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Recap / Cheers S 1 E 19

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Episode: Season 1, Episode 19
Title: Pick a Con...Any Con
Directed by: James Burrows
Written by: David Angell
Air Date: February 24, 1983
Previous: No Contest
Next: Someone Single, Someone Blue
Guest Starring: John Ratzenberger, Harry Anderson, Reid Shelton

"Pick a Con...Any Con" is the 19th episode of the first season of Cheers.

Sam and Diane notice Coach playing cards with another old coot, a bar patron named George (Reid Shelton). They are pleased to see that Coach has made a friend. They are less pleased when they find out that Coach and George play cards for money, that Coach has never won a game, and that Coach has lost eight thousand dollars to George. It's obvious that George is a hustler taking advantage of dim, trusting Coach.

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Hoping to recoup Coach's money, they turn to the only guy they know that can help, resident Cheers con artist Harry the Hat (Harry Anderson). They concoct a plan in which Sam will stake Harry with $5000—Sam does not like this part—and they will lure George into a poker game, where Harry will employ all his card cheating tricks and win back Coach's money. Of course, in the end things don't work out that easily.

In the B-plot, Diane insists on getting a turn tending bar, only to struggle when she has to make complicated drinks.


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Tropes:

  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Harry steps away from the poker game and takes an anxious smoke break when all his tricks have failed and he's lost most of Sam's money.
  • The Con Within A Con: A con, within a con, within a con. Sam and Coach lure George into a poker game with the idea that Harry the Hat will cheat and win back Coach's money—that's the first con. But Harry loses, and George wins Sam's $5000 stake, only for the gang to discover that Harry lost on purpose after agreeing to split the take with George—that's the second con. Then Sam, Coach, and George come up with a scheme in which George and Harry will play poker, Coach will give the signal when Harry has a bad hand, and George will take Harry's share and split it with the gang. Unfortunately Coach the dummy blows the signal, and Harry wins and leaves with all the money—only for the ending to reveal that Coach and Harry planned the whole thing, including suckering George into the big bet at the end. That's the third con, and the Happy Ending, as Coach and Sam get their money back.
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  • Exact Words: Harry bets Cliff a dollar that he can take off his hat, put a drink under it, and drink it all without touching the hat. The trick is set up; Harry ducks under the bar, makes "glug glug" sounds, and claims to have finished the drink. Cliff protests, and picks up the hat to show that the glass is still full— at which point Harry grabs the drink and finishes it off, which fulfills the terms of the bet. (Then Cliff protests that anyone could do that trick, and they switch roles— and while Cliff is ducked under the bar, Harry picks up the hat, drinks the drink, and puts the hat back. Cliff laughs that Harry is out a dollar — then Coach demands $5 for the drink.)
  • Hustler: George is scamming Coach for money through card games.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Con Within a Con Within a Con requires that George believe that Coach would be so dumb as to scratch his nose at the wrong time and blow the con that George thought they were running on Harry.
  • Ominous Adversarial Amusement: When it appears that Harry the Hat has conned Coach, Sam, Norm, Cliff, and George out of a bunch of money (including Coach's life savings) Coach has his head in his hands, shaking. Then it turns out that he's not crying, he's laughing. "Coach, what are you laughing at?" Coach responds "That!" and points to the back of the bar, where Harry reappears. He and Coach set up a con within a con within a con in order to con George out of his money.
  • One Born Every Minute: Harry says this word for word after helping Coach win back his money, and all of George's money, from George.
  • The Roper: Harry uses this term to describe Coach's role in the con—he will be the one to lure George into the poker game.
  • Thieves' Cant: Played for a gag when Sam and Coach ask Harry about George.
    Harry: Any bird-dogger knows him. He runs paper and cubes, mainly in the crib, sometimes up against the wall. Puts on a straight-up-guy front, and then grinds away slow with coolers and hop toads, real rip and tear kind of stuff.
    Sam: (obviously clueless) That sounds like him.
    • Averted a little bit later in the conversation, when Sam asks "What do you call the guy that brings the money?", and a nonplussed Harry responds "We call him the guy that brings the money."
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