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Category: Comedy Category: American Category: ages 18 and above
The show was created by James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles.
The show stars Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Nicholas Colasanto, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, and George Wendt.
The opening theme of the show is "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" by Gary Portnoy.
The show ran for 11 seasons and there were 269 episodes. The show ran from September 30, 1982 to May 20, 1993.
What it's all about
The show is set in the Cheers bar (itself named for the toast "Cheers") in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink and generally have fun. The show premiered on September 30, 1982. It was nearly cancelled in its first season because it ranked last in ratings. It survived. Kelsey Grammer had his own spin off from Cheers. The show was called "Frasier."
Cheers maintained an ensemble cast, keeping roughly the same set of characters for the entire run. Numerous secondary characters and love interests for these characters appeared intermittently to complement storylines that generally revolved around this core group.
Sam Malone Ted Danson Bartender/Owner Former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox 1982-1993
Diane Chambers Shelley Long Waitress Writer; graduate student 1982-1987
Rebecca Howe Kirstie Alley Manager/Waitress Businesswoman 1987-1993
Carla Tortelli Rhea Perlman Waitress Homemaker 1982-1993
"Woody" Boyd Woody Harrelson Assistant Bartender Actor; politician 1985-1993
Norm Peterson George Wendt Customer Accountant; interior decorator; house painter 1982-1993
Cliff Clavin John Ratzenberger Customer Mailman 1982-1993
Frasier Crane Kelsey Grammer Customer Psychiatrist 1984-1993
Ernie "Coach" Pantusso Nicholas Colasanto Assistant Bartender Sam's coach 1982-1985
Lilith Sternin Bebe Neuwirth Customer Psychiatrist 1986-1993
The Sam Malone character was originally intended to be retired football player played by Fred Dryer but when Ted Danson auditioned they decided to make his character a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The character of Cliff Clavin was created for John Ratzenberger after he auditioned for the role of "Norm". While chatting with producers afterwards, he asked if they were going to include a "bar know-it-all", the part which he eventually played. Kirstie Alley joined the cast when Shelley Long left, and Woody Harrelson joined when Nicholas Colasanto died. Danson, George Wendt, and Rhea Perlman were the only actors to appear in every episode of the series.
Jay Thomas as Eddie LeBec Dan Hedaya as Nick Tortelli Jean Kasem as Loretta Tortelli Roger Rees as Robin Colcord Tom Skerritt as Evan Drake Harry Anderson as Harry the Hat
Other celebrities guest-starred in single episodes as themselves throughout the series. Some sports figures appeared on the show as former team-mates of Sam's from the Red Sox such as Luis Tiant and Wade Boggs, while others appeared with no connection to Cheers such as Kevin McHale (star player of the Boston Celtics, Cheers' hometown basketball team) or Mike Ditka. Some television stars also made guest appearances such as Johnny Gilbert, Alex Trebek, Arsenio Hall, Dick Cavett, and Johnny Carson. Some political figures even made appearances on Cheers such as then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William J. Crowe, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, then-Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Senator John Kerry, then-Governor Michael Dukakis, and then-Mayor of Boston Raymond Flynn (the last four of which all represented Cheers' home state and city). Musician Harry Connick, Jr. appeared in an episode as Woody's cousin and plays a song from his Grammy winning album We Are in Love (c. 1991). John Cleese won an Emmy for his guest appearance as "Dr. Simon Finch-Royce" in a fifth season episode "Simon Says". Emma Thompson guest starred as Nanny Gee/Nanette Guzman, a famous singing nanny and Frasier's ex-wife. The Righteous Brothers, Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, also guest starred.
The concept for Cheers was the end result of a long consideration process. The original idea was a group of workers who interacted like a family, hoping to be similar to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They considered making an American version of the British Fawlty Towers centered around a hotel or an inn. When the creators settled on a bar as their setting the show began to resemble the radio show Duffy's Tavern. They liked the idea of a tavern as it provided a continuous stream of new people arriving, giving them a constant supply of characters.
The Bar used in the show is the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston. When Glen Charles asked the owner to shoot initial exterior and interior shots the owner agreed, charging $1. He has since gone on to make millions, licensing the pub's image and selling a variety of Cheers memorabilia, making the Bull & Finch the 42nd busiest outlet in the American food and beverage industry in 1997.Most Cheers episodes were shot before a live studio audience on Paramount Stage 25, generally on Tuesday nights. Scripts for a new episode were issued the Wednesday before for a read-through, Friday was rehearsal day, and final scripts were issued on Monday. Nearly 100 crewmembers were involved in the shooting of a single episode. Burrows, who directed most episodes, insisted on shooting on film rather than videotape. He was also noted for using motion in his directorial style, trying to always keep characters moving rather than standing still.
