Cheers #2: “The Coach’s Daughter” (#1.05, 28/10/82)

Synopsis

Coach is excited at the impending visit of his daughter Lisa and her new fiancée Roy. However, his obnoxious personality quickly alienates everyone at Cheers. Coach is persuaded to talk her into breaking the engagement off, but Lisa has her reasons for wanting to be married.

Thoughts

This episode is focused on the character of Coach and is quite a charming, even heart-warming entry, in keeping with the characterisation of coach and his portrayal by Nicholas Colasanto.

It starts off with a fine example of Coach’s dottiness: his custom of giving all the individual bar glasses a personal name. An admonition to one of Norm’s arrival wisecracks allows Coach to explain to general delight that his daughter is coming to visit with her new fiancée. However, the fiancée turns out to be one of those unpleasant people with a genius for making others feel ill at ease. He is assertive to the point of rudeness and is hardwired to give everything the hard sell (Lisa explains that he is a door to door suit salesman; she’s his manager).

Like everyone else, Coach is appalled by him. He is persuaded by Sam to have a one-to-one talk with Lisa. On hearing her father’s views, she calmly explains that she is fully aware of Roy’s personality and his insincere reasons for wanting to marry her. When he reacts with bemusement, she jumps out of her seat and earnestly implores him to understand that Roy is the only man who has ever proposed to her, and as she desires marriage and a family, she is willing to accept him. The implication is that Lisa, despite her smart appearance and career as a sales manager, is an unconfident person, particularly in regard to her looks (she is not an unattractive girl, but is somewhat toothy and awkward) and her fear of becoming an old maid has forced her into accepting a marriage without love.

Coach is oblivious (“nothing’s ever obvious to me”) to her doubts and fears; all he can do is express (wonderfully) his unconditional love for her, as he has done all her life. This persuades Lisa to break off her engagement – she is her daddy’s girl again.

This episode is economical and spare: besides Coach, Diane gets some development with one of her creative pretentions (caricatures) and her noble attempt to engage with and understand Roy is a hilarious failure (“the man is pond scum!”). In support the other characters dip in and out with a very funny line or reaction – I find Ted Danson to be a rather good scene stealer.

To me it’s rather wonderful how, beyond the funnies, Cheers devotes time to the backstories, lives and emotions of (even) the supporting characters. “The Coach’s Daughter” isn’t the funniest piece of comedy, but it is moving and satisfying. Verdict 4/5

Quotes

  • “Sam, could you cover for me for a couple of moments?” (once Lisa and Roy have left for dinner at Melvilles) / “Sure Coach, where are you going?” / “To toss my lunch”
  • “The time has come for me to put my foot in my mouth” (Coach, to Lisa)
  • “You don’t get Pennsylvania and you don’t get me. You just get more and more obnoxious” (Lisa, to Roy)
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