Christmas is a time for traditions and taking solace in the familiar comforts of yesteryear. It is a time lovingly nostalgic and caught up in the big and warm embrace of memories. Nothing is more familiar to me than the chanting of “Norm!!!” by the gang at Cheers. Nothing makes me sentimental quite like reminiscing in the warm embrace of faces and characters one will never forget. I wasn’t born yet when Cheers started airing on NBC in 1982.
Why was a show from the 1980s and early 1990s so great you may wonder? Well, I may tell you to get comfortable because here comes a long list to answer your question. I may point out that the writing and comedic timing were pure genius. It was smart and witty, never dumbed down or predictable; and you are not just spoon-fed one-liners like present day sitcoms. As the characters grew the writing also grew with them, keeping the show organic and natural. The characters were well thought-out, multi-dimensional, dynamic and above all else realistic. These characters had so many shortcomings and insecurities they were so very human and so very relatable. They were elaborately and exceptionally portrayed by the charismatic cast. With a talented and star-studded cast: Ted Danson as the womanizing Sam Malone, Shelley Long as the free-thinker Diane Chambers, Woody Harrelson as the naive bartender Woody, Rhea Pearlman as the curmudgeon waitress Carla, Dan Hedaya as her philandering hockey-player husband, George Wendt as the alcoholic previously mentioned Norm, John Ratzenberger as the know-it-all Cliff, Kelsey Grammar as the debonaire Dr. Frasier Crane, Bebe Neuwirth as the stern lily white Dr. Lilith Sternin, and of course the late great Nicholas Colasanto as ‘Coach’. The seamless and natural chemistry that flowed off your screen and straight into your heart. These people weren't pretending or playing make-believe, they were the very best actors and they grew together. The tumultuous ups and raucous downs of Sam and Diane's love-hate relationship. Cliff's information sessions, the loveable Coach or Woody, and the ever-sniping Carla made the show an original and an instant classic.
All of this makes Cheers not just easy to watch but easy to love. You don’t feel like your watching overwrought actors in contrived scenarios but amongst familiar friends in a painstakingly crafted masterpiece of the medium. When the show ends you feel like you just left the bar and are heading home. I used to watch Cheers when it was a re-run at 6 am before I left for university 7 am classes and before it would even start my day would have been made by these characters with all their charm and insecurities. Gather around one and all for there is no tradition more cherished than raising our ‘cups of kindness’ and honouring the show that has kept us smiling for more than two decades after it ended. Salut to Cheers!