Nearly all of Cheers took place in the front room of the bar, but they often went into the rear pool room or the bar's office. Cheers didn't show any action outside the bar until the first episode of the second season, which took the action to Diane's apartment. Cheers had some running gags, such as Norm arriving in the bar greeted by a loud "Norm!" Early episodes generally followed Sam's antics with his various women, following a variety of romantic comedy clichés to get out of whatever relationship troubles he was in for each episode. As the show progressed and Sam got into more serious relationships the general tone switched to comedy on Sam settling down into a monogamous lifestyle. Throughout the series, larger story arcs began to develop that spanned multiple episodes or seasons interspersed with smaller themes and one-off episodes.
Sam and Diane
The show's main theme in its early seasons was the romance between the intellectual waitress Diane Chambers and bar owner Sam Malone, a former major league baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and a recovering alcoholic . After Long left the show, the focus shifted to Sam's new relationship with neurotic corporate climber Rebecca. Both romances became important continuing story lines, with relationship growth and change. The story arc began with mutual detestation but sexual attraction to dating and love, and back to detestation. Both relationships featured multi-episode "will they or won't they" sexual tension that drew viewers in. After Sam and Diane's courtship was consummated, the show's popularity grew greatly and subsequent TV shows now very commonly have such "will they or won't they" tensions between opposites.
The show dealt with many social issues including social class, feminism, homosexuality, and addiction.
"Upper class" characters like Diane Chambers, Frasier Crane, Lillith Sternin and initially Rebecca Howe interacted with Sam Malone, Carla Tortelli, Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin. A bigger example of this was Woody Boyd and millionaire girlfriend Kelly Gaines. Many viewers enjoyed the show partly because there was significant character and plot development.
Diane was a big time feminist and Sam was the poster boy for all she hated. He was a womanizer and a male chauvinist. Carla was respected because of her power. Diane was ignored because she couldn't get people to respect her. Rebecca was a stereotypical gold digger who wanted to marry millionaire Robin Colcord so she could have money and power. She ended up marrying a plumber.
Homosexuality was dealt with in the first season. The episode was called "The Boys In The Bar." The story deals with one of Sam's former teammate coming out in his autobiography. Some of the male regulars in the bar confront Sam about their fears that the bar will become a gay bar. The episode won a GLAAD Media Award. Harvey Fierstein appeared on the show in the 1990s as a character named Mark Newberger. He plays Rebecca's old high school sweetheart who is gay. The final episode included a gay man who got in trouble with his boyfriend, played by Anthony Heald, after he agreed to pose as Diane's husband.
Sam was a recovering alcoholic who ended up buying a bar after his baseball career was ruined by his drinking. Sam basically conquered his alcoholism but he was still a sexual addict. He frequently had a new woman on his arm.
The "Est. 1895" on the bar's sign is a made-up chosen by Carla for numerological purposes. The fifth season finale was the one of the main episodes dealing with ownership. Sam and Diane part ways. Shelley Long leaves the regular cast. Sam leaves to sail around the Earth. Sam sells Cheers to the Lillian Corporation, where Robin Colcord works. Sam returns in the sixth season premiere. He comes back because his boat sank and he wanted to come back to "his" bar. He finds Rebecca as the new manager of the bar. He ends up being hired as a bartender.
Throughout the sixth season Sam tries many schemes to buy the bar back. He doesn't succeed. Rebecca ends up being fired and Sam becomes manager. Rebecca is allowed to keep an office job at the Lillian Corporation.
Sam finally does get the bar back in the eighth season finale, when it was sold back to him for eighty-five cents by the Lillian Corporation after he has Colcord arrested for insider trading. Rebecca earns back a waitress/hostess job from Sam.
The was liked in its first season, though it was 74th in the ratings (out of 74 shows). The show had much critical support, early success at the Emmys, and the support from the president of NBC's entertainment division Brandon Tartikoff. These things helped the show survive. The cast made rounds on talk shows. By its final season Cheers had a run of eight consecutive seasons in the top ten of the Nielsen ratings. NBC dedicated a whole night to the final episode of Cheers.
