Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cheers Script from my Undergraduate Years

The following is one of the assignments from my scriptwriting class (1993). I remember we were assigned to write a script for the TV show Cheers—specifically with the theme “Cliff swears off beer” or something like that. I wasn’t that familiar with the show, but we watched an episode in class and I interviewed my mother about it. My friend Alice hated Cheers so much (and I relate—the characters are so mean) that she killed them all off at the end of her episode; if I recall correctly, a bomb was responsible.


SCENE: The Cheers bar. SAM, WOODY, and REBECCA behind bar, CARLA waiting on customers, FRASER at a table, CLIFF sitting next to NORM’s empty bar stool and carrying on a conversation with an imaginary NORM.

CLIFF: Hey, ol’ buddy, seen any good games lately?...Yeah? Did they win? 20 to nothing…. That’s amazing, Norm.

WOODY (to Sam): Gee, Norm hasn’t been here for almost a week. I wonder what’s up with him.

SAM: I don’t know, but I hope he comes here before Cliff starts talking to a big rabbit named Harvey.

CARLA: Maybe Norm fell over and he can’t get up. He’s just rolling around on the floor, trying to reach for a beer.

SAM: Could be Vera wants kids again. SHE might have him chained to the bed.

CARLA: Who’d she hire to help her chain him up? Arnold Schwarzenager?

NORM enters, anxiously glancing behind and looking around out of the corner of his eye, as though he thinks someone is chasing him.


SAM: Hey, there he is.

CLIFF: Hi there, Norm. Gosh, there’s two of you. I thought you were just here…

NORM sits at his customary spot next to CLIFF.

SAM: What’ll it be, Norm, the usual?


NORM beckons to SAM to come closer, and SAM leans over bar in front of NORM.

NORM: I gotta have a beer, Sam. NO, make it two beers. No, three.

REBECCA: Norm, are you all right? You’re not getting neurotic on us, are you?

NORM: I gotta have a beer. I gotta.

SAM: Ok.

SAM gives NORM a beer.

NORM: A whole week without beer.

CARLA: Gee, why didn’t I see that on the news last night?

SAM: Some reason why you haven’t had any beer?

NORM: I can’t take it anymore. That woman’s driving me crazy.

CLIFF: What—who’s driving you crazy? Vera?

NORM: No, her mom. Her mom’s visiting us from New York. She says if I don’t quite drinking, she’ll write us out of her will. I haven’t had a drink since she came.

WOODY: Why’s she against your drinking?

NORM: She’s a tea-totaler. Ever since her husband was killed by a drunk driver a couple months ago.

WOODY: Well, that makes sense….

NORM: Just because her husband died, why should I suffer?

WOODY: Yeah, why should you?

NORM: She’s got a bunch of money saved up. I could use it.

REBECCA: Since when are you interested in money?

NORM: Without that money, I may have to go out and get a job.

CARLA: Yeah, I’d like to see that happen.

CLIFF: I wouldn’t let some crazy old hag stop me drinking. She’s not gonna know, so long as you’re here.

NORM: I sure hope not….

CLIFF: What’s that supposed to mean?

NORM: My mother-in-law’s got a built-in radar that goes off when I’m drinking alcohol.

SAM: Hold on, Norm. You’ve got to be kidding. Nobody’s got a built-in radar. That’s impossible.

HILDA, NORM’s mother-in-law, storms in and slams the door behind her. She stands in front of door and glares at NORM for a moment.

HILDA: Aha! I knew I’d find you at a bar! I could sense it five miles away. And you’ve got beer, too! I may have to change my will.

NORM: I—I’m not drinking any beer. (He quickly shoves his beer toward CLIFF.) I—I was just about to order for some cranberry juice. Sam, I’d like a mug of cranberry juice. Make it a keg. On the rocks.

SAM: Ah, sure Norm.

SAM gets a bottle of cranberry juice out from under the counter. He glances at HILDA, makes sure she’s watching, gets out a glass, and pours the juice in clear sight of HILDA.

HILDA: That’s more like it. I’ll have one of those too.

SAM pours HILDA a tumbler of cranberry juice, and she sits near NORM. She gulps the drink down really fast. She then sets the tumbler down.

HILDA: Well, sonny, are you ready to go home to your wife?


HILDA: Just as I thought. Let’s go.

HILDA slaps some money on the counter before she and NORM leave. Everyone remaining is frozen and silent for a moment.

CLIFF: Gosh. Poor old buddy. That’s awful.

WOODY: Yeah, I feel real sorry for him. Want another beer?

CLIFF: Nah, I don’t think I could drink any more, after seeing such a terrible scene….Sure, just one more.

REBECCA: That’s an idea. If Norm can quite drinking—

CARLA: He may quit living.

REBECCA: If Norm can quit drinking, we can all show that we’re strong, self-respecting, self-possessed human beings who can stand on our own two feet. Let’s each give up something.

FRASER: And those of us who are incapable of proving that we’re strong, self-respecting, self-possessed human beings who can stand on our own two feet—can make the greatest possible effort to convince the rest of us that they are strong, self-respecting, self-possessed human beings who can stand on their own two feet.

