I knew I had to highlight Cheers. Frasier is good too, but its seasons are an uneven mix of brilliant episodes and episodes that are I guess fine. Cheers is far more consistent. No, not consistent. Maddeningly consistent. It started getting to the point where thought about sticking in all Cheers seasons in an eleven way tie and being done with it. The writing was great right out of the box, it stayed great until the finale. Sam was always around, along with Carla and Norm and Cliff. Coach was a delight until he unfortunately passed away, but then Woody came in and he was a delight too. Diane could be a pain in the ass, then she left and Rebecca could be a pain in the ass too. How does any one season of Cheers stand out?
Simple. The tenth season is the one and only season in which Lilith Sternin is a regular part of the cast. Which seems wrong, you remember her being around for the better part of the show. It’s true, she was heavily featured in many seasons, but as a supporting character to Frasier Crane. If Frasier had a prominent role in an episode, Lilith would be there too, mainly interacting with her husband. Season 10 was the one time Bebe Neuwirth was in the credits as a series regular, so she was contractually obliged to be in episodes that she wouldn’t have had much business being in before. And as much as I’d loved the character in her scenes with Frasier, as a member of the ensemble she is a delight. Carla says something snide, Cliff says something pathetic, in Season 10 and Season 10 alone, Lilith says something cold and dispassionate. It gives the year bit more kick.
What else happens in Season 10? Well now, it’s the one where Sam hits on a lot of women, Carla insults a lot of customers and doesn’t get fired, Norm sits at a barstool and complains about Vera, and Cliff takes the US postal service way too seriously. Come on, man. Cheers is comfort food, you know exactly what you’re going to get, every single episode of every single season, and that’s why we tune in. Season 10 has that little bit of Lilith flavouring, and that’s all it really needs to stand out. It’s Cheers, but just a little bit extra.
Notable Episodes: “Bar Wars V,” one of the biggest and best of the semi-annual showdowns with Gary’s Bar. “Heeeeere’s Cliffy,” an ode to the end of Carson’s tonight show. “An Old Fashioned Wedding,” a manic two part finale worthy of Fawlty Towers and a pre-cursor to Frasier’s great farce episodes.