Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bye Bye, Boston

Nearly every actor and actress from Cheers! made an appearance on the hugely successful spinoff, Frasier. Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) made the most appearances, but Sam (Ted Danson), Woody (Woody Harrelson) and Diane (Shelley Long) showed up, too, just not as often.

For nearly everyone else, the episode that first aired on this night in 2002, "Cheerful Goodbyes," was their single shot — and it was a real treat for anyone who ever watched Cheers! in the '80s.

I guess the only ones who weren't on Frasier at some point were Coach (Nicholas Colasanto), who died not long after Frasier joined the Cheers! cast, and Rebecca (Kirstie Alley).

The premise of the story was simple. Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) was being honored at a conference in his old Boston stomping grounds, and he brought his family with him for the occasion. Niles (David Hyde Pierce) had been recruited to give Frasier's introduction but was angry at Frasier for outing him on Frasier's radio program as a child bed wetter. Daphne (Jane Leeves) came along because she wanted to see Boston, and Martin (John Mahoney) was there, too.

Upon their arrival at the airport in Boston, Frasier happened to cross paths with verbose postman Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), who was boring an airport bartender with the kind of story he frequently told on Cheers!

Cliff thought Frasier was in town to surprise him at his retirement party, which was scheduled for that evening. Cliff was at the airport to pick up his mother — who, it turned out, had boarded "the wrong plane" and gone to Bosnia, not Boston.

Nevertheless, Cliff later provided a batch of deviled eggs for the party. He said he followed his mother's recipe — substituting water for mayo.

Frasier didn't want to disappoint his old friend so he agreed to come to the party — which was being held somewhere other than Cheers because Sam was throwing a Red Sox reunion that night.

Clearly Sam wasn't there, but just about everyone else was — especially Carla (Rhea Perlman), who could hardly wait to see Cliff leave. She didn't care if he enjoyed his retirement; she just wanted him gone. The knowledge that he was leaving made her feel that "life is good" even though, by her own account, everything else in her life was falling apart.

Pity poor Daphne. Unaware of Cliff's windbag ways, she found herself being bombarded by his nuggets of wisdom.

More's the pity — she actually believed him when he told her that Winston Churchill was the inventor of the English muffin. You'd think a girl from Manchester would know better.

As the evening neared its conclusion, Cliff was having a crisis. None of his friends seemed to be sorry he was leaving — so Frasier tried to intervene, talking the gang into giving Cliff a rousing sendoff.

It was going pretty well, but Carla, of all people, overplayed her hand and, unintentionally, persuaded Cliff to stay in Boston.

And life — for Carla, at least — wasn't so good anymore.