TV

A-

Cheers

Lead Performer: Kirstie Alley, Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Shelley Long, Bebe Neuwirth, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt

Here is a show in which the supporting cast has taken over. Ted Danson’s Sam Malone has become a vague, fuzzy character: Are we supposed to think of him as a dope or a lech, as a nice guy or a jerk? Nor have the writers ever really gotten a handle on Kirstie Alley’s Rebecca: Are we supposed to think of her as a witch or a hot tomato, as a sexy slyboots or a high-heeled heel?

Too often, we just don’t care about Sam and Rebecca one way or the other, since we’re too busy laughing at the enduring funniness of Norm (George Wendt) and Cliff (John Ratzenberger) and Carla (Rhea Perlman), as well as the gloriously neurotic marriage of the psychologists Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth).

In fact, Grammer and Neuwirth have become the bar’s most valuable players, consistently subtle scene-stealers; the episode early in the season in which Lilith gave birth while Frasier was helping to deliver another woman’s baby was one of those classic sitcom moments that recalled I Love Lucy. For a show without a center, Cheers is still awfully funny. A-

Originally posted June 15 1990 — 12:00 AM EDT

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