Paramount Studios presents
Cheers: The Complete Second Season (1983-1984)
Sam: What time is it?
Norm: How many beers have I had, Cliff?
Cliff: Uh... eleven.
Norm: 8:05.- Ted Danson, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Nicholas Colasanto
Other Stars: Dan Hedaya, Jean Kasem, Dick Cavett, Christopher Lloyd, Fred Dryer, Markie Post, Harry Anderson
Director: James Burrows
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature themes)
Run Time: approx. 9 hours
Release Date: 2004-01-06
DVD ReviewFor 11 years, Cheers dominated prime time television. The bar where "everybody knows your name" secured its position amongst the most esteemed television sitcoms, not by tempting the audience with silly gimmicks, but rather a more traditional approach: the success of the series is predominately attributed to the appeal of its characters. The regulars include Sam Malone (Ted Danson), the womanizing owner of Cheers; his haughty girlfriend, Diane Chambers (Shelley Long); the naïve but loveable bartender, Coach (Nicholas Colasanto); the short and impudent cocktail waitress, Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman); and barflies Norm Peterson (George Wendt) and Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger). All of these characters have such distinct and engaging personalities that I believe a successful spin-off series could easily be created about each individual. This theory was supported with the highly prosperous Frasier, which was based on the character, Frasier Crane, later introduced.
It was the second season of Cheers that produced many of the themes that would continue to become staples of the series. At the forefront was Sam and Diane's on-again, off-again relationship, which is explored in the season opener, Power Play, as well as the two-part season finale, I'll Be Seeing You. Also present is Carla's sleazy ex-husband, Nick (Dan Hedaya), who made his first appearance in Battle of the Exes. While there are several standouts amongst the 22 episodes of Season Two, I can confidently state that there is not one disappointing entry in the entire bunch.
Though Cheers is over 20 years old, the only element of the show that feels dated is the 1980s clothing and hairstyles. Otherwise, Cheers clearly stands the test of time, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For its duration, Cheers was firmly based around strong writing and solid characters, comparable to the great sitcoms that both preceded and followed it. Most of the scenes took place in only one location, a neighborhood bar, giving the series a weekly familiarity that the audience could easily identify with. While many of its viewers may have never consumed an alcoholic beverage, the social environment of Cheers is one that everybody can relate to.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: I must admit that I had preconceived doubts about the transfer of this 20-year-old television show. However, my concerns were put to rest when I watched the first episode. The restoration effort was immediately apparent as I gazed upon the naturally rendered sepia tones of the bar and the array of vibrant colors. There is a slight hint of graininess evident, yet video noise is nearly non-existent. Detail is quite admirable considering the age of the source material, though the actors' faces look soft on occasion. While certain episodes look better than others, each episode has been given a wonderful transfer that is sure to delight fans of the series.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 Dolby digital soundtrack is predominately mono-centric. Dialogue and main sound effects remain in the center speaker, while the music and the audience laughter are spread out across the soundstage. Dialogue sounds fairly natural throughout, though has a tendency to distort when the actors raise their voices. With the exception of the theme song, bass is non-existent. Overall, the soundtrack is a bit thin and lacking in dynamic range, though it is certainly serviceable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 88 cues and remote access
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Extras Review: Though I was not expecting an abundance of special features, this collection leaves much to be desired. Also disappointing is the lack of chapter selections from the main menu.
The first of five featurettes is Strictly Top Shelf: The Guys Behind the Bar. Mainly consisting of interview footage with the cast and crew from a 1983 episode of Entertainment Tonight, Top Shelf discusses the direction for Season Two. No interesting information is revealed, and I found little of value in this featurette.
Next, is a brief glimpse at three of Cheers' pivotal characters. Cliff's Notes: The Wisdom of Cliff Clavin is dedicated to the know-it-all mailman, Carla the Comeback Queen: Insults for Every Occasion looks at several of the feisty waitress' best one-liners, while Di Another Day: Diane Chambers from A—Z focuses on the wit and wisdom of Diane Chambers. While these featurettes merely consist of footage from this second season, they each present a cleverly edited montage of clips that demonstrate the talents of each of these unique characters.
We end with Gag Reel: Bloopers From Season 2, a look at the many bungled lines throughout the season. Though quite brief and presented with shoddy image quality, there are several good laughs here.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsWhether it is the release of recent shows like 24 or classics like Cheers, it has been a great year for TV on DVD. Cheers: The Complete Second Season certainly does not raise the bar for the format, but the wonderful image transfer does the show justice and then some. Even with the scant collection of special features, no Cheers fan can go wrong with this four-disc set.
Brian Calhoun 2004-01-04