Paramount Studios presents
Cheers: The Complete Fourth Season (1985-86)
Woody Boyd: I always wondered, if he can afford to buy those kits to catch the Road Runner, why can't he afford to buy something to eat?
Cliff Clavin: Woody, I think you're missing the point here. It's not that Wyle E. Coyote wants to eat, necessarily, or that he wants to eat a roadrunner. What he wants is to eat that particular roadrunner. It's very existential.
Diane Chambers: We're trying to save a man's life here!
Norm Peterson: Yeah, Cliff, really. Besides, I have to disagree with you, y'know? You never see the coyote eat anything else. And, think about it. You never really see him eat anything at all, which could be why he's missing the damn bird all the time. The brain needs sugar. Think about it.- Woody Harrelson, John Ratzenberger, Shelley Long, George Wendt
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, George Wendt
Other Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Kate Mulgrew, Max Wright, Lawrence Lott, Dan Hedaya, Jean Kasem, Gary Hart, Tony Carreiro, Joseph Whipp, Pamela Bach, Thomas Callaway, Daniel Davis, Chip Zien, Adam Carl, Jennifer Tilly, Bebe Neuwirth, Timothy Scott, M.C. Gainey, Robert Symonds, Frances Bay, Paul Willson, Arthur Taxier, Dick O'Neill, Claudia Cron, Joel Polis, Alan Koss, Tim Cunningham, Steve Gianelli, Don Lewis, Michael Alaimo, Nancy Cartwright, Derek McGrath, Timothy Williams, Many Ingbur, Sherilyn Fenn, John Ingle, Amanda Wyss, Al Rosen
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual innuendo, mild language)
Run Time: 10h:42m:06s
Release Date: 2005-02-01
DVD ReviewSometimes you want to watch a show where you know everybody's name. There has never been a TV series quite like Cheers in which a viewer can jump into it at the drop of a hat without feeling unfamiliar with its characters and stories. Maybe this is a result of it being set in a bar where many different customers pop in for an episode to shake up things with the regulars. Maybe it's because the recurring characters are so unique and interesting that they immediately feel like old drinkin' buddies. However, it's probably because this may very well be the best written sit-com in television history.
I've always loved Cheers since I was a lad growing up in Reagan's America, and my appreciation for this marvelous show grows with every syndicated re-run I see on late night TV Land. As a matter of fact, watching Cheers: The Complete Fourth Season after having spent the past year working in a restaurant only furthers my love for this show, although I now sympathize with the customers who don't tip their waitresses, Diane (Shelley Long) and Carla (Rhea Perlman), more than I used to. Really, one has to wonder how it is that Sam Malone (Ted Danson) manages to keep his business out of the red with his staff spending the bulk of their time hatching schemes and insulting clientele.
The fourth season of Cheers welcomes a new face to the gang in Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson). As a replacement for Coach—Sam's lovable bartender in the first three seasons who died—Woody is the perfect substitute. It's a tribute to the writing staff that they were able to keep Coach's naïve, innocent view of the world alive in Woody while also creating a new, independent character. Like Coach, Woody is a simpleton with old-fashioned values, such as his belief that pre-marital sex is wrong, which cause him to eat excessively when his girlfriend, Beth (Amanda Wyss), comes to visit in Woody Goes Belly Up. However, unlike Coach, the young, physically fit Woody offers Sam competition with the ladies, causing his elder to pull a hernia in Dark Imaginings.
There are some other interesting moments in the show's history contained on this set. My personal favorite is in I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday when Sam loans Diane $500 to buy a first edition autographed copy of The Sun Also Rises but is never paid back, resulting in a delightfully comical situation. Another charming outing is when the gang at Cheers challenges Gary's Old Town Tavern to a bowling match in From Beer to Eternity and needs the stuffed-shirt Diane to save the day. There are also Cliff's (John Ratzenberger) constant shenanigans, one of which results in an embarrassing situation with Diane in Cliffie's Big Score, and the return of Carla's sleazy ex-husband, Nick (Dan Hedaya), for a dance contest in Save the Last Dance for Me. Furthering the fun is Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), who has his first date with Dr. Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth), before she becomes a regular cast member, in Second Time Around. And, of course, sitting at the end of the bar is Norm (George Wendt), whose presence on that barstool is what makes Cheers, Cheers.
There are plenty more delights in this set, especially the final three episodes in which Sam begins a serious relationship with a local politician, Janet Eldridge (Kate Mulgrew). It's a great climax to the whole season, forcing Diane and Sam to confront their deep love for one another. In typical Cheers fashion, the season ends with a cliffhanger. Sam calls one of the two women and proposes, but which one?
Even those who have seen these episodes a hundred times will still find themselves hooked by the intelligent writing, wonderful acting, and inventive direction that each vignette provides. The dialogue isn't just the mindless collection of one-liners that populates most sit-coms today, but has sophisticated allusions to psychiatrists and philosophers, and it also allows the characters to converse seriously with one another. Each actor, particularly Ted Danson, does a wonderful job bringing his or her lines to life, such as when Sam desperately tries to auction off his old baseball jersey in Take My Shirt, Please. There's a sense of pride and despair in Danson's performance that shows a depth rarely seen in a TV show.
It's been over a decade since the last episode of Cheers aired, but the fourth season feels just as fresh today as it did in 1985 and '86. The jokes don't feel at all dated, probably because the writing is almost completely absent of topical humor. The characters feel real, with their own strengths and weaknesses. However, the most impressive thing about the show is its ability to make the audience genuinely care for the characters. For me, it's a priceless jewel, thanks to the assorted cast of characters, which will likely never be equaled by another live-action program again.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is an improvement over the re-runs on TV. However, some of the episodes are less impressive than others. Relief Bartender's image is slightly washed out, but not enough to distract. There's also some occasional print defects in random episodes, but the contrast and blacks in Strange Bedfellows: Part 2 and Part 3 are stunning.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix is nothing special, but when played in ProLogic the laugh track and main title song create a nice ambience by utilizing the surround speakers. Otherwise, it's a front-heavy mix with no sound separation or directionality, but that's fitting for the material.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 108 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Happy Days: The Complete First Season DVD, Laverne & Shirley: The Complete First Season DVD, Mork & Mindy: The Complete First Season DVD
Extras Review: The only supplemental materials are previews for the upcoming Paramount releases Happy Days: The Complete First Season DVD, Laverne & Shirley: The Complete First Season DVD, and Mork & Mindy: The Complete First Season DVD. All three are found on the first disc.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsDespite being a lackluster release, Cheers: The Complete Fourth Season still offers some of the best in entertainment. It's funny and touching, with a nice newly remastered transfer and an adequate sound mix.
Nate Meyers 2005-02-01