There was a "pregame" show hosted by Bob Costas, followed by the final 98 minute episode itself. NBC affiliates aired tributes to the show during their local newscasts. The Tonight Show was broadcast live from the Bull & Finch Pub. The episode was the most watched show that year and ranked 11th all time in entertainment programming.
Some of the actors appeared on other shows either in a guest appearance or in a new spin-off. Frasier is the most successful Cheers spin-off. The Frasier Crane character is the character that was on Cheers but now in Seattle, Washington. He moves there to live with his disabled father and to host a call-in radio show. Frasier wasn't supposed to be a big character but Grammer's acting turned out to be really funny. Sam, Diane, and Woody all appeared on Frasier. The ex-wife character of Lilith was on the Frasier throughout its run.....I mean on the show....not on him. Cliff, Norm, Carla, and two of Cheer's regular background barflies Paul and Phil were on the Frasier episode "Cheerful Goodbyes". They all meet at a retirement party for Cliff in Boston. Frasier went off the air in 2004 after an eleven-season run.
There was a Cheers like episode of The Simpons name "Fear of Flying". Characters from Cheers also appeared on Wings (created by Cheers producers/writer) St. Elsewhere. Licencing
A chain of "Cheers" themed pubs started because of the show. "Cheers" theme pubs were made at 24+ airports around the world. A full-scale Cheers reproduction was built in Picadilly Circus in London
Kelsey Grammer is probably the most successful Cheers actor with his spin-off Frasier, which lated 11 seasons like Cheers. Grammer had a recurring guest role on The Simpsons as Sideshow Bob. By the final season of Frasier, Grammer had become the highest paid actor on television, earning about $1.6 million an episode.
Woody Harrelson has also had a successful career following Cheers, including appearances in a number of notable films that have established him as a box-office draw. He also earned an Academy Award nomination in 1997 for The People vs. Larry Flynt.
Ted Danson, who had been the highest paid cast member earning $450,000 an episode in the final season, has starred in the successful sitcom Becker as well as the unsuccessful sitcoms Ink and Help Me Help You. He has starred in a number of movies, including Three Men and a Baby and Made in America. Ted and his wife regularly play themselves on Curb Your Enthusiasm as Larry David's friends.
John Ratzenberger has voice acted in all of Pixar's computer-animated feature films and currently hosts the Travel Channel show Made in America. On Made in America he travels around the U.S. showing the stories of small towns and the goods they produce. Coincidentally, Ted Danson starred in a film also called Made in America. He is heavily involved in a charity known as the Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation, which encourages children to get involved with tinkering and mechanical work, as well as to encourage schools to resurrect Industrial Arts programs. He also was on Dancing with the Stars.
Kirstie Alley starred in the TV series Veronica's Closet as well as numerous miniseries and film roles.
Although some believe Shelley Long leaving the show was a bad career move, she has gone on to star in several television and film roles, notably The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel. In addition to continuing careers after Cheers, some of the cast members have had personal problems. In 2004, Shelley Long grew depressed after divorcing her husband of 23 years and appears to have attempted suicide by overdosing on drugs. Kirstie Alley gained a significant amount of weight after Cheers, which somewhat affected her career. She went on to write and star in a sitcom partly based on her life and weight gain, Fat Actress. She formerly was a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig.
The Host Marriott Corporation installed 46 bars modeled after Cheers in their hotel and airport lounges. Paramount Pictures licensed the characters and details of the show, allowing the bars to have fake memorabilia such as Sam Malone's supposed jersey while playing for the Red Sox. Among the details Marriott included were two robots, "Bob" and "Hank", one of which was heavy (resembling Norm Peterson), with the other wearing a postal uniform (Cliff Clavin).
Ratzenberger and Wendt filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against Paramount in 1993 (around the time that Viacom purchased Paramount), claiming that the company was illegally licensing and earning off their images without their permission.
Ratzenberger and Wendt claimed that Paramount could not earn off their images simply because the robots are dressed like the characters over which Paramount still holds rights. The case was dismissed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in 1996, though a federal judge reinstated the case in the Los Angeles court. Paramount tried to bring the case before the Supreme Court of the United States but the court refused to hear the case, instead merely reaffirming the ruling to reinstate the case in the Superior Court. Some believe the case could have had significant implications in Hollywood, as its outcome would have determined whether rights over a character imply rights to reproduce the actor's image with or without his or her permission, so long as the image is of the actor as the character. Rather, Paramount settled with the two before a ruling in the suit was delivered.
(Feb 4, 2013, Monday, 9:50pm)