In that other classic workplace-as-family sitcom, the bar really is the star of the show. In the pilot, there’s little need for exposition or explanation, as the characters are introduced one by one, first bartender/owner Sam (Ted Danson), self-styled intellectual Diane (Shelley Long), dotty old bartender Coach (Nicholas Colasanto), acid-tongued waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman), and regulars Norm (George Wendt) and Cliff (John Ratzenberger).
What little plot there is sees Sam hiring the jilted and abandoned Diane as a waitress, much to Carla’s consternation. The characters are pretty much fully realized, with their chemistry for the most part already established through the show’s rapid-fire banter. (Norm and Cliff’s friendship isn’t apparent yet, and the conversational sparks between Sam and Diane barely hint at the long, cataclysmic romance to come.) Clearest of all is the level of craftsmanship involved – the cast, writers Glen and Les Charles, and director James Burrows – that will set a high bar for sitcom execution for the next three decades.
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