Paramount Home Video presents
Cheers: The Complete Seventh Season (1988-89)
Sam: Man, what is with these East German babes? All week long I have been trying: phone calls, flowers, the whole thing. What am I doing wrong?
Frasier: Well, Sam, I see no alternative. You're just going to have to become a communist.
Sam: What do you do? You apply for membership or something?
Cliff: I cannot believe my ears.
Cliff: We're not talking about the Moose Lodge here. We're talking communists. The most reprehensible perpetrators of social and economic oppression ever known to mankind. I mean they brainwash ya, they putchya to-to work in some tractor factory and—Hey! As for your creature comforts, forget it.
Sam: Yeah, but the stuff you had before you joined is still your stuff, am I right?- Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, John Ratzenberger
Stars: Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Other Stars: Bebe Neuwirth, Jackie Swanson, Richard Doyle, Al Rosen, Peter Schreiner, Robert Pescovitz, Tim Cunningham, Steve Giannelli, Jay Thomas, Alan Koss, Hugh Maguire, Brian Bedford, Eric Christmas, Kim Johnston Ulrich, Shanna Reed, Alex Nevil, Gerald Hiken, Nathan Purdee, David Schell, Fred Asparagus, Marco Hernandez, Isla Andersen, Stuart K. Robinson, Jane Sibbett, George Deloy, B.J. Turner, Craig Branham, Robert Benedetti, J. Kenneth Campbell, Thomas Sanders, Sandahl Bergman, Chelsea Noble, Patricia Morison, Joel Polis, Robert O'Reilly, Greg Collins, Vincent Pantone, Michael Currie, Annie Golden, Howard Mungo, Tyrone Power, Jr., Gary Bergher, Jarrett Lennon, Peter Henry Schroeder, Charles Tachovsky, Stefan Gierasch, Lisa Aliff, Sarah Marshall, James R. Winkler, Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., Madolyn Smith Osborne, Bruce French, Vaughn Armstrong, Ann Guilbert, Fredric Cook, Mark Arnott, Marcia Cross, Richard Harrison, John McMartin, Joanna Barnes, Fabiana Udenio, Nicholas Miscusi
Director: James Burrows, Andy Ackerman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual innuendos)
Run Time: 08h:52m:49s
Release Date: 2005-11-15
DVD ReviewIn the world of Cheers fans, there's a great divide between those who prefer Shelley Long's Diane Chambers to Kirstie Alley's Rebecca Howe. Despite Rebecca's debut season being a flawed entrance, I find myself firmly entrenched on her side of the debate. The show's writing staff struggled in the transition from Diane to Rebecca, but the cast and writers rose above this troublesome phase into a new glory. Quite frankly, Cheers: The Complete Seventh Season is my favorite in the series' 11-year run.
After the company's CEO (and Rebecca's secret love) leaves for Japan at Season Six's conclusion, the gang at Cheers is caught in a series of corporate overhauls, the regulars pull through various struggles, and bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson) constantly attempts to seduce Rebecca. Disheartened by her love's departure, Rebecca begins her sophomore season as Cheers' manager in How to Recede in Business. Sick of love, she is entirely determined to only further her career, but after being fired Rebecca must accept Sam's help in order to get her job back. Of course, Sam wouldn't be our favorite sexaholic if he didn't try to use his sway over Rebecca to gather a few fringe benefits. It's a delightful debut to the season, especially when Sam takes Rebecca out to dinner in an effort to seduce her, that establishes the new dynamic between our leading characters.
The relationship between Sam and his employer serves as the season's underlying storyline, keeping viewers engaged as Sam pulls out all the stops to lay in Rebecca's bed. There's a devilish charm to his antics, especially in Sisterly Love when Rebecca's sister Susan (Marcia Cross) comes to town. The two nubile women propel Sam into hatching one of his greatest endeavors, for he concocts a plot to bed both women in the same evening. While Sam may not be triumphant with Rebecca, he still proves himself to be quite the ladies' man with the bar's patrons. After years of committing Sam to a relationship, the seventh season lets loose on his philandering. The writers create numerous plots that comically play on Sam's gradual aging. An especially funny outing, Don't Paint Your Chickens, finds the former ballplayer struggling to prove his physical stamina with a youthful, voluptuous fitness enthusiast. Sam's plight with the girl ends in a cleverly ironic twist that never plays stale no matter how many times I see it. Lest you disapprove of Sam's narcissistic misogyny, rest assured he gets put in his place in Swear to God when an old love tells him he may be a father. Frightened to death, he vows to God he'll have no sex for three months if the baby boy isn't his. Once Sam's off the hook, his faithful waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman) refuses to let him break the vow. One of my favorite scenes in the entire season is when Sam turns to a priest for advice on how to abstain from sex. There's also a great turn-of-events in What's Up Doc? when Sam dates a beautiful psychiatrist (Madolyn Smith Osborne) who analyzes his obsession, only to have her diagnosis defeated by The Three Stooges.
