Paramount Studios presents
Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season (1987-88)
Carla: You enlisted in the Army, you idiot?
Sam: Hey, we do more by 9:00 A.M. than most people do all day.
Frasier: And that's a selling point to you?
Sam: Yeah, yeah, I've had a belly full of that Ayatollah guy. Quite frankly, I don't like what's been happening in the Persian Gulf, so I'm off to, uh... I'm off to Persia.- Rhea Perlman, Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer
Stars: Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Other Stars: Bebe Neuwirth, Tom Skerritt, Jay Thomas, Timothy Williams, Mandy Ingber, Al Rosen, Tim Cunningham, Steve Giannelli, Alan Koss, Jonathan Stark, Hugh Maguire, Robert Desiderio, Michael Tulin, Fred Dryer, Catherine MacNeal, J. Stephen Coyle, Lenny Garner, Janet Brandt, Ron Husman, Ralph Peduto, Frances Sternhagen, Kevin Dunn, Don Sparks, Anne Pitoniak, John Paragon, Harry Anderson, Tom Ohmer, Christian J. LeBlanc, Karen Akers, Philip Arthur Ross, Steven Robert Ross, John Allen, Jayne Modean, Paddi Edwards, Betty Vaughan, Peter Schreiner, Robert Urich, Peter Hansen, Jude Mussetter, Bobbie Eakes, Paul Willson, Dorothy Parke, Tom Astor, Karen Witter, Deke Anderson, Thomas W. Babson, Cec Verrell, Jay Bell, Peter Elbling, Pamela Brown, Vincent Howard, George Shannon, Thomas Ryan, Ron Boussom, Eric Menyule, Elizabeth Ruscio, Cynthia Songe, Wade Boggs, Tom Rosqui, Greg Collins, Phil Morris, Carol Francis, Ron Barker, George Shannon
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual innuendos)
Run Time: 10h:14m:28s
Release Date: 2005-09-13
DVD ReviewCheers is about as close to perfect as a TV show can come, but even giants have their failings. The first five seasons played off the contrast between ex-baseball pitcher Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and über-intellectual Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) beautifully. Their tumultuous love affair, partly due to the deeds of waitress Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman), did more than just invite the loyal clientele of Norm Peterson (George Wendt), Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), and Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer); during the early 1980s, Sam's cellar tavern became America's favorite private business. Changes came and went, but when Diane left Sam in season five's finale, it left a gap that could not be filled by even the most proficient beer tap.
In view of the whole series, Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season is probably the weakest. Trying to alleviate the strain caused by Shelley Long's departure, the writing burns nearly all bridges at the beginning of the season. Perhaps a more adequate view of these 25 episodes would be to look at them as the first season of, as fans are fond of calling it, "Cheers: The Rebecca Years." Devastated by Diane's leaving him at the altar, Sam sells the bar to a major corporation and sets sail around the world. His trip is cut short, however, when he navigates his ship into the Caribbean's abyss and is forced to return to Cheers in the season's opener, Home Is the Sailor. What once was a classless, blue-collar bar is now a snobby establishment where people not only don't know your name, they don't even know Norm's. Now Sam is reduced to begging for a job as a bartender, finding himself working as a subordinate to his former employee, lovable farm boy Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson).
In terms of starting off the season, the episode fairs well by being both comical and introducing Sam's new boss, Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley). She's insecure but ambitious, hoping to rise above her current position as the bar's manager and someday marry the company's CEO, Evan Drake (Tom Skerritt). Unfortunately, while Rebecca is introduced strongly, the writing is uncertain in which direction to take her during the first quarter of the season. At times she's hysterical while the next moment she may be a shrewd businesswoman, daring to cut Norm off in Paint Your Office. The schizophrenic shifts in her character, courtesy of the writing more than Alley's performance, keep Rebecca from being much of a match for Sam. Loathing Sam's sexual advances, she encourages him to be a sportscaster in "I" on Sports—an episode that, incidentally, features my favorite rap song to date—but never exchanges the clever banter that populated the show when Diane was on board.
Alas, I may be overly critical, because by the middle of the season Rebecca finally finds her niche in the gang. The writer's make her the butt of many jokes, most notably when she, Sam, and Mr. Drake are caught up in a love triangle aboard Drake's yacht in Yacht of Fools. Whether you prefer Rebecca's neurotic behavior and sycophantic demeanor to Diane's witty condescension is a matter of personal opinion, but the writer's wisely embrace Rebecca's more outlandish behavior. Whether it is her emotional instability, humorously captured in And God Created Woodman when she breaks her boss' priceless vase, or her reportedly raunchy past at UConn, alluded to in Last Angry Mailman, by the end of the season Rebecca is comfortably situated in Cheers' cosmos.
While the series suffers on account of the Rebecca/Diane swap, the rest of the cast is up to their usual standard of excellence. Everybody's favorite rancorous waitress, Carla, is treated to some marvelous highlights in the show. Little Carla, Happy At Last—Parts 1 and 2 follow the pregnant (if you're keeping count, this is her seventh time) spitfire through her contracted engagement period to former goaltender Eddie LeBec (Jay Thomas) to their tumultuous wedding, filled with bad luck because they didn't marry when their astrological signs permitted. Even more endearing is when Carla learns she'll be a grandmother in Slumber Party Massacred, featuring perhaps the funniest scene of the entire season when the gang tries to cheer her up with an impromptu musical performance. Frasier also finds himself getting married this season, though it happens off-screen, to Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth). Neuwirth proves herself to be an invaluable addition to the cast, adding a level of sophistication as the austere Lilith in the classic To All the Girls I've Loved Before.
The addition of Lilith as a frequent character bolsters the rest of the cast, giving them plenty of sharp jokes to cut into her sterile presentation. Norm finally lands himself a steady job as a painter, causing him and best pal Cliff to have a war of words in Woody for Hire Meets Norman of the Apes. Woody's love of the legitimate theater lands him a job as an understudy, playing Mark Twain in Pudd'nhead Boyd (by the way, I challenge anybody to claim there's a substantial difference between Harrelson's Twain-voice and his Larry Flynt-voice) so well that he attracts the interest of an elderly lady. Yet the greatest strength of Season Six is Sam Malone.
Ted Danson delivers quite nicely in his first season as the sole lead, taking on the whole of the series and keeping the laughs uncorked. My favorite episode of the season, The Bar Wars, pits Sam against longtime nemesis Gary (Robert Desiderio) on the anniversary of season four's bowling competition. Danson's performance hits the right notes, making Sam's childish attitude wholly believable and thoroughly comical. While the majority of the season is devoid of the tender character moments found in the earlier seasons, the closing moments of the finale, Back Seat Becky, Up Front, help set up the future relationship between Sam and Rebecca and end the season with one of the biggest laughs in the show's entire history.
On its own, Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season is a good, fun time that gets better towards the concluding episodes. As a fan, I feel it plays awkward even though I still enjoy it immensely. The days of Coach and Diane are gone, but a new age of Sam and the gang at Cheers arises. It isn't a perfect transition, but it's a tribute to the show's creators that they pull it off and continued on with five subsequent seasons that reached unprecedented heights.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The picture on these 25 episodes has never looked better, with each having a strong filmlike look and a lot crisper picture than the syndicated re-runs. Detail is strong and colors are vibrant, delivering an accurate rendering of the original broadcasts.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix is largely effective, though when played in ProLogic it is very front heavy. Some of the score gets a bit of sound separation, but I didn't notice any directionality and the whole mix is quite contained. "I" On Sports appears to have some audio interference in its mix, but I can't quite discern what it is. It sounds like the mix picked up another frequency channel and it causes an irritating distraction from the dialogue. The interference is less noticeable when you play the episode simply from your TV speakers, as opposed to your sound system.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 100 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season DVD, Charmed: The Complete Third Season DVD, The Brady Bunch: The Complete Fourth Season DVD, Airplane!: Don't Call Me Shirley Edition
Extras Review: Extras are sparse on this set, featuring only previews for the upcoming releases of MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season, Charmed: The Complete Third Season, The Brady Bunch: The Complete Fourth Season, and Airplane!: Don't Call Me Shirley Edition on Disc 1. Captions can be accessed through your television, but the disc does not contain any.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsProbably the weakest season in Cheers history, The Complete Sixth Season arrives to DVD with solid audio and image transfers, although the lack of extras dampen the package. Nonetheless, for all who love TV's greatest sit-com, this is a must-own DVD.
Nate Meyers 2005-09-14