In which they have something in common

by Teresa Finney

[Season 5, Episode 22 “The Godfather: Part 3”]

In this episode a beautiful young woman walks into Cheers, sees Sam and proclaims “Hey barkeep, I hear you pour a mean root beer in this saloon!” At first the audience thinks this is just another one the women from Sam’s rolodex. Luckily we are spared that tiresome plot when we find out the woman is Joyce Pantusso, the late Coach’s niece who has just moved to Boston for college.

Sam and Joyce exchange a bit of banter before Joyce hands Sam a letter from her father. In it, Joyce’s dad has asked Sam to keep an eye out for his little girl, saying “If anything happens to her, I’ll go out in the shed and blow my brains out.” Feeling the obvious pressure, Sam and by default Diane, enlist the help of the most innocent person they know to show Joyce around town: Woody. Little do they know Joyce and Woody have fallen in love and decided to get married. After a few days. When Sam confronts the new couple, Woody states in true Woody fashion: “I know it’s crazy. We’ve only known each other a few days, but it feels like…several.”

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Together, but on separate occasions, Sam and Diane try to convince Joyce and Woody to reconsider. First up is Sam who gets on his hands and knees and begs them to call off the engagement.

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They comply after seeing Sam in distress, but the following day they arrive back at Cheers with another announcement: they’ve called off the engagement, and are instead moving in with each other. Sam, realizing that his previous tactic was faulty and feeling stressed about Joyce’s father’s letter, asks Diane to talk some sense into the kids.

“Stand aside, Sam, you’re about to see 26 units of psychology fly into action,” Diane says. In Sam’s office Joyce confesses that college was her mother’s idea and that she’s decided to not attend school after all. This obviously upsets Diane whose religion seems to be education, and just like her fiance she gets down on her hands and knees and begs Joyce and Woody to reconsider.

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Again, the kids agree to take their relationship slower and things are back to normal again.

The last scene of the episode shows Sam and Diane sitting on Sam’s couch pondering what kind of parents they are going to be and how they are going to avoid begging like a “dog begs for a bone” with their own children. Sam comes up with the brilliant (not) idea to simply stop having sex. They sit with that idea for a moment before Sam says “Well, maybe…” and the episode ends with them making out on the couch, obviously happy to forget about that terrible idea.

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This episode is great because we get to see Sam care about a woman he isn’t trying to sleep with. Although we have seen this briefly in previous episodes with Carla, something about Sam being so protective over this fresh-faced 18 year old girl was entirely refreshing. The audience does feel at times that maybe Sam only cares so much about keeping Joyce safe because he is trying to avoid the guilt of a possible suicide by Joyce’s father, but nonetheless Sam’s concern for Joyce felt believable and endearing to me. It was also just great to see Diane in a big sister role.

It’s rare to see Sam and Diane adopt the same exact method of anything let alone something as poignant as trying to stop a young couple from making a mistake. In the end, they both resorted to begging. I was left with the feeling that even though Sam and Diane have very little (if next to nothing) in common with one another, this simple (albeit desperate) approach they took with Joyce and Woody proved that they really could work as a team.

If only Coach were around to see that.

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