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Diane vs Rebecca

I thought the show would blow when I heard that Shelly Long was leaving. Then Kirstie came on board and the seasons with her may be my favorites. I still love the early seasons, but Kirstie's years were much better than I expected.

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I thought the show would blow when I heard that Shelly Long was leaving. Then Kirstie came on board and the seasons with her may be my favorites. I still love the early seasons, but Kirstie's years were much better than I expected.

Kirstie sure was talented before she traded her brain and soul for L. Ron Hubbard's doubletalk.

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Agreed - Cheers was a good show with Shelley Long but with Kirstie Alley it was better. IMHO Rebecca Howe was a better character as a screw up than in the beginning when she was too serious. Lots of credit go to the writers since the show was around for about 5 years already.

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I remember actually being angry and almost refusing to watch the opening episode with Kirstie. Boy, am I glad I reconsidered. It's almost as if we had two separate series and both had their great points. It's hard to choose between the two. I love and not so much love both at times.

I am also a Fraiser fan and found it interesting the Shelly reprised her role in that series and Kirstie didn't. Gives a little more points to Shelly in my book.

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The Diane years were the golden ones for me. Rebecca wasn't bad, but I just didn't enjoy the show as much.

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Kirstie sure was talented before she traded her brain and soul for L. Ron Hubbard's doubletalk.

I see your point. However, IDK the religious affiliations, or lack thereof, of any celebs (OK as of now Candace Bure) but in general IDK and I don't care. If they bring the funny on their show and aren't murdering people in their off time, I'm good. :)

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Count me in the Diane camp.  I loved the show in the early seasons but basically stopped watching after a year or two of Rebecca.  It wasn't so much Kirstie's fault in my opinion, but it seemed like the Rebecca character really deteriorated over time.  She started out being a driven and intelligent career woman who had a few "issues", and then devolved into a pathetic, one-note cartoon caricature of a gold-digging loser.  Her constant whining and mooning after whatever powerful man was her boss got old pretty fast for me.

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The writing was crisper, more articulate when Diane was in the cast (but of course...they had such a wonderful character to write for).

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Diane years were probably my most preferred seasons, especially the ones with Coach. It's a shame that Diane never felt fully apart of the Cheers gang and seemed to remain an outsider amongst them.

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Boy, am I glad I reconsidered. It's almost as if we had two separate series and both had their great points.

 

I've been watching some of the Rebecca seasons recently and enjoying them much more than I had anticipated.  It really is a matter of adjusting expectations.  Kelsey Grammer just got better and better, even as Frasier became more pathetic.  I should hate the way he rags on about Lilith, but somehow I buy it from Kelsey.

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I was quite disappointed when Shelley left, I just didn't get why you leave a successful show that way! I understand the need for a character other than a waitress for the bar, and why the Charles brothers needed someone to be in charge of Sam in order for tension to be created. It was indeed a different show with Kirstie, and lord knows the cast probably preferred her over Shelley (from the rumors we've heard that she was a handful). I feel the show got more loosy goosy with Kirstie, and wasn't the well oiled machine it was the first five years. I am a Sam-Diane shipper, so I did miss that aspect. Ted and Kirstie really seemed more like brother and sister, lookswise, rather than potential love interests. I'm glad they backed off that idea and made them really good friends.

 

In case you didn't guess, I'm in the Diane camp.

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I don't think I saw any of the last season except the 3-part finale when it originally aired.  I've just watched it on Netflix for the first time, and found that I enjoyed many of the episodes very much.  The stand-outs, for me, included Daddy's Middle-Aged Girl (with the always-great Robert Prosky as Rebecca's father) and Look Before You Sleep, with Sam becoming increasingly desperate for a night's rest.  The season also had some surprisingly tender and emotional scenes between various characters that felt very authentic to me.  Glad I finally caught up!

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You know Kristie Alley's a pretty darn good comedic actress.  I'm just surprised watching some of her performances again.  She plays her character's crazy moments so well.

Edited by CheersEnthusiast.
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Season 8, episode 10.  The best example of the Sam and Rebecca dynamic.  I don't know if it was in the script or if it was a bit of direction, but the shot of the pair holding hands when the alarm system was finally disarmed was surprisingly endearing.  

