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Recap / Cheers S 1 E 12

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Episode: Season 1, Episode 12
Title: The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One
Directed by: James Burrows
Written by: David Lloyd
Air Date: December 16, 1982
Previous: One for the Book
Next: Now Pitching, Sam Malone
Guest Starring: John Ratzenberger, Ellis Rabb

"The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One" is the twelfth episode of the first season of Cheers.

It's Christmas at the bar, with a wreath on the inside of the front door, and decorations, and Norm complaining about the remote cabin he has to go to for a weekend with Vera. Into the bar strolls an older gentleman with a plummy British accentnote  who announces that his name is Eric Finch. Through a series of theatrical gestures and comments Finch (Ellis Rabb) makes clear that he is actually an exotic James Bond-style spy, Tuxedo and Martini-flavored. Everyone at Cheers is captivated as Finch tells his tall tales, except for Diane, who spots several glaring errors in Finch's stories and exposes him for a fraud.

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Tropes:

  • Cape Swish: Diane does this with a dramatic flourish as she puts on her coat, vowing to comb the city until she finds Eric Finch again. The moment is comically undercut when Finch appears at the door immediately after.
  • Christmas Episode: An understated example, as the bar is decorated for Christmas, and Norm complains about the cabin in the woods that Vera has booked for a holiday getaway, but otherwise the date is relatively unimportant.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Finch is dressed in the standard tan trenchcoat that's required of a spy, and he wears a long scarf to make himself stick out even more.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: What "Eric Finch", real name Thomas Hilliard III, really is. After saying that he gets his jollies from wandering into random bars and telling ridiculous stories, Hilliard writes Sam a $2 million check to buy the bar. Sam laughs, thinking this is another one of Finch/Hilliard's tall tales, and a mortified Diane tears up the check. They are all shocked when Hilliard's chauffeur shows up at the front of the bar and tells him that his plane is waiting at the airport.
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  • Gratuitous French: Diane can't not be pretentious, so she can't say "small potatoes", she has to say "I have something that is going to make John Updike look like pretty small pommes de terre."note 
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: What Diane thinks she's revealed about Finch, who makes obvious errors like placing Ankara in Bulgaria (it's in Turkey) and talking about Norway's "totalitarian regime" (Norway has always been a democracy).
  • Shout-Out
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