The fourth season of Cheers continues to revolve around the daily lives of the various patrons and employees of Boston bar Cheers. The series offers plenty of hilarious slapstick comedy, and is without a doubt, a solid comedy. Overall, this season offers plenty of great episodes, which are unfortunately not nearly as funny as earlier seasons. However, the season still offers a lot of great laughs.
The fourth season includes the same cast from previous seasons: Sam Malone (Ted Danson), a former professional-baseball-player-turned-bar-owning-playboy, Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), an upscale-wannabe-elitist-turned-waitress, Carla Lozupone Tortelli LeBec (Rhea Perlman), an ill-tempered straight to the point veteran waitress, Cliff Clavin, Jr (John Ratzenberger), a mail carrier who still lives with his mother, and Norman Peterson (George Wendt), a rather large guy who'd rather be drinking than working. In addition, Kelsey Grammar guest stars as Dr. Frasier Crane, a young version of the neurotic psychiatrist that we've come to know and love in the hit sitcom Frasier.
The exception is that during the third season Nicholas Colasanto passed away and his role Ernie "Coach" Pantusso was written out of the series. At the beginning of season four, Woody Harrelson filled the void as Woodrow Boyd, a country bumpkin bartender. While Harrelson offers a fairly comical character, Colasanto always filled the oblivious to the obvious role with an indefinable grace. Still, the new character fits in well with the rest of the cast. It becomes more apparent in later seasons once Harrelson gets fully accustomed to his role.
The stories in this season are episodic, but there are a few light story arcs. The season opens with an episode that builds from the season three's cliffhanger. Within a few minutes of that first episode, it's apparent that you are in for a treat. It's an extremely comical story that concludes a dramatic and very uncomfortable situation for a couple of regulars at Cheers. The unfortunate part is that after the episode, the season's momentum completely changes. The problem is that the situations aren't as funny as in previous seasons. One reason is that Harrelson's character is being introduced and integrated to the series, and it takes a little time to get completely accustomed to his role. There is also the aftermath of the highly dramatic situation from season three, which feels way too unrealistic in the manner it is handled by some of the characters.
One of the notable episodes includes "Love Thy Neighbor". In it, Norm and his neighbor's wife find evidence that suggests that their significant others are having an affair. It's an odd episode, because we learn that Norm really does care for his wife, despite his constant jokes about not caring. Another great episode (my favorite) is "Don Juan Is Hell". In this episode, Diane writes a research paper that is based upon her relationship with Sam. In it, his lifestyle is portrayed as the Don Juan Syndrome. "Second Time" offers another good episode with the first appearance of Dr. Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth) and also guest stars Jennifer Tilly. Towards the end of the season, we get a wonderful three part episode that guest stars Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager). While the multi-part episode is very funny, its ending feels a little too much like the ending of season three. Overall, there were some good episodes in this season, but not great.
Despite that I was not as impressed with this season when compared to earlier seasons I still feel that season four is still a cut above the rest. It offers some great moments, which continue to shine through the series' superb writing and tremendous performances. The series also continues to provide greatness through smaller details like Cliff's moronic knowledge about things that no one cares about and Norm's catchy one-liners. While not the series' best season, it still was very good. It's a great look into slapstick comedy in a place where everybody knows your name.