Cheers: The Final Season
Directed by James Burrows et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 648 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
MSRP: $ 42.99
Release Date: January 27, 2009
Review Date: January 19, 2009
Cheers is one of the handful of long-running shows which began its television life on the verge of cancellation (other notable examples: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Cagney and Lacey). By the end of its eleventh and final season, it had ranked as high as number one (two years earlier) and went out a winner: finishing the season as the eighth most popular show on television. The ensemble comedy garnered another couple of Emmys during its final season bringing its eleven year total to twenty-eight. Among comedy shows up to that time, only The Mary Tyler Moore Show had won more. The final broadcast episode garnered an audience of over ninety million people.
As for the season’s stories, they pretty much resemble what had been going on at the Boston pub for the previous ten seasons. Each member of the lovable cast of characters had one or two episodes in the spotlight even while other events were going on with the other characters. The season got off to an auspicious start with the spoiled bar manager Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley) burning the bar down with a carelessly tossed cigarette into a trash can. Though it must have been tempting to spend several episodes at other fancier bars where barmaid Carla (Rhea Perlman) might have gone to work, the Cheers bar was back in business by the next episode. Owner Sam Malone (Ted Danson) continued his easy-going mix of ego and uncertainty, while indolent bar patrons Norm Peterson (George Wendt) and Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) were always at their unusual posts passing judgments on everything they see and hear. Newly married bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson) gets elected to city council before the season is over, and psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) ends his seven year marriage to his unfaithful wife Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), well, sort of. Though the show was filled with memorable characters, it’s little wonder that Dr. Frasier Crane was selected as the one for a spinoff. Kelsey Grammer’s performance is just that extra bit more noteworthy than the bar’s other patrons making NBC’s decision to begin a new show featuring him a stroke of genius creating a sitcom that matched its parent show in years of longevity and surpassed it in Emmy wins.
The cast is, as always, superb, bouncing their eccentric characterizations off one another with the expertise of true masters. Ted Danson won the only acting Emmy from the ensemble during this last season (though Alley and Perlman were also nominated as were guest actors Tom Berenger and Shelley Long). A couple of digs at Shelley Long’s flighty Diane Chambers character were strategically placed during the season, always to loud appreciation from the studio audience. Among other famous faces who showed up during the final season’s episodes were Robert Prosky, Keene Curtis, Dana Delaney, Roger Rees, Dan Hedaya, Harry Anderson, Pat Hingle, Peter MacNichol, Frances Sternhagen, Spanky MacFarlane, George Hearn, and Anthony Heald. Two surprising actors that popped up during the final year were John Mahoney (as a jingle composer) and Peri Gilpin (as a local newspaper reporter). Both would be tapped for the spinoff Frasier playing very different characters from the ones they played on Cheers.
Here are the episodes which make up the final season of Cheers. These are spread over four discs in the set.
1 - The Little Match Girl
2 - The Beer Is Always Greener
3 - King of Beers
4 - The Magnificent Six
5 - Do Not Foresake Me, ‘O My Postman
6 - Teaching With the Enemy
7 - The Girl in the Plastic Bubble
8 - Ill-Gotten Gaines
9 - Feelings…Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
10 - Daddy’s Little Middle-Aged Girl
11 - Love Me, Love My Car
12 - Sunday Dinner
13 - Norm’s Big Audit
14 - It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Bar
15 - Loathe and Marriage
16 - Is There a Doctor in the House?
17 - The Bar Manager, The Shrink, His Wife, & Her Lover
18 - The Last Picture Show
19 - Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey
20 - Woody Gets an Election
21 - It’s Lonely on the Top
22 - Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses (Parts 1 and 2)
23 - The Guy Can’t Help It
24 - One for the Road (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
The program’s 1.33:1 aspect ratio is faithfully replicated in these DVD transfers. Even without anamorphic enhancement, the transfers are very good, with almost none of the compression artifacting which seem to plague other transfers. Color is pleasingly saturated without blooming, and black levels are surprisingly deep. Only a few stray white specks mar otherwise outstanding imagery. The video quality of the three part final episode “One for the Road” is a bit more problematic than the others with an occasional scene seeming to come from some kind of alternate video take and loaded with artifacts. Each episode is divided into 4 chapters without promos and 5 chapters with them. Of course, longer episodes near the end of the run go on for 7 to 9 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround track is surround in name only. Almost everything sound-wise is delivered to the center channel with only the slightest spread to the other front channels and nothing in the rears. The dialog is always clear and discernible, important for a show that’s as dialog-centered as this show is. There is a note on the case saying that music has been replaced on this release.
The only bonus feature is an episode promo that accompanies each episode. The viewer is given the choice to play the shows with or without the promos.
There are previews on the disc for Becker, Caroline in the City, Dave’s World, and Evening Shade.
Cheers is one of the classic sitcoms of the 20th century. Brash, sophisticated, and nearly always funny, it’s a pleasure to see the last season made available for fans of the show with transfers looking at least as good or better than their broadcast editions.