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Cheers - The Final (Eleventh) Season


TITLE: CHEERS - THE FINAL (ELEVENTH) SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: January 27, 2009 (CBS DVD/Paramount)
Color / 1992-1993
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 28 (half-hour)
Running Time: Aprrox. 10 hours, 48 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; No Subtitles; Closed captioned
Special Features: Episodic Promos


Introduction:

It's the cozy little Boston bar where everybody knows your name... raise a bar to Cheers - the Emmy Award-winning smash-hit television series that kept the laughs uncorked for 11 seasons. In Cheers: The Final Season, it's finally last call, as the milestone comedy ends its historic run with Sam (Ted Danson) rebuilding the bar after Rebecca (Kirstie Alley) sets it on fire. Meanwhile, Norm (George Wendt) gets audited, Cliff (John Ratzenberger) gets promoted, and Lilith leaves Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) in order to live in a biosphere. And as Woody (Woody Harrelson) runs for city council and Carla (Rhea Perlman) sees her daughter get married, Sam invites Diane Chambers back to Boston, then pretends he's married to Rebecca! The uproarious sitcom goes out with a bang, with a 28-episode set. A tost to Cheers... and many happy returns!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Cheers' eleventh and final season premiered on September 24, 1992. It continued to air at the usual time - Thursdays at 9-9:30PM on NBC - before moving to 8:00-8:30PM in February 1993. The show finished in a tie for 8th place, with a 16.1 rating (down from a 17.5 the season before). The 98 minute series finale was the third highest rated of all-time at the time it aired. They were a top ten show in the ratings for 8 of the 11 seasons. Ted Danson won an Emmy for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series." Editor Robert Bramwell won for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series - Multi-Camera Production." Cheers received 6 other Emmy nominations for this season. For the entire run of the series, they won 28 Emmy Awards (117 Emmy nominations) and 6 Golden Globe Awards (31 Golden Globe nominations). A total of 273 episodes (plus 2 specials) were produced over the 11 seasons from 1982-1993.

Memorable episodes included "The Little Match Girl," in which Rebecca's smoking gets her into big trouble when she accidentally starts a fire in the bar and blames it on faulty wiring. Henrķ challenges Sam to a contest to see who's the bigger ladies' man in "The Magnficent Six." Sam enlists Harry the Hat to help win the latest war of practical jokes between Cheers and Gary's Old Towne Tavern in "Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey." A night of drinking leads to some surprises and revelations when Carla tells Sam that she drunkenly slept with one of the regulars that night - but can't remember who in "It's Lonely on the Top." After Woody, Kelly and her father Lloyd arrive at Cheers talking about classical music (they'd been to a symphony), Rebecca joins in the conversation and impresses Lloyd in "Rebeccca Gaines, Rebecca Loses (Parts 1 and 2)." Rebecca finds herself really attracted to a handsome plumber in "The Guy Can't Help It." In "One for the Road," the gang finally finds out what has happened to Diane Chambers when they see her winning an award on television. Sam calls Diane to congratulate her and ends up inviting her back to Boston where they reunite one last time. Meanwhile, Don the plumber pops the question to Rebecca and gets an unexpected answer.

Recurring cast members included Jackie Swanson as Kelly Gaines, Keene Curtis as John Allen Hill, Frances Sternhagen as as Esther Clavin, Bebe Neuwirth as Dr. Lilith Sternin, Roger Rees as Robin Colcord, Paul Wilson as Paul and Philip Perlman as Phil. Notable guest stars included John Mahoney as Sy Flembeck in "Do Not Forsake Me, 'O My Postman." He would play Kelsey Grammer's father in "Frasier" the next season. Ethel Kennedy appeared as herself and Robert Prosky was Franklin Howe, Rebecca's father, in "Daddy's Little Middle-Aged Girl." Dana Delany guest starred as Susan in "Love Me, Love My Car." Dan Hedaya played Nick Tortelli, Jean Kasem was Loretta Tortelli and Leah Remini was Serafina Tortelli in "Loathe and Marriage." Pat Hingle appeared as Gus O'Malley in "The Last Picture Show." Harry Anderson returned as Harry "The Hat" Gittes in "Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey." George "Spanky" McFarland appeared as himself, Philip Baker Hall was Kevin Fogerty and Peri Gilpin was Holly Matherson in "Woody Gets an Election." Tom Berenger guest starred as Don Santry and Sharon Lawrence played Rachel in "The Guy Can't Help It." Shelley Long returned as Diane Chambers in "One for the Road." Mike Ditka and Kim Alexis appeared as themselves in "One for the Road."


