Title: Home Is the Sailor
Directed by: James Burrows
Written by: Glen Charles and Les Charles
Air Date: September 24, 1987
Previous: I Do, Adieu
Next: "I" on Sports
Guest Starring: Jay Thomas, Jonathan Stark, Al Rosen
"Home is the Sailor" is the first episode of the sixth season of Cheers.
It's some time after "I Do, Adieu", and Cheers has changed. Sam's gone, as have most of the old clientele. The bar's been redecorated (there's now ferns everywhere) and is under new corporate management, which comes with awful uniforms. About the only things that haven't changed are Woody, Frasier, and Carla being pregnant.
Norm leaves the bar because he can't get used to the lifeless new atmosphere. Carla has to drop a lot of hints to Eddie as to just how she got pregnant. Frasier isn't taken with the changes, and as he laments everything that's happened since Sam left, Sam returns.
See, after Sam and Diane said goodbye in the previous episode, Diane's book-writing deal failed. Diane still didn't come back; last Woody heard she went to LA to write TV. Sam sold the bar to the corporation, bought a boat, and took off to sail around the world... and managed to sink his boat. So, having had time to think, he's returned to Cheers. Reuniting with Carla, he learns about the bar's new manager, and is introduced to Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), a no-nonsense businesswoman who is utterly unimpressed by Sam's athletic career and his constant come-ons.
Sam tries asking Rebecca for a job, but the bar already has a full compliment of staff, including new (if joyless) Wayne, who can make any drink known to man. Sam tries everything, admitting the reason he left Cheers was because after Diane left, all he could see was her face, and it was too much. But the reason he's come back is because he remembers the good times as well. Cheers is the closest thing he has to a home. Despite this, Rebecca is sorry. She can't help him.
As Sam leaves, a call comes in from corporate headquarters, and another side to Rebecca shows up: She'll bend over backward to try and impress her boss, one Evan Drake, who she's crushing on heavily, and who has heard of Sam. With help from Carla, Sam listens in to Drake telling Rebecca to hire him. He's got an in.
With much reluctance, Rebecca agrees to take Sam on as a relief waiter. But Cheers doesn't need three waiters. So she's going to fire Woody. Not wanting anything to happen to Woody, Sam and Carla enact their plan to get rid of Wayne, proving Woody can make a drink Wayne's never heard of. Suddenly, everyone at the bar demands a Screaming Viking, which only Woody seems to know of. Eventually, Wayne quits in a huff. Woody and Sam can stay. But Rebecca makes it clear she hasn't bought what just happened. Sam has one chance left. Or in baseballese, it's bottom of the 9th, he's got two outs, two strikes... and no balls. But, as Sam notes, he's still in play.
- As You Know: Frasier helpfully recounts the changes to Cheers to Woody in the cold open.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Management under the Lillian Corporation means having to wear some fugly uniforms (which a few episodes later will turn out to be Rebecca's choice). Woody doesn't mind them, since it means he can save hours every morning choosing what shirt to wear.
- Characterization Marches On: Although this episode does establish Rebecca's vulnerable side when she's shown to be in love with her boss, in general she's shown to be a hard-charging career woman Ice Queen. This becomes less and less true as time goes on until Rebecca basically becomes an insane neurotic failure.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Sam loses his train of thought when trying to talk Rebecca into hiring him, because he's staring at her butt.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Sam is pretty miffed when Rebecca admits she's hiring him entirely out of pity.
- Double Entendre: Rebecca tells Sam that he's "got two outs, two strikes... and no balls."
- Establishing Character Moment: Rebecca's establishing scene has her showing off her initial characterization of a snarky ice queen. It's later on when Evan Drake calls that we see what will become a larger part of her characterization, the neurotic Butt-Monkey who'll do anything to impress her bosses, who don't even know she's alive, and becomes so flustered she can't even operate a door-knob. Either way, it establishes she's vastly different from Diane.
- Godwin's Law: When Rebecca tells Carla to go over to some customers, she goosesteps over to them.
- It Tastes Like Feet: No-one exactly says what the Screaming Viking tastes like, but Rebecca makes sure to stare at the barflies for a good few seconds just to be sure. Once she's gone, they all spit it out.
- Mr. Exposition: Woody fills Eddie in on the details Frasier doesn't bring up after the opening credits.
- Oddball in the Series: For the shot from Rebecca's POV where she is suspiciously glaring at the gang, they built a fourth wall! This was the only time in the whole run of Cheers where the fourth wall was seen.
- Phrase Catcher: Woody's been trying to get Cheers's new up-market clientele to pick up the "NORM" Running Gag, but they aren't getting it. Later on, a customer does say it, when Norm doesn't want him to.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The changes to Cheers are so much that Norm, who's previously called it his home, can't bring himself to stay. He returns when Sam does.
- Shout-Out: The title comes from the ending of Robert Louis Stevenson's short poem "Requiem". "Home is the sailor, home from the sea/And the hunter home from the hill."
- Sincerity Mode: Partway through Sam and Rebecca's conversation, Sam stops flirting with Rebecca and admits as to why he really left town.
- Spit Take: Whatever Woody whipped up when everyone ordered a Screaming Viking, it evidently was pretty terrible, since everyone spits theirs out in unison when Rebecca goes back into the office.
- Take That!: The audience has a good chortle when Woody mentions Diane left for LA.
- Terrible Pick-Up Lines: Sam is off his game, and his broad, crude come-ons to Rebecca nearly lose him the job right off the bat.Rebecca: I don't know if I find your come-ons disgusting or merely pathetic.
- Under New Management: Part of the retool of Cheers after the departure of Shelley Long. Sam's sold the bar, so instead of the affable owner/bartender who sometimes hung out with his customers outside of working hours, Cheers is owned by a faceless corporation and managed by ambitious businesswoman Rebecca Howe.
- When She Smiles: The very end of the episode has Sam suggesting Rebecca is like this. She smiles sincerely, and Sam mutters how he was wrong.