Samuel "Mayday" Malone〔Bjorklund e-Book, p. 141〕 is a fictional character on the American television show ''Cheers'', portrayed by Ted Danson. The central character of the series, Sam is a former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball team; he works as the owner and bartender of the bar called "Cheers". He is a recovering alcoholic and a notorious womanizer. Although his celebrity status was short-lived, Sam retains that standing within the confines of Cheers, where he is beloved by the regular patrons. Throughout the show's first five seasons, Sam has an on-again, off-again relationship with bar waitress Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) until she leaves Boston for her writing aspirations at the end of the fifth season. In two subsequent seasons, Sam tries to seduce her replacement, Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), but she consistently rejects his advances until they passionately embrace at the end of the eighth season. However since, Sam and Rebecca constantly turn each other down, especially when, toward the end of the series, she confronts him about his unhealthy lust toward women. In the series finale, while he comes into terms with his sexual addiction, Sam is briefly reunited with Diane, now an award-winning writer, after their six-year separation. They want to start a new relationship until their own paths convince them to end the newer relationship. At the show's last moments, Sam and his friends are happy with his decision to remain in Boston. Sam appears in just one episode of the spin-off ''Frasier'' where he ends his engagement to his fiancé Sheila (Téa Leoni), whom he meets at a group therapy meeting of sex addicts, for her affair with other men.
The character was a favorite of viewers and critics alike; he has been the subject of academic analysesprimarily ones about masculinity.
When the series debuted in 1982, Sam has been the bartender and owner of Cheers for five years.〔"Give Me a Ring Sometime." ''Cheers: Season 1: The Complete First Season on DVD''. Paramount, 2003. DVD.〕〔"Sam at Eleven." 1982. ''Cheers: Season 1: The Complete First Season on DVD''. Writ. Glen Charles and Les Charles. Paramount, 2003. DVD.〕 Chronologically within the series, Sam Malone with Irish Catholic background dropped out of high school in his senior year to play professional baseball.〔"Teacher's Pet". 1985. ''Cheers: Season 3: The Complete Third Season on DVD''. Paramount, 2004. DVD.〕 He became a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox (wearing number 16), where he met Coach Ernie Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto). Although his baseball career is little explored later the series, Sam was a not a good pitcher---his nickname was "Mayday", the universal distress call of ships and airplanes in extreme danger. Sam's baseball career declined when he became an alcoholic. Over time, Sam's role as a bartender turns him into the "resident ringleader for an assortment of poor souls and wanna-be's".〔Davis, Walter T., Jr., et al. ''(Watching What We Watch: Prime-Time Television Through the Lens of Faith )''. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. Web. February 11, 2012. ISBN 0-664-22696-5.〕
Throughout his life, Sam has had casual flings with many beautiful flirty women, usually of average intelligence or below. However, in "Sam's Woman" (1982), it is discovered that Sam was married to his more sophisticated ex-wife, Debra (Donna McKechnie). (In some syndicated prints, Sam's past marriage is omitted.) Also, he has on-and-off relationship with "a bright, attractive graduate student", Diane Chambers (Shelley Long).〔Carter, Bill. ("TELEVISION; The Tonic That Keeps 'Cheers' Bubbling Along" ). ''The New York Times'' April 29, 1990. Web. January 4, 2012.〕〔Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh. ''(The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946 – present )''. Paperback ed. New York: Ballantine-Random House, 2007. ''Google News''. Web. January 31, 2012.〕 Before his relationship with her has yet to be consummated, or during his off-relationships with Diane, Sam has many affairs. In "Now Pitching, Sam Malone" (season 1, 1983), Sam sleeps with his publicity agent Lana (Barbara Babcock) to appear in television commercials, especially one beer commercial. He regrets it and breaks up with Lana, costing him his career. In "Sam Turns the Other Cheek" (season 3, 1984), where he encounters a jealous ex-husband, whose wife had cheated on him with Sam until Sam realized she was married, Sam says he refrains himself from married wives, underage girls, and comatose women. In "Teacher's Pet" (season 3, 1985), Sam sleeps with his high school teacher (an unseen character) to pass a geography course, but he breaks off this relationship, has his exams re-examined, and is able to earn his high school diploma despite a bad grade in geography.
