Cheers #1: The Tortelli Tort (1.3)

Here’s a new blogging theme: a series of reviews of a string of episodes of the famous and long-running American sitcom “Cheers”. An ensemble piece set in a Boston bar, following the life events and interactions between the bar owner Sam Malone, his staff and his regular drinkers.

(the background is that I’ve got eighty or so episodes sat on my DVR. I love Cheers, I need to start blogging more, and most importantly I’m obsessed with getting my DVR to 66% spare capacity, so lets get talking..)

This is the 3rd episode from the first season and its focus is the abrasive barmaid, Carla Tortelli. The plot device is that a bearish, obnoxious New Yorker called Ed Kellner enters the bar after a Red Sox defeat to the Yankees, in order to rub it in. He upsets everyone, and Carla explodes, jumping onto his back and driving his head into the bar. After she is pulled away, the New Yorker gives Sam an ultimatum: fire Carla or he’ll sue him. It’s a good demonstration of how small things can get out of control.

The resolution is that Sam and Carla put themselves out for each other: Sam, by not firing her and Carla, by attending the therapy sessions and keeping her cool when Kellner returns and decides to interrogate her – disaster is avoided.

It’s a simple play in three acts: (1) the set up with the baseball and the hullaballo, then (2) the post-mortem in the bar and (3) the reunion between Kellner and Carla. Rhea Perlman is good, notably in the hackneyed solemnity of her vow to quit following the Red Sox and also in her impassivity as she is taunted by the boor.

Verdict 4/5

Quotes:

“How ya doing Norm?” / “Cut the small talk and give me a beer”

“You have a history…” / “of being abusive with customers” / “I’ll handle this!” / “You have a history of being.. abusive with customers”

“Think of my kids – if I didn’t have this job I’d have to stay home with them!”

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