If I Could Write a Happy Ending for “Sam & Diane”
Posted on April 9, 2015
Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
Having stumbled upon the old “Cheers” program with Ted Danson and Shelly Long showing on a Hallmark Channel in the wee hours of the morning, I am even more certain an ideal resolution is desirable for their rocky romance. The “last call” for this long-running situation comedy set in a Boston pub came in 1993, but the storyline lives on in American culture.
Sam “Mayday” Malone, played by Danson, had been a hot shot closing pitcher for the Red Sox, a playboy and recovering alcoholic who owned the “Cheers” bar when Diane Chambers, played by Long, a smart albeit overaged graduate assistant, found her way into the cozy pub “where everybody knows your name”. On the heels of a failed engagement with her professor/employer, Sam gave Diane a waitress’ job at “Cheers”. Thus, the repartee between the unlikely couple – an ex jock and an intellectual – heated up, as did the electricity of their covert attraction to each other.
Although they finally got together, Sam & Diane consistently allowed outside social forces stemming from their different backgrounds to drive a wedge between their love. In fact, the series’ finale included a return visit from Diane, who by then had left “Cheers” to pursue a writing career in Hollywood (when Chambers left the show to pursue other projects). Despite dalliances with others, each was still single and still cared for each. Sam decided to leave Boston and go to California with Diane but once again they allowed unsolicited opinions from those around them, as well as what they perceived would be society’s frown on their sharing a life together, to break them up.
Twenty-two years have passed since “Cheers” came to a conclusion. I would love to see Danson and Long reprise their roles as Sam & Diane when the now white-haired Sam, who still owns Cheers but only substitutes as a bartender there when necessary, hears news of a gifted young pitcher in the Cape Cod Baseball League – Samuel M. Chambers. The young phenome pitcher had passed up a chance to play with the majors just out of high school to accept a full scholarship to Stanford. Now, in addition to pursuit of his passion for baseball, he is doing graduate study in literature at Harvard. You can see where this going ……
As it turns out during her return to Boston in 1993, Sam & Diane had a romantic interlude. She became pregnant. However, for fear that she and Sam would marry only because of the child, she did not tell him.
In classic “Cheers” fashion the story would pick up as Sam learns he is indeed young Samuel’s father. Sam & Diane would work through their resentment over lost time with each other and rearing the boy together. Sam would realize that over the years Diane told Samuel about the best of his father. Diane would realize that though still handsome for his age, Sam is no longer quite the stud he was when they met – but he truly is the man she loves.
In the meantime, Samuel encounters the beautiful daughter of simplistic farm boy Woody Boyd, played by Woody Harrelson, who had come to Boston from the Mid-West. Woody tended bar at “Cheers” and married a wealthy, stunning, Boston socialite, the also simplistic Kelly Gaines, played by Jackie Swanson. The brilliant Samuel falls for the Kelly look-alike daughter, whose ‘take everything literally thinking’, is much like her parents. Another unlikely pair for the “Cheers” story is created.
With the ole “Cheers’ ” gang present – hopefully a return of the original cast members and another rendition of the “Kelly Song” – at their son’s wedding on “The Cape” to Woody’s and Kelly’s daughter , Sam & Diane come to terms with having missed being parents together, and take joy in the promise of sharing being grandparents together. At last they stand up to the social pressure that had kept them apart in the past. Maybe even a double wedding ceremony takes place, solidifying the “Cheers” family !
Yes, If I could write a happy ending – this would be one.