WOODY: Could you say that once more?

FRASER: No. Why, do you like the rhythm?

WOODY: No, I just…had a piece of wax plugging up my ear.

SAM: Hey, we could do this as a bet. Whoever survives the longest wins twenty bucks. We can all chip in. Let’s see who’s man enough to go through with it.

REBECCA: Or woman enough.

CLIFF: Well, I guess I could give up alcohol. Gee, I sure feel sorry for poor Norm. What are the rest of you going to give up?

REBECCA: I’ll…I’ll give up…chocolate.

SAM takes a huge box of chocolates out from under the counter, drops it on the counter, opens it, and offers it to everyone, under REBECCA’s nose. She stares, grabbing the edge of the counter. SAM pops a chocolate into his mouth and chews, savoring, making “mmmmm” noises.

REBECCA: You are evil, spiteful and malicious. You also have horrible table manners.

SAM: What’s wrong? Not woman enough to go through with this?

REBECCA: On the contrary, Sam. I’m more woman than you’ll ever be.

CLIFF: It’s your turn, Woody.

WOODY: OK, I’ll have the kind with  raspberry filling.

REBECCA (Trying to remain calm): He means, what are you giving up?

WOODY: Gosh, I guess I…well…

CARLA: Well? Say it.

WOODY: It’s…I guess it’s about time I give up…my teddy bear.

CARLA (laughing): Your teddy bear! Sure you don’t wanna give up diapers first?

SAM: Ah, come on. Give him credit for honesty.

CARLA: Well, Sam, you know what you’ve got to give up.

SAM: What?

CARLA leans over the counter across from SAM.

CARLA: You gotta give up chasing women.

SAM: Hey, wait a minute!

CHORUS: She’s right, Sam. Can’t back out now. (etc)

SAM: Hey, this isn’t fair.

REBECCA: Yes it is.

SAM: You’re all giving up little things….Like chocolate, and teddy bears…. You’re asking me to give up…a way of life.

REBECCA: It’s only temporary, you know. Or aren’t you man enough to do it?

CLIFF: Here, Sam. I’ll make it easier for you. I’ll give up women too.

CARLA: Oh, that makes a world of difference.

SAM: I don’t know…Aw, all right. For now.

SAM notices a stunning-looking WOMAN enter the bar.

SAM: I hope Norm’s mother-in-law goes home really soon…Your turn, Fraser. I’ll be right back….

SAM starts heading toward the WOMAN who just entered, but he runs up against CARLA.

CARLA: Back up, Sam. Keep your testosterone behind the counter.

SAM moves back behind the counter, glances resentfully at CARLA, and then listens to FRASER.

FRASER: Very well, then, it’s my turn. I’m willing to sacrifice. For the duration of this experiment, I’ll refrain from reading Elizabethan sonnets.

SAM: Ah, come on.

CARLA: Good idea. I’ll do the same.

REBECCA: Isn’t there something else you can give up?

FRASER: I do have tickets for Thursday’s performance of Wagner’s Das Ring des Nibelung. (Patting his breast pocket.) I could let my wife go see it without me….No, I couldn’t.

REBECCA: Yes, you could.

FRASER: I’ve been anticipating this for weeks. It’s a Viennese touring company.

CLIFF: We’re all giving up something. Do it for Norm.

FRASER: Ah, well, here. I shall be truly magnanimous, and let one of you enjoy the performance that I shall be unable to attend. Is anyone free Thursday night?

WOODY: I’ll hold it for you.

FRASER reluctantly hands ticket to WOODY.

REBECCA: You only have one ticket with you?

FRASER: My wife has the other ticket. I am willing to let her see the performance without me.

SAM: Should I frisk him?

CLIFF: Nah, we can take his word for it.

SAM: OK, who hasn’t given something up yet? Carla?

CARLA: What is this, Lent?

SAM: I know what you can give up.

CARLA: What do you have in mind—my virginity?

SAM: How about if you quit picking on people.

CARLA: You mean like—be nice?

SAM: That’s right.

CARLA gasps and chokes and carries on. Suddenly she’s perfectly calm.

CARLA: I can do it. No problem.

SCENE: A couple days later. WOODY is behind the counter, hugging a beer mug as though it were a teddy bear. FRASER is reading the libretto of the opera he expects to miss. CLIFF is on his customary stool, where he is drinking apple juice. REBECCA leans against the counter and smokes a cigarette, as she stares at the box of chocolate that is still in the same place. CARLA is serving drinks at a table. SAM is pouring drinks.

CLIFF: This apple juice isn’t bad. It looks like beer in my mug, but it’s so much more wholesome than beer. Fruit juice has all those nutrients in it, and this stuff is all natural. No sugar, no preservatives.

SAM notices a gorgeous WOMAN come in, and she winks at him.

SAM: Apple juice isn’t the only thing that’s natural.

CARLA, approaching the counter, opens her mouth to speak, but doesn’t say anything. She grips a stool as she resists the temptation to be mean.

CLIFF: It reminds me of a family picnic I went to when I was ten years old. My family showed up late and the only thing to drink was apple juice. I drank so much I got really sick and haven’t touched it since…I’ve gotta have a beer.

