It’s the cozy little Boston bar where everybody knows your name…welcome to Cheers – the Emmy® Award-winning, smash-hit television series that kept the laughs uncorked for 11 years. It’s a new beginning for the bar – and for the gang- in Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season. After selling the watering hole to a large corporation six months earlier, Sam Malone (Ted Danson) is back from “retirement”…and looking for a job. Holding his employment hopes in her hand is the bar’s new manager, the acerbic and neurotic Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley). But still hanging around – and ready to watch the Malone-Howe fireworks – as the hilarious Cheers staff and patrons, Carla (Rhea Perlman), Woody (Woody Harrelson), Cliff (John Ratzenberger), Norm (George Wendy), and Frasier (Kelsey Grammer). It’s a brilliant sixth season , with 25 uproarious episodes and liters and liters of laughs in this classic TV comedy!
Cheers: Season 6 7.75
Between Seasons 5 and 6, an unexpected change of the guard took place: suddenly, Sam had sold the bar, had bought a yacht and was off traveling the world. The corporation that bought the bar (for reasons unknown) was now running the show, with newly-minted Manager Rebecca Howe in place as their front.
I suppose that it was probably necessary to shift things around in light of Diane’s departure from the series. However, by doing so in such a dramatic fashion, it didn’t feel like ‘Cheers’ anymore. It took a little while to get things back on track, before Rebecca defrosted and became part of the gang, before the new uniforms were tossed, and before Sam stopped being a self-inflicted victim.
After the first half-dozen episode, which were okay, but hardly the best, thing evened out. Strangely enough, on average, the episodes were better than those of Season 5 – but the highs weren’t as high. Similarly, the lows weren’t anywhere nearly as low (and thank goodness for that! ). So it all makes for a pleasant, relatively funny, but somewhat nondescript, season.
My favourite episodes were:
Episode 12: Christmas Cheers: Honestly, it’s not the greatest episode, but I like the idea of Christmas-themed shows – it’s just that they’re usually horrible. And this one is actually not too shabby. So it gets extra points for succeeding where everyone else fails.
Episode 14: And God Created Woodman: I adored watching Woody win his way into the heart of Rebecca’s boss – much to her chagrin. It was one of the first episodes that took us out of the bar, but worked. And it’s one of the first times that a there’s a real bond between Rebecca and the others. They actually make a good team.
Episode 23: Bar Wars: By far the best of the season! All the high jinks that the competing bars get into are ridiculous, but this side of credulity – and they’re outrageously funny. To watch the Cheers gang bonded together against a common foe also solidifies the themes of “friendship” and “home away from home” that Cheers was built on.
The following were notable, if not memorable:
Episode 3: Little Carla, Happy at Last: Part 1 + Episode 4: Little Carla, Happy at Last: Part 2: Watching the two most superstitious people on earth cope with a stroke of bad luck on their wedding day was comic gold. The second part isn’t nearly as good, but it shows Sam in rare form, so it deserves to be denoted for that alone.
Episode 9: Pudd’n Head Boyd: The whole thing with Woody doing theatre seems out-of-character to me. It’s such an odd thing for him to be doing; it’s more of a Diane thing than a Woody thing. But the way that they wove that into a winter-spring relationship was beautiful, and showed Woody at this best – not just as a moronic sap, but as a big-hearted nice guy.
Episode 11: My Fair Clavin: I don’t know… as annoying as he is, I always want Cliff to become more fulfilled. And as funny as he is, as is, a part of me wants to see him grow out of his loser ways and stop hiding his fears and feelings of inadequacies behind constant posturing. This is an episode that gives him a chance, and I quite liked that.
My least favourite episodes were:
Episode 18: Let Sleeping Drakes Lie: I hate the very premise of this one, but it’s also the kind of comedy I loathe: situational crap that could never take place in real life. Mr. Drake, for instance, would never stand for any of the shenanigans that Norm is up to in this episode. I don’t care how tired he is, he’s a take-no-prisoners business who wouldn’t stand (or lie, as the case may be) for any of this.
Episode 22: Slumber Party Massacred: Feels almost as forced as that episode when Norm and Cliff go to Carla’s house to help her get through the night. It’s not as over-the-top and stupid, but it’s bland and lazy in its execution – even the actors don’t seem convinced.
Thankfully, Rebecca comes into her own by the 6th episode or so, when she befriends Norm. Until then, we could barely get behind her armoured self. The moment that we started to see the human being behind that façade, it got a lot more interesting. It helps that Kirstie Alley displays tremendous acting chops, being able to emote on a broad scale and even being able to do physical comedy. Say what you will about the person, but this actress has mad skills.
Meanwhile, Sam was turned into a complete weenie – and that was the suckiest part of this season. Sam was already slightly emasculated in his romantic duels with Diane, but, now the loveable skirt-chaser is reduced to begging Rebecca for attention – which is completely at odds with the character’s original interpretation. Watching him pull all sorts of lame stunts that are beneath him was painful; this guy is supposed to have all the right moves and the smoothest lines. Not anymore.
In fact, the way Sam chases Rebecca can’t be described as anything but sexual harassment. That’s just how unsubtle he’s become. One can still laugh along because it’s a show and we know from previous seasons that he’s got heart, but, in real life, it would be terribly troubling to witness this sort of behaviour. And he’d have the pants sued off of him. In fact, I’m not quite sure why Rebecca doesn’t have a serious talk with him about it – seems to me that, by the ’80s, this would not have been tolerated.
One thing that was a nice surprise during this season is that, for the first time since the series started, the writers were able to take the characters outside the bar without actually weakening the formula. It doesn’t always succeed, but it works approximately 85% of the time – which is a far cry from earlier seasons. It’s quite possible that, since the show had gradually become less intellectual, the banter and personal lives weren’t as essential to the mix. I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, it’s a welcome change because, until now, those episodes were absolutely horrendous.
Season 6 ended with a putter, but it was a mostly decent year. In fact, due to all the deep potholes on the road to this one, I’d say that this is the best one in a while – or, at least, the most cohesive. However, if one were to cherry-pick from the whole series thus far, it’s quite likely that the best episodes would mostly come from the first three seasons, and with very little showing from this season. It’s a sure-fire good time, but it’s certainly not the highest peak of hilarity.