they or won't they?" aspect of Sam and Diane's relationship, we know in the end it doesn't work out since the actress portraying Diane leaves the show to go on to bigger and better things.

Yet it's interesting to go through these episodes and look at how the relationship of the show's two leads plays out from the very beginning. Throughout season one, Mayday tries his best to add Diane as another notch on the ole belt. He kisses her in episode 4, essentially gropes her in episode 6, and admits he's "carrying a little torch" for her in episode 17.

Hell, he even flat out says to her in episode 18:
If you don't go to bed with me tonight, we are no longer friends.
Of course he's just joking, as he is half the time he's trying to get his employee between the sheets. Still, it's clear he's got a thing for her, and her for him.

Which is why in episode 20, the two of them can't even manage to pull off a shame wedding that will allow Diane's mother to inherent her father's fortune. (Apparently they literally would allow anyone off the street to be a sitcom writer in the 80's.) The two bicker and argue during the ceremony, which, in the nature of things, takes place right in the Cheers bar itself. The underlying tension during the argument has not so much to do with the fact that Mayday makes a pass at a woman during the actual ceremony (which he actually does, marking one of the best scenes in the whole season), but the tension more so has everything to do with the fact that the two genuinely like each other but are unwilling to admit it to others or themselves.

In episode 21, Sam's brother Derek comes to town and wins the bar over immediately. Though we never see his face, we hear him singing gorgeously while playing the piano and hear him tap dancing in the pool room where he goes on to wow Norm and the gang with his trick shots and makes Diane laugh that cute/annoying little laugh of hers that Shelley Long pulls off so well.

Unwilling to go all out and admit his feelings to Diane, Sam passive aggressively gives Diane the okay for her to take off for the night on a plane to Martha's Vineyard with his older brother.

She may not be perfect, she may talk too much, but there are times when I'm with her that she just irritates the hell out of me.

This line, of course, gets a laugh from the live studio audience. But I think there's some truth to it. Have we not all been in love with someone who drives us absolutely crazy? I assume I'm that person in the relationship most of the time, but I definitely know what Mayday's talking about. It's the irritation that can, at times, fuel the desire for someone.

And irritation is exactly what we get in episode 22, and season one's last scene in particular, as Diane presses Sam to admit he doesn't want her to run off with his brother because he has feelings for here. He finally lets the cat out of the bag on his end after Diane has already acknowledged her feelings for Mayday ("I've allowed myself to become attracted to a 6'3" bubblegum card!").

Agreeing they share feelings for one another, the two try to kiss but end up arguing, as they are so wont to do throughout season one. Mayday essentially tells Diane to get the hell out of his office and opens the door, revealing the entire bar bunched up with their ears to the door. (This, it should be noted, is a trick that I imagine would be taught in a Sitcom Writing 101 class...)

Eventually the argument between Sam and Diane escalates with Mayday actually threatening domestic violence. "I've always wanted to pop you one!" he yells at her, shaking with rage. Really, Mayday? Really? No wonder your relationships never end up being long term, buddy...

The yelling continues until the two kiss, marking an end to the scene and the first season. And, again, we all know in the end it will not work out between these two. Yet you can't help feeling happy for Mayday and Ms. Chambers. And that, in itself, is what makes this show hold up decades later. And season one's last scene is no exception.

Finishing Off Kierkegaard (And Season 1)

Something I've enjoyed thus far in watching these episodes is the witty banter that occurs between Sam and Diane. One particular instance of this occurs at the beginning of episode 19, which begins with Diane being tired during her shift.

Apologizing for her yawning, she explains that she was “up until 2 a.m. finishing off Kierkegaard.” Presumambly knowing nothing of the Danish philosopher, Mayday quips back with “I hope he thanked you for it.”

I wanted to make a quick post about this exchange of dialogue for two reasons. First, I’ve come to enjoy the literary allusions made by Diane throughout the first season. I would have never gotten them as a child, but as a 27-year-old with two degrees in English and who teaches the subject for a living, I’ve caught, and appreciated, every single one of them. And this reference to Soren Kierkegaard is certainly no exception, especially given the fact that I can correctly spell his name since I own two books of his (though admittedly never finished either) and read a novel about a fat middle-aged British man who became obsessed with his life.

