Raise a Glass for "Cheers"
Last call for Sam, Diane, Norm and the crew –
There wasn't a wet eye in the house. Taping the final episode of "Cheers" on a Paramount sound stage last month, the cast and crew seemed almost determinedly detached. Between takes Woody Harrelson (Woody) lay flat on his back on the bar, Ted Danson (Sam) retreated to a corner to do stretching exercises and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) vanished inside his dressing room. Shelley Long (Diane), returning to the show after a six-season absence, found something other than welcoming embraces: the boys at the bar hung spoons from their noses to make her flub her lines. Rhea Perlman (Carla) wasn't any nicer to two VIPs playing extras. Slouching by the stools occupied by NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield and former NBC chairman Grant Tinker, Perlman suddenly jerked upright. "I don't know which of you stiffs groped me," she snarled. "But the next time it happens, you're all out of here!"
Indeed they are — and perfectly in character. From its very first round in 1982 to its May 20 finale (expected to draw 100 million onlookers), "Cheers" has remained TV's most unsentimental comedy, as disdainful of schmaltz as it was resistant to preachiness…. Respect must be paid.
"Cheers" was the first sitcom to make sexual tension its central premise (thus making Bruce Willis possible). Just as we wearied of Sam and Diane's on-and-off hotsies, in strode Rebecca (Kirstie Alley). Though Rebecca eventually succumbed to Sam, it was on equal terms: she two-timed him as blithely as he cheated on her…. More than any other sitcom, "Cheers" confronted the side effects of sexual attraction: humiliation, despair, self-loathing and stuck pants' zippers.
Newsweek, May 17, 1993