For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with Cheers. This was a show that on from 1982 to 1993. It still amazes me that I was able to watch a show about a bar when I was younger and for my parents to not have to worry much about what was in it. I wish there were still shows on TV like that. The humor was great, and things that weren’t appropriate were usually over my head anyway, so it was perfect!
For those of you, who are either too young, or just don’t remember it, here’s a video of the intro to the Cheers show:
More Info on Cheers:
Cheers is an American sitcom that ran for eleven seasons between 1982 and 1993. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions in association with Paramount Network Television for NBC and created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles. The show is set in a bar named Cheers (named after its real life counterpart) in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show’s main theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy lent its famous refrain “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” as the show’s tagline.
After premiering on September 30, 1982, it was nearly canceled during its first season when it ranked almost last in ratings for its premiere (74th out of 77 shows). Cheers, however, eventually became a highly rated television show in the United States, earning a top-ten rating during eight of its eleven seasons, including one season at number one. The show spent most of its run on NBC’s Thursday night “Must See TV” lineup. Its widely watched series finale was broadcast on May 20, 1993, and the show’s 270 episodes have been successfully syndicated worldwide. Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for all eleven of its seasons on the air, it earned 28 Primetime Emmy Awards from a record of 117 nominations. The character Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) was featured in his eponymous spin-off show, which aired until 2004 and included guest appearances by virtually all of the major and minor Cheers characters.
During its run, Cheers became one of the most popular series of all time and has received critical acclaim. In 1997, the episodes “Thanksgiving Orphans” and “Home Is the Sailor”, aired originally in 1987, were respectively ranked No. 7 and No. 45 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time. In 2002, Cheers was ranked No. 18 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the eighth best written TV series and TV Guide ranked it #11 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time.
Before the Cheers pilot “Give Me a Ring Sometime” was completed and aired in 1982, the series originally consisted of four employees in the first script. Neither Norm Peterson nor Cliff Clavin, regular customers of Cheers, were featured; later revisions added them as among the regular characters of the series.
In later years, Woody Boyd replaces Coach, who dies off-screen in season four (1985–86) to account for actor Nicholas Colasanto’s demise. Frasier Crane starts as a recurring character and becomes a permanent character. In season six (1987–88) Rebecca Howe replaces Diane Chambers, who was written out of the show after the finale of the previous season (1986–87). Lilith Sternin starts as a one-time character in an episode of season four, “Second Time Around” (1985). After she appears in two episodes in season five, she becomes a recurring character, and later featured as a permanent one for season ten (1991–92).
Cheers began with a limited five-character ensemble consisting of Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto and George Wendt. By the time season 10 began, the show had eight front characters in its roster. Cheers was also able to gradually phase in characters such as Cliff, Frasier, Lilith, Rebecca, and Woody. During season 1, only one set, the bar, housed all of the episodes. Later seasons introduced other sets, but the show’s ability to center the action in the bar and avoid straying was notable.
NBC dedicated a whole night to the final episode of Cheers, following the one-hour season finale of Seinfeld (which was its lead-in). The show began with a “pregame” show hosted by Bob Costas, followed by the final 98-minute episode itself. NBC affiliates then aired tributes to Cheers during their local newscasts, and the night concluded with a special Tonight Show broadcast live from the Bull & Finch Pub. Although the episode fell short of its hyped ratings predictions to become the most watched television episode, it was the most watched show that year, bringing in 93.5 million viewers (64 percent of all viewers that night), and ranked 11th all time in entertainment programming. The 1993 final broadcast of Cheers also emerged as the highest rated broadcast of NBC to date, as well as the most watched single episode from any television series throughout the decade 1990’s on U.S. television.
The episode originally aired in the usual Cheers spot of Thursday night, and was then rebroadcast on Sunday. While the original broadcast did not outperform the M*A*S*H finale, the combined non-repeating audiences for the Thursday and Sunday showings did. It should also be noted that television had greatly changed between the two finales, leaving Cheers with a broader array of competition for ratings. In 2013, GQ magazine held an online competition to find the best TV comedy. Cheers was voted the greatest comedy show of all time.
Over its eleven-season run, the Cheers cast and crew earned many awards. The show garnered a record 111 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with a total of 28 wins. In addition, Cheers earned 31 Golden Globe nominations, with a total of six wins. Danson, Long, Alley, Perlman, Wendt, Ratzenberger, Harrelson, Grammer, Neuwirth, and Colosanto all received Emmy nominations for their roles. Cheers won the Golden Globe Award for “Best TV-Series – Comedy/Musical” in 1991 and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1983, 1984, 1989, and 1991. The series was presented with the “Legend Award” at the 2006 TV Land Awards, with many of the surviving cast members attending the event.
About the Actors:
Ted Danson (Sam Malone) is well known for his role on Cheers. During the show’s 11-year run, he was nominated nine times for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and won twice, in 1990 and 1993. The role also earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 1989 and 1990. He and his wife, actress Mary Steenburgen, starred in and were executive producers of the CBS comedy series Ink (1996). Edward Bridge “Ted” Danson III was born in San Diego, California, to Jessica (MacMaster) and Edward Bridge Danson, Jr., who was an archaeologist and museum director. He has English, Scottish, and some German, ancestry. He was raised just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. Danson attended Stanford University, where he became interested in drama during his second year. Danson lives with his family in Los Angeles. He is a founding member of the American Oceans Campaign (AOC), an organization established to alert Americans to the life-threatening hazards created by oil spills, offshore development, toxic wastes, sewage pollution and other ocean abuses.