It seems to me that Kierkegaard is fairly obscure nowadays. For all the English lit classes and creative writing courses I’ve taken over the course of my life, I was never introduced to him in a classroom. And though he’s sometimes referred to as the father of Existentialism, it’s Nietzsche that is the far more respected and remembered figure.

Secondly, the joke is funny as hell. Clearly, what Diane meant by “finishing off Kierkegaard” was finishing reading one of his depressing books. But of course Mayday makes a sexual intercourse joke at which I couldn’t help but laugh. C’mon, it’s funny. I’m laughing about it again as I type this.

Though the plot may be unrealistic at times, or the dialogue contrived, I’ve noticed the show has gotten, to me anyway, funnier and funnier as I’ve worked my way through the first season. And it’s jokes like this – ones that mix high and low culture – that are making me enjoy my little journey through 1980’s Americana.

Being Mayday, and All the Burdens that Accompany It...

First, let me start by making a quick apology. It's being two weeks since I've submitted a post on this blog and, frankly, that is unacceptable. I've been busy the past two weekends with two different trips and am currently suffering from a sunburnt back that is so severe it's reduced me to crying like a baby all over social media platforms.

Additionally, I've hit a bit of a roadblock when it comes to my vision for the block. As I've said before, I'm unsure of how to treat these posts. Should the posts cover every 2-4 episodes? Should I summarize episodes then give insights? Should I just discuss what I was thinking about while watching a certain episode? Etc.

I believe there is no answer to this and, as I'm still only in the first season of Cheers, I'm just going to write posts of various lengths and see what happens with this space organically.

But enough of the excuses. From now on, you can expect a more concerted effort on my part to update this blog regularly, you lucky seven follower of mine.

Coincidentally (or conveniently) speaking of burdens, I want to point out that I don't have it out for Sam "Mayday" Malone. True, a great number of his actions in season 1 have some across as extremely sexist and chauvinistic, but I think we would all agree that all in all, Mayday is a good guy.

This was reaffirmed early on in the series when he left a hotel room through the fire escape because he couldn't have relations with a college friend of Diane's because his conscience got the better of him.

But it's episode 16, "The Boys in the Bar," where Mayday shows he's not just a man of (mostly) good moral fiber, but also a civil rights pioneer. Sam, you see, has offered up Cheers for the afternoon to his former teammate, Tom Kendersen, to promote his new memoir to reporters and Sam's regulars (who all love the Sox, naturally). In the book (entitled "Catcher's Mask"), the teammate comes out as being gay. Yet, and here's where the hi-jinx begin!, Sam is unaware of this fact because he didn't read the book the night before as he promised Tom he would because he was out tomcatting. Oh, that Sam!

So the press conference begins with reporters questioning Tom about his deceision to come out while Mayday stands by the side of his old buddy and slowly figures out the book's subject matter. Of course, Mayday only figures this out after talking up Tom and saying that in their playing days they were always roommates on the road and joined at the hip. (Again, oh, that Sam!)

After learning that Tom is a, you know, a gay, the bar's regulars become concerned that the press coverage of the book will lead Boston's gay community into believe Cheers is a place for them. And by golly, do these alocholics of 1982 have a real problem with that.

Hell, even Coach seems a little ruffled. "I should've known," he says of Tom's sexual orientation, "I was in a piano bar with him once and he requested a showtune!"

The customers voice their concerns to Mayday who reassures them there's nothing to worry about. The next day, however, two come into the bar, one sporting a 1970's porn 'stache and immediately Norm, Cliff and the others are afraid there are gay men in their presence. Sam takes their order and he's told they read about Cheers in the day's paper and thought they'd come down and check it out. And of course, that's the smoking gun for Norm Peterson and His Merry Band of Homophobes. One gay guy gave a press conference at the bar, it got covered in the Boston Globe, and now all the gays are gonna come down to the bar.

Their suspicions are affirmed when Diane tells the regulars that she has it on good authority two men somewhere in the bar are gay. (Again, the horror!) The regulars are this point are all riled up, one of them even sarcastically saying "Way to go, Mayday!"

One patron even suggests they "test out" these two gentlemen to see if they're gay or straight, because, you know, every straight man should be able to accurately answer any sports trivia question asked of him.

