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Thread: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

  1. #1
    White Castle to the Nile Crash Davis's Avatar
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    "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Avid readers of the "Sportsguy", Bill Simmons, may remember his breakdown of Cheers vs. Seinfeld...among his other breakdowns which include gems such as: who would win in a game between "Hoosiers" and "The White Shadow"?

    ESPN2 has recently put much of Simmons' work on the Insider portion of the website, but they are currently running the Cheers vs. Seinfeld article in their vault.

    Here goes:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...s/vault/020221

    We've all been dancing around the most controversial breakdown of our generation. Yeah, that's right ... "Cheers" Vs. "Seinfield." Dr. Jack, the floor is yours. -- K. Fitzgerald, Manchester, Conn.

    SG: Damn. And you thought the "Who would win between Hickory High and Carver High in a seven-game series?" question from last summer was tough.

    All right, let's break this down, Dr. Jack-style:

    Stars: Jerry Seinfeld wasn't really acting, was he? Wasn't he basically playing himself and shifting his nightclub act to the small screen? Wasn't he more of a straight man, a facilitator? As for Ted Danson, he created a memorable, multi-dimensional, likable, hysterical character. ... I mean, it didn't get much better than Sam Malone. Jerry needed the actual material to make you laugh; Sammy could make you laugh without saying a line. I would even call him a borderline comedic genius. And he could go serious on you, too. Frankly, it's no contest. EDGE: "Cheers."

    Supporting Cast: Elaine, Kramer and George. That's a murderers' row. You could make a case that Elaine was the funniest female TV character of all-time; Kramer was the funniest "wacky sitcom character"; and George was the funniest TV character of all-time, period. Who was funnier than George Costanza? He's the only sitcom character who ever made me consistently laugh out loud ... and yes, I'm including Screech, J.J. Walker, Joey Tribbiani and Jack Tripper. He kills me to this day.

    And I liked all of the running fringe characters (George's parents, Newman, Puddy, etc.) except for Mr. and Mrs. Seinfeld (who never brought anything to the table and should have been put out to pasture after the two-part raincoats episode). "Cheers" probably matches them for running fringe characters though (Harry the Con Man, Eddie LeBeck, Nick Tortelli).

    As for the "Cheers" supporting cast, Norm Peterson was my second-favorite sitcom character of all-time (nobody had a better entrance). Diane Chambers worked perfectly in the early years, but ultimately became overbearing. Cliff Clavin was a tour-de-force, one of the more original sitcom characters out there. Same with Frasier (do you realize Kelsey Grammar is going on 17 years playing that guy? Has to be a record). I enjoyed Carla as long as they weren't revolving an episode around her. The only characters I never really liked were Rebecca Howe and Lilith, but "Cheers" was running on fumes for those last few years.

    And then there was Coach, the heart and soul of that show; it was never the same after he left (Woody was a poor man's version of him). I always thought "Cheers" was a show until Coach died, then it became a sitcom, if that makes sense.

    At gunpoint, I have to go with the "Seinfeld" cast. I just can't imagine any scenario in which the Elaine-Kramer-George trio could be topped. It's impossible. EDGE: "Seinfeld."

    Best Celebrity Cameo: Both shows played this card beautifully over the years -- Kevin McHale, Keith Hernandez, Roger McDowell, Jon Voight, Wade Boggs, George Steinbrenner, Terry Hatcher, Marlee Matlin, etc. -- but the best celebrity cameo was from the two-part "Seinfeld" episode when Hernandez dates Elaine ("I'm Keith Hernandez ... I won the MVP in '79"). Other than Joe Montana's doing the "That's OK ... I'm going upstairs to masturbate" sketch on SNL in the mid-'80s, Hernandez's appearance destroys everything else I can remember -- that was one of the five best "Seinfeld" episodes of all-time. You know it's good when I'm ranking it ahead of McHale playing for the "Cheers" hoops team. EDGE: "Seinfeld."

    Main Set: Jerry's apartment versus the bar from "Cheers"? Puh-leeeze. Throw in New York versus Boston and it's no contest. EDGE: "Cheers."

    "Jump the Shark" Factor: "Seinfeld" jumped when Elaine straightened out her hair and Kramer revealed that his first name was "Cosmo"; "Cheers" jumped when Sam and Diane got engaged. Both of them were still watchable after these things happened ... they just weren't nearly as good. Hey, it happens. "Cheers" might have jumped sooner than "Seinfeld," but "Cheers" did a better job of integrating new characters and remaining somewhat fresh, whereas "Seinfeld" drove its four main characters into the ground. Couldn't they have thrown in a steady girlfriend for George or something? EDGE: Even.

    Sexual tension: As good as Elaine and Jerry were, they can't come close to Sam and Diane. Their relationship fueled that show for three consecutive years and banged home the "Women are utterly and completely insane" concept for me as a fledgling teenager. Thank you, Diane Chambers. BIG EDGE: "Cheers."

    Consistency, originality and durability: The "Seinfeld" re-runs hold up much better these days; better-written, more original, more modern, outright funnier shows. But "Cheers" was hindered by the limits of sitcoms in the '80s -- one set, one plot, one resolution -- so it's tough to really blame them for that. And it showed a little soul and a little emotion from time to time, which "Seinfeld" simply wouldn't and couldn't do. "Cheers" remains the last great old-fashioned sitcom, the finest of its kind. They don't make 'em like that anymore. EDGE: Even.

