Fans of Cheers
greeted the series' sixth season in a heightened state of anticipation and anxiety: Now that series regular Shelley Long
(Diane Chambers) had left the show, would her replacement be on the same lofty, laugh-getting level? And how would Cheers owner Sam Malone (Ted Danson
) respond to a new female sparring partner? Well, for one thing, Sam no longer owned Cheers. When his marriage to Diane fell through, Sam sold the bar to a huge corporation and used the money to purchase an expensive yacht, whereupon he embarked on a round-the-world cruise. Season 6 picked up six months after Sam's impulsive act; by this time, the yacht had sunk and Sam was flat broke. Returning to Cheers, Sam hoped to at least secure employment as a bartender, but his prospects looked dim indeed when he found himself clashing with the bar's new manager: Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley
), a smart, sassy, and sexy young woman who had no intention of succumbing to Sam's charms. Indeed, she declared early on that she was interested only in wealthy men who could advance her career -- men like her immediate boss, Evan Drake (Tom Skerritt). Despite getting off on the wrong foot with Rebecca, Sam was re-hired -- as an assistant to head bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), who had, himself, been hired by Sam two years earlier. Other changes amongst the regulars: Waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman), now married to hockey player Eddie LeBec (Jay Thomas), gave birth to twins (Elvis and Jesse), bringing the number of children under Carla's roof to eight (and she became a grandmother during this season!). Also electing to make their union legal were psychologists Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) and Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth). And when not tending bar, Woody began pursuing an acting career, while accountant Norm Peterson (George Wendt) occasionally moonlighted as a house painter. Having spent the better part of season six trying to get into the pants of the rich and desirable Evan, Rebecca was left in the lurch when Drake was transferred to Japan. Would she finally "give in" to the persistent Sam or would she start casting about for another millionaire swain? (The answer, of course, would not be forthcoming until the following season). The departure of Shelley Long apparently had no negative effect on Cheers' popularity: The series remained comfortably in third place in the ratings, just below its Thursday-night NBC "neighbors" The Cosby Show
and A Different World
. The series also managed to earn another Emmy award, this time for editor Andy Ackerman, and was nominated in ten additional categories.