Friday, December 21, 2012

Leaning Average, Cheers Season Eight Is Still Fun!

The Good: Decent new character interactions, Plot progresses
The Bad: No real superlative acting moments, Most of the characters remain stagnant
The Basics: In Cheers Season Eight, Rebecca Howe gets involved with Robin Colcord and she and Sam have greater conflicts.

It’s a tough thing to keep a show fresh for years on end. Sitcoms especially, notably the ones with stable casts, have difficulty with maintaining interest and originality after years and years of being on the air. So, it is not exactly a surprise that Cheers is more predictable and less original in its eighth season. Cheers Season 8 is good, but its best aspects have to do with the two big serialized elements and outside that, the characters stagnate.

That means, season eight of Cheers is strongest for Carla (surprise, surprise) and Rebecca Howe. Cheers Season Eight is the season where Robin Colcord is introduced and where Carla becomes a widow. The latest in Rebecca’s long string of terrible relationships kicks off with Robin, with whom she has an actual relationship instead of just loving him from afar. Carla loses Eddie and learns a horrible truth about him. Sam, as usual, hits on Rebecca relentlessly, but does not get very far with her.

In the eighth season, the principle characters are:

Sam – After almost getting Rebecca in bed, he tries to get his own bar. Failing that, he becomes obsessed with buying back the bar. After selling his corvette to Lilith, he gets a less masculine car and has to buy it back from her. After not shaving for a day, he comes in and starts a Beard Bet with Norm, Cliff, and Frasier. He, Carla, and Norm enter a boat race on Robin’s boat and find themselves fleeing for their lives when there is a bomb aboard the ship. He resists Robin’s offer to buy him back the bar when he catches the millionaire cheating on Rebecca and is frustrated when Rebecca does not believe him. He ends up representing bad boys on Tea Time With Brenda. When he learns how rotten Robin truly is, he sees his opportunity to help Rebecca (and possibly win back the bad),

Rebecca Howe – After having vivid sexual dreams about Sam, she meets and begins dating Robin Colcord, a wealthy businessman. She continues to give Norm business advice and she goes to Carla, of all people, for advice on how to keep Robin interested, especially when she doesn’t have sex with Robin for most of the season. When she takes Carla’s advice on how to spice up the relationship, she and Sam end up trapped in Robin’s high security apartment. She gets into a competition for Robin’s love after Sam outs Robin as a cheater. When she learns how much Robin has been using her for his business dealings, she is heartbroken,

Woody – Continues dating the filthy rich Kelly and gets a set painting job with the theater company he works with. When he gets an acting opportunity, he freaks out when his co-star tries to express passion for him, in the part. When Kelly’s mother hits on him heavily, he freaks out, but manages to stay faithful to Kelly and himself. When he ends up in Hairspray, he gets very uncomfortable about doing the nude scene. He shaves his head as part of the anti-prank against Gary’s,

Cliff Clavin – His ex-girlfriend who ran away to Canada returns and he faces a bout of hysterical blindness. In order to win the beard contest, he glues on a beard using an industrial adhesive. He auditions for, and gets on, Jeopardy! when it does its East Coast appearance. He gets strapped onto the new mechanical bull Cheers! gets and goes for the world record. He gets a rash and gets a medicine which give him manboobs. He also shaves his head when Cheers has its usual rivalry with Gary’s,

Frasier – Freaks out over Frederick’s bris. He and Lilith get a male au per for Frederick. He becomes obsessed with his own beard and how it makes him imagine himself to be Sigmund Freud. He loses at Monopoly when Norm tries to teach Woody about economics (Woody, Norm and Cliff all cheat). He ponies up the money for the guys to enter the boat race. He asks Sam to accompany him to the show Lilith is on when she is promoting the book she wrote, and ends up representing good men. He begins to berate Lilith more,

Lilith – After quite a bit of time, she finally gives birth to a son, Frederick. She gets a slew of speeding tickets for the brief time she owns Sam’s car. She writes a book, Good Girls, Bad Boys,

Carla – In an unfortunate turn of events, Eddie is killed and at the funeral, she learns that Eddie was married to another woman, too. When Eddie’s will is read, she expects to get only debts, but soon after, she ends up with $50,000 . . . which she unfortunately agreed to split half with Eddie’s other widow,

And Norm – His business begins to grow, so he hires more employees. They begin to take advantage of him and on Frasier’s advice, he begins to create another personality to impose discipline on his workers. Otherwise, he sits around wisecracking, like usual.

In its eighth season, Cheers falls back on some standards, though many of them happen very late in the season. In fact, the worst of them involves Rebecca. In the final episode of the season, the writers seem to have no clear idea what they want to do with the character, so they give her the personality of Diane Chambers, which makes for an unfortunate aspect to an otherwise worthwhile season finale.

Otherwise, Cheers is more amusing in its eighth season than it is memorably funny. Robin Colcord adds an intriguing character to the mix and allows Rebecca to grow beyond the complete loser she has been for the prior two seasons. However, her character arc and especially Carla’s this season are not particularly funny. Season eight might be more memorable on the character front, but it is less distinctive on the humor end of things.

As far as the acting goes, the cast of Cheers is perfectly honed at this point and the show uses guest performers, like Alex Trebeck, conservatively. Recurring characters like Robin Colcord, played by the fabulous Roger Rees, manage to integrate well with the seasoned cast. But, there are no incredible performances this season; the cast knows their marks, how to hit them and how to pause appropriately for the laughter they know they will get. Beyond that, the season affords none of them incredible chances for growth or showcasing real range.

Good, but not great, Cheers Season eight shows some serious wear as an aging sitcom.

For other works with Roger Rees, please visit my reviews of:
The Prestige
The Pink Panther
The West Wing


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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