Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day at CHEERS

This is a scene from a CHEERS David Isaacs and I wrote. One of the many Bar Wars episodes. In this one, it’s St. Patrick's Day. Woody had been guarding the bar all night in anticipation that Gary might try to pull something.
INT. BAR – MORNING

SAM TURNS ON THE LIGHT. HE ENTERS WITH CARLA AND NORM. WE SEE THE BAR IS ENCASED IN CINDER BLOCKS. SPRAY PAINTED ON THEM ARE “HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY.”

SAM
Oh my God. Gary.

CARLA
He topped it.

NORM
Walled off from the keg. I want him dead. His family… dead. His friends… dead. His pets…DEAD.

SAM
That rat! I’ll kill him!

NORM
I thought you were going to have Woody stand guard so this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.

WOODY (V.O.)
I’m sorry, Sam. I fell asleep.

CARLA
They bricked Woody up inside the bar.

NORM
First he marries a rich girl and now this. I tell you, that guy was born lucky.

NORM EXITS TO THE POOL ROOM.

CARLA
Boy, Sam. This thing is sealed up tight.

SAM
How you doing in there, Woody? You okay?

WOODY (V.O.)
I’m feeling a little light headed.

CARLA
Thank God, he’s okay.

NORM ENTERS FROM THE POOL ROOM OPENING A CAN OF BEER.

SAM
Hey, Norm, where’d you get that beer?

NORM
I’ve got a couple cans squirreled around the bar for emergencies. I always thought it would be a nuclear thing, but this qualifies.

AN IRISH BAND ENTERS. THEY’RE ALL WEARING CABLE-KNIT SWEATERS. ONE OF THEM IS NAMED SEAN.

SEAN
Where do you want us to set up, Mr. Malone?

SAM
How about right there? (POINTS UPSTAGE; THEN, TO THE GANG) See, guys? We can still win this thing. The band’s here, we’ve got the green beer… all we need to do is take down this wall and hustle like there’s no tomorrow. Okay? Now I want to see a winning attitude here. A little positivity.

THE BAND BEGINS TO SING AND PLAY A SLOW IRISH BALLAD:

SEAN
(singing) “They broke into our Dublin home, the dirty English dogs. They took away my sister and they beat my dad with logs.”

THEY BREAK INTO A QUICK UP BEAT IRISH JIG FOR A BEAT, THEN RESUME THE LYRICS:

SEAN
(singing) “Along the ring of Kerry you can hear the bleat of gulls, I’ll sip the blood of the English from their bleached and hollowed skulls.” (TO THE BAR) Everybody!!

WOODY (V.O.)
Boy, if they look as good as they sound, Gary’s doesn’t stand a chance.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BAR – LATER

ENOUGH OF THE CINDER BLOCKS HAVE BEEN CHIPPED AWAY TO RENDER THE BAR FUNCTIONAL. WOODY IS BEHIND THE BAR. THE BAND IS STILL PLAYING.

SEAN
(finishing a dirge) “…And everywhere I looked was death, death, death.”

A SMATTERING OF APPLAUSE.

SEAN
And now for a sad song. (STRUMS A CHORD, SINGS) “Twas a baby’s crib…”

SAM
(interrupting) That’s it! You’re finished. Here’s your money. Get out.

SEAN
Go to hell.

THE BAND EXITS.

SAM
Well, it’s over. I guess we should add up the receipts and see how we did.

CARLA
What’s the total, Woody?

WOODY
(figuring on a calculator) One million five hundred thousand dollars.

FRASIER
Decimal point, Woody.

WOODY
Hold everything. A hundred and fifty even.

19 comments:

Richard said...

Great episode, I remember watching it the night it aired.

Rock Golf said...

As someone whose whole bloodline is Irish, I'm usual unimpressed with attempts at jokes about the Irish culture.

But the band lyrics in this excerpt... perfect!

I've probably read or seen that "Twas a baby's crib..." line a dozen times and it slays me every damn time.

Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Where's our review of Horace and Pete?
I could only take one and a half episodes. Louis kept taking his shirt off by episode two, and I couldn't deal. Also, his characters kept repeating themselves. It was as if the writer thought viewers were always leaving the room. It went from Playhouse 90, to a shitty soap full of Louis' middle-aged belly. Also, Jessica Lange is melting, Ken. She's melting.

–Doobie

Terry said...

I remember this episode well, Ken. The Bar Wars ones were always my favorites. Years ago I was watching the movie "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" in the theater with a friend (it's the Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez film about a bar full of vampires, if you're not familiar) and toward the end I leaned over to him and said "Watch, it's going to turn out that the whole thing was a prank by Gary." Without missing a beat, my friend replied "Gotcha again, Malone!"

Scott Cooley said...

This is brilliant - thank you for sharing. It's like entering a time machine and being dropped in the middle of 1984.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

My all-time Cheers fav'

Matthew Kugler said...

Friday Question: I recently finished writing a new spec pilot and am faced with the dilemma of what to start writing next. I'm not very interested by any of the ideas I've scribbled down in the past or recently so I'm feeling a little aimless. How do you find inspiration for your ideas and how early (or late) in the process do you settle on whether it's one worth exploring?

Brian said...

Thanks for the flashback! And now for a happy post....

o'thirteen said...

As someone of Irish descent on both sides, and as a fan of Really Good Stuff, I've always loved the Sean's Band thing. It's as perfect as me mither's smile was before the Sassenach did that thing to her with the butt of a bloody rifle.

Also, for some reason, I've got an idea for a ballad entitled "I'm Not a Robot, Just a Wee Bit Drunk."

The Curmudgeon said...

Ah, sure, my good Cuban wife being safely out of the house, I was listening to a Chieftains album I'd just bought at high volume. And a grand song was playing -- Mick Jagger joined the boys for this one -- about an innocent man who'd been hanged for murder because he couldn't provide his ironclad alibi because, at the time the crime was committed, he was sleeping with his best friend's wife, and now the wife is tromping around the Irish countryside in a long black veil, weeping over Mick Jagger's grave, not that it's doing him any particular good, mind you, and wouldn't you know but it's during all this that my own good wife comes in, and there's the poor woman standing there, horror-struck, in the entrance to the den. "What are you listening to? That's the most depressing thing I've ever heard in my entire life."

Well, sure now, you've seem them Spanish churches, each statue dripping with blood and gore. You have to go some to depress a Hispanic with art.

"Well," says I, this is one of the more cheerful ones."

So I thought the song lyrics in the Bar Wars episode most appropriate.

And a Happy St. Paddy's Day to you, Mr. O'Levine

John Hammes said...

Morbid dirges in sitcoms... this could be the next "thing" .

Actually, "Sean's Band" could be the next "thing". Please tell me they are still available for weddings and class reunions.

Dana King said...

I remember this episode well. One of my favorites from any sitcom.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Great stuff. The number of jokes played off Woody's character -- so good, so priceless.

Charles H. Bryan said...

And now for a sad song.

Brilliant. I love that style of line.

As always, Thanks, Ken.

Andy Rose said...

That was a great scene. Woody did a marvelous job (as usual) of letting a funny line do its job rather than trying to oversell it, which I'm sure was tempting when nobody can see you.

I've always wondered, did they use actual cinder blocks?

Dodgerdawg said...

Speaking of odd bands, in Frazier one episode involved Niles and Frazier scrambling for tickets to see the Tuvian Throat Singers. I know you live in Los Angeles and those jolly fellows have performed more than once at McCabe's -- with yours truly in attendance -- my question is, did you ever partake in their particular glory? Or was that one of those things that sounded funny whether or not one actually attended?

The gentlemen in the band built their own instruments and gradually learned English enough to generate a little patter with the audience. They really were quite entertaining in a unique sort of LA way, but not for Niles's crowd I don't think. Anyway I wonder what the genesis of that idea was.

cd1515 said...

Friday question:
in a sitcom, how aware are you of "we have to give each person something to do"?
obviously the stars are covered but if a few episodes go by and one of the supporting actors is kind of ignored or minimalized, do they or their agents get upset?
how much lobbying goes on to spread the screen time among everyone?

Stoney said...

Nice job by George Wendt doing Robert De Niro from "The Untouchables". ("I want him dead...")

Paul Vigna said...

"And now for a sad song" is still one of my all-time favorite lines, in anything, ever.