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Recap / Cheers S 2 E 17

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Episode: Season 2, Episode 17
Title: Fortune and Men's Weight
Directed by: James Burrows
Written by: Heide Perlman
Air Date: February 2, 1984
Previous: Cliff's Rocky Moment
Next: Snow Job
Guest Starring: Al Rosen

"Fortune and Men's Weight" is the 17th episode of the second season of Cheers.

Coach, who has a habit of making ill-advised purchases for the bar, does it again. He winds up buying an antique novelty scale, the kind that spits out a little fortune after you step on. Carla, who is extremely superstitious, is immediately terrified of the scale, which leads sophisticated Diane to make fun of her.

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However, when Norm's fortune seems to come true, the people of the bar start to take the scale and its fortunes a little more seriously. Diane is startled when she finally uses the machine and gets a fortune—"Deception in romance may prove costly"—which hits way too close to home. It turns out that she has recently deceived Sam: when Sam couldn't make it to some art exhibition Diane wanted to see, she went with another man, and told Sam she'd gone alone.

This episode begins the arc in which Sam and Diane's romance, surprisingly stable up to this point, starts fraying, until it reaches a crisis point in the Season 2 finale.

In the B-plot, Norm, who has been separated from his wife Vera for most of the season, is finally going out on a date—a blind date.


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Tropes:

  • Bait-and-Switch: As Norm is walking out the door to his date the others ask him what his biggest problem is.
    Norm: I'm overweight, unemployed, separated. Depressed. Starting to drink too much. I guess my biggest problem is, I've never been happier.
  • Concussions Get You High:
    • After one side of the wooden crate falls on Cliff, he dazedly says "I can't find my shoes, Clyde. I think the dog got 'em."
    • Cliff later goes stumbling down the stairs from the street. After Norm helps him into the bar Cliff says "Uh, that's twenty dollars postage due sir, and how are we today?"
  • Gainax Ending: Sam and Diane are having a nasty breakup when Sam kicks the machine and it spits out a fortune. Sam, basically the only person in the bar who doesn't believe the scale is supernatural, doesn't want to read it. Diane, who by now thinks the machine may hold the key to their futures, insists that he does. So Sam reads their fortune: "Machine empty. Order more fortunes today." Smash to Black.
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  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The scale, and its fortunes. It proves pretty accurate about Norm and Diane, but Carla really has to torture herself to connect Cliff's "Talk to bigwigs" fortune with Cliff falling down the stairs. Coach describes the salesman as having a vaguely demonic look: "He was all dressed in black, and his eyes were like coals."
  • Percussive Maintenance: Sam and Diane's break-up fight at the end of the episode ends with an enraged Sam kicking the scale, which proceeds to spit out one last fortune.
  • Shout-Out:
    • This episode was the first line of dialogue for Al Rosen as Al, the elderly barfly with killer comic timing. When the bar is pondering what Cliff's "Talk to bigwigs" fortune could mean, Carla says "Who's the biggest bigwig of them all?" Al shoots back with "SINATRA!!!"
    • Cliff and Norm sing the theme to The Twilight Zone when the scale seems to have accurately predicted a bar patron would lose his wallet. (The Twilight Zone actually had an episode about a spooky fortune telling machine, "Nick of Time", starring William Shatner.)
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The title is a shout-out to William Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 29, "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes."
  • Staircase Tumble: Cliff goes tumbling down the staircase from the street. This is a comedy, though, so it only sets up a Concussions Get You High gag.
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