I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season Six: 1987-88
1987-88: THE SIXTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 23.4 (3rd place)
Kirstie Alley arrives in the role of bar manager Rebecca Howe at the
start of season six, thus inaugurating a new era in the show's narrative
evolution--an era that is launched under the watchful gaze of Cheers
creators Glen Charles, James Burrows, and Les Charles, who will continue
to serve as the show's executive producers throughout the remaining
seasons. Other prominent architects of the show's sixth-season refurbishing
include returning producers David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee,
executive script consultants Cheri Eichen and Bill Steinkellner, creative
consultant David Lloyd, executive script consultant Bob Ellison, and
executive story editor Phoef Sutton. Tim Berry returns as the show's
co-producer, and Mary Fukuto moves into the role of associate producer,
a position she will maintain throughout the remainder of the show's
Broke and depressed, Sam returns home from an ill-fated sailing trip
to discover that his beloved watering hole is no longer the place it
Upon his return to Cheers, the bartender has difficulty figuring out
what to make of the bar's new no-nonsense manager--a quandary that had
the show's writers equally stymied. "When Glen and Les Charles wrote
the first episode with Kirstie," notes sixth-season producer Peter Casey,
recalling the writing staff's difficult acclimation to the show's latest
addition, "they saw Rebecca as a very cool character, a strong woman--or
at least someone who put up the façade of being a strong businesswoman."
Perhaps a little too strong, suggests Casey, who recalls that, as initially
envisioned, Rebecca's steely edges made the character a less-than-perfect
match for the more relaxed comic atmosphere that prevailed at the bar.
"To be really honest," admits Casey, "we were having trouble figuring
out where we were gonna plumb the humor from this character after the
first five episodes that she was in."
To their great relief, explains Casey, the writers finally experienced
a major breakthrough in their understanding of the character a few weeks
later, during production of the season's sixth episode, "Paint Your
Office." "There's a scene in that one where Rebecca finally opens up
to Norm. They have a nice little chat, and you finally see that there
is a soft side to her character. Once we saw that Rebecca was indeed
a little insecure about what she was doing, the character started to
In the view of Cheers writer Dan Staley, who would join the
show's writing staff in season eight, the most significant element in
Rebecca's comic evolution fell into place only after the show's producers
discovered--and quickly learned to exploit--their leading lady's unique
facility for stage crying. "At some point," observes Staley, "they discovered
that Kirstie could cry a hundred different ways--all of them very funny.
That's when they found out that Kirstie was actually very good at playing
slapstick. And that's when they began to retool the character to fit
these new colors." And so began a character evolution that would, as
Staley notes, eventually prove quite dramatic. "If you look at the Rebecca
character toward the end of the show and compare her to the character
that was introduced in the sixth season, it's almost like you're seeing
two different people."
Sam jeopardizes his already tenuous standing at Cheers when he accepts
an opportunity to moonlight as a TV sportscaster.
Fred Dryer reprises his role as sportscaster Dave Richards, a character
who first appeared on one of the show's earliest episodes. Since losing
the part of Sam Malone to Ted Danson in the show's original casting
sessions, Dryer had become well-known to prime-time audiences as the
star of NBC's long-running adventure series Hunter.
Carla and Eddie's wedding plans appear to be jinxed after the superstitious
pair accidentally catch sight of each other before the ceremony.
Sam is determined to defy the jinx that's cast a pallor over Carla's
wedding plans; and Rebecca anxiously awaits the arrival of the bar's
Norm and Cliff convince a gullible Frasier that Rebecca has designs
Norm begins to see Rebecca in a more sympathetic light after he moves
behind the scenes to paint her private office.
Cliff vows to defend his house from the wrecker's ball, despite his
mother's apparent eagerness to let the bricks fall where they may.
Sam and Woody are talked into offering themselves up as bachelors-for-bid
at a Cheers charity auction.
Amateur thespian Woody is delighted to land the part of Mark Twain,
until he discovers that his convincing portrayal has attracted the attentions
of an elderly patron at Cheers.
Rebecca calls on Sam to serve as her escort when she attends her boss's
latest corporate bash.
Night Court star Harry Anderson returns in his occasional role
as the bar's resident flim-flam man, Harry the Hat. The episode also
features Tom Skerritt's debut as Rebecca's unrequited love interest,
Evan Drake. An actor best-known for playing offbeat leading men in such
films as M*A*S*H and Alien, Skerritt would eventually
earn an Emmy award for his portrayal of small-town sheriff Jimmy Brock
on the CBS drama series Picket Fences.
Cliff gives his date a beauty makeover that proves more effective than
either of them expected; and Rebecca's nerves get frayed after she resolves
to quit smoking.
Seasonal Santa Norm gathers a gaggle of his unruly fellow Kringles
at Cheers; and Sam searches for an eleventh-hour gift for Rebecca.
Cliff enlists an orangutan's help in making a monkey of Norm; and Woody
tries to convince his skeptical pals at the bar that he's landed a role
on Spenser: For Hire.
Spenser: For Hire star Robert Urich appears as himself.
Havoc ensues when Rebecca hires Sam and Woody to help out at a fancy
dinner party that she's catering for her company's chairman of the board.
A love-struck Annie Tortelli fills in for her mother-in-law during
Carla's latest maternity leave.
Sam entertains fantasies of romance on the high seas when he and Rebecca
set sail for a weekend cruise on Evan Drake's yacht.
Frasier wrestles with a bad case of cold feet on the eve of his marriage.
When Evan Drake hires Norm to paint his bedroom, Rebecca spots a golden
opportunity to indulge in a little judicious snooping.
Frasier tries to cure Carla's fear of flying; and Rebecca frets over
an important restaurant critic's review of the bar.
Rebecca is dismayed to discover that Evan Drake has offered Sam an
executive promotion that she'd had her eye on.
When Rebecca pleads poverty in answer to Sam and Woody's request for
a raise, the bartenders resolve to improve the bar's financial profile
by organizing a raffle.
Rebecca and Lilith stage a slumber party in an ill-fated attempt to
lift Carla's sagging spirits.
The Cheers regulars recruit Boston Red Sox player Wade Boggs to help
them wrest the bar's prized bowling trophy back from their arch-rivals
at Gary's Old Towne Tavern.
The show's otherwise nearly unblemished record of casting continuity
was slightly tarnished when the producers cast actor Robert Desiderio
in the role of Gary for this episode, despite the fact the character
had been played by a different actor--Joel Polis--in an earlier episode.
Actually, the show's producers had every intention of bringing the original
actor back for Gary's second appearance, until it was discovered--after
the show had already been locked into the schedule--that Joel Polis
was already booked that week. All of which left the producers little
choice but to cast the equally capable Robert Desiderio, who would continue
to trade off the role of Gary with Polis through the remainder of the
Woody and Sam lock horns in an unlikely competition to determine who
can be first to steal a kiss from the unsuspecting Rebecca.
Sam helps a lovelorn Rebecca express her true feelings to the soon-to-be-departing