Rhea Perlman (Carla Tortelli) was born on March 31, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Rhea Jo Perlman. She is an actress and producer, known for Cheers (1982), Matilda (1996) and The Sessions (2012). She has been married to Danny DeVito since January 28, 1982. They have three children. Rhea Perlman portrayed Carla Tortelli, a “wisecracking, cynical” cocktail waitress, who treats customers badly. She is also highly fertile and matrimonially inept. When the series premiered, she is the mother of four children by her ex-husband Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya). Later she bears four more, the depiction of which incorporated Perlman’s real-life pregnancies. All of her children are notoriously ill-behaved, except Ludlow, whose father is a prominent academician. She flirts with men, including ones who are not flattered by her ways, and believes in superstitions. Later she marries Eddie LeBec, an ice hockey player, who later becomes a penguin mascot for ice shows. After he died in an ice show accident by an ice resurfacer, Carla later discovers that Eddie had committed bigamy with another woman, whom he had gotten pregnant.
Woody Harrelson (Woody Boyd) was born on July 23, 1961 in Midland, Texas, to Diane Lou (Oswald) and Charles Harrelson. He grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and, after receiving degrees in theater arts and English from Hanover College, had a brief stint in New York theater. He was soon cast as Woody on TV series Cheers (1982), which wound up being one of the most-popular TV shows ever and also earned Harrelson an Emmy for his performance in 1989. While he dabbled in film during his time on Cheers (1982), that area of his career didn’t fully take off until towards the end of the show’s run. In 1991, Doc Hollywood (1991) gave him his first widely-seen movie role, and he followed that up with White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993) and Natural Born Killers (1994). In 2011, Harrelson snagged the coveted role of fan-favorite drunk Haymitch Abernathy in the big-screen adaptation of The Hunger Games (2012), which ended up being one of the highest-grossing movies ever at the domestic box office. Harrelson is set to reprise that role for the sequels, which are scheduled for release in November 2013, 2014 and 2015. Harrelson has received two Academy Award nominations, first for his role as controversial Hustler founder Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) and then for a role in The Messenger (2009). He also received Golden Globe nominations for both of these parts. Harrelson married his former assistant, Laura Louie, with whom he has three daughters.
John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin) was born April 6, 1947 and is an American actor, voice actor and entrepreneur. He is best known as Cliff Clavin in Cheers. He is also known for his extensive vocal work in Pixar Animation Studios’ films, notably Hamm in the Toy Story movies and Mack in the Cars movies. Ratzenberger was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Bertha Veronica, who worked for Remington Arms, and Dezso Alexander Ratzenberger, a Texaco truck driver. His father was of Austrian and Hungarian descent, and his mother was of Polish ancestry. He attended St. Ann’s School in Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1969, Ratzenberger was a tractor operator at the Woodstock Festival. He moved to London in 1971 and stayed there for 10 years and worked as a house framer. Through the 1970’s, he performed with Ray Hassett as the comedic theatrical duo Sal’s Meat Market which toured across the UK. Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer as The Outer Limits and in The Comic Strip were heavily influenced by Sal’s Meat Market. His first role was a patron in The Ritz (1976). Throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Ratzenberger appeared in various minor roles in major feature films, including Firefox; A Bridge Too Far, as Lieutenant James Megellas; Superman, as a missile controller; Superman II, as the NASA control man; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as “Major Bren Derlin”; Motel Hell as a drummer; Outland as a doomed mine worker named Tarlow; and Gandhi, playing an American Lieutenant.
George Wendt (Norm Peterson) was born October 17, 1948 and raised in Chicago, Illinois, to Loretta Mary (Howard) and George Robert Wendt, who was a realtor and navy officer. He attended a strict Jesuit prep school and then dropped out of Notre Dame University after a few uneventful years. He worked with the Windy City’s famed Second City comedy troupe from 1974-1980. He is best known for playing Norm Peterson on the hit television series, Cheers (1982). He is married to actress Bernadette Birkett, who provided the rare offscreen voice of Norm’s unseen wife Vera. The couple have two sons and a daughter. They met while working at the Second City in Chicago.
Cheers – Did You Know?
- Nicholas Colasanto had trouble remembering his lines and would write them all over the set. For Cheers: Coach Buries a Grudge (1984), he wrote his line “It’s as if he’s still with us now.” on the wooden slats to the right of the front door. After Colasanto’s death, the cast would touch the slat where he wrote that line every time they entered the set. Sometime later, the set was repainted and Colasanto’s writing was painted over. According to Ted Danson, the cast was so angry that some even threatened to quit.
- In episodes in which the voice of Norm’s unseen wife could be heard, her voice was portrayed by George Wendt’s real life wife Bernadette Birkett.
- From the start of the series, writers and producers made it a point to never show anyone leaving the bar drunk to drive home. The series would come to be recognized and cited by anti-drinking and driving groups for depicting and helping promote designated driver programs.
- David Angell (who was a writer, story editor, and producer for Cheers) and his wife were both killed on September 11, 2001, when the plane that they were on, American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City. They were returning home to California after attending a family wedding in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
- Cliff was originally to be a Police Officer, but producers felt that his being a Mail Man would give him more access to information regarding his trademark “Little Known Facts”. Many of Cliff’s “Little Known Facts” were ad libbed by John Ratzenberger with scripts written simply to cue him in to the lines relating to his facts.
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