In 1986, our local newspaper held a contest for fans of TV's CHEERS to write their version as to how Shelley Long's character, Diane, would be written out of the series. I submitted a script but it didn't win. Ran across it recently, though, and it isn't bad. I polished it up just a little but this is basically the way I wrote it nearly 30 years ago. Please tell me what you think.
NOTE: I should note that this piece is, of course, fan-fic and not intended in any way to infringe on the rights of the CHEERS copyright holders.
NOTE: I should note that this piece is, of course, fan-fic and not intended in any way to infringe on the rights of the CHEERS copyright holders.
Episode: Way Out On a Limb
By Steven Thompson (1986)
Teaser: Open on bar set with all regulars present
Carla (busily serving drinks): Sam, ya gotta DO somethin’! Blondie’s going on the half hour mark of her 10 minute break and I don’t want it to start a trend!
Sam: Okay, Carla. (Turning, he yells) Diane! Get your behind out here!
Diane (Enters engrossed in a book): Mmm?
Diane: Oh, I am SO sorry, darling, but this book is just so fascinating I couldn’t put it down!
Sam: Are you still reading that book by that crazy actress about reincarnation and past lives and all that bull?
Cliff: Now, now, Sammy. You know, modern science has proven that reincarnation simply cannot be ignored as a very realistic possibility. Eight out of ten behavioral psychologists attest to the fact that subjects under hypnosis can recall details of previous lives.
Diane: You see! There!
Carla: See what? TEN out of ten psychologists’ll tell ya that “Mr. Expert” here doesn’t know what the heck he’s talkin’ about!
Diane: Dear, dear Carla. At least I’m certain that the rest of us were HUMAN in our past lives. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find YOU were a paramecium! (Exits to back room)
Carla: (In Diane’s direction) Hah! (Pauses. Looks to Sam and Woody) A pair’a what? (They both shrug) (Scene fades)
Fade in on bar set. Time is later. Diane is now sitting at the bar reading the same book during a slow period. Frasier and Norm are also seated next to her at the bar. Sam is behind the counter.
Frasier: Yes, Diane, it IS true. I’ve read of a number of individual cases where past lives can be traced and, in fact, connected to a distinct pattern. For instance, if one is a great leader in one life, one will most likely be a great leader in the next life and so on and so forth. By contrast, a man who is a failure in one life may attempt to better himself in his next life but will inevitably become a failure yet again due to the unbreakable chain of fate.
Diane: That’s absolutely fascinating, Frasier!
Frasier: I suppose it is...if you’re gullible enough to buy into all that nonsense!
Diane: (Lost in thought) In other words...there’s a very real chance that my great love for Sam began in an earlier incarnation and that we are eternal lovers bound together in joy and happiness throughout all time!
Frasier: Well...something like that, I suppose.
Sam: (Shuddering) Brrrr! (Diane looks sternly at him) Uh...Did anyone feel that chill in here? Woody, I thought I asked you to close that door.
Woody: (perplexed) No, I don’t think so, Sam. You asked me to take out the garbage and to mop the floor but...
Sam: (walking over and patting him on the shoulder) Right. That’s fine, Woody. Don’t worry about it.
Diane: I believe Sam was attempting to be amusing. But think of it, Sam! I’m convinced now that our love has spanned the vast centuries! Perhaps I was Josephine to your Napoleon or you were Marc Antony to my Cleopatra!
Carla: (entering from the back) Or perhaps Sam was Timmy to your Lassie.
Frasier: Diane, if you’re truly interested in following up on this, I can set you up with a hypnotherapist friend of mine here in town who specializes in regressing his patients.
Diane: Oh, my dear Frasier, would you? That would be wonderful!
Sam: Don’t encourage her! I thought you said this was all nonsense.
Frasier: Of course it is but it’s Diane’s money after all and besides, I get a hefty referral fee.
Diane: (pleadingly) Oh, darling, come with me! Please, please, please! We’ve been presented here with a unique opportunity to find out the truth about our meager little lives. To be able to know that we’re meant to be together! That we’ve been together before and we’ll be together throughout eternity! It’s the ultimate dream come true!
