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5.0 out of 5 stars One Of America's All Time Greatest Sitcoms, 14 Mar. 2006
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This review is from: Cheers: Complete First Season [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Cheers very first season premiered on primetime U.S T.V in 1982. Little did people know that this series set in Boston's most famous bar would become such a phenomenon that would last for 11 years and stretch to an impressive 270 episode run. Cheers was deservedly showered with many awards and was still on top when the show sadly ended in 1993 (with the final episode bringing in record viewing figures for the series).
I was merely 2 years old when Cheers first swung into action. Of todays new generation of U.S sitcoms, Will And Grace (1999 -) and Friends (1994 - 2004) rank as my all-time favourites. Cheers is still near at the top of my list as the show is like fine wine - has gotten better with age! Obviously the clothes and hairstyles instantly date the series but overlooking that obvious fact Cheers still plays extremely well.
At long, long last (and way overdue) fans of this classic landmark series in American television history can enjoy the series once again with the first season being released in an attractive four DVD box set containing all 22 episodes that were filmed between 1982-83 (as well as boasting a host of interesting special features including an interview with Ted Danson and a fun trivia game that tests fans knowledge of the series).
The premiere episode of Cheers sees snotty academic Diane Chambers arrive at the infamous bar with her equally pompous partner only to be jilted before they were about to set off on a romantic vacation. In a twist, Diane is soon hired by Sam as a waitress and slowly succumbs to Sams somewhat brash charm. And that was how this fantastic series began.....
What makes Cheers such a knockout classic was the wonderful contrast of characters. Former pro baseball player Sam "Mayday" Malone is a slightly cocky but very likeable character with an eye for the ladies. Diane Chambers sweet but rather niaeve way of thinking becomes a foil for sharp witted and very boisterous Carla. Complimenting these three key characters are Coach, the hilariously eccentric and dim-witted but sweet and good-hearted barman, the notorious Norm who is renowned for his permanent seating spot at the corner of the bar and Cliff who fast becomes Norms sparring drinking partner.
Ted Danson as Sam Malone is at the central gravity of the show, running the aptly named Cheers bar with a cool efficency. Danson plays the down-to-earth, womanising character to great effect, bringing in a lot of the laughs where as Shelley Long as Diane Chambers (who becomes much more likeable and down to earth after the opening episode) is just utterly adorable. Ted Danson and Shelley Long both sparked off one another displaying naturalistic affection for one another and enjoying an electric on-screen chemistry. Sam and Diane soon became one of T.V's most popular (mismatched) couples. The fact that the two characters had both come from completely different walks of life added to the magic and chemistry of their complex on-screen partnership.
Rhea Perlman is universally excellent as tough-talking, no-nonsense Carla. Her fiery spirit and witty put downs became another essential ingredient to the show and Carla's on-screen feud with Diane was always hilarious. Perlman's impeccable timing was always, to say the least, hilarious.
The sweetness of Nicholas Colasanto's approach to his screwball character, Coach, is played with conviction and was like a breath of fresh air in the series whilst those two sparring drinking buddies played by George Wendt (Norm) and John Ratzenberger (Cliff) complimented the diverse blend of characters.
Cheers first season was a knockout and a thriving start to the shows history. Every episode was fabulous with superb comic playing from all the cast involved. Most of the amusing situations that alternated between different characters in the show were all (mostly) set in the Cheers bar. The titles of the season one episodes are as follows:
Ep 1: Give Me A Ring Sometime
Ep 2: Coach's Daughter
Ep 3: Sam's Women
Ep 4: The Tortelli Tort
Ep 5: Sam At Eleven
Ep 6: Any Friend Of Diane's
Ep 7: Friends, Romans And Accountants
Ep 8: Truce Or Consequences
Ep 9: Coach Returns To Action
Ep 10: Endless Slumper
Ep 11: One For The Book
Ep 12: The Spy Who Came In For A Cold One
Ep 13: Now Pitching, Sam Malone
Ep 14: Let Me Count The Ways
Ep 15: Father Knows Last
Ep 16: The Boys In The Bar
Ep 17: Diane's Perfect Date
Ep 18: No Contest
Ep 19: Pick A Con...Any Con
Ep 20: Someone Single, Someone Blue
Ep 21: Show Down (Part 1)
Ep 22: Show Down (Part 2)
The first season ends on the cracking episode where Sam and Diane finally get together after months of a tense, sexually-charged build up. The whole ethos of this first series was built on a will-they?, won't-they? premise. When the two did finally get it on, many viwers cheered to see these two loveable characters, that were so incompatable, finally consummate their relationship (off-screen of course).
Cheers (1982-93) remains a milestone in American sitcom history and has enjoyed success across the world including Britain where the show became a primetime favourite on the network television station, Channel 4. Lovers of American comedy will be enthralled!
Ian Phillips
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Location: Bolton, Lancashire, UK

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