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September 27, 2012 10:10 AM   Subscribe

"Everybody Knows Their Names: The GQ Oral History of Cheers." (Single page version.) On the thirtieth anniversary of the premiere of Cheers, GQ "sat down with just about everyone who made it." Also, Christopher Lloyd, Amy Poehler and Shawn Ryan talk about what they learned from the show.

And, "The Best of Cheers: Eleven Episodes to Wet Your Whistle" (short reviews/pictures, not video links)
posted by zarq (145 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Intro

Normisms
posted by zarq at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2012


All seasons, all episodes of "Cheers" are now streaming on Netflix. When you get fired for watching them at work, you can come over and watch them with me.
posted by ColdChef at 10:16 AM on September 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


One of my favorite lines of the show ever ever was a throwaway one-liner. Sam and Diane were arguing in the office about something, and Sam said something in defense of how the bar or its patrons had good taste or something like that - and someone outside the door hollered, "Hey, everyone! Let's have a 'who's got the ugliest tongue' contest!"

I was about 14 and I actually wanted to do that for a while.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Beer and pretzels, that's our game,
C-H-E-R-S!"
posted by Madamina at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]



I've been watching Cheers in order on Netflix.

Growing up in the 80s, I'd seen a lot of them, but not so much in order and being a teenager, I'd missed a lot of the show, anyway.

The show has some really fantastic acting, writing, and direction much of the time and it has a real "live theater" feel that I think gets missed in a lot shows these days. although I say that, and pretty much all I watch is Community anyway.

The other thing I notice is how much casual sexism and misogyny there is - and it's not slight on the show, it is a time capsule after all - but it seems so foreign now.

Also, the clothes! Men's fashion hasn't really changed much and still sucks.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Amy Pohler:

[But] the cool thing about the show was that you loved every character. They were so finely drawn, I could always imagine what they were doing on the weekends. And that, to me, is a really well-written character.


Hmmm, I wonder if that affected Amy Pohler's current sitcom work at all.

That was an attempt at sarcasm, as I said pretty much the same thing about Parks and Recreation earlier this year, which amuses me greatly.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Phone call for Ernie Pantuso!"

"That's you, Coach."

"Oh yeah." (into phone) "Speaking."
posted by Rock Steady at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


ColdChef: "When you get fired for watching them at work, you can come over and watch them with me."

Will you be serving Screaming Vikings?
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thirty years? I was 10????

That doesn't seem right.
posted by stormpooper at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey Cliffie! Wotcha got in the bottle?
Leeches!

When I was in middle school, my parents wouldn't let me watch Cheers (or Three's Company) because it was too racy.

Between the eras of Cheers and Seinfeld, there were a bunch of sitcoms with "premises" and I always hated them. You can't have a funny premise because the laughs are over by the time the theme song fades out and there's no changes you can ring on it. Whereas Cheers is just "a bunch of people talking about stuff" and then Seinfeld was famously "about nothing".
posted by DU at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


"In the time it takes me to say 'ten thousand dollars', I actually make ten thousand dollars."
"Ten thousand dollars?"
"Yes, it works when you say it too, Sam."
posted by LionIndex at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm 31, so when I was a little kid, Cheers was one of the shows that had just always been on. I don't remember a time before that last episode when I didn't watch it with my family. I'm sure I'd find problems with it now, and half of it must have flown right over my head, but in memory it was basically a perfect show.
posted by brennen at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ratzenberger: It was the last generation of writers that had grown up reading books instead of watching TV. So you weren't getting anything that was derivative of I Love Lucy or Happy Days. You were getting real characters [like those] they read in P.G. Wodehouse or Dickens or somewhere along the line, because they had all grown up with a love of literature.

Kurt Vonnegut (from a 1991 interview): I would rather have written Cheers than anything I've written.
posted by the painkiller at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2012 [34 favorites]


I love Cheers, but MASH beats it in the "best show ever" category.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


One of my favorite insults I learned from Carla: "I wouldn't walk across the room to spit on his shoes."
posted by Knappster at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cliffie will always be my favorite.*

Sam, improvising a lie, badly, to explain a black eye: "I was flying in a small plane and there was some turbulence and I hit my head on the... defromaculator."

Cliff: "WHEN are they going to recess those things?"

* any resemblance to any know-it-all tendencies on my part is DENIED!
posted by Zed at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Cheers was added to AVClub's Classics about this time last year. They've covered the first two seasons so far, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Lorin at 10:39 AM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Brocktoon, MASH justifies the invention of television. It's just in the same category of "best show". Not fair to put Cheers up against something that profound.
posted by Goofyy at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Edit window. That is, just NOT in the same category. Obviously.
posted by Goofyy at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2012


I was really sick for a week or two last year and went through the first few seasons of the show on Netflix. The first two seasons of Cheers are some of the best long-form sitcom storytelling that's ever been on television. Apparently the showrunners left after the second season and you can immediately tell: the tone changes, the stakes lower, and the ongoing narrative seems a lot more soapy in that 'and here's another thing that's happening now!' way instead of the immediate direness of the first two years. The show eventually became one of the great ongoing sitcoms, broadened quite a bit, and now you can plop on any old episode from season 3-10 pretty much at random, but those first two seasons, watched in sequence, are pretty breathtaking in terms of writing and strength of character. Any fan of narrative or television owes it to themselves to see them in isolation from the larger phenomenon of the show.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Isn't it weird how Freinds has just totally disappeared from the cultural landscape? That shut was huge in the 90s, then *poof* - gone.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Season 9, Episode 13 - Days of Wine and Neuroses
Season 9, Episode 14 - Wedding Bell Blues
Season 9, Episode 23 - Rat Girl
Season 10, Episode 16 - One Hugs, The Other Doesn't

All four episodes showcase the continued, growing strength of the Frasier Crane character, propelled by Kelsey Grammer's portrayal, which actually improved with time.
posted by The Confessor at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guh-guh-groin injury. Groin injury.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


My favorite two non-characters are from Cheers and Firefly ... Vera.
posted by tilde at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kelly kelly kelly kelly kelly...

I worshipped that show when I was a teenager. The competitions with Gary's tavern never failed to have me rolling on the floor.
posted by dry white toast at 10:51 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to close this window or I'll never get any work done, but last weekend, I was watching a bit of Raging Bull and realized for the first time that mob boss Tommy Como was played by Nicholas Colasanto (Coach) -- and it blew my fucking mind.

Like it still does -- I know that it was true but I still had to look it up before I commented here because I still can't really believe it's the same guy. I mean, looking at them, of course they are, but still... unbelievable.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My fondest memories of this show are connected with my dad.

He's normally very laid back and easy going, with little of the temper I somehow have acquired. But growing up, the one rule of the house was that "Cheers" was something special, something to not trifle with. That was my dad's escape. My sister and I had to be on our best behavior in the house at that time; we could watch it (and the jokes sail over our heads) but only if we were quiet like mice. And I remember one of the very few times our dad ever got onto us was directly related to our behavior during one episode. To this day, I can't think of this classic and honored TV series without thinking of how much my dad loved it.

The other "Cheers" event was at the end. The final episode, which we recorded on our VCR that weighed more than some hybrid cars. I don't accurately know who did what, but somehow dad's copy of the final episode made its way into a Blockbuster VHS rental container. And yes, it made it's way to the store. In a mad dash, some hours later, we had to explain the whole deal to some employee that whatever kid's movie we thought we returned was in fact our dad's final episode of "Cheers." And yes, we managed to get it back.
posted by fijiwriter at 10:56 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god, the kellykellykellykelly song. "I'm going to steal your girlfriend."

Also, for Coach: "Albania, Albania, it borders...on...the...Adriatic."
posted by MoonOrb at 10:59 AM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think the "Albania, it borders on the Adriatic..." was a Taxi thing. I remember Jim Ignatowski making that up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2012


Sam to Diane, responding to some invitation from her: "I'd rather shave my head with a cheese grater while chewing on tinfoil."
posted by sensate at 11:07 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the "Albania, it borders on the Adriatic..." was a Taxi thing. I remember Jim Ignatowski making that up.

This is the point in your life when you never trust your memory ever again.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:08 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I always liked the Sam and Diane exchange:

"I thought you weren't going to call me stupid now that we're being intimate."

"No, I said I wasn't going to call you stupid WHILE we were being intimate."
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:10 AM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Another I liked - Norm once told someone on the show, when they asked how he was doing, that "It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk-bone underwear."

(Actually - maybe you all know; I quoted this once to my 10th-grade English teacher, and he was scandalized. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why. Is that obscene in some way I'm not seeing, or was he just easily shocked?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


When I was in middle school, my parents wouldn't let me watch Cheers (or Three's Company) because it was too racy

huh. Here in .nl it was broadcast by one of our Christin broadcasters just because it was such a wholesome, decent family comedy. Mind, it did lead to one of the best letters to the editor I'd ever seen: "does the C in NCRV now stand for comedy instead of Christianity"?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always loved the way the show handled the death of Coach and the transition to Woody. Most shows would have had a Very Special Episode dealing with the death of a major character. Cheers just (