Sam: Somethin’ the matter Norm?
Norm: Vera and me. Together for a thousand lifetimes. It’s the ultimate NIGHTMARE!
Sam: (to Diane) Look, I’m just a simple, down-to-earth guy. I believe what I can see. I mean, if we’ve all been here so many times already, how come we keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again?
Carla: Yeah, like gettin’ mixed up with HER!
Sam: I don’t know if...
Diane: (Interrupting) I will make a deal with you. If you’ll agree to come along with me to one session and maintain an open mind, I promise to retain a degree of skepticism and to forget the entire subject if the results prove unrewarding.
Sam: I don’t know, I...
Norm: Sounds fair ta me, Sammy.
Carla: Just get it over with so she’ll get back to work already!
Sam: Well...okay. (To Frasier) Where do we find this quack? (Diane nudges him hard) Ow! Doctor! I meant doctor.
Cut to doctor’s office, very plush and ritzy. Sam and Diane are seated in the crowded waiting room
Sam: (whispering) I don’t believe this. This guy must really be making a killing since that book came out.
Diane: (Leans on his shoulder) Isn’t it thrilling? I’m so glad you came with me!
Sam (glancing at a painting on the corner wall) Picasso? Diane, that painting is signed “Picasso!”
Diane: Oh, dear, naive Sam. That’s just a Picasso print—an inexpensive copy.
An older woman sitting on the other side of Diane taps her on the shoulder
Woman: Excuse me. Haven’t we met before? You look so familiar.
Diane: No, I don’t believe so.
Woman: Now I remember! It was Paris in 1803, wasn’t it?
Diane: (excitedly to Sam) Did you hear that!!??
Sam: Don’t encourage her. She’s nuts.
Diane: (turning to woman) Who was I? Who were you? Do you remember?
Woman: Oh, yes. I’ll never forget it. I was a young soldier just off the farm. It was my first time in the city and you...you were the one who, sall we say, taught me the ways of the world!
Diane: (Shocked) Why, I NEVER!
Woman: And you only charged me 5 francs!
Diane: You...I...Change places with me, Sam.
Sam: I told you not to encourage her.
Receptionist: Mr. Malone? Miss Chambers? Dr. Murphy will see you now.
They enter and greet the doctor. Picture Richard Libertini as Dr. Murphy.
Doctor: Yes, I’ve really been making a killing since that book came out.
Diane: My fiancé was just admiring your Picasso print.
Doctor: Picasso print? Oh! That’s not a print. That’s a real Picasso. I’ve REALLY been making a killing since that book came out. Anyway, Dr. Crane tells me that You, Miss Chambers, would like to find out details of your former lives.
Diane: Yes. Very much so.
Doctor: Well, let me explain up front that this is far from being an exact science. In fact, all I can do is to put you into a hypnotic trance and try to move you backwards past your birth and into a previous incarnation. By the very nature of hypnosis, however, it’s possible that your subconscious may misinterpret my hypnotic suggestions as memories. Most people who see themselves in past lives as famous people or historical figures are just revealing hidden fantasies, for example.
Sam: So what are you saying? You can’t really regress people at all?
Doctor: Oh, no, Mr. Malone. A significant percentage of my subjects DO appear to recall in great detail incidents that they could not possibly have come into contact with, even on a subconscious level.
Doctor. Not everyone can be George Washington in a former life. Thus, the odds are that if you see yourself as George Washington, it is just a reflection of your own psychological desires rather than an actual regression.
Diane: (impatiently) Doctor, I’m so anxious! Can we get started?
Doctor: In order for the hypnosis to work, the subject must be in a tranquil state.
Diane: (Composing herself and breathing deeply) All right then...Zen.
Doctor: Sit here, Mr. Malone. Miss Chambers, you get to sit back in this big comfy chair. Mr. Malone, I’m glad you’re here. I always like to have a witness the first time I put a patient under to ensure that no trickery is involved. (Turns to Diane) (Begins speaking in monotone) Close your eyes, Miss Chambers. Relax. Think of pure white space...total blankness...Just let your mind slip away...
