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Paramount Home Video presents

Cheers: The Complete Eighth Season (1989-90)

Woody: You know, I always modeled myself after you. Well, I mean, not the way you're always hung up on your looks, that's kind of shallow, really. And not the chasing after women part, because that's kinda silly. But the other part.
Sam: There is no other part.
Woody: Yeah, there is, Sam. There's a part of you that's always lookin' out for your friends. I mean that's the thing about you that's made you my hero. But now, leaving Miss Howe on the hook like that, I may have to go back to my old hero: St. Thomas Aquinas.- Woody Harrelson, Ted Danson

Stars: Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Other Stars: Bebe Neuwirth, Roger Rees, Jackie Swanson, Tony Di Benedetto, Peter Schreiner, Al Rosen, Webster Williams, Valeria Hartman, Alan Koss, Annie Golden, Eric Allan Kramer, Cynthia Stevenson, Rob Moran, Gordon Hunt, Victoria Hoffman, Raymond L. Flynn, Monty Ash, Laura Robinson, Anne DeSalvo, Eric Christmas, Kevin Conroy, Thomas Hayden Church, Michael Currie, Jay Robinson, Rick Podell, Lisa Kudrow, Jeffrey Richman, Alexis Smith, Stack Pierce, Dietrich Bader, Alex Trebek, Greg E. Davis, Gail O'Grady, Bill Medley, Valeria Karasek, Melendy Britt, Bill Geisslinger, Richard Doyle, Robert Galls, Mark Arnott, Phyllis Katz, Lorelle Brina, Donna Fuller, Marsha Kramer, Marti Muller, Audrey Rapoport, Robert Machray, Tim Donoghue, Georgia Brown, Kevin Conroy, Michel Rupert, Christine Cavanaugh, Eric Bruskotter, Jonathan McMurtry, Eden Bodnar
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual innuendos)
Run Time: 10h:19m:33s
Release Date: 2006-06-13
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

Is there really any need to review Cheers any more? Unless you haven't owned a TV for the past 25 years, there's pretty much no way you haven't been exposed to this beloved sitcom either during its original 11-season run or during through its ceaseless syndication started back when the Earth cooled. The fact that on a number of cable stations, as well as numerous local stations, fans can still get a daily fix speaks for itself. This program isn't going away for quite some time...hell, considering NBC's dismal ratings right now, maybe they'll try to revive the show. (Actually, consider this the official start of the "Bring Cheers Back" petition).

As the eighth season begins in The Improbable Dream (Part 1), Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley) finds herself still managing the bar in spite of all her efforts to rise the corporate ladder. What's worse than her career's perpetual state of stillness is that now she is dreaming naughty thoughts about the world's best bartender/sexaholic, Sam Malone (Ted Danson). Such information must never be revealed to the public, for it would humiliate Rebecca. Yet, there's no way around it, Sam finds out and puts his motor in the water to find that perfect canal into Rebecca's bed. Just as Sam's years of hard work are about to pay off, billionaire Robin Colcord (Roger Reese) arrives on the scene to throw a wrench into the gears.

As usual, the writing staff uses the season premiere as a perfect starting point for the whole season. By introducing Robin, the writers bring a new direction to the show that makes the eighth season every bit as fresh as the first. Now that Sam's plans for Rebecca are put on hold, he focuses his energy on buying the bar back. In The Two Faces of Norm, the man gives up his corvette in order to save money, however he simultaneously gives up a major babe magnet and must satisfy his sexual cravings without the aid of shiny fiberglass. However, thanks to the support of his patrons, Sam manages to have a successful year at Cheers. With assistant bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson) struggling to grasp inflation, the gang enters into a hilarious game of Monopoly to teach him the true nature of economics: if you're honest, you're screwed. Beer-guzzling Norm Peterson (George Wendt) certainly learns this lesson in Feeble Attraction, when his decent firing of lonely secretary Doris (Cynthia Stevenson) causes her to fall in love and stalk him.