Edited by CheersEnthusiast.
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Interesting thing is, Cheers represents the best work done by both Shelley and Kirstie. I thought the dynamic between Sam and Diane was ientertaining since obviously Sam is the last kind of man Diane should be interested in. Sam and Rebecca took a long time for me to get into. 

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I have heard that Shelley Long could be difficult. But as easily as Kirstie Alley's Rebecca managed to fit in, to me, there'd be no show for her to fit into if not for Sam and Diane (and, yes, Cliff, Norm, Carla, etc.) putting the show on the map.

It was an extreme case of opposites, but I personally think the Sam/Diane dynamic made the show pop.

So, obviously Team Diane here!

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Shelley? Perhaps. She really thought she was going to be a huge movie star. I think Ted's post Cheers career is better because he makes great choices (Fargo, Bored to Death) and likes to work, and he's supposed to be one of the nicest people in Hollywood.

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I loved Becker too.

I always wondered about that, didn't think he was too nice to the first wife.

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And there was that whole blackface-with-Whoopi period.

I much prefer the Diane years on the show.

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The Diane years for sure. I adored the show back then. I shipped Sam & Diane so hard, before 'shipping' was a thing I knew about. I remember the episode where she was in Italy with Frasier and phoned Sam hoping he would be rushing to her, and she got Sam's fake-out answer phone making her think he hadn't rushed to Italy to stop her. Man, I was crushed!

The writing was also better in the Diane era, IMHO. It was still good after she left, but never quite as crisp.

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On ‎8‎/‎27‎/‎2016 at 9:13 PM, Maherjunkie said:

I always wondered about that, didn't think he was too nice to the first wife.

I assume you are referring to his 2nd wife, Casey?  I think that was a complicated situation, as this 1982 People article describes.

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I'm a fan of his, so I won't judge, but it looks like he righted things with now-wife Mary Steenburgen. They've been married 21 years.

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Yes, Casey.  Didn't realize there was 3.

 

Whoopi!  Ted and Frank Langella.  She must have a magic box.

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I've been watching Cheers on Netflix & I'm on the Rebecca seasons.  I never understood why people liked Diane, but on rewatch I totally get it.  Also, I don't remember Rebecca being so annoyingly whiny, yeesh she was...well...annoying!

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I think at the time of the series, Diane was more of a refreshingly original character than Rebecca. I've known Diane-type people IRL. She always seemed three-dimensional to me. I didn't hate Rebecca, but I didn't find her particularly interesting either. 

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The producers created the character of Rebecca to be a stern businesswoman, as an authority figure to Sam, instead of a love interest. However, when the scripts played out, Rebecca was not funny enough, until they realized that Rebecca could be a total mess as a person masquerading as an accomplished person, that's where they found comedy with her.

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I liked both Diane and Rebecca.

I felt Diane was great in the first couple of seasons, especially that first season where Shelley was wonderful, but the writers lost the plot with Diane around Season 3 and never got it back.

I felt the opposite way with Rebecca. It took the writers a couple of seasons to find Kirstie Alley's sweet spot, the earthy social climbing yuppie, but once they finally locked into it, they never slowed down.

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The Diane seasons are boring.

Rebecca + more Lilith > Diane and it's not even close.

Edited by blaase.
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On 8/25/2016 at 4:06 PM, WendyCR72 said:

I have heard that Shelley Long could be difficult.

 

On 8/26/2016 at 3:15 PM, Maherjunkie said:

I wonder if post Cheers life humbled her.

I don't think the issue with her was diva-dom.  From what I gather from Ken Levine, who is a big Shelley defender, said that Shelley cared a lot about the show and its quality.  She put a lot of thought and work into the character which was essential for the show's success, especially in the beginning.  Ted has also spoke highly of her and how much he got from working with her.

That kind of focus could rub some of her cast mates the wrong way.  I get the sense, especially in the later years, that they were not as slavish about rehearsal...etc.  Kirstie's personality was probably a better fit. 

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Yeah, I even remember Kelsey saying something about how lax they were about set discipline, which he also didn’t like. Must’ve driven Shelley crazy. In all honesty, it would’ve bugged me too, so I don’t blame her for wanting to try something else. 