Another patron goes on to explain that if Sam doesn't show these two gays the door, Cheers is going to end up like Vito's Pub which "turned gay" in a matter of weeks after they let in their first gay guy. "Within a month's there's gonna be wild music and guys dancing and exchanging phone numbers," he warns. Exchanging phone numbers?!? Jesus Christ! Of course, something has to be done to stop this nonsense!

And that something is a harebrained scheme the Band of Homophobes devise in which they all cash out with Coach and tell everyone the bar closes down at 7 pm. The "gays" sitting at their own table, now with a third guy, remark that they thought Cheers was a nice bar but find it weird that it shuts down at 7 o'clock. All the customers leave the bar and the regulars come back in, beaming with pride after tricking the gays into leaving of their own accord.

And here's where Mayday steps up to the plate (no pun intended). He takes issue with what his customers have done. They tell him that he's got to decide what kind of a place Cheers is going to be, meaning a bar for the straights or a bar for the gays (apparently 1983 Boston was much like the Deep South in the 1950's).

To that, Sam full of righteousness responds with "It's not going to be the kind of bar I'll have to throw people out of!" What I particularly love about this episode, and Sam's defiant statement in particular, is that it begins with the former teammate coming out of the closet but shifts to homophobia in general. And here Mayday is on his own island with everyone else on another. Had this been Malone standing up for his friend and teammate, it could be presumed he may have some issues with gay people but will vouch for a gay person he knows. Instead, we have Mayday standing up for gay people as a whole, and really just people in general by declaring his bar to being welcoming of anyone and everyone.

Norm, Cliff, et al. reluctantly decide they perhaps got a little out of hand with their tactics. Diane then informs the crowd that the gentlemen they tricked into leaving were not the gay guys she was talking about. Rather, the two gay men in the bar are two members of the mob, each standing at Norm's side. At this revelation, the crowd is taken aback and the two men give Norm a simultaneous kiss on the check.

At this point, I'm expecting the patrons to get into an uproar. But no, they don't. Sam's already given his speech, defined himself as a man of good moral character, and established himself as a civil rights activist (by early 80's standards, at least). Instead, the live studio audience applauds and cheers. And, to end the episode on a high note, Norm declares "Hey, it beats kissing Vera!"

And in terms of addressing the social issues of the day, this episode and the series itself certainly fail in comparison to the Norman Lear sitcoms of the 1970's I've loved so much ("All in the Family," "Good Times," "Maude" and so forth). But for what/who they are, this episode and Sam Malone as a character beat anything else that was on TV at the time.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Diane Chambers, The Total Package?

In episode 11 (“One for the Book”), the Cheers gang are joined by two out of the ordinary patrons, a World War I (yes, you read that correctly, World War One, as in Uno, as in Yes, the first one) vet whose hosting a reunion for his platoon in the back pool room and a young man who has stumbled upon the bar and is looking to drink a few beers before starting his life as a monk the following morning.

Since the veteran, or “doughboy” as the ep’s synopsis refers to him, fought in the First World War, he was born in the 19th century. Sure, this is 1982, but it needs to be noted this man is old as hell. He explains to Norm and company that his fellow soldiers hold a reunion in Boston every 10 years. Additionally, the first one to the party traditionally strips down to his under-roos (his words, not mine) in order to surprise the others. After providing the set up for the episode’s eventual gag, the doughboy retreats back to the pool room.

The monk-to-be, meanwhile, gets hammered off two beers and begins having second thoughts about joining the monastery. Realizing he needs to take life by the horns, he grabs a hold of Diane, professes his love for her and kisses her. The live studio audience laughs and applauds.

Funny, sure? But it should be noted that this unwanted advance by the young monk comes after Sam did the same thing in episode four (and tried again several other times) and just two or three episodes after Norm’s boss essentially tried raping Diane on the pool table. The latter was the result of Diane being asked by Norm to keep his boss company because the office party he held at Cheers was a dud. When Norm saw Diane fighting off his boss, he pulled him off of her and was subsequently fired. (Despite having what would appear to be a pretty solid wrongful termination suit going for him, Norm instead opts to be an unemployed accountant for a majority of the show’s run from here on out.)

Shocked and appalled, Diane gets away from the monk by walking into the pool room, where – SURPRISE! – she’s greeted by the old vet and his (presumably) old whitie tighties.

There are two pressing issues here. First what is it about the young, smart, sassy-if-not-smug, and (kinda) prudish Ms. Chambers that drives all these men absolutely gaga? Sam remarks in one episode that she’s too judgemental of everyone and says she doesn’t like anyone in another. So why are all these guys howling at the moon over her?