The WOMAN is at a table, ogling SAM, who ogles back at her while he starts nibbling on chocolates.

CLIFF: Sam, those chocolates aren’t as healthy as apple juice. Chocolates are full of sugar and caffeine, they’re bad for your teeth, and they prolong zits.

SAM pigs out on the chocolates, turning the WOMAN off. A male customer, presumably her HUSBAND, comes in and sits by her, while CARLA notices the way SAM is eating.

CARLA: I could say something about the wrong kind of appetite, but I’m nice, so I won’t.

A CUSTOMER of any gender comes in, sits on a bar stool, and notices the way WOODY is hugging the beer mug.

CUSTOMER (to CARLA): What’s wrong with him?

CARLA opens her mouth wide open, as if to speak, and doesn’t say anything for a moment.

CARLA: Beats me. Want a drink? There’s …a special on Scotch today.

NORM comes in, excited.


NORM gets to his bar stool and thumps his hand on the counter.

NORM: Pour me a beer, Sam. My mother-in-law’s plane left twenty minutes ago. My tea-totaling days are over!

Everyone cheers and rushes to whatever they gave up.

CARLA (Refering to Norm): Better just get him his own barrel with a really big straw.


REBECCA runs to the box of chocolates on the counter and starts pigging out.

CARLA: Gee, I knew I should’ve put something poisonous in those candies.

CLIFF: I’ll have a beer too, Sam.

CARLA: Have some more apple juice instead. It’s healthier.

Meanwhile, WOODY whips out his teddy bear from under the counter and gives it a hug.

CARLA (to WOODY): Had your diaper changed recently?

FRASER checks his watch.

FRASER: Gadzooks! It’s seven thirty—the opera starts in half an hour. Woody, pray give me back that ticket.

WOODY is distracted by his teddy bear.

WOODY: What ticket, Fraser?

FRASER: Don’t do this to me—not now, Woody. Where’s the ticket?

SAM is flirting with a woman CUSTOMER, WOODY turns away to pour drinks for a group of people, and FRASER is trying to be patient while he waits for WOODY.

SAM (to CUSTOMER): How about a bottle of champaigne. At my place. Saturday night.

(CLIFF turns on the TV.)

CLIFF: Let’s see what’s on the news.

While everyone’s goofing around, the news is on the TV and at first they ignore it, until the following report comes on…

TV REPORTER: Tonight, according to Donna Smith, flight attendant for Delta airlines, all flights from the Logan Airport have been delayed, due to severe weather conditions. The fog is not expected to clear till late tomorrow night.

The camera is on NORM. When he hears this, he chokes and spits out his beer. Everyone’s frozen for a moment. The phone rings, and WOODY answers it.

WOODY: Cheers bar.

HILDA (VO on phone): Get Norm on the phone this minute!

WOODY: Norm, it’s for you. It sounds like your mother-in-law.

REBECCA (pushing away box of chocolates): I guess this means we’ve all gotta hold on for another night.

WOODY: Sam, can I take the evening off? I wanna go see the show.

SAM glances at FRASER.

SAM: Sure, go ahead.

CARLA: Hey, Woody, don’t forget your ted—

WOODY: My what?

CARLA: Ticket. Your ticket.

WOODY checks wallet.

WOODY: It’s here.

REBECCA: Are you leaving your teddy bear behind?

WOODY: Yeah, it’s under the counter.

REBECCA: Good. I may need it.

SAM: You don’t need a teddy bear. I’m here.

REBECCA: I’d rather hug a rattle snake.

WOODY leaves.

FRASER: Oh, what a deplorable turn of fate.

CLIFF: Here. You can drink my beer, if it makes you feel better.

SCENE: Same place, the following day. Everyone is doing their usual stuff.

NORM: Sure is great to be back to normal.

SAM: Hey, Woody, did you enjoy the opera?

WOODY: Yeah, it was swell. The first scene takes place under water, with all these mermaids. And there’s a dwarf who steals a lump of gold out of the river, and he gets really powerful because of the gold. The story’s based on German folklore, you see, like most of Wagner’s operas.

FRASER: Well, I’m impressed, Woody. I didn’t know you had the distinctive taste to enjoy a Wagnerian opera.

WOODY: Oh, yeah, Fraser. I got you a Wagner t-shirt.

WOODY holds up a t-shirt illustrated with a caricature of Richard Wagner.

FRASER: I’m…speechless.

CARLA: That’s gotta be a first.

SAM: So you really liked the show.

WOODY: Yeah, and you should have seen the cookies and cakes they were selling in the lobby. But the best part was the water fountain.

FRASER: There was a functioning water fountain onstage?

WOODY: No, it was over by the men’s restroom. You push really hard on the button, and the water squirts up and gets people wet.

CLIFF: Fun night at the opera.

WOODY: Trouble is, the people who got wet didn’t seem too happy. A couple of ushers had to come along and stop these guys from beating me up.

CARLA: You should go to the opera more often, Woody. Must’ve livened the place up.

WOODY: But I don’t understand. I said I was sorry.

NORM: Pass me another beer, Sam. Gee, it’s just like old times.

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