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The cast didn't start getting lax until several seasons away from the end of the series, they pretty much all had their characters down, and some were becoming more famous, like Woody Harrelson, and they'd be lucky if they were all there at the same time for rehearsals. When it was time, then to film the final scene of the series, where they all talk about life in the bar, they all knew their lines perfectly, no mess-ups, no retakes.

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On 1/5/2018 at 10:05 AM, cpcathy said:

The cast didn't start getting lax until several seasons away from the end of the series, they pretty much all had their characters down, and some were becoming more famous, like Woody Harrelson, and they'd be lucky if they were all there at the same time for rehearsals. When it was time, then to film the final scene of the series, where they all talk about life in the bar, they all knew their lines perfectly, no mess-ups, no retakes.

It was at the end of the series when they'd miss rehearsals....etc.  and they did get it done in the end.  

But that looseness likely started in smaller ways early on.  So the different approaches likely caused friction.  

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Here are some comments about Shelley from an oral history of Cheers.  I always thought she got a bad rap and Ted wouldn’t have faced all the hostility if he had been the passionate one.  Warning that it’s a long post:

Danson-[But] I maintain that I got Sam because I was teamed with Shelley. She was really unique. You can't imagine anyone else playing Diane. She was Diane.

Les Charles _(co-creator): _Shelley knew who her character was and had a much surer idea of herself than the rest of the cast. She was able to carry the show in the beginning while the others were finding their way. That's the way it worked: The actors got closer and closer to their characters. Or maybe their characters got closer to the people.

**Long: **In the third year, right before we started the season, I told them I was pregnant. And they were saying, "Oh, well, we could do this, and we could do that, and Frasier could be the father." And I said, "No, I don't think that's right. You said Hepburn and Tracy to us when we started, and I think this should be Tracy's baby." I guess Kelsey had been told that, and he was really upset about it. I talked to him on the phone once and I said, "You know, this was not about you, the actor; this was about Sam and Diane."

Grammer (from his 1996 autobiography, So Far...): Shelley was convinced that Diane and Sam should be together, that it was a terrible mistake to break them up...Shelly's efforts to get me off the show were relentless. I learned after read-throughs she would insist the writers took out every laugh I had.

**Long: **Oh, that's so wrong. He's a brilliant talent, and he was so wonderfully funny on the show. I even watched Frasier, you know? I have no idea how he got that idea other than me speaking up one time and saying, "No, I really don't think it should be Frasier's baby."

It's just a crime that people don't take the time and make the effort to have a conversation if it's bothering them that much. I wish he had said something, but he never did. You know, it's too bad.

**Long: **I'd gotten into a routine of going into my dressing room and meditating at lunch. I needed to rest, just let go of all of it. Because I really felt sometimes like I was physically pulling the plot, and it was heavy. I'm sure it didn't look great that I was going into my dressing room at lunch. I wish I could've hung out with the cast and got lunch. But it's not restful for me to be in a public dining room and eat. It's just not. And I was exhausted by the end of the morning because I tried to deliver as much of a performance as I could for each run-through.

**Lofaro: **The fifth season was when things started to get a bit rough, in terms of managing the show. Shelley believed that she was the new Lucille Ball, and she would spend hours after the run-through talking with the writers about her character and the story, just talking it to death. They would indulge her, but they indulged her to a point where they couldn't stand it anymore.

Glen Charles: Shelley liked to discuss things. It was never a tantrum. But it did take a lot of talking, and I think the biggest problem was with the rest of the cast, because we'd have a reading at the table, and immediately she'd want to talk about it. The normal procedure was for Jimmy to take the cast down and start blocking it, so we could see it on its feet. So that indulgence on our part, I think, created a schism between Shelley and the rest of the cast.

Long: There was scuttlebutt about me talking too much and being passionate about Diane. But I thought, "That's my job. That's what I'm supposed to do.... Don't tell me not to get involved in the discussion."

**Danson: **Shelley's process would have infuriated you if it had been mean or if it hadn't been purposeful. But it was purposeful—it was her way of being Diane—and there's not a mean bone in Shelley's body. I had trouble hanging around her until we stood onstage together, and then I was in heaven.

