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March 26, 2007


Dave Lifton

I love the hell out of this episode.


I recall nothing else about that episode, but I still remember that poem. Magic.


Why doesn't Diane own any other shirts? love,annie


Funny - but why wouldn't we see something like this today? I mean, funny is funny, right?

The Minstrel Boy

so far, among the favorite things i've read here are your takes on irish folk music and russian poetry. great stuff. along with the people's reactions to them. i bet if you dug around the stacks you'd come up with the same treatment on the blues. . .

Tom Quigley

I've mentioned in the past about how the CHEERS writers were always so great in finding the comedy without forcing the characters to "go out of character," so to speak, and to be able to get a laugh out of actions which stem from their most basic human behavior traits... Another instance I thought of where it holds true (and Ken, I'm also not sure if you and David penned the episode) but was still hilarious, is where Sam substituted for a week as a sportscaster on the local news for Fred Dryer's character; and after being told that even as well-liked and as well-known a sports personality as Sam Malone was to Bostonians, he was too dull to be doing sports on TV... Whereby, digesting the criticism at his own Sam Malone intellectual level, he showed up the next night and did his sportscast to a rap beat coming from a boombox... I still laugh thinking about the last line he came up with: "...a fella with a groin injury, a g-g-g-groin injury..."I guess reading today's blog got me thinking about the Fred Dryer episode because I had heard somewhere where that he and Julia Duffy were both originally considered for the parts of Sam and Diane...

Tom Quigley

Meant to say "... AND was still hilarious..."


That poem has always summed up Russian literature for me. Incredibly, I quoted it to a couple of co-workers just last Friday.


Ken and all...If you've never had the pleasure, try and listen to Davinci's Notebook's (they're best known from the Bob and Tom syndicated morning show) Irish Drinking Song...the main character in the song sings to everyone in his family who has passed on. And they ALL have, each in an increasingly more bizarre way..."Now everybody's died, so until our tears are cried,we'll drink and drink and drink and drink and then we'll drink some more.We'll dance and sing and fight until the early mornin' light,then we'll throw up, pass out, wake up and then go drinkin' once again."But at least, this year, we eat.Cheers!


To answer Ian,Great shows like Cheers and Taxi allowed moments that simulated reality, moments where you could breathe, moments that weren't simply set-up, joke. And when the joke eventually came (character-driven, clever, smart yet not too written sounding) it was that much richer. A lot of the idiots running the asylum today seem to have forgotten all this. Or they think the audience is no longer interested in this. They're wrong.


Hilarious poem. Julia was so good in this episode. I like it when she decides she wants a man, somebody of good peasant stock. Hairy arms and one-word sentences.This was also maybe the first time Diane Chambers uses what turns out to be the same French in several episodes. When she displays her knowledge of French, it's almost always something which translates into, "I say, if you speak slowly, I can understand you." I think it was also used in the episode when Dianne, Sumner Sloan and Sam go out, but Sam is left out of the conversations. Je dit, S'il Vous Parlez lentement, je vous comprends. Something like that. It got to where Diane said it trippingly.

D. McEwan

The only thing more depressing than Russian poetry? Russian "Comedy".In London in 1994, I saw a production of an 1850 Russian comedy (It said it was a comedy right on the posters and programs, as how else would you know?) by Tugenev, called "A Month in the Country", which WAS how long it seemed to last.Helen Mirrin played a woman in her 50s who gets a letch for a handsome gent in his 20s (Joseph Finnes), like you do, and makes a pass at him. Result? All the characters's lives are destroyed and end in misery. A laff riot. You had to be a Nineteeth Century Russian to find a smile in it. (A typical Russian in 1850: "The cossacks never came and ate them. How hilarious!") Ever since, I've been referring to Turgenev as Turgidnev.Nicely acted though. John Hurt was also suffering in it.I think I'll go eat some worms.


I don't know ... to me "Ode to a Cornish Hen" is still my favorite piece of poetry from the series.


I have that scene memorized. "At least tonight we eat." Cracked me up.Another "Cheers" scene embedded in my brain is when Coach's daughter comes to visit, bringing along her hideous boyfriend. He's a suit salesman. He tries to sell Norm and Cliff an ugly suit by highlighting its flame-retardant qualities: He holds a lighter under the suit and says, "See? It won't burn!" And someone (maybe Sam) mutters, "Well, that's a drawback."Alice Beardsley (sp?) played the daughter. A lovely episode. "No, Roy. You don't get Pennsylvania and you don't get me. You just get more and more annoying."Great stuff.


The Russian poetry scene is my all-time favorite! Ken, you're my hero.Now, did you write the one where Carla, Fraiser, Lillith and Carla's brilliant son are out for dinner in a fancy restaurant. Fraiser advises the waiter that Lillith cannot eat something-or-other because of her delicate constitution. He deferrs to Carla and Carla says to Fraiser something like:"Thank you for asking, Fraiser. I too have a delicate constitution. (to the waiter) I can have nothing with extra-heavy barbecue sauce, or I will be repeating like a howitzer."If that was also you, well, there is no other Cheers writer in my opinion.


The poem reminds me of one of my (many) favourite lines from Withnail and I, in which Withnail is complaining about Russian drama,""Always full of women staring out of windows, whining about ducks going to Moscow"

serial catowner

Sorry I missed the chance to compliment you on the Irish music routine- every once in a while I just happen to think of it and start laughing. That's real comedy.


Dear Ken, just interested: this Karashnikov poem doesn't really have any Russian original, does it? I guess you've written yourself. Thanks for the answer.

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i like this part of the blog:"You’d think so. I used to find enormous comfort translating Russian poetry. But no more. Even when I went back over my favorite, Karashnikov’s “Another Christmas of Agony”, it failed to soothe me. (RECITING) “Mischa the dog lies dead in the bog. The children cry over the carcass. The mist chokes my heart, covers the mourners. At least this year we eat.”" is very good

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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