Diane: (looking up) Should I count backwards from 100?
Doctor: If you like.
Diane: (smiling) Okay then. One hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight...
Cut to some time later
Doctor: Yes? And what comes after thirteen? (No response) She’s under.
Sam: Finally. It only took three countdowns.
Doctor: (To Sam) Shhh! (To Diane) Miss Chambers, can you hear me?
Diane: Of course.
Doctor. Good! We’re starting on a journey, Miss Chambers. I want you to go back...back through your life...back to your childhood. Back...back...
Diane: (Suddenly crying)
Sam: What’s the matter?
Doctor: (calmly) Don’t worry. This always happens when we pass through an unhappy childhood.
Sam: She always told me she had a GREAT childhood.
Doctor: Miss Chambers?
Doctor: How old are you now?
Diane: (in a high pitched voice) I’m fwee years old.
Diane: I’m...everything’s black. Everything’s gone.
Doctor: Stay calm. Everything is fine. You’re calm. Keep moving backwards until you see a light. Look for the light.
Diane: I...I see it. I see the light.
Doctor: Go to the light. Go to the light and then look around. Tell us who and where you are.
Sam: Doc, you mean she...?
Doctor: I think so. When they see a light this far back, it often means they have stepped into a previous existence. Miss Chambers?
Dissolve to Diane’s vision. We see a Civil war era ballroom with a military dance in progress. Diane begins to describe in voiceover.
Diane: I’m...I’m Elizabeth Cannon. It’s Washington, DC, 1864. I’m dancing with Major Thomas Cabot Holfield of the Union Army. (We see Sam with a mustache as the Major)
Major: You dance divinely, my dear. As always.
Elizabeth: Why, thank you, kind sir. Would that this awful, awful war were over and we could but dance the night away without care.
Major: Ah, but that’s not the case. In point of fact, I must soon take my leave from your company. By tomorrow’s first light, my regiment must be ready for the long travel to...well, I shan’t burden you with the knowledge of our destination.
Diane: And, of course, I didn’t care to know it as I closed my eyes and hugged him tightly in the dance.
Elizabeth: (Not doing as the voiceover described at all) Oh, but Major, it would be no burden. In truth, if I but knew of your destination, I could pray for you and all your men.
Major: Why, what a sweet thought. For you, then...(He whispers in her ear)
Diane: I knew then that I had found my one true love and that I would never leave him in my heart or push him away.
Elizabeth: (Abruptly pushing the Major away) Excuse me. I’ve got to...well...err...I’ll return shortly. (She goes outside quickly)
The Major wanders off the dance floor toward a window where he sees Elizabeth outside near a bush conferring with a man in a Confederate uniform. He runs out and confronts her.
Major: SO! This is why my regiment has been attacked on its last three “secret” missions! Each time there was a ball and each time YOU tricked me into revealing our destination!
Elizabeth: (Now with a Southern drawl) You, sir, have just made a tragic mistake! You have often aided the Confederate cause mightily, however, and for that we give you our thanks. Beauregard, do your duty! (The spy shoots the Major and he and Elizabeth run off).
Diane: No, no, no! It can’t be! That wouldn’t...Just...NO!
Sam: Doc, do something! She’s freaking out more than normal!
Doctor: (flustered) Of course, of course. Miss Chambers, remember that you are calm. Caaaalm....Very quickly now, go further back...past this life...further...further...Look for another light, Miss Chambers. Look for another light.
Cut to some time later.
Doctor: I can’t believe it. I simply can’t believe it. We’ve heard instance after instance of Miss Chambers living in prior lifetimes all connected with what she, at least, perceives as previous incarnations of YOU, Mr. Malone.
Sam: Yeah, but not exactly the “eternal lovers” she was hoping for, though. I mean... She’s shot me twice, poisoned me once, drove me to commit hari-kari and to be hung as a traitor during the American Revolution...by the British!