Second, and perhaps more importantly, why the hell do these men think they have the right to simply take Diane as if she’s some sort of prize whenever they have a few beers and get horny? (Or in the case of Mayday Malone, drink no beers and get horny…) Honestly, these guys are worst than Don Draper, Pete Campbell, and Roger Sterling when it comes to hounddogging. Hounddogging, it should be noted is different than tomcatting (perhaps that’s a separate post for another day).

Thus far I’ve seen at least half a dozen men come onto Diane, including the monk, Norm’s boss and Sam Malone himself. And since the entire first season takes place inside the bar, it's office and it's back pool room, I've gotta say, Mayday has created one hell of a hostile workplace environment.

When Diane agrees to become a waitress at the end of episode 1, she does so after realizing she has no experience or skills that would make her qualified for any jobs outside of being a grad school TA. Yet as I've worked my way through the first half off the season, it's obvious she's got something that drives every man she meets wild. I can't quite put a finger on it; nor can all these fellas forcing themselves onto her. But it seems Diane Chambers may just be the total package.

The question is, is that package too much for Mayday to handle? Time shall tell...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shooter McGavin, Night Court and a Note on 80s Fashion

Something I've been doing during my course of watching season 1 of Cheers is pausing episodes periodically. I try my best to not pause too often because I feel as if it's somehow taking away from the spirit of the "experiment" of watching all 270 episodes. (If I'm constantly pausing, I'm not actively watching, right?)

Yet I do pause from time to time, usually to take notes or to write down dialogue I feel will serve some larger purpose. But then there have been the times where I've paused, grabbed my phone, sat on my coffee and snapped a picture because what my eyes see I simply cannot do with words anything close to justice.

Harry here has appeared in two episodes of the dozen I've seen thus far. At first I thought the actor was Rick Moranis but the credits reveal that Harry the Magician's real name is Harry Anderson. Knowing I knew this dude from somewhere, I busted out my iPod Touch's IMDB app (it should be noted while I'm watching Cheers I have no less than 6 hand-held devices and two legal pads next to me) and a quick search revealed that Harry Anderson is also the Honorable Judge Harry T. Stone from Night Court.

The fact that this guy looked familiar to me isn't what made me pause the show and snap the above picture. Rather, it's the outfit here. It's a bit hard to tell in the pic I took, but for starters Harry The Magician is looking some tight dark blue jeans. He's also opted for brown and green suspenders over a belt and is wearing and cream or rose colored dress shirt with a rust and yellow tie. And topping off the ensemble is the gray hat. In the scene above Harry cons Norm out of $10. This after he conned Coach out of $20 in the cold open. He later goes on to slyly maneuver his way out of paying Diane for his tab by making her think he's paid Sam the bill and vice versa.

Why the writers thought this was a character that needed to be created is beyond me. I'm just going to assume everyone working on this show was on cocaine and doing so, I'll answer most of the questions I'll have throughout the 270 eps. Nevertheless, I'll keep my eye on ole Harry, but I'm sure I won't see much of him come season 3 since Night Court will be on the air by that time.

And next we have...

As for the other photo I took, it's none other than Christopher McDonald best known around my apartment as Shooter McGavin. I can't begin to explain how delighted I was when he walked into Cheers with a big smile on his face. In his episode, McGavin (why even bother using his real name?) plays an up-and-coming BoSox relief pitcher whose been struggling as of late. Amidst a chorus of boos from the patrons, and foul-mouthed Carla in particular, McGavin's character seeks words of wisdom from "Mayday" Malone. The icing on the cake is the southern drawl in which the character speaks which is extremely thick in his first scene and all but disappears by episode's end.

In the scene I took a cell phone pic of, McGavin is hitting on Diane (who by this point has been hit on, kissed, or groped an average of 2.8 times per episode) after believing her offering to practice yoga breathing exercises together was an offer of intercourse. (Talk about a miscommunication!) The black pants he's wearing go very well with his gray sportcoat which looks like something every yuppie wore in the 80s. No problem there (except for the fact that he begins the episode speaking like a stereotypical "good ole boy" from down south). But what's with the polo shirt and brown belt?

