I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season Four: 1985-86
1985-86: THE FOURTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 23.7 (5th place)
In the fourth year, Woody Harrelson joins Cheers's cast as the
new bartender, Woody Boyd. Peter Casey and David Lee are the season's
producers, along with Heide Perlman and David Angell. Writers Cheri
Eichen and Bill Steinkellner are the executive story consultants for
Sam tracks Diane to a convent, where she's taken to scrubbing floors
in penance for the reckless debauchery of her recent European spree.
Frasier Crane, dumped by Diane and now at his lowest ebb, has
finally earned a place at Cheers, where he will spend the better part
of the fourth season nursing his wounds.
Woody begins a mysterious eating binge after his hometown girlfriend
pays a surprise visit.
After Nick Colasanto's death in the third season, the producers tackled
the delicate challenge of replacing the well-loved actor who had become
firmly identified with the role of Cheers's bartender. Newcomer Harrelson's
Woody Boyd bore little outward resemblance to Colasanto. Yet, like the
Coach before him, the new bartender provided Cheers with a marshmallow
center that took the sting off the show's occasionally bitter sarcasm.
As Les Charles observed, "Our humor tends to have a hard edge. On Cheers,
if you take that sweet and innocent guy away, it gets a little dark
in the bar."
After she creates a lively fantasy life about the owner of a lost jacket,
Diane rashly arranges a blind date with her imagined Prince Charming.
Carla hopes that the allure of Sam's bachelor lifestyle will dissuade
her teenage son from his premature marriage plans.
Diane dreams that the ex-con who once tried to strangle her is hiding
out in Cheers's cellar.
The long-running saga of Andy Andy apparently comes to an end when
the maladjusted murderer returns to Cheers as a healthy and honorable
citizen. Alas, as it turns out, the unlikely events are merely part
of a dream-within-a-dream that also features Diane's unlikely fantasy
of Sam as a culture vulture with a pipe and smoking jacket.
Sam is understandably upset when Diane borrows $500, only to squander
the cash on an Ernest Hemingway first edition.
The guys concoct an imaginary lonely hearts pen pal for Carla, but
the ruse backfires when she rejects a real life prospect in favor of
her dream date.
Norm and his neighbor's wife jump to conclusions about their spouses;
and Diane is incensed when Sam describes her as his "former love bunny"
on a radio show.
Even when confronted with his wife's adultery, Norm maintains his
usual aplomb, though he does eventually leave his barstool--a sure sign
of emotional upheaval for the uncommonly sedentary drinker. The burly
accountant actually reveals a wistful side when he tells Woody a tender
anecdote about the football game where he first set eyes on the cheerleader
he would one day marry. But Woody is more interested in who won the
game--a gag, typical of Cheers, that undercuts the sentiment
at the precise moment before it grows leaden.
David Angell's script is refreshing in another way. Somehow, he's
fashioned a script about adultery without resorting to any of the idiotic
clichés that have rescued errant sitcom wives from their husbands'
wrath since the dawn of the cathode ray tube: Vera wasn't secretly
planning Norm's surprise party; she wasn't mistakenly overheard
rehearsing lines from a play; nor was the man she'd been seeing really
a TV producer planning to spotlight Norm on This Is Your Life.
She actually was planning to cheat on poor Norm, but everything is resolved
so that Norm, Vera, and the neighbor's wife are all allowed their full
measure of dignity.
When Woody freezes up during the crucial frame of the Cheers bowling
tournament, Diane takes it upon herself to rescue the bar's wounded
Diane joins Sam and his new girlfriend on their first date; and Cliff
is reunited with his long-lost father.
Sam is flattered when Diane's psychology class observes him as a case
study in modern human sexuality.
Inspired by his success in the Cheers football pool, Woody bets his
entire life savings on an impossible long shot.
Sam's ego takes a beating when he donates his retired baseball jersey
to a charity auction--and no one bids on it.
As part of her latest psychology experiment, Diane dupes the gang at
Cheers--and then faces the anxiety of awaiting their certain revenge.
To lift Frasier's sagging spirits from a deep depression, Sam and Diane
agree to pose as lovers once more--with dire consequences.
Cliff's in double trouble when Diane and Carla each consents to be
his date for the mailman's ball.
Sam's campaign to salvage Frasier's shrinking self-respect takes an
unexpected turn after the bartender fixes him up with a woman who is
guaranteed to be a sure thing.
Norm discovers that a co-worker is having an affair with the boss's
wife and wonders if he should use the information to gain a promotion.
Sam refuses to acknowledge that he's not as spry as he once was, until
he lands in the hospital from injuries he got on the racquetball court.
Carla wants to win a dance contest in her old neighborhood so badly
that she's willing to consider a temporary reunion with her ex-husband,
The writers frequently alluded to Carla's Terpsichorean passion--an
enthusiasm shared by actress Rhea Perlman, who regularly devoted one
lunch hour a week to tap-dance lessons on the studio lot.
Sam and Diane get a chance to live dangerously when a daredevil pilot
abandons them at the controls of his plane in midair.
To brighten Diane's spirits, the gang at Cheers grudgingly attends
an evening at the opera.
Sam takes on a new bartender and then reluctantly gives Woody notice
when he discovers that he can't afford to keep them both.
Carla and Diane are each concerned when Sam's fling with a brash lady
politician starts to develop into something more serious.
Diane had good reason to fret: Kate Mulgrew's Janet Eldridge was the
first woman to pose a real threat to her relationship with Sam. "We
wanted Sam genuinely involved with someone other than Diane," explained
writer Glen Charles. "Rather than just having them say they loved
each other, we let it run three episodes so that it would mean a little
Janet reveals a jealous streak when she insists that Sam fire Diane
and sever his ties with the barmaid once and for all.
The character of strong, confident Janet Eldridge brings out colors
we hadn't before seen in Diane--or in Carla either. Rarely have our
sympathies for Diane been so deeply felt as when we spy her huddling
under the bar after she overhears Sam's resolution to dump her--abandoned
and painfully alone. Oddly, Sam echoes a similar emotion in the show's
closing moments. After Diane has made the first of her grand exits,
he cranes his neck for one last, longing glance at the woman who has
haunted his every waking hour for the previous four years.
After Sam and Diane create a public scene during Janet's press conference,
the councilwoman develops serious doubts about her future with the bartender.
Diane stages her most grandiose exit yet in a scene that slyly encapsulates
the slapstick sadomasochism that has plagued their relationship from
the start. As the TV cameras roll, Diane storms out of the bar--dragging
Sam after her by the neck--before she abruptly slams the door on him,
and Cheers, forever.
Or at least until the start of the next season.
In the show's final moments, Sam picks up the phone to tender a weary
marriage proposal to the unseen voice on the other end. Of course, the
cliff-hanger leaves us dangling--but few fans of the show were surprised
at the top of the fifth year when Sam greeted Diane to replay for another
season the sublime agony that only those two seemed to understand.