Saturday, October 15, 2016

The CHEERS intelligence graph

Compliments of

As someone who wrote these characters for nine years, this would be my order:

(now comes a big drop)

Sam was dumbed down over the years but at least during the first few seasons he was very smart and savvy.  So if you average his IQ over the seasons he still comes out way ahead, certainly better than Cliff.

I can't believe they put Cliff anywhere near the top.

Why Coach over Woody?   They were both pretty addled.  But you figure that before he was hit in the head by too many fastballs, the Coach was probably smarter.  Although, now that I think about it, how intelligent do you have to be to just get out of the way?  

This is a re-post from four years ago.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I think it's pretty common for people to confuse intelligence with knowing a lot of information. I would agree Cliff doesn't deserve his high ranking - he obviously has a very good *memory* for trivia, but that's not intelligence, just something that helps you *use* your intelligence.

FWIW, I thought if Diane were smarter she'd have been less pretentious. Lilith, for example, was less pretentious than she was narrowly focused on her interests. At least, that's my impression from the minority of episodes of CHEERS that I've seen.

PS: I am so, so tired of street signs and STOREFRONTS!

B.A. said...

Dan Meth is a genius! By Instagram standards!
Reading about Woody Harrelson a few days ago reminded me of the "bachelor auction" episode from CHEERS that had Sharon Barr chain smoking throughout. "Where does all the smoke go?" "I'm more interested in where it comes out." I don't recall ever seeing this ep in syndication, and I saw a ton of CHEERS reruns.

Mark said...

A Friday question.

Why do most tv shows feel that everything has to be SO BIG. Hawaii Five-0, the original, was about solving a crime of the week with interesting twists and characters. I watched one episode of the new series (and only one) and it was almost about preventing the end of the world. We loved the first year of Longmire but it's got this overarching story line of good versus evel that overwhelms the rest of the show.

It's as if "Going, Going, Gone" couldn't be about folks in a press box, it would have to be about folks in a press box after hearing nuclear missles have been launched at the stadium and they only had two hours left to live.

So people need that level of drama in their shows to appreciate them? I find it tedious and boring and uninteresting.

I'd appreciate your insights, even though it doesn't apply to sitcoms. Fortunately.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I say Carla is fourth smartest. She made bad decisions on men but that has nothing to do with intelligence. she was quite sharp.

Covarr said...

I think it's odd even to see Diane that high up. She's educated, yes, but I was never convinced she actually understood her education. She reminded me of Michael Stivic in that sense, albeit not to the same degree. She seemed to be someone whose mind was full of facts, but she didn't necessarily process those facts to any meaningful conclusions. And she was quick to make awful decisions, because she was virtually incapable of looking at the consequences of her actions beyond the most obvious and most immediate.

Kosmo13 said...

I would suggest that the smartest recurring character on "Cheers" was the one played by Harry Anderson.

MikeN said...

I thought Cliff's intelligence was mostly bluster.

As far as the actors go, Norm should be at the top. Check out his appearance on The Weakest Link.

Green Luthor said...

"Although, now that I think about it, how intelligent do you have to be to just get out of the way?"

Wasn't it established that Coach got hit on purpose, basically ensuring he would always get on base when he was batting? I recall he had the ability to get himself hit by any pitch thrown his way, no matter how far off. (He offered to demonstrate this talent for Diane; Coach went back into the pool table room, and told Diane to throw him a pitch. Diane: "Okay, but it's not going to go anywhere near him." Sam: "That's the point." Diane's look of horror at beaning Coach in the head was priceless.)

Unknown said...

This talk about "intelligence" brought to mind the episode wherein Diane lends Sam a first-edition of "For Whom The Bell Tolls".
Remember how that turned into farce, with Sam water-damaging the book?
This is how I'd have done it:
Sam starts reading the novel, and finds that he's liking it.
Stands to reason - Hemingway is just the sort of writer that a jock like Sam would go for: adventure plot, simple vocabulary, hot romance. When I was in school, the jocks loved Hemingway.
So Sam reads "FWTBT", and is all jazzed up for a "literary evening" with Diane ...
... at which he discovers that Diane hasn't read the book herself - ever.
In fact, Diane's never even read most of Hemingway's writings, because of his "macho" reputation. She only bought this particular book because it was a First Edition - it was an investment for her.
As the "literary evening" progresses. Sam learns that Diane's actual reading tastes lean heavily to paperback "bodice-ripper" romance novels.
Thus humiliated, Diane reads an excerpt from such a book, for penance - and to her horror, Sam takes a liking to what he's hearing!

Well, Showrunner Ken, there's the idea -
- no good, huh?

DBenson said...

There may be a Friday question in how and why characters mutate, and not just in intelligence:
-- On "Frasier", Daphne was initially introduced as a loopy psychic. That gimmicky element of her character seemed to fade quickly, although it would be revived once in a while for a gag.
-- "Newhart" originally had a neighbor whose gimmick was being a pathological liar; that too faded away as he became more of a plausible jerk with perpetual grievances.
-- Julie Newmar's Catwoman on "Batman" was originally sleek and sultry (I read somewhere that Susan Pleshette was pencilled in). Thereafter, she was written and played as a comically tough broad, Newmar adding the sexy via body language.
-- "The Tick", in comics, cartoons and live action, started out as a sort of nut job who talked and spoke like a comic book hero in the real world. As that world began to fill with other heroes and villains with that same kind of crazy, The Tick developed a special kind of stupid to differentiate from THEM.
-- Another case of variable IQ was Maxwell Smart. Originally he seemed to be -- within the show's spoof Bond world -- at least as competent as anybody else. Then they bounced between him being a comically slick superspy and an idiot (and at the same time, 99 would bounce between worshipping his brilliance and affectionately putting up with his goofery).

GC said...

I would put Coatch above Diane.
the rest of the cast

Why this?

Well, in the Episode "The show down" pt2 Diane asks Coach: do you think i'm a smart person? Coach replied: you're the smartest person i ever met.

And Coach has met every one. Ahah!

MikeN said...

Donald, on The Simpsons Flanders was originally not religious, but just a neighbor of whom Homer was envious.

What is the horizontal supposed to be on this 'graph'?

Diane D said...

I agree with Ken's ranking except I might have put Norm a little higher. They did dumb down Sam in later years but I only watch the first five years now, so I scarcely remember the Rebecca years. Diane wasn't just educated, she was smart as well. She never missed anything, and she understood everyone in the bar, which is why she was so tolerant of them, even Carla who was mean and even cruel at times. CHEERS, still the best sitcom there ever was.

Matt said...

I always thought that Norm was very smart just not motivated and that Cliff was pretty stupid who got most of the trivia wrong.

DrBOP said...

ON-Topic-Kid (for a change) has discovered an early (OK, TOO early;^) Christmas present for SOMEbody:

Pretty sure their US site out of Cleveland has it also.
WARNING: WATCH OUT....this site WILL drain your time AND wallet....BE CAREFUL!

Johnny Walker said...

Mike, I like your idea! Probably it should lead to something else, though. Maybe Sam and someone she admires should have a conversation about it. Sam would make the point that she hadn't read it. Eventually she might snap at his digs, but given that she could read it in a weekend, I'm finding it hard to imagine it being a big point of conflict. Especially given she might be happy that he's read something that wasn't a comic book :)

They did do a similarly themed episode where Sam had a poem published.

Speaking of Sam's intelligence... I don't know. Intelligence is a difficult thing to rate, -: there's so many ways to slice it. There's no one agreed definition. Is it retaining facts? Is it problem solving? Is speed a factor? What about emotional intelligence?

Wherever Sam sits in the rankings, I believe it's definitely lower than Rebecca. Although she was an emotional mess, she was smart enough to study and make a career in business. There's no way Sam could do that.

Plus, there's plenty of times Sam was dumb in the early years. Or at least simple.

My ranking would be:

Diane - Frasier (I'd say there were about equal in the end)
- big drop -
Carla - Norm - Cliff (they were all about the same level)
- another drop -

Woody has the slight edge because coach was magnificently dumb. He was so dumb there's times you wonder how he got home OK (in fact, I think there was a joke about how he needed help getting home - like he needed to drop Carla off first the break in his routine would mean he got lost).

That said, Coach had some emotional intelligence that Woody (being younger perhaps) didn't exhibit. He was a good moral compass for Sam, and certainly showed some smarts in Coach's Daughter.

It's also worth remembering that Woody beat Frasier in chess :)

Johnny Walker said...

Also, the smartest character of all might have been Sam!s brother: His somehow teached Coach Spanish in a few hours :)

Johnny Walker said...

"teached"? Oye. I wish we had edit buttons. I blame autocorrect!

Frank Beans said...

I actually think Sam and Diane are much closer in basic intelligence than either one of them would want to admit--which is what makes their romantic tension all the more compelling. It's about class background and education level which makes them contrast as personalities. But then throw in Frasier and eventually Lilith, who are both erudite and genuinely highly intelligent, and it becomes a new dynamic altogether.

I think you're right about Cliff and Carla as being considerably less intelligent. Sure, they're wise in their own heads, after a fashion, but how do they really function in the world? I do think Norm is genuinely intelligent and perceptive--just down on his luck, overweight and depressed. He's kind of the bar philosopher that way. I would probably put him on par with Diane.

Ann said...

I'd put Diane at the very top, because yes, she was highly educated in multiple majors, and had a true passion for culture and learning, but she was also light years more emotionally intelligent and perceptive than any one else who entered that bar. The patience she had and the ability to bring the bar community together through her communication skills (who didn't have a meaningful heart to heart with Diane at some point?) was what set her apart. Dimensional intelligence jumps her up above interpersonally clueless shrink Frasier and narrow focus Lilith, imo.

ScarletNumber said...

Norm is a college graduate, so I would rank him ahead of Cliff and Carla.

Diane D. said...

With all the talk about Coach, I'm surprised no one mentioned his most outstanding moment----the one that showed how much more intelligent he was than Woody. In Season 3, when he knew Sam needed Diane if he was going to quit drinking, he tricked Diane, Sam, AND Frazier to get what he wanted. Diane thought Sam had said he needed her; Sam thought Diane had admitted she needed him; and Frazier thought allowing Diane to stay would guarantee they would never fall in love again. That was one of the most brilliantly conceived and written episodes ever. And I have written this note when it is guaranteed no one will ever see it, ha!