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Not sure what you mean by "passionate." That Shelley was the only one who was passionate about the process? I don't believe that would be true at all.

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Wasn't Bebe Neuwirth also critical of the rest of the cast's lack of discipline regarding rehearsals?

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I haven't heard anything concrete, but it would be in the later seasons, not in Shelley's years. They worked like a well-oiled machine during Shelley's era.

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I meant passionate in the terms Shelley used it: that she wanted to discuss her character and stay true to it and make sure the storyline lines stayed true to it.  I contend that if Ted had done so, they wouldn’t have said he was hijacking meetings and being indulged.

Also, Ted at least has consistently given Shelley credit and said she “carried” the show in the early years.  Maybe she was an important reason why the show was a well-oiled machine that became less disciplined after she left.

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Ted is indeed being very gracious when he says things like that, but I strongly contend that had Shelley been paired with anyone else, we would not still be talking about the show today.

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They caught lightening in a bottle with Sam and Diane/Ted and Shelley.  I am glad they quickly realized they needed to change the dynamic with Rebecca.

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  • Shelley made the show different. I can't remember a character like hers that not only was so different but melded into the Fish out of Water meme so well.  Add in Ted's sleazy character and you get a hit show.
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On ‎1‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 4:55 PM, cpcathy said:

Ted is indeed being very gracious when he says things like that, but I strongly contend that had Shelley been paired with anyone else, we would not still be talking about the show today.

I think he was being honest and realistic.  Ted became a great Sam Malone, but it did (IMO) take him a bit longer to find his footing with the character than Shelley did with Diane, and I honestly think other actors could have played Sam successfully in that first season.   Not sure anyone else could have embodied Diane as Shelley did.  YMMV, and obviously does.  ;-)

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On 1/10/2018 at 4:55 PM, cpcathy said:

Ted is indeed being very gracious when he says things like that, but I strongly contend that had Shelley been paired with anyone else, we would not still be talking about the show today.

Ted and Shelley had amazing chemistry.  Fred Dryer was the runner up for Sam and I don't think he would have done as well as Ted did.  But I don't think Ted is lying when he gives Shelley so much credit, especially for the first season or two.  And I don't think it discredits his contribution if we take him at his word that being across from her helped him shape who Sam was going to be.  Ted had worked on a soap and did some episodic TV before he got Cheers.  He has admitted he was nervous at the start.  Shelley, on the other hand, had been a member of Second City and was more experienced doing live comedy.  Of course having a confident, well-prepared partner who understands her character is only going to help him. 

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56 minutes ago, Irlandesa said:

Fred Dryer was the runner up for Sam and I don't think he would have done as well as Ted did

It wouldn’t have been Fred and Shelley, though. If they’d gone differently, it would’ve been Fred and Julia Duffy, they had the actors optimally paired up already.

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4 minutes ago, kariyaki said:

It wouldn’t have been Fred and Shelley, though. If they’d gone differently, it would’ve been Fred and Julia Duffy, they had the actors optimally paired up already.

I knew about Julia but I didn't know that they were paired off.  Or if I did, I had forgotten.  Thanks for reminding me.

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12 hours ago, kariyaki said:

It wouldn’t have been Fred and Shelley, though. If they’d gone differently, it would’ve been Fred and Julia Duffy, they had the actors optimally paired up already.

That's true, but if they had paired up Long with Dryer and Danson with Duffy, I think we'd have seen the Long-Dryer version of Cheers rather than the Danson-Duffy version.   Thank goodness it was Long-Danson!  BTW, the third pairing that auditioned was William Devane (whom I've never found appealing in anything) with Lisa Eichhorn, who works a lot in TV but has never made much of an impression on me.  Interesting that both Dryer and Duffy guest-starred in the first season on Cheers (and Dryer returned a few times), but neither Devane nor Eichhorn ever did.

And one more thing: according to IMDb, Dryer is 6'6" and Duffy is just 5' tall.  How would they ever have kissed???  ;-)

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Duffy as Diane would have been shrill all the time. Dryer as Sam would have been dumb jock all the time. We sure lucked out with the pair that we got.

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