Episode 11: One for the Book
Episode 12: The Spy Who Came in For a Cold One
By: Carlos Uribe
Cheers is a show about a bar called Cheers in Boston.
There is something to be said about these two episodes: “One for the Book” and “The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One”. In both episodes, the main plots revolve around some bar patrons. It makes sense that a series about a bar would have entire episodes devoted to some of the people who come in. In these two cases, the characters in question only appear in the episode that they are featured in. Many comedies will often feature a guest star of the week but Cheers has it easy. Being set in a bar means that the series never has to go out of it's way to bring in characters that only appear once. This series has already done this with numerous sub-plots. A character will come in, interact with a few of the characters, and then leave. It's also had characters come in and it has used them to bring the cast together or to develop the characters. Those characters served a purpose and that was to develop the main characters. This is the first episode where they truly revolved around these one-week characters and where it doesn't use them to gain new developments in the characters or their relationships. They simply come in and try to make the audience laugh.
“One in the Book” wasn't that funny of an episode. It featured two guest patrons. There is Kevin. Kevin reveals that he is going to be joining a monastery in the next day and that this is to be the first and last time where he allows himself to fall into debauchery. The reason he wants to be a monk is because he has low self-esteem and because he's religious. When he falls into temptation and tries to force Diane to go with him, he suffers a crisis of faith. He almost decides to stop being a monk before being convinced that his destiny is to be with God. While I might be a Christian, I'm not a Catholic. I have respect for monks, but I'm not offended at all if a series pokes fun at them. When I say that I didn't find the plot to be very funny, it's not because of my religious nature. It's simply that the punchlines fell flat and it didn't really work for me. The resolution didn't feel earned and the character didn't seem to develop properly. That's probably because the episode was also busy with two more things. The first was a sub-plot where Diane kept a notebook for sayings and Sam kept trying to get in it. The second thing is the other guest.
That guest being Buzz. Buzz is an army veteran of World War One. This series is old considering it's having living veterans from that war. Buzz has had ten-year reunions with his army pals ever since the war ended in the Cheers bar. As the episode goes on, it becomes clear that Buzz is the only to have made it to the reunion. The episode goes into a slightly dark place as Buzz realizes that he's the only one alive from his troop. When the main characters try to be a substitute for his army pals, Buzz is cheered up a bit. It states a lot that Buzz's character and story was developed way better than Kevin's even though it had significantly less screen-time. Buzz also brought out the only laugh in this episode when Diane accidentally saw him naked. It was a joke that I saw a million miles away, but it still made me laugh. “One in the Book” suffers because it concentrated too much on Kevin and not enough on having a core that matters to the viewer.
“The Spy Who Came in For a Cold One” is an episode that focuses around one character: Thomas Hillian. He claims to be “Eric Finch” and a spy. When Diane blows his cover, he pretends to be a poet. This seems to fool Diane but no-one else at the bar. It's revealed at the end that Thomas is an eccentric millionaire and who almost buys the bar. The episode tries to use Hillian to try and knock Diane down a peg, but it doesn't really work. When Diane apologizes for ruining the guy's lie, it makes little sense. The idea that he needs a fantasy to escape to and that the bar provides that is simply wrong. The Cheers bar is supposed to be where everyone knows you name, where everyone is accepted. No fantasy is needed and lying about your identity seems to go against what this series has been trying to establish. Diane's apology makes little sense and neither does her guilt. The episode itself wasn't very funny and it was a dud-just like the episode before it. Let's hope that the next few episodes has the series going back to concentrating on the series regulars and keeps the episodic characters into the sub-plots or as mere catalysts.