Doctor: And then this last one!
Sam: Samson and Delilah! You know, she told me just the other day I needed a trim but...Doc, this stuff is ridiculous! You said yourself it was hardly an exact science!
Doctor: Listen! She seems to have come up on yet another lifetime. Miss Chambers. Where are you this time?
Diane: I...I don’t want to know...
Doctor: Please, Miss Chambers. We’ve come this far. Just one more. Tell us where you are.
Diane: I...I see a beautiful day. Flowers. Flowers everywhere! It...It’s a garden. I’m in a garden of some type. (She giggles)
Doctor: What do you see?
Diane: It’s a man coming toward me...and he’s...he’s...
Diane: He’s naked. (She giggles again) Oh, no.
Doctor: What? What is it?
Diane: I see myself now and I’m naked as well. And I’m offering him a piece of fruit. I’m...I’M EVE! (She screams and slumps over in chair.)
Sam: Bring her out of it! (The doctor works on bringing her around.)
Doctor: Mr. Malone, do you understand what this means?! This is incredible. If we can substantiate these reincarnations and attempt some trance channeling, this woman could change our very perception of history!
Sam: Oh, come on! Eve? EVE!!?? You told us if they imagined themselves as famous people that it was just their fantasies or somethin’. And I assure you it’s just LIKE Diane to imagine herself as Eve.
Diane: (Groggily) Sam...? Oh, Sam, I was so wrong! I’m so sorry! Throughout all my past lives I’ve caused you nothing but heartache and tragedy!
Sam: You don’t believe alla this...
Diane: I could never marry you knowing that it would only lead to your misfortune. I...I love you too much.
She rises and runs out of the office. Sam and the Doctor look at each other and the Doctor runs out after Diane
Doctor. Miss Chambers, wait! Diane! This could be the most important scientific discovery in history. I love you! I love your mind! Your minds! Marry ME!
Sam (Standing slack-jawed) Diane...?
Fade in on bar set with the words “two months later” superimposed. Carla, Woody and Norm are present. Cliff enters.
Sam: Hey, Cliff, how ya doin’?
Cliff: I’m here in my official capacity today, Sammy. Got a letter for ya.
Sam: A letter. Who do I know that can write?
Carla: (grabbing it as Cliff hands it to Sam) Oh, no. It’s from HER!
Sam: Carla, give me the letter.
Carla: Woody! Catch! (She tosses the letter and Woody catches it.)
Woody: Thanks, Carla. Here, Sam. (Hands to Sam)
Carla: You knobhead! The object was to keep it away from him! It’s from HER!
Woody: Oh! I’m sorry, Carla. I never was good at these games.
Sam tears open the letter. We hear Diane in voiceover as he reads it silently.
Diane: Dearest Sam: My life without you is a struggle of course but Dr. Murphy—Jonathan—is helping in every way possible. Last week he got an offer to appear on DONAHUE next month when his book comes out. Jonathan says that I’m the most fascinating woman he has ever met. Last weekend we spent some time together in the 14th century. You know what I mean. Anyway, I’m just writing to apologize for my abrupt departure from your life. That first time was a revelation. Suddenly I knew that leaving you was the only way to ever defeat the curse that had caused you so much pain and suffering through the centuries. Jonathan is coaching me now in creating a new life. He asks me to marry him but I don’t know. Perhaps if the book gets good reviews. Well, I’ll sign off now, Sam. Please think kindly of me. Very truly yours, Diane.
Carla: Don’t do it, Sam!
Carla: I know she wants you to come running back to her but don’t do it I tell ya!
Sam: (Crumples up letter and drops in trashcan) Ya know, you’re right, Carla! I’ll never see that screwed-up broad again. (He sniffs and brushes at a possible tear) Hey! Drinks are on the house, everybody!
Norm: What’s the occasion? Not that I care.
Sam: No occasion, Norm. Just glad to be here with alla my pals. (Woody comes walking by and Sam hugs him)