Packaging:

The packaging remains similar to seasons 9-10. After seasons 1-8 came in digipaks, CBS DVD switched to the thinner, slim cases. This set comes in an Amaray movie-style snapcase with clear, outer plastic edges. It will be interesting to see when they release the complete series together if they will re-release the earlier seasons with the thinner packaging to have a consistent look. The season eleven cover art features a photo of the 7 main cast members. The Cheers logo and The Final Season is written at the top and The Eleventh Season is written at the bottom. On the back of the case, there are photos of 6 of the cast members (no Woody) from the episodes. A summary of the set, a listing of the episodes and the DVD specs are provided. Opening the case, there is just blank/white space. It would have been nice to see some additional photos, quotes or Normisms included here. There are 2 plastic holders inside the slim cases which hold the 4 discs. They are just silver and have the Cheers logo which has a hologram-type effect when you turn it in light. The episode titles are listed on the disc. Each disc holds 7 (half-hour) episodes for a total of 28 episodes.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The static menus are very simple and easy to navigate. When you first insert Disc 1, you are given the option of playing the Previews or going to the Main Menu. There are about 3 minutes of previews for some other CBS DVD TV releases, including Becker (featuring Ted Danson), I Love Lucy, Caroline in the City, Dave's World, Evening Shade, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and Walker, Texas Ranger. Unlike the previous seasons, there are 2 menus on each disc this time. A different cast member at the bar is featured on each main menu. Disc 1 features Rebecca, Disc 2 has Norm, Disc 3 has Carla and Disc 4 features Diane and Sam. The Cheers logo and the words The Final Season with the disc number are at the top. Episode are listed vertically in the Cheers credits font. There is a wood panel background at the top and bottom. The cast member photo is in the center of screen between the gold bar railings. There is a tiny yellow beer mug next the episode or option you highlight. It turns red upon your selection. A "Play All" option is available for those who wish to watch the episodes without any interruptions. You can also "Play All Episodic Promos." When you select an episode, it takes you to a sub-menu where there is a photo of the 7 main cast members and the outdoor Cheers sign. It is the same photo as the cover art, although you can see Rhea Perlman's right arm and Ted Danson holding Kelsey Grammer's hand. The photos are just cropped or Photoshopped a bit differently. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but there are no scene separate scene selection menus.


Video and Audio Quality:

These episodes are from 1992-93, so they should look the best of any season. The last 3-4 seasons look the best to me. In 2001, these episodes were remastered for syndication and a set was donated to the Museum of Television and Radio by creator James Burrows on the behalf of Paramount Pictures. They are likely using the same prints on the DVDs, although with some edits because of music licensing issues. Since the show was shot on film, there is some dirt, debris and other digital artifacts in these episodes. They certainly look better than the episodes I remember seeing in syndication before 2001. The release is in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. Episodes are presented in their original broadcast order. They are well spread out with no more than 7 half-hour episodes on any disc. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is one for the Charles Burrows Charles Productions. This is followed by a recent one for CBS Television Distribution.

The audio is a Dolby Digital - English Stereo track. It's generally clear and crisp with no major problems. The volume is a at a good level. The original opening and closing credits appear to be intact. Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience, so the audience's reaction is real. Closed captioning is available for all of the episodes.

