I’m going to miss Coach.
In February 1985, Nicholas Colasanto passed away while the final few episodes of season three were being filmed.
Knowing beforehand about the actor’s death and noticing his gaunter face, it was incredibly depressing to watch episodes that explained away Coach’s absence.
Even sadder was when his disappearance was not addressed at all.
The coach couldn’t be dismissed as a standard sitcom dimwit.
Many of his successors on lesser shows took the stupidity aspect and used it for easy jokes throughout their series.
Coach Ernie Pantusso at least had a reason for not being all that intelligent.
He discovered an uncanny ability to draw hit-by pitches to get on base during his baseball playing days and exhibited that talent a few times too many on the head.
The backstory significantly legitimized the character’s most defining trait of the first two seasons and provided a few laughs when he insisted that Diane throw a ball down the Cheers hallway to prove that he still had his unique talent, which he did.
In his final season, Coach’s defining trait became his sweetness.
He alone convinced Diane to return to the bar in the first place.
It could only have been him and his innocent, kind heart that could have pulled that off, the real-life closeness between Colasanto and Shelley Long really shining through.
The counted-out old man who actually pulls the strings behind the scenes on television these days is Pierce Hawthorne (well, not anymore…).
He had slept with the substitute Spanish teacher in the penultimate episode of season one of Community to get his study group to pass, which nobody in the group ever found out about.
He shot the fatal paintball blast to keep Greendale Community College afloat in season two closer but will mostly be remembered as a cantankerous, racist, and stupid senior citizen.
The coach wasn’t bright, and jokes stemmed from the man taking things too literally but sometimes resulted in accidentally profound quotations for a second wave and a layer of comedy.
The best example is when Diane recited the oft-quoted Thoreau line, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!”
Coach wondered out loud why he didn’t just say “simplify” once, baffling and quieting Diane like Carla always dreamed.
Coach’s legacy will endure: Phoebe Buffay and Cosmo Kramer had a touch of Yogi Berra and Ringo Starr in them as well.
Parks and Recreation’s Andy Dwyer is a younger, more agile version of the stupid yet lovable Coach.
It’s embarrassingly easy to recognize Chris Pratt’s line reading of another Coach classic, displaying his provincialism when he met and quickly became fascinated with the criminally underrated Boggs, Diane’s mother’s posh butler.
“How many pairs of socks do you figure that guy has?” was the first thing Mr. Pantusso thought to ask when the man was first out of earshot.
I’ve heard that a new, not-too-bright character is about to enter my Netflix viewing life for season four.
However, right now, the decision by the writing staff to seemingly create another version of Coach seems downright insensitive to me.
I wonder what people thought back then.
Thanks to Wikipedia and Kelsey Grammar’s memory, I do know how some/most fans felt about the first year of the twenty that Dr. Frasier Crane graced us with his presence on television.
“Are you that pin dick that plays Frasier?” was what one infamous individual spewed at Grammar on the street one day in 1986, a punishment for accepting paychecks to keep Sam and Diane apart.
I didn’t feel such passionate animosity for Frasier throughout the 25 episodes, but more of a slight and presently misguided concern that the now-popular personality would alter the delicate and winning character chemistry for the worse.
It will likely become necessary with Coach’s absence, as some late-season episodes that found Frasier and Diane in Europe (to accommodate Long’s pregnancy) noticeably relied too heavily on Sam and Carla running the bar.
Grammar appeared in what seems, in retrospect, to be the perfect number of episodes in season three, showing his face approximately half the time.
This balance prevented him from getting under the skin of some extroverted streetwalkers, but he remained significant.
Frasier is not a denizen of the bar just yet, but he did go through a hazing of sorts in “The Heart Is a Lonely Snipehunter” when the Cheers gang let him tag along on a hunting trip, only to ditch Diane’s psychiatrist boyfriend.
When Frasier got the last laugh at the episode’s conclusion, he was officially initiated by the writers. Rightfully so, as Frasier Crane was a compelling and funny character right from the start, failing more than Diane in putting on airs to differentiate himself and seem superior to the less learned, probably because he doesn’t care as much about achieving that status.
Frasier desperately wants to be liked, so his odd and amusing laugh can be easily confused as phony.
Cheers began to solidify its established characters. Cliff really had a rough year, repeatedly referred to by his closest friends as a “boob.” In “Fairy Tales Can Come True,” Cliff successfully meets an interesting, nice woman in a sweet episode.
However, we never saw the woman again, and in the very next episode, the mockery about Cliff living with his mother resumed.
Mr. Clavin was firmly established in these episodes as the cowardly weasel, a loser, and the bar’s punching bag.
Sam and Diane returned to season one flirtation and lusting, and it was never more apparent that Sam’s stripes would never be changed.
Even when he daydreamed about stopping Frasier and Diane’s wedding, literally whisking Diane off her feet, he made sure Diane told him that she would be okay with him still seeing other women.
Carla, like Rhea Perlman, got pregnant once again, this time by Frasier’s mentor, a benevolent, smart man.
After promising to provide financial support for their child, it was understood by both that he would never be seen again.
Carla’s ex-husband and the father of her other children, the very weird Nick Tortelli, returned twice, continuing to mess with Carla’s feelings before leaving with Casey Kasem’s real-life wife again.
Nick is rarely seen but is the center of Carla’s universe, and it doesn’t look like that will change for a while.
The change originates from the setting and, surprisingly, from the most dedicated barfly.
In season one, I pointed out how Cheers remained exclusively within the bar’s confines, and in season two, only Diane’s living room was added.
However, in season three, the show defied Thoreau’s advice and expanded its scope to a European restaurant, two hotel rooms, offering glimpses into every character’s house or apartment, two dream sequences, and, most astonishingly, even the men’s bathroom.
The latter was introduced in “Executive Executor’s Hines” when Norm’s new job as his company’s hatchet man led to a nightmarish scenario where he was tasked with sending people to their literal deaths.
It was equally surprising to witness the actual dream as it was to leave the bar for the first time, not only due to the otherworldly nature of the fantasy but also because Norm Peterson’s subconscious was given considerable airtime, emphasizing its significance.
Norm embodies the role of the show’s relatable Every Man, but it’s only in this season that he takes center stage in a fair number of A stories, emerging as a character with a robust moral compass.
Norm, more than anyone else on the show, possesses the potential to break free from the cycles that bind him, which is profoundly disheartening when you consider that he’s the bar’s most frequent customer.
Paradoxically, this attachment to the bar and its familiar faces means that Norm and his wife Vera have the least to lose.
In “Peterson Crusoe,” I secretly hoped Norm would follow through on his impulse to explore the world after a health scare, even though I knew he wouldn’t, given the magnetic pull of the bar and its regular patrons.
Diane acknowledged that Frasier offered a sense of security, while Sam represented a day-to-day gamble.
In the end, everyone at Cheers opts for the bar’s security over the unpredictable nature of the outside world.
At times, I can’t help but think that Cheers may be the most melancholic comedy ever created.
You Might Be Interested: The Cheers Legacy: Season 5