I'm about a dozen episodes in and already I've seen Diane wear two different shirts multiple times. This, I think, is a nice touch as it adds a sense of realism to the show. But Harry The Magician wearing brown/green suspenders over a creme colored shirt and McGavin using a brown belt to hold up black slacks? Forget pulling me out of the story. These fashion choices led me to writing this post and, in the process, reading the entire IMDB and Wikipedia entries for Rick Moranis and Carl Weathers.

This experiment may take longer than I initially envisioned...

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Trouble with Tension

We all know that Cheers centrally revolved around the relationship of Sam and Diane. The "will they or won't they" tension played up by the writers laid the groundwork for tons of NBC sitcoms that came after (Ross and Rachel, J.D. and Eliot, Jim and Pam, and to a lesser extent Jeff and Britta).

What I didn't realize, however, is this tension began with the second episode, "Sam's Women." Here Diane quickly takes note that Sam is only interested in one type of woman, hot and dumb. This is clearly true yet Sam becomes unsettled by Diane's comments and strives to show her he's into intellectual women as well, leading to a scene where he brings in his ex-wife and the two pretend to have just returned from the symphony.

As they leave the bar again, Diane picks up the program left on the table and notices it's over two years old. "Well I didn't say we just got back from the symphony!" Sam exclaims to stereotypical laughter.

In episode 4 the two are talking in the back room with Diane giving Sam some words of encouragement - "Go for it!" And of course Mayday Malone does just that by kissing her. Diane promptly flips Sam onto the pool table, jujitsu style. She apologizes and explains it was a natural reaction of hers, learned from a class she took on "advanced feminism." Because, you know, feminism is all about hating men and all college courses on the subject teach you violence rather than theory...

The synopsis for episode 6 reads: "One of Diane's old college friends comes to the bar. She is vulnerable and looking for a man to give her an afternoon of unbridled passion, and Sam predictably jumps at the opportunity."

I find the use of the word "predictably" here to be interesting. It's only the sixth episode and the writers/creators have pigeon-holed their male lead as nothing more than a charming sex addict (but that's another post for another day).

It's in episode 6 that Mayday's morality gets the best of him as he joins her back at her hotel room but cannot follow through, instead opting to leave down the fire escape. Dejected, the friend returns to the bar and declares her love life hopeless to Diane, who in turn commands Sam make things right. Sam explains to the friend that he left the hotel room because he's actually dating someone. Diane explains that she's that someone and immediately Malone grabs her around the waist and begins getting handsy. (And by handsy, I mean the slugger's close to rounding 2nd base.) Again, we are six episodes into an 11 season show and it's clear this dude has a serious problem even if he's seemingly beat his alcoholism.

Yes, Cheers may have laid the groundwork for drawn-out romances that many of sitcoms of recent day have taken cue from. But instead of enjoying the fact that I'm going through the journey of watching these characters fall for each other, I'm finding myself troubled by the whole premise and how the writer's have thrown this romantic tension together.

And perhaps my own need to analyze anything I read or watch could be the downside to my whole "experiment"...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

So a guy walks into a bar...

Thus far I've watched a handful of episodes beginning, obviously, with the very first episode. Though I've thought extensively about what this project and have written a dozen pages worth of notes on a yellow legal pad (hey, I'm an English professor, I can't help myself), I have not settled on any concrete way in which to structure my posts. Should I just write exposition? Should I dissect episodes chronologically? Discuss them as a whole. Provide a synopsis of each episode? One post per episode? One post per five?

I have not settled on any answers for these questions. So I will simply begin writing as I sit here notes in hand. And if these posts take on any kind of common structure, so be it.

So the pilot of Cheers is entitled "Give Me a Ring Sometime." A clever title, for its day I'm sure. The cold open gives us Sam Malone hanging out in an empty bar moving boxes and cleaning glasses when in walks in a young kid asking for a beer. Malone, ever the responsible small business owner, asks for ID. The kid produces a fake that says he was born in the 1940's. We're not even a minute in to the experiment and I'm already being smacked in the face with how old this show is. It started September 20, 1982 -- nearly one full year before I was born.

Anyway, the kid talks about seeing action in 'Nam and is refused service. We have our credits and in walks Diane Chambers. Based on the title of the episode and what I know from having seeing many episodes as a child, I realize that his man with her, her professor/fiance (aptly named Sumner) is not going to be around for long. Around for long he is not as Sumner tracks down his ex-wife to retrieve the wedding ring he gave her so he can give it to his new bride-to-be, Diane.

