It's time to head back to that little bar in Boston where everybody knows your name as Paramount releases Season Two of Cheers onto DVD. Arguably the funniest sitcom in the history of television, Cheers was one of those rare shows that actually got better the longer it went on, and Season Two starts to solidify the characters of Sam Malone, Diane Chambers, Ernie "Coach" Pantusso, Carla LeBec, Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson into television immortality.
Here's what to expect on this Season Two boxed set:
"Power Play" - Season Two picks up right where Season One left off, with Sam and Diane finally admitting their attraction to one another. As Season Two begins, Sam and Diane will finally become a couple…leading to a whole new round of conflict between the two.
"Li'l Sister Don't Cha" - Carla's off to the hospital to have (yet another!) baby – so filling in for her at Cheers is her sister (also played by Rhea Perlman). But when Cliff falls for her, how will the guys at the bar let him know that Carla's sis is a little "looser" than she appears to be?!
"Personal Business" - Diane decides that she needs to find a job elsewhere, but is shocked to find out that others want to hire her more for her appearance than her skills…leading to a showdown with Sam as to why he originally hired her.
"Homicidal Ham" - The convicted murderer that Sam set Diane up on a blind date with in Season One returns to hold up the bar. But it's soon discovered that he is just lonely and needs help. Diane agrees to help train him in his passion: acting. However, it's no act when he finds out that Diane and Sam are an item…and becomes insanely jealous!
"Sumner's Return" - Diane's fiancé, who ditched her at Cheers in the pilot episode returns to try and woo his former love back. Sam tries to prove he is worthy of Diane by launching a War and Peace reading marathon.
"Affairs of the Heart" - A customer at the bar falls madly in love with Carla…but she's convinced that he can't be as nice as he seems and must be hiding something from her.
"Old Flames" - Sam's pal and TV sportscaster Dave Richards (Fred Dryer) makes a bet with Sam that he and Diane will break up within 24 hours. Sam resists temptation, but Diane is less than pleased with how far Sam actually went.
"Manager Coach" - Coach agrees to manage the local Little League team…but he turns into a real tyrant, and Sam and Diane have to convince him to let up on the youngsters.
"They Called Me Mayday" - Dick Cavett stops for a drink at Cheers and tells Sam that he knows a publisher who may be interested in his life story. So Sam and Diane team up to write about Sam's old baseball-playing days.
"How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Call You Back" - When Diane gets Sam tickets to a big fight, he blurts out "I love you", which leads to both of them reanalyzing their relationship.
"Just Three Friends" - An old friend of Diane's (Markie Post) comes to town for a visit, but when Sam suggests that she has the hots for him, it begins to drive Diane wild with jealousy.
"Where There's A Will" - In one of my favorite Season Two episodes, an elderly gentleman (George Gaynes) who has been told he has six months to live leaves $100,000 in his will to the gang at Cheers. Of course, this leads to madness and greed as everyone fights over how much of the bounty they will get and what they will do with it.
"Battle of the Exes" - Carla's ex-husband (Dan Hedaya) invites her to his upcoming wedding. So in an attempt to make her ex jealous, Carla gets Sam to join her…posing as her boyfriend!
"No Help Wanted" - Sam enlists Norm's accounting skills to help him with his taxes, but begins to have second thoughts when Norm comes up with a huge refund for Sam.
"And Coachie Makes Three" - Sam and Diane can't seem to get any private time together thanks to Coach, so they try to fix him up with a girlfriend.
"Cliff's Rocky Moment" - In another very funny episode from Season Two, Cliff's words of wisdom finally get him in trouble with another bar patron.
"Fortune and Men's Weight" - Coach brings a weight machine that gives out fortunes to its users. When everyone's fortunes start coming true, Diane says it's just coincidence…until her own fortune predicts a breakup between her and Sam.
"Snow Job" - Sam is getting ready for his annual ski trip, but when Diane starts to make him feel guilty about going, Sam must once again evaluate his feelings for her versus his old way of life.
"Coach Buries A Grudge" - Coach prepares for the funeral of an old baseball buddy, but when he learns that the now-deceased player once made a pass at his wife, Coach wants to call the whole thing off.
"Norman's Conquest" - Norm must come to terms about the feelings he may still have for his wife when the gang at the bar talk him into making a pass at a girl Norm is working with who seems to like him.
"I'll Be Seeing You (Parts 1 & 2)" - In this two-part finale of Season Two, Sam is named one of the most eligible bachelors in Boston, which of course angers Diane. To try and make it up to her, Sam hires a renowned painter (Christopher Lloyd) to do Diane's portrait…but things go awry when Sam hates the guy so much he doesn't want him to paint Diane – which naturally Diane agrees to do anyway!
Presented in the full-frame format, the quality of the picture here is quite sharp for a TV show from 1983-1984, and on par with the quality of the picture on the Season One set. There is little evidence of any grain or dirt on the print, and while the show does have a somewhat "soft" look to it – remember that Cheers was one of the few shows shot on film, rather than video.
Presented in 2.0 Dolby, the audio here is quite good. For some reason or another, once again (as was the case with Season One) the opening title sequence seems to be much lower than the rest of the episode.
One would think there would have to be a wealth of Cheers material available for the bonus sections of these DVDs, but once again Paramount gives us slim pickings. My biggest problem with the bonus materials on these sets is that they primarily consist of clips from the same episodes that are already on the set. If we can see these moments in the episodes themselves, why do we need to see them again?
Anyway, here's a rundown of the bonus features…all of which appear on Disc Four:
Strictly Top Shelf: The Guys Behind The Bar - This 10-minute featurette is mainly made up of clips from Season Two, but also includes snippets of archived 1983 interviews with Ted Danson, Shelley Long and show creators James Burrows, Glen Charles and Les Charles from Entertainment Tonight. There's also some brand-new interview moments from Ted Danson, George Wendt and Rhea Perlman.
Cliff's Notes: The Wisdom of Cliff Clavin - A four-minute segment featuring Cliff's best lines from Season Two, plus a few brief comments about John Ratzenberger from George Wendt.
Carla The Comeback Queen: Insults For Every Occasion - Three and a half minutes worth of Carla from Season Two, including a brief comment from Ted Danson.
Di Another Day: Diane Chambers From A-Z - Three and a half minutes worth of Diane's best moments from Season Two, with a brief comment from Ted Danson.
Gag Reel: Bloopers From Season 2 - Although this only runs four and a half minutes, it's my favorite bonus feature on this DVD set. This is the blooper reel from Season Two – one that was most likely shown at the season-ending cast party – and includes some pretty good laughs. The quality of the picture here is pretty poor, but since I had never seen this footage before, it brought the biggest laughs as I reviewed this Season Two set.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Even though I wish Paramount would spruce up the bonuses with more material and perhaps a few episode commentaries from the cast and crew, the quality of the shows (both in entertainment value and in the video/audio transfer they get here) are more than enough to highly recommend this set.