Though, by this point, Norm should be used to having a stalker. After all, gas bag Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) nary gives the fellow customers a moment's peace. What Is...Cliff Clavin? features the mailman extraordinaire on Jeopardy, only to see Cliff blow an insurmountable lead and channel all his pent-up energy on poor Alex Trebek. Thankfully, the world gets a break from Cliff when he is stuck on a mechanical bull in Woody or Won't He. As Cliff clings to the contraption for dear life, Woody must fend off the advances of girlfriend Kelly's (Jackie Swanson) mom. Desperate not to offend the only member of the family not to disavow him, Woody struggles to keep his cool at a dinner party, only to have things turn out so awkward that there's no way to describe the comedic effect.

One of the most impressive things about Cheers is how it manages to take serious subject matter and transform it into comedy. Take Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) and wife Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) in The Stork Brings a Crane. Several weeks overdue, Lilith finally delivers their son. Watching Frasier try to induce labor is one of the most hilarious things in the show's history, as is the scene that erupts in Death Takes a Holiday on Ice. The cantankerous waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman) finds herself a widow after a fluke accident kills husband Eddie during an ice show. While at the funeral, the priest calls the widow forward, only to find both Carla and Gloria (Anne DeSolvo) approaching the casket. It seems, despite the Catholic ceremony, that Eddie must have fancied himself a makeshift Mormon. Every bit the spitfire Carla is, Gloria isn't one to shy from a fight and the funeral turns into a rollicking good brawl. Ah, I can picture the guest book now, covered completely in blood.

While virtually each episode can stand on its own, the storyline concerning Robin truly brings these 26 installments into perfect harmony. It's been such a long time since Rebecca has gone to bed with a man that she stalls on sleeping with her new beau, until Finally! (Part 1). Unfortunately, it turns out Robin's patience with Rebecca was due to having a few ladies on the side. Now Sam's friendship to Rebecca is put to the test as Robin offers to buy him the bar in exchange for his silence in Finally! (Part 2). The writing never fails to bear in mind the relationships of the characters. Whether it is Frasier suffering an identity crisis in Severe Crane Damage due to Lilith's provocative findings concerning bad boys like Sam or Carla's difficulty at resuming dating in The Ghost and Mrs. Lebec, the quick-witted jabs strike a nice balance with the tender moments. There's a sense that the gang genuinely cares for each other and that they combine to be an ad hoc family.

Aiding the writing is the fine direction by the show's directing staff. Featuring the likes of James Burrows and Andy Ackerman, camera moves efficiently introduce characters and effectively establish the geography of every scene. There are even some fantastic moments of flash, such as the beginning of Severe Crane Damage when the whole bar starts jamming to Queen's We Will Rock You. However, the directors know not to get in the way of the writing and cast. The editing and camera enable the actors to deliver their lines with remarkable fluidity, making the audience feel like we're occupying a seat between Norm and Cliff.

As Cheers: The Complete Eighth Season heads into its final episodes, there have been as many laughs as pints of liquor consumed. Thanks to the DVD medium, those laughs will keep coming even if my petition doesn't succeed.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I must admit, the image transfer here doesn't seem to be as nice as the season seven release last year. The picture quality is largely superior to the syndicated re-runs shown on TV, but there are numerous instances of print defects that I detected in multiple episodes. Additionally, some scenes (such as when Norm and Cliff are leaving in The Ghost and Mrs. Lebec) appear to be missing the original negatives and come across quite as quite murky and grainy. Largely, it is a positive experience, though, with accurate skin tones, sharp detail, and a fine film-like look.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 English mix sounds nice and clean on each episode. Nothing is really noteworthy here, though when played in Pro Logic the show's main theme does occupy the rear channels nicely. Still, this is a fittingly front heavy mix that has audible dialogue and represents the original broadcast experience faithfully.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 105 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season, Charmed: The Complete Third Season, The Brady Bunch: The Complete Fourth Season
Packaging: Digipak
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Apart from the inclusion of trailers for MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season, Charmed: The Complete Third Season, and The Brady Bunch: The Complete Fourth Season on Disc 1, there is no supplemental material for this set. Closed-captions can be accessed through your TV set, but there are no subtitle options on the DVD proper.

Extras Grade: D-

Final Comments

Cheers: The Complete Eighth Season continues in the line of the previous season sets. While lacking in extras and delivering simply adequate transfers of the episodes, it still is worth a purchase for the show's fan base.

Nate Meyers 2006-06-30