    Cultural Significance: Has there ever been a water cooler comedy quite like "Seinfeld"? And what about all the phrases from "Seinfeld" that became part of pop culture (like "Not that there's anything wrong with that"), or the quirky one-shot characters (the close-talker, the virgin, etc.). BIG EDGE: "Seinfeld."

    Watershed Episode: Tough call for "Cheers"... I'd probably go with the Thanksgiving episode when everyone threw food at one another at Carla's house. Some inspired comedy there. For "Seinfeld," it's obviously "The Contest," in my opinion, the second-funniest sitcom in history (behind Larry Sanders' "Roast" episode). There's comedy, there's high comedy, there's transcendent comedy, and then there's George Costanza visiting his mother in the hospital just so he can peek in on the lady getting the sponge bath. EDGE: "Seinfeld."

    Final Episode: "Cheers" ended things pretty well. Not great ... but OK. The final "Seinfeld" episode ranks right up there with "Rocky V," "Another 48 Hours" and "Fletch Lives" for me ... in other words, let's just pretend it never happened. EDGE: "Cheers."

    Final Verdict: "Cheers" was a more complete all-around show (funny, heartwarming, well-acted, not afraid to introduce new characters), but "Seinfeld's" ceiling was just a little higher (groundbreaking, unique, unpredictable, and consistently great for five or six years). Much like they're might be another Michael Jordan, but there will never be another Larry Bird... there might be another "Cheers," but there will never be another "Seinfeld." EDGE: Seinfeld.
    "I fought because I understood and could not bear to understand, that it was my destiny -- unlike that of my father, whose fate it was to hear the roar of the crowd -- to sit in the stands with most men and acclaim others. It was my fate, my destiny, my end, to be a fan."

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  3. #2
    Member Reds4Life's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    I don't know why everyone liked Seinfeld so much, I watched it a few times and was less than impressed. Cheers on the other hand, was a good show.
    Pessimists are well informed optimists

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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    You also have to give a big tick to the spin-off from Cheers - Frasier.

  5. #4
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Seinfeld kicks Cheers butt and I like Cheers.

    In 20 years Seinfeld wil still be brilliant and Cheers will be even more dated than it is now.

    It's like the difference between The Andy Griffith Show and Leave it to Beaver
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

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    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Cheers got old..fast..even the reruns seem to run together.
    Go Gators!

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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro
    Seinfeld kicks Cheers butt and I like Cheers.

    In 20 years Seinfeld wil still be brilliant and Cheers will be even more dated than it is now.

    It's like the difference between The Andy Griffith Show and Leave it to Beaver
    What he said.. but it is also like comparing Family Guy to the Simpsons.. both are good.. but just can't compare them.
    "As long as I have fun playing, the stats will take care of themselves." - Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Seinfeld. No contest.

  9. #8
    The wino and I know bucksfan's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    It's all what you like - IMO Cheers, no contest... I think mostly because people like most of the main characters in Seinfeld I believe I would have absolutely loathed if I had met them as real people, except maybe Kramer. Nonetheless, Seinfeld was a good show to me also, but the fact that I liked the Cheers characters better swings it for me.
    "I'm virtually free to do whatever I want, but I try to remember so is everybody else..." - Todd Snider

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    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    What he said.. but it is also like comparing Family Guy to the Simpsons.. both are good.. but just can't compare them.
    The Simpsons is my favorite TV show ever, without any competition at all.

    and I love your avatar.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan
    I think mostly because people like most of the main characters in Seinfeld I believe I would have absolutely loathed if I had met them as real people, except maybe Kramer.
    But that's the point of the show...these people do and say the terrible, misanthropic things that everyone thinks about on a daily basis but doesn't do because of society's mores. They aren't supposed to be real people. Half the humor comes from watching the responses of real people to their antics, and the way they finally get their comeuppance.

    Cheers had some legendary characters and some great moments. But at the end of the day it was relatively pedestrian, by-the-book, TV comedy in, say, the tradition of MASH. Seinfeld broke all the rules.

    For me, obviously, it's Seinfeld in a Secretariat-at-the-Belmont walk, and frankly I suspect if Simmons wasn't from Boston he'd agree.

  12. #11
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Last edited by GAC; 09-16-2005 at 08:17 AM.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

  13. #12
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Cheers was never good, but Seinfeld is NOT aging well.

  14. #13
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Cheers NEVER any good? I guess it all boils down to personal taste.

    I've got the first 4 seasons of Seinfeld on DVD. I don't have any of Cheers. So you know where my vote goes.

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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    Let me stretch a metaphor here...

    Cheers was like the 70's-era Rolling Stones, a big loud rowdy band with lots of guitar players, horns, black chicks singing background, everyone being a show-off, all just a big rollicking sloppy good time in front of a big loud crowd.

    Seinfeld was more like the late-60's Beatles, finely crafted, chamber music background strings, studio quality mixed, all done far away from the live stage, unbelievably great music, but just a tad sterile.

    Pay attention to the open sky

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: "Cheers" vs. "Seinfeld"

    You need to get out more Roy.

    GIDDYUP!
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations


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