Binge TV: Try classic ‘Cheers’
This image released by BBC America shows Tatiana Maslany in a scene from "Orphan Black." Maslany was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for her role in the series on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. The 71st annual Golden Globes will air on Sunday, Jan. 12. (AP Photo/BBC America, Steve Wilkie)
George Wendt, right, who portrays Norm Peterson sheds a tear on the set of the popular NBC series, "Cheers," as John Ratzenberger, portraying Cliff Calvin, looks away during a scene while taping the final episode in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 1, 1993. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Oh, I’ve binged.
I’ve done hard time with the women of Orange is the New Black. I’ve sat in the Oval Office as Francis Underwood methodically – and ruthlessly – built his House of Cards. I even endured the pain of being stranded on an island with the crew of Lost. Those tortuous final four seasons were, well, time lost.
These days, I’m wary about jumping into a long-term commitment. The ease of streaming can make a good cliffhanger last all of 10 seconds. And with that temptation, it’s far too easy to fall into the type of rut only Louis CK could admire.
So that’s why I’m setting my sights on the past. I’m going old school with friends I haven’t seen in years. Yes, in a world of digital anonymity, I’m going where everyone knows my name.
Maybe it’s been there all along, but I recently discovered the full slate of Cheers episodes on Netflix – all just a click away. That’s 11 seasons and 275 episodes. Unlike those series mentioned above, I’m not going start to finish. (Okay, I did watch the pilot, but just to analyze the character development – and the hair).
Cheers is on my Mount Rushmore of TV comedies, peering out alongside All in the Family, Taxi and Seinfeld. Like them, Cheers exists in my mind as a collection of memories. I remember the one-liners – “How’s life treating you, Norm?” “Like a baby treats a diaper.” – but I can hardly distinguish one full episode from the next.
So, Wikipedia in hand, I’ve been searching for my favorite one-liners and then tracking down that particular episode on Netflix. Then I wait for the punchline. Sometimes, the memory is more amusing than the original. But mostly, these are just as funny as I remember. Here are just a couple examples.
Season 6, Episode 2: “I on Sports”: Former Major League pitcher Sam Malone fills in as the guest sports anchor on the 6 o’clock news. To boost ratings with younger viewers, he raps his way through his segment. It was an instant classic and, more than 25 years later, the lyrics still perfectly capture the ’80s: “Time to rap about a controversy / Gonna take a stand, won’t show no mercy / Lotta folks says jocks shouldn’t be / Doing the sports news on TV / I don’t wanna hear the latest scores / From a bunch of broadcast school boys / So get your scores from a guy like me / Who knows what it’s like to have a groin injury. A-a-groin, a-a-groin, a-a-groin injury.”
Season 8, Episode 14: “What is . . . Cliff Clavin?”: Our favorite know-it-all mailman actually does know it all through the first two rounds of Jeopardy. But he loses the game, and all dignity, when Alex Trebek won’t accept his hilariously contrived Final Jeopardy answer. “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen.”
I imagine this new pastime will keep me busy for a while. Or at least until season two of Orange is the New Black comes out. Then I’m afraid it’ll be back to my bingeing ways.