It looks great: season two of the situation comedy many consider the best ever produced on American television has a superb presentation on this DVD collection. The colours are rich, the images sharp--a vast improvement over those murky reruns in perpetual TV syndication. Then, of course, there are the consistently brilliant episodes from Cheers
' sophomore year. Despite its low-rated debut in 1982, the ensemble farce set in a Boston bar confidently returned with several strong story arcs, including the turbulent, screwball romance between intellectual poseur Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) and affable primitive Sam Malone (Ted Danson), romantic conflicts for the sexually voracious and deeply cynical barmaid Carla (Rhea Perlman) and marital separation for beloved barfly Norm (George Wendt). With John Ratzenberger signing on as a full-time cast member (playing pompous jive-slinger and postman Cliff Claven), and those opaque one-liners by the clueless Coach (Nicholas Colasanto), Cheers
was firing on all cylinders.
Episode highlights include "They Call Me Mayday", in which talk-show personality Dick Cavett, playing himself, convinces Sam the public would be interested in the former major league pitcher's autobiography--a notion that throws the unpublished, would-be novelist Diane into disbelief. Also wonderful is "Where There's a Will," guest-starring George Gaynes as a rich, dying man who leaves the gang $100,000 on a paper napkin will. "No Help Wanted" finds Sam's friendship with down-on-his-luck accountant Norm strained when the latter has a go at the bar's books, while the great "Coach Buries a Grudge" features the addled, elder statesman of Cheers delivering a memorable eulogy for a friend after discovering the dead man had an affair with his wife. Opinions vary about the worthiness of Cheers' latter years (the show ended in 1993), but no one disputes the merit of its ground-breaking start. --Tom Keogh