Um, what? This dude is running off with his graduate student (it's established that Diane is a TA at Boston University working for her lit professor) to Barbados to get married and he hasn't given her a ring? Isn't that a red flag, Diane? Also this man is a professor. In Boston. In the 1982. How the eff does he have money to fly to Barbados and no money to go buy a new engagement ring?

(Additionally there's one scene in which an old lady in a wheel chair is a patron. How the hell did she get down the flight of stairs? But I digress...)

Sumner returns sans ring to the bar where Diane and Sam are already establishing their love/hate relationship that drives the first half of the series. He lives again to fetch the ring with Diane this time trying to stop him because the ring is not necessary. It's just a symbol, she states.

"Symbols matter," Sumner replies. This I write in my notes because I feel it may have some meaning later on.

Later on we are introduced to Norm Peterson, professional bar fly, amateur accountant. It's also explained the Sam "Mayday" Malone was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox for a few successful years until alcoholism got the better of him. While still a drunk, he bought the bar and now keeps it for "sentimental reasons." See! Symbols do matter...

Along with waitress Carla and Sam's old manager in the minors, Coach, we have a main cast of five characters. Cliff Clavin is here, too, but only as a guest actor.

All in all, I laughed out loud a few more times than I figured I would have. And I'm surprised to learn that I didn't know (understand) that Diane was an English lit TA when I watched this show as a child. I'm looking forward to catching a liteany of references that were over my head back then. But then again, I fear any literature references/jokes made by Diane will come across as the character painting herself as a nerd who can't get communicate with regular people ala the Sheldon character in The Big Bang Theory.

All in all, I enjoyed the episode and after rewriting this post I've decided there is no way in hell I'm writing one post per episode.

The Introduction

It's a hot July afternoon in the year 2011 and I am sitting at my desk with air conditioning blasting at my back creating a blog devoted to a noble, if not silly, challenge in which I have decided to indulge myself.

The challenge? Simple - I am going to watch every episode of the TV sitcom Cheers. All 270 episodes, in order and presumably over the next several months. When I came up with his asinine goal, the initial plan was to spend my entire summer watching nothing but Cheers episodes and to have completed the task by Labor Day. I quickly realized this was something I did not want to do for a numbers of reasons, including the fact that I do not want to compare myself to Morgan Spurlock nor do I want to deny myself the trashy reality TV programming I hate myself for loving. (CT and Adam are teammates on The Challenge this season! I have to watch that.)

So instead of watching only episodes of Cheers, I will instead allow myself to watch other things throughout the summer both in order to keep a mild level of sanity and also to potentially find other shows in which I can draw comparisons.

What am I getting out of this? To be honest, I'm not quite sure if there is anything to be gained. By blogging about my experience, I am not trying to create a "Julie and Julia" for men (though that comparison has been mentioned by nearly every friend I mentioned this idea to). I'm trying to catapult myself to Internet stardom and position myself into meeting Ted Danson. I'm a 27-year-old college instructor and struggling writer of stories, novels and poems -- believe me, any delusions of grandeur on my end have evaporated long ago.

Rather, I believe the only possible thing that can be gained from watching all these episodes, and subsequently blogging about said watching, is some form of connectedness. To the past, is one obvious connection since we're talking about a TV show that's been off the air for nearly two decades. I can already see myself tagging posts with words and phrases such as: "Larry Bird", "Reaganomics", and "Berlin Wall foreshadowing."

There is also a connectedness to my own childhood; after all, I wasn't even born when this show began airing. I did watch the show as a child, both in first-run and syndication and vaguely enjoyed it, but as a child the learned wit of Frasier Crane, the not-so-subtle alcoholism of Norm Peterson, and the abundant innuendo from the tomcating Sam "Mayday" Malone were by and large over my head.

So without further ado, I shall begin a challenge that I make no claim to be unique or inspiring. Yet from the day I thought it up some weeks ago, I've felt a sense of obligation to see this idea through.

And on a holiday weekend where the most popular event is televised gluttony (the Nathan's Four of July Hot Dog Eating Contest), beginning the journey of devouring 270 episodes of an iconic American sitcom seems only fitting. So let's begin, shall we?