Original Run: September 29, 1983 – May 10, 1984
Starring: Ted Danson, Shelly Long, Nicholas Colasanto, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt
Something that I completely marveled at about the first season of Cheers is how the entire season took place in one setting: the bar. The flow of the show felt so natural and is resembled watching a theater play, making it a lot more impressive than other comedies. In the center are Sam and Diane, two individuals that couldn’t be any more different but somehow find the other so attractive they begin to date. And I was intrigued how the first episode of the second season took us away from the bar and into Diane’s apartment. The back-and-forth hostility and miscommunication between the two will become a staple to how the entire second season plays out.
This season is more of the same from the first: Carla still despises Diane, Norm is still miserable and lonely, Cliff still spits out nonsense, and Coach is still clueless yet adorable. But each and every one of these characters have important character development, making them that more relatable. Throughout the season, Norm is coping with depression from his wife leaving him and losing his job. In “No Help Wanted (S02E14)” Diane puts Sam in a bind by suggesting he hire Norm as his accountant. Sam never wants to mix business with friends, though it’s funny how he’s dating one of his waitresses, and doesn’t fully trust Norm as an accountant especially when he claims he should receive a $15,000 tax refund. It’s a great episode that pumps life into Norm as something other than the depressed drunk at the end of the bar.
In “Cliff’s Rocky Moment (S02E16)” he gets a taste of his own medicine when a customer at Cheers becomes fed up with Cliff’s ramblings. Victor challenges Cliff to a fight outside the bar, but Cliff runs away to avoid the confrontation. The next day, Cliff brings a muscular co-worker to defend him, but even he sides with Victor that Cliff talks too much. When it comes down to Cliff deciding if he’s going to fight Victor, he chooses not to after explaining to the bar that he’s a black belt in karate. Though his pride took a hit when he cannot admit to victor that he always tells the truth, what really hurt Cliff was how his friends didn’t believe him when he said he knew karate. Another fine piece of writing and acting in this episode, showing how trust and friendship go hand-in-hand.
Even Coach gets a heavy episode in “Coach Buries a Grudge (S02E19)” when one of his best friends pass away, only to finally discover that he made a pass at Coach’s wife. Outraged and torn apart, Coach swallows his anger and gives a touching speech for his friend at the memorial. With all these great episodes displaying the human nature of the characters at Cheers, the heart is still between Sam and Diane, who hate each other as much as they love each other. It’s not an ideal relationship, but they’re always drawn to one another. Everyone has had that person in their life that they simply couldn’t be without, but more than occasionally would they drive each other insane.
But from the start, we just know and can clearly see that Diane and Sam are not right for each other. Sam still enjoys the occasional one-night stand and can’t help himself when beautiful girls are around. He means well but doesn’t understand how to remain committed in a serious relationship. Meanwhile, Diane simply doesn’t trust Sam and constantly tries to change him into what she believes is a better person. She wants him to be well-read and to engage in the fine arts of life, but that’s just not what Sam Malone is about. Both of them are to fault for their tumultuous relationship, and the season ends on a very serious note questioning the future for Sam and Diane.
Overall, season two is some great sitcom television, ranging from the absolute hilarious to the troubling and serious. The usual light-hearted tone of the show will always keep a smile on your face, mostly from Coach’s misunderstandings and Sam and Diane’s bickering. But Cheers is able to strip aside the humor and stare down some serious issues, such as the season finale when Sam and Diane actually slap each other a few times (though it does result in a Three Stooges-type of nose pulling). The fact that they can so easily get underneath each others’ skin is never a positive aspect of a relationship. Whether they’re trying to make each other jealous, or flat out trying to piss each other off. I don’t know if they can ever make it work, but when you’re involved it’s a lot more difficult to see.