However, the show is so much more than just a collection of various sex jokes. In Jumping Jerks, the bar's best customers, mailman Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) and layabout Norm Peterson (George Wendt), team up with the bar's simpleton, Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), to go skydiving. Once on the plane, however, the three men become paralyzed by fear and lie to their friends, only to find themselves forced into a corner when Rebecca recommends the closeted cowards use their newfound hobby to promote the bar. There's also the great fun of psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) and his acerbic wife Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth). The highbrow couple is the perfect counterpoint to the rest of the Cheers gang, especially in Norm, Is That You?. It turns out that Norm can do more than sit at a barstool when the Cranes hire him to be their painter. Soon the blue-collar, beer-swigging ex-accountant unleashes tremendous talent as an interior decorator. The episode dishes out great jabs at the '80s yuppie culture, especially when Norm must convince prospective clients that he's gay in order to meet their expectations.
The writing is full of wonderful observations from beginning to end and delivers sly social commentary throughout. In response to the tendency to overanalyze a child's behavior, I Kid You Not showcases Carla's brainiac son, Ludlow (Jarrett Lennon), being tutored by the Cranes. Frasier's professional interaction with Ludlow juxtaposes poignantly with Carla's motherly intuitions as they dine in a fine restaurant, only to have the young lad act up and burn Frasier's shoes. Rhea Perlman brings a subtle touch to her portrayal of Carla that is especially effective here, conveying a woman who, in spite of her flaws, is one helluva mother. There's also a great collection of running gags concerning Lilith and Frasier later in the season when Lilith is pregnant, climaxing in the two rejecting modern society and leaving for the wilderness in The Cranemakers (only to discover that rugged individualism isn't all it's cracked up to be).
The seventh season also delivers the quintessential elements of Cheers, such as the gang's rivalry with Gary's Olde Towne Tavern in Bar Wars II: The Woodman Strikes Back and a deeply involved debate over the qualities of The Munsters and The Addams Family in How to Win Friends and Electrocute People. But the reason it stands as my favorite season is the addition of new elements. Finally, after being underutilized for two seasons, Lilith becomes a regular presence in the show. Her astute, take-no-prisoners demeanor prompts Rebecca to enlist her for help in The Gift of the Woodi, where Lilith trains Rebecca to become a domineering businesswoman and virtually creates a clone of herself. The other great addition is Woody's love life. After years of only marginal dating success, Woody falls in love with the company CEO's daughter, Kelly (Jackie Swanson), in Golden Boyd. The two are a perfect match, with the airhead Kelly and the gullible, unsophisticated Woody adorably oblivious to their own silliness.
As usual, the cast is exceptional. Ted Danson continues to successfully play Sam as a clown with occasional moments of wisdom, especially in Hot Rocks, when he finds Rebecca's missing diamond earrings (although his motivations have more to do with finding her zipper). Kirstie Alley also is humorous as the emotionally unstable, unlucky manager. She brings tremendous energy to her role, never overacting the character's eccentricities and bringing a surprising depth to the character as she fights for respect in Don't Paint Your Chicken. The rest of the cast also keeps the laughs coming, especially John Ratzenberger as Cliff. He perfectly captures the nerdy, socially inept personality of the postal worker in Please Mr. Postman, when Cliff meets his match in a trainee as devoted to the USPS as he is.
Yet, so much of what makes Cheers: The Complete Seventh Season a collection of the series' best episodes is the assured direction by James Burrows (who helms all but one of the season's 22 episodes). Burrows paces each episode with skill, letting the punch lines flow naturally. His direction never opts for a cheap laugh, partly due to the intelligent scripts, and the result is a show that brims with authenticity. I've yet to have found a bar in the real world that would allow its employees to ditch out on work as often as the characters do here, but while watching an episode I always feel as if I'm one of the gang... and, yes, I suspect everybody knows my name.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The picture looks awfully good on these episodes, surpassing the syndicated re-runs by light years. Depth, detail, and colors are all strong and there's a nice filmlike look to the picture. However, there are a few shots in One Happy Chappy in a Snappy Serape that are washed out and show some artifacting. This appears to be a result of the original negative being lost, so there is likely no way to avoid it. Otherwise, each episode sports a fine transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 sound mix for each episode continues in the tradition of the previous season sets. There's nothing noteworthy about it, with the bulk of the audio being regulated to the front sound stage. Everything sounds crisp and is audible, giving a nice sense of what the original broadcasts were like.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 88 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Collection, The Brady Bunch Show: The Complete Fourth Season, Charmed: The Complete Third Season, MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season, Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller...Bueller... Edition
Extras Review: Apart from the trailers for The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Collection, The Brady Bunch: The Complete Fourth Season, Charmed: The Complete Third Season, MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller...Bueller... Edition on Disc 1, there is no supplemental material on this set. Closed-captions can be accessed through your television and each disc has a "play all" function.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsQuite possibly the funniest season from television's best sitcom, Cheers: The Complete Seventh Season is a must for all fans of the show. Although the DVD set is light on special features, these 22 episodes are worth every penny.
Nate Meyers 2005-11-15