Cheers has the same scene twice…

Rewatching superior sitcom Cheers recently I noticed that two episodes contain the same scene. This isn’t a case of footage being repeated in a later episode. The same minute or so of dialogue and action has been restaged and refilmed.

The first instance is in an early episode called Coach’s Daughter (broadcast on NBC on 28 October 1982). After approximately 10 minutes comes a moment where Cheers owner Sam (Ted Danson) asks a barfly called Chuck (Tim Cunningham) about his job search…

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Chuck tells him that he’s now working as a janitor at a biology lab where they experiment with DNA and mutant viruses. He’s nervous about being so close to ‘weird stuff’…

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Sam, barmaid Carla (Rhea Perlman) and customers Cliff (John Ratzenberger) and Norm (George Wendt) react with mild interest and tell him not to worry about the dangers.

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Chuck then downs his drink, says he feels better after the encouragement, and leaves…

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…and as soon as he’s out of the bar, everyone snaps into action and cleans the entire area. Sam sprays the counter, Carla scrubs the floor, Norm and Cliff polish the telephone, then Sam disposes of Chuck’s glass and gingerly picks up his tip.

It’s a self-contained gag that doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the episode (which is a really terrific and very moving story about barman Coach not liking his daughter’s boorish fiancé).

Then in the final episode of the same season – Show Down (Part 2), broadcast 31 March 1983 – the exact same scene happens again. Only, it’s not *exactly* the same. The section of script has been restaged. Again, the joke has no connection to the rest of the episode, which sees Sam and barmaid Diane (Shelley Long) confront their feelings for one another.

This time it’s the episode’s opening scene. Sam asks Chuck about his job search…

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Chuck tells him about the clinic…

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The others – now including Coach (Nicholas Colasanto), who was absent from the earlier version – tell him not to worry…

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Feeling more positive about the job, Chuck leaves…

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And everyone frantically cleans the bar.

The dialogue and actions are almost identical, though in the second version Sam no longer picks up Chuck’s glass with a cloth or his cash with his fingertips. Another difference is that Carla is pregnant in the redo. The character was expecting a baby because the actress was: Rhea Perlman gave birth on 11 March to Lucy DeVito, who’s now a 34-year-old actress.

Incidentally, Tim Cunningham returned to Cheers many times. He played a customer called Greg for two episodes, then was in a further 33 as a barfly named Tim. To all intents and purposes, Chuck, Greg and Tim are all the same character.

But does anyone know why this bit of comedy business was performed twice, just a few months apart?