Cheers: The Complete Second Season Studio: Paramount Year: 1983-84 Rated: NR Length: 8 hours, 59 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: DD 2.0 English No Subtitles Special Features: Four Featurettes, Gag Reel Release Date: January 6, 2004 It’s the bar where everybody knows your name... Cheers. And it’s a great television show that is still a joy to watch. The show exudes 80’s sensibilities, attitudes, hairstyles and fashions - and that’s part of the fun of revisiting this classic (and classically dated) series on DVD. We all know the characters. There’s Sam, the recovering alcoholic bartender, womanizer and Red Sox has-been jock - with a heart of gold. Diane, Sam’s educated and snobbish girlfriend - a fish out of water with the gang at Cheers. There’s Coach, dimwitted former pro baseball coach who now works for Sam. Carla, the sassy, diminutive waitress... Norm and Cliff, the barflies... The genius of this series is that it takes place not in an apartment or traditional workplace, but a neighborhood gathering place. This provides a great deal of fodder for comedic scenarios which would be impossible in another setting. Though the focus is on Sam and Diane, most of the humor comes from the supporting cast. Though the Sam and Diane characters do have comedic attributes, they often play “straight men” to the rest of the gang. Season two’s overriding focus is on the ever-developing and often deteriorating relationship between Sam and Diane. The pair have taken their relationship to the next level since the season one finale. The second season’s two-part capper leaves things in a very uncertain place, in that regard. Season Two also finds John Ratzenberger joining the show as a regular, with his name appearing in the opening credits. My favorite episodes from the season: Homicidal Ham sees the return of Andy the Ex-Con, presenting his acting debut to the gang at Cheers under the tutelage of Diane. Sumner’s Return brings back the man who abandoned Diane at Cheers at the start of season one. Sam, vying for Diane’s attention amidst Sumner’s return, reads all of War and Peace, in four days, in an attempt to measure up intellectually. Old Flames is the Emmy-winning episode that finds Sam’s buddy Dave Richards betting Sam he can break up his affair with Diane in 24 hours. Things look pretty bad when Dave makes sure Diane finds Sam’s little black book. Manager Coach: Coach is put in charge of a Little League team. In No Help Wanted, Sam is talked into letting Norm do his taxes. Fortune and Men’s Weight finds the gang at Cheers believing in fortunes told by a scale and fortune-telling machine that Coach bought for the bar. The Video Cheers Season Two looks quite good on DVD. The picture is very clean, and moderately sharp for a television product that’s twenty years old. There are no obvious sharpening or compression artifacts. Black levels are reasonably solid, with acceptable shadow detail. Colors are on the warm side. Some episodes suffer from a very mild lack of contrast, and the white point seems to get pushed around from a neutral white to a slightly darker but warmer tone. Keep an eye on Coach’s shirt and Carla and Diane’s aprons, and you’ll see the variance. It’s noticeable, but not a big deal. An occasional scene has whites blown out a bit, but I suspect this could be due to production issues as easily as the transfer. All in all, this is an impressive TV on DVD experience. The Audio The audio is clean and has good frequency response. Dialog is firmly planted front and center. Laugh track and music can be heard across the front soundstage and in the surround channel. Music cues have a pleasing bass response. This is just about as good as you could expect for Dolby Digital 2.0 sourced from a twenty year old sitcom. No complaints, here. Special Features Strictly Top Shelf: The Guys Behind the Bar (9:35) Interviews from 1983 (E.T.) and the present with: James Burrows, Ted Danson, Glen Charles, Les Charles, Shelley Long, George Wendt and Rhea Perlman. Discussion includes the developments of season two, the time the show took to find an audience, the “proprietary” writing and the fact that there was little ad-libbing allowed, character recognition, etc. Interviews are interspersed with clips from the show. Cliff’s Notes: The Wisdom of Cliff Clavin (4:00) Included is a recent interview with George Wendt on the characters of Cliff and Norm, along with some clips of funny “Cliff” moments from season two. Carla the Comeback Queen: Insults for Every Occasion (3:29) The role of Carla was the first one cast for Cheers. A brief clip from an interview with Ted Danson provides that revelation, and is followed by “Carla” clips from season 2. Di Another Day: Diane Chambers from A - Z (3:36) Another very brief comment from Ted Danson, followed by clips of Diane from season two. Gag Reel: Bloopers from Season 2 (4:24) Mostly mundane line flubs, with only a few laughs. These clips look as though they came from someone’s 20 year old VHS library. The extras, as you can see, are slim - the first one being the only one with any serious content. I suppose this isn’t unexpected for an 80’s sitcom. Perhaps more bonus footage will be available of the later seasons. Final Thoughts This set provides nice transfers of a classic 80’s sitcom - but that’s about all, as the extras are slim. Fans of the show will appreciate the quality transfers. A nice TV on DVD effort from Paramount.