There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the back case that says "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been replaced for this home entertainment version." Most of the episodes have running times of over 23 minutes, with a few exceptions. "Daddy's Little Middle-Aged Girl" runs 22:49. "Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses (Parts 1 & 2)" originally aired as an one-hour episode and is presented that way with a running time of 43:13. "One for the Road (Parts 1, 2 & 3)" originally aired as a 98 minute episode (with commercials) and runs an even 70 minutes on the DVD. According to a zypherix on our message board, there are some edits in the series finale. drcrane comments that the finale originally ran 1:13:33 without commercials, so there would appear to be about 3 1/2 minutes of missing footgage. According to a reviewer on Amazon, one segment in the very beginning with the mentioning of The Ninja Turtles has been edited. And one segment where Sam had hugged Rebecca had also been cut. drcrane also mentions that "Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses (Part 1 & 2) originally ran 44:00, so there appears to be about 47 seconds missing in that one. If you notice and other music substiutions or edited episodes on this set, please post about them in this thread.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
The Little Match Girl (23:16)
The Beer Is Always Greener (23:23)
King of Beers (23:22)
The Magnficent Six (23:12)
Do Not Forsake Me, 'O My Postman (23:23)
Teaching With the Enemy (23:12)
The Girl in the Platic Bubble (23:21)

Disc 2
---------
Ill-Gotten Gaines (23:03)
Feelings... Whoa, Whoa, Whoa (23:05)
Daddy's Little Middle-Aged Girl (22:49)
Love Me, Love My Car (23:27)
Sunday Dinner (23:23)
Norm's Big Audit (23:17)
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Bar (23:19)

Disc 3
---------
Loathe and Marriage (23:24)
Is There a Doctor in the Howe? (23:21)
The Bar Manager, The Shrink, His Wife & Her Lover (23:17)
The Last Picture Show (23:23)
Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey (23:16)
Look Before You Sleep (23:02)
Woody Gets An Election (23:08)

Disc 4
---------
It's Lonely on the Top (23:23)
Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses (Parts 1 & 2) (43:13)
The Guy Can't Help It (23:23)
One for the Road (Parts 1, 2 & 3) (70:00)


Special Features:

Finally we have some special features. There had been no special features on any Cheers releases since Season 3. This time we get episodic promos for all 28 episodes. These are 30 second promos that were occasionally shown in syndication that highlighted the "next time on Cheers." The 2 and 3 part episodes are broken down to 1 individual promo per half-hour episode. These were interesting to watch. It had been a long time since I had seen some of the episodes, so these provide a nice refresher.

Unfortunately, they didn't include the "Last Call! A Cheers Celebration" on this DVD. This one-hour program was hosted by Bob Costas and aired before the series finale on May 20, 1993. This special provided a look back at the series, showing some of the shows' best moments and a look behind the scenes of the filming of the last ever episode. This special hasn't been shown in syndication. They also didn't include the cast at the Boston's Bull & Finch Pub on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that aired later that night. I'm glad I recorded everything that night. If they release a complete series boxed set later in the year, maybe we will see some new special features including this program.


Final Comments:

That's the final call for Cheers! All 11 seasons and 273 episodes are now available on DVD. It took CBS DVD/Paramount about 5 1/2 years to release them. There was quite a wait between seasons 8-9, but seasons 10 and 11 didn't take long to follow. Frasier was released a bit quicker.. probably because it is a more recent series. Cheers remained a funny show and a solid ratings hit the final season. Woody Harrelson and Bebe Neuwirth didn't appear in all of the episodes the final season due to other commitments. It was nice they brought back Shelley Long for the finale.

Overall, these season sets were a mixed bag. The episodes generally looked very good on all 11 seasons, especially the last 3-4 seasons. These episodes were remastered and cleaned up in 2001. The major issues I have with these sets have been the music subsitutions and edited scenes. Most of the seasons had at least some edited episodes. While most of the edits were music related, there were also a few puzzling cases where scenes were cut that had nothing to do with music and were just regular dialogue. It's like the scenes never existed. I would have liked to see these episodes presented on the DVD as close to the original broadcasts as possible. Unfortunately, there weren't any special features included for Seasons 4-10. It would have been nice to have some audio commentaries, bloopers/outtakes and other featurettes. I was disappointed that they didn't include the "Last Call! A Cheers Celebration" special or the cast on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on this final season set. Th Last Call special was hosted by Bob Costas and has never been shown in syndication. Maybe we'll see that and some other new special features if they release a complete series boxed set later in the year. Amazon.com lists a complete series set, but I believe this is just a bundle of all 11 seasons with the same special features and packaging as the original releases.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 01/26/09

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001HUHBAY/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=239884


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