DVD Review: Fan Favorites – The Best of Cheers

The phenomenon of “fan favorites” always seems a bit contrived to me; just another marketing strategy to get people to repurchase already released material. This time, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount recently conducted a Facebook poll about seven of its most popular programs (Cheers, Happy Days, Frasier, The Odd Couple, Hogan’s Heroes, The Honeymooners, and MacGyver) to determine which episodes would appear on this wave of fan favorite collections.

The Cheers disc contains eight episodes (technically nine, because one is a two-parter) that makes for a fairly funny overview of one of television’s best series ever. Since all eleven season’s are currently available on DVD, a set like this might be appropriate for someone not to familiar with Cheers who wants to get a taste of it, or a fan who wants a few episodes to take on a plane flight or something.

Sam and Diane1. “Give Me a Ring Sometime (Pilot)” (09/30/82) (24:56) When bride-to-be Diane Chambers is forced to wait for her professor fiancé at corner bar called Cheers, so much time passes, she ends up meeting the whole gang: owner Sam Malone (Ted Danson) is a former relief pitcher for the Red Sox; bartender Ernie Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto), better known as “Coach,” was Sam’s coach during his time with the Sox; waitress Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) is a mean-spirited single mother; Norm Peterson (George Wendt) and Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) talk useless trivia with the other barfly’s

When it’s determined that Diane’s fiancé has dumped her, and Diane has no place to go, Sam offers her a job at the bar despite his better instincts.

2. “Diane’s Perfect Date” (02/10/83) (24:07) In the seventeenth episode of the first season, Sam and Diane dare each other to find the other’s perfect date. However, since Sam believes Diane wants to date him, he doesn’t bring anyone. When she does bring him a date, Same is forced to come up with a quick solution. Predictably, disaster ensues.

3. “Pick a Con, Any Con” (02/24/83) (24:10) Also from the first season, this episode topped the Facebook poll as the favorite episode. When the gang finds out that a seemingly sweet, card shark (Reid Shelton) has swindled Coach out of several thousand dollars, Sam, the gang at the bar, and Harry ‘The Hat’ Gittes (Harry Anderson) join forces to get his money back. This is truly one heck of a funny episode!

4. “Abnormal Psychology” (10/16/86) (24:27) In the fourth episode of the fifth season, Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) is scheduled to appear on the debate show Psychology This Week. However, he decides to cancel when his original sparring partner can’t make it, and is replaced by Dr. Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth), a woman with whom he once had a terrible date. Though it appears that the two very different people couldn’t possibly make a love match, but pushy Diane has other ideas.

*NOTE: Nicholas Colasanto who played Coach had died during the third season hiatus. The fourth season’s premiere, “Birth, Death, Love and Rice,” dealt with coach’s death, and served as an introduction for Woody Harrelson’s character, Woody Boyd.

5. “Thanksgiving Orphans” (11/27/86) (24:38) In this fifth season episode, the gang finds out that the best holidays are often those when your friends become your family. Diane has been invited to spend a pilgrim’s Thanksgiving with one of her professors and some of his students. Once she discovers the rest of the gang doesn’t have plans, she suggests they gather at Carla’s new home. Predictably, a series of things go wrong, and hilarity ensues, I don’t want to spoil it by giving out details, but suffice to say, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, if this episode pops up in reruns, I’m there.

6. “Dinner at Eight-ish” (02/26/87) (24:43) It’s the first week anniversary of Frasier and Lillith’s cohabitation. To celebrate, they decide to invite Sam and Diane for a special dinner. The theme: “absolute honesty.” Anyone familiar with these people will know how that goes. Meanwhile, can Cliff handle babysitting Carla’s kids?

7. “Simon Says” (03/05/87) (24:36) When one of Frasier’s colleagues, a famed marriage counselor, drops by Cheers, Diane convinces Sam that they should schedule a session with the highly regarded expert, only to flatly refuse his advice.

8. “An Old Fashioned Wedding (Parts 1&2)” (05/14/92) (45:21) In this tenth season double episode, as Woody and Kelly’s wedding nears, they face some funny obstacles along the way. In order for the event to go off relatively hitch free, Lillith is forced to sing as a distraction.

All the episodes have been remastered from the original DVD releases. Presented in full screen, the episodes look fairly clean, with only minimal debris in evidence. The audio presented in English stereo is nothing special but sounds fine. English subtitles and closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing are available.

No special features are included.

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