In the series premiere, "Give Me a Ring Sometime" (1982), Sam hires Diane, who was deserted by her fiancé Sumner (Michael McGuire) for his ex-wife, as a bar waitress. (Later in "Sumner's Return" (1983), Sumner's relationship with his ex-wife is revealed to have ended some time ago.) Throughout the first season, Sam and Diane develop their attraction toward each other by trading each other flirts and innuendos without consummating the relationship. In the two-part first season finale, "Showdown" (1983), Diane briefly dates Sam's estranged successful brother, Derek (an unseen character voiced by actor George Ball), making Sam jealous. No longer able to suppress their feelings, Sam and Diane make a passionate embrace. Throughout the second season (1983–84), Sam and Diane's consummated relationship becomes a dysfunctional, endless cycle of breakups and restarts. After Sam and Diane end their on-and-off relationship in the second season finale "I'll Be Seeing You, Part 2" (1984), in the third season premiere "Rebound, Part One" (1984), Sam has relapsed into alcoholism and begins excessive womanizing, and Diane enters a psychiatric hospital where she meets Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), eventually a long-running character who would have his own spin-off series. Diane finds out Sam's relapse from Coach and involves her now-boyfriend Frasier into helping him slowly regain his sobriety in the next episode, "Rebound, Part Two". At first Sam is reluctant to rehire Diane, but then he relents when Coach convinces Sam that she might end up in a mental hospital again. In "Cheerio, Cheers" (1985), Diane departs to Europe with Frasier to be eloped, devastating Sam.
In the fourth season premiere, "Birth, Death, Love, and Rice" (1985), Frasier tells Sam that Diane dumped Frasier at the altar, had multiple relationships with men, and then checked into a convent. Sam rescues her and takes her back to Cheers. Throughout the fourth season (1985–86), Sam and Diane put their feelings for each other aside and remain friendly, although they try to rekindle their relationship numerous times without success. In "Dark Imaginings" (1986), Sam develops a hernia when he tries to impress a young woman and ends up in a hospital, where it is operated. In the fourth season finale, "Strange Bedfellows" (1986), Sam dates an intelligent, attractive politician Janet Eldridge (Kate Mulgrew), although Janet breaks up with Sam because she realizes that he may be still in love with Diane. In the fifth season premiere, "The Proposal" (1986), Sam proposes to Diane, but she rejects his proposal. Sam proposes to her several times throughout the fifth season (1986–87), but she rejects him every time. In "Chambers vs. Malone" (1987), Sam is charged by Diane for crimes that he did not commit. In the courtroom, he proposes again at a judge's behest; she finally accepts. In the fifth season finale, "I Do, Adieu" (1987), they try to marry but agree to call off the wedding. Diane leaves Cheers and Sam behind for a writing career.
In the sixth season premiere, "Home Is the Sailor" (1987), Sam sells Cheers to the Lillian Corporation six months before the episode, travels with his yacht, and later returns to the bar to work under employment of a "voluptuously beautiful"〔 new manager, Rebecca Howe. Within the period, Sam constantly flirts with and attempts to seduce Rebecca, but she rejects all of his advances.〔 In the eighth season finale, "Cry Harder" (1990), Sam buys back the bar from the corporation to save it from financial victimization by Robin Colcord (Roger Rees), Rebecca's lover. At the last minute, Sam and Rebecca embrace and kiss. However, in the ninth season premiere, "Love Is a Really, Really, Perfectly Okay Thing" (1990), Sam devastatingly tells Rebecca that their lovemaking lacked passion. In the tenth season (1991–92), they try to conceive a child, but by then they have decided to stay friends.
In an episode of the sixth season, "I on Sports" (1987), he substitutes for his friend, Dave Richards (Fred Dryer), as a televised sports news anchor and commentator. He delivers sports news well but poorly executes his commentaries. His attempts to save his career as a commentator, like rapping and ventriloquism, fail, presumably putting an end to his broadcasting career.
Sam appears to be happily single and free from having his own family and concerns over fathering illegitimate children.〔Hundley, p. 217〕 In "Swear to God" (1988), he is afraid that he has fathered an illegitimate child with an ex-girlfriend. Sam is relieved that he is not the father, but he vows to stay away from sex. When he is willing to betray his oath, Carla scares him about superstitious events. At risk of his sexual agony, Sam reluctantly avoids sex, especially when he encounters women and bibles in motels.
In "The Guy Can't Help It" (1993), Sam asks Rebecca and then Carla to marry him, but they both reject his proposals for his past sexual behavior, especially at his 40s. Sam tries to deny his sexual addiction, but then he comes into terms with it and starts participating in Dr. Robert Sutton's (Gilbert Lewis) group meetings, advised by Frasier. In the series finale, "One for the Road" (1993), after six years of separation, Sam reunites with Diane, who arrives from Los Angeles. However, they admit that they are not destined to be together because they are total opposites, despite their good times. As Diane prepares to leave Boston again, Sam stops her and then asks her for another shot of romance. The next day, Sam and Diane become engaged again and leave Boston for Los Angeles. At the airport, Sam and Diane begin to have doubts about their future together. Finally, when their flight is delayed, they decide amicably to part, having made their peace. Sam returns to Boston and Diane goes to Los Angeles. At the bar, Sam and his friends celebrate his return. Then, when everyone leaves except Norm and Sam, Norm reassures Sam that Sam would return and never leave his one "true love"which according to ''TV Guide'' is the Cheers bar.〔("TV's Best Finales Ever" ). ''TV Guide'', 2010. Web. 1 June 2012.〕〔 Record no at ''NewsBank'': 113001A60C3FB35B .〕
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