There Are Only Three Bad ‘Cheers’ Episodes. Here They Are
As far as sitcoms go, no other long-running series has quite the reputation that Cheers has. While shows like Seinfeld took some time to find their way, Cheers knew exactly what it was from the jump and almost never faltered thereafter. It’s about as perfect as any TV show ever was. And yet, there are three — and only three — Cheers episodes that downright suck. Here they are…
Cheers was really a show about people sitting around, sipping beer and talking, and its razor-sharp writing particularly flourished inside those bar walls. On the flip side, the show never worked quite as well when it ventured outside the bar into some far-fetched “adventure.” The one outside-the-bar episode that suffers the most is “Sam Ahoy” from Season Eight, when Sam, Norm and Carla enter into a boat race on Robin’s boat (Robin, if you need a refresher, was Rebecca’s rich boyfriend played by Roger Rees).
The whole contrived story about why Sam, Norm and Carla are racing Robin’s boat is weak enough, but then the episode becomes downright absurd when they find a bomb onboard (the bomb is intended for Robin, who has been receiving death threats). Especially annoying is the “Abandon” running gag with Norm and Carla. First, when they find the bomb, they shout “Abandon ship!” only to find sharks in the water. Then it becomes “Abandon water!” Finally, when Robin offers Sam money to apologize for the whole ordeal, Sam refuses, but Carla and Norm run after Robin shouting “Abandon Sammy!”
The gag wasn’t funny at all, and the whole episode just sank like a stone.
‘The Gift of the Woodi’
The main characters of Cheers were all beautifully acted with all sorts of unique quirks and subtleties. There was, however, the occasional guest star that hammed it up. The most notable example is Carla’s ex-husband Nick, but the supremely talented Dan Hedaya makes the somewhat cartoonish character work. Less successful is Jackie Swanson as Woody’s entitled, dim-witted girlfriend Kelly. The episodes based on their romance were usually forgettable, but one in particular is memorable for exactly the wrong reason.
In “The Gift of the Woodi,” Woody writes a song for Kelly, and the lyrics are characteristically dumb, culminating in a section where he just sings, “Kelly, Kelly, Kelly” over and over again for what feels like forever. The song is the most cringey, ear-wormy moment in the entire series.
If you were a dedicated Cheers watcher, you know that there’s a rival bar nearby called “Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern.” The first time they ignited their rivalry was in Season Four’s “From Beer to Eternity,” where the Cheers gang bowled against Gary’s staff. It worked well enough, but starting in Season Six, once a season — and twice in Season 10 — a prank war would ignite between the two with all sorts of juvenile “hijinks” erupting between them. For a half hour, everyone on Cheers seemed to become a child with the results always being less funny than they were supposed to be. Honestly, any of the “Bar Wars” episodes could take this slot, but I’m giving it to the very first one since it got this unfunny train rolling.