Monday, April 07, 2008

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, K-E-L-L-Y...

So the other day, while searching for random funny YouTube links, I happened along Cliff Clavin's epic performance on "Jeopardy!" from "Cheers" (watch it all the way through and tell me Cliff didn't deserve the money; none of those people were ever in his kitchen), and it got me thinking: What other "Cheers" clips could I find?

"Cheers" was, is, and will likely always be my favorite traditional three-camera sitcom.(*) It had great characters, great dialogue (set-up/joke/set-up/joke isn't nearly as annoying when the jokes are this funny), an ensemble that meshed perfectly together, one of the few great endings for a long-running great comedy, and one of the best theme songs ever.

(*) I recognize that this is a generational thing to an extent. If I was a little older, I might favor "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" or "Taxi" (or, if even older, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" or "The Honeymooners" or "I Love Lucy"), but "Cheers" was the one I grew up on.(**) A while back, I was lucky enough to have dinner with Emmy-winning scribe and jack of all trades Ken Levine, along with another critic 10 years my senior. The other guy mostly wanted to hear stories about "M*A*S*H," while I kept asking about "Cheers." Fortunately, Ken was gracious enough to indulge us both. (And if you go to his blog, linked above, you can read plenty of those stories yourself. The man's a giver.)

(**) I should also say that I could be convinced that "Seinfeld" was the better comedy of the two, but even though it used the proscenium stage and a studio audience, its structure was so far-removed from what we think of when we think of those classic sitcoms that I could argue it was, like "How I Met Your Mother," a single-camera sitcom in three-camera drag.

But I'm getting off-point here. And that point is to link to a bunch of classic "Cheers" clips while they're still available. Some are quite long (Woody's home movie runs more than 9 minutes), others very brief (Frasier demonstrating his bad boy qualities), but all represent the many different ways "Cheers" was so wonderful for so long.Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

MY husband still sings "Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, K-E-L-L-Y.." every time someone named Kelly is mentioned around our house.

Ken Levine just linked to Cliff Clavin on Jeopordy from his blog on Sat too.

Anonymous said...

I always have a soft spot for Cheers, I can't really explain it. Maybe it's because I grew up on it, too -- though I don't have a TON of fond memories of junior high, so...

It could be that I love Boston, and while the show didn't make a TON of use of its setting, it didn't ignore it either. (seemed like they once had planned to do more, what with Sam being an ex-Sox player and Cliff and Carla being resident blue collar Bostonians, but by the time Diane was gone it really could have been set anywhere)

Still, the Diane years were classic TV, and the final season (where Woody becomes a city councilman) is great. And the finale may be the best series finale ever -- great THEATER, let alone great TV.

Anonymous said...

My husband surprised me with the DVD set of all 11 (!!!) seasons of Cheers. I was a bit taken aback at first -- if asked to choose a gift, I don't know that Cheers would have sprung to mind (much as I always loved it).

One of the best gifts I ever got. Ever.

PS. I agree that the finale is one of the best ever. As was the pilot -- hilarious, and the perfect setup of every single character. ("He's at his mime class.") Sheer genius.

Anonymous said...

I can't look at the links from here. Is one of those "Manchild in Beantown Redux"? I love that bit.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I can't look at the links from here. Is one of those "Manchild in Beantown Redux"? I love that bit.

No, just the original "Manchild in Beantown," complete with Norm at the Hungry Heifer and Frasier at the window.

Eric Fingerhut said...

Am I remembering wrong, or does this clip not have the great line Woody utters before the song--"I'm not a singer, I'm more of a song stylist.""?

"I'm running with scissors"--that's the greatest. Didn't Frasier then say he was going out to pet stray dogs?

JJB said...

I can't youtube at work, access denied, so I don't know if these are available, but I love the snipe hunting episode and the Screaming Viking bit. "Would you like the cucumber bruised?"

Anonymous said...

I loved Cheers when I was younger - I was only 8 when it started, but I saw a lot of the old ones in reruns - but watching it now I find I'm disturbed by a lot of Sam's behaviour. A character could never get away with that stuff now and still be "a good guy." I mean, House says far worse things to Cuddy than Sam ever said to Diane or Rebecca, but he's not supposed to be likeable.

As for the finale, it certainly was pretty good, but for my money the best sitcom finale ever was from The Larry Sanders Show. Apples and oranges, I realize, but "Flip" set a bar that nothing since has met, for me.

Anonymous said...

Great post Alan,

I'm also a long standing "Cheers" admirer. It was easily the funniest show on television during its time. The show only got funner when Kirstie Alley joined the cast(although the show seemed less sentimental). The 2 seasons with the "Robin Colcord" storyline were among the funniest things ever on t.v. Only the final season was a dissapointment, (when most of the writers had left) Woody becoming a councilman storyline was dumb and Sam actually destroying Gary's bar stretched credibility to the breaking point (Sam would be in jail). The final 20 minutes of the final episode were great and very moving but I remember the rest of the episode as very ho-hum (an hour and a half episode I believe). When it left the air I thought there would never be a show as funny as it again but then "Seinfeld" came along (or it hit it's prime just as "Cheers" left the airwaves). In a way I still prefer "Cheers". "Cheers" was actually the first show "about nothing" especially during it's latter years.

The sad thing is how difficult it is to find a "Cheers" re-run these days. For some reason it just doesn't have the staying power that "Seinfeld" has.

The DVD treatments by Paramount have been horrible. No real special features or anything. Worse, it took them 2 years to finally release season 9 and who knows if they will ever actually release seasons 10 and 11 (to the poster above, seasons 10 and 11 have not been released, you have episodes copied off television) Paramount won't even pay for the song rights in the episodes. Rebecca's favorite song "You've lost that loving feeling" is actually replaced despite it being of major importance in a couple of episodes.

In any event Alan, thanks for posting this. We need a real in-depth look-back at "Cheers" from you!

Anonymous said...


You have to watch this. Cliff sells everyone a pair of squeaky shoes! One of the funniest moments in Cheers history. You have to add it to the list.

Anonymous said...

Back on one of the Compuserve forums about 20 years ago, one poster announced that he'd just been to a Cheers taping and, without spoiling it, he guaranteed that what he had seen would eventually be recognized as a classic sitcom moment.

It turned out to be "I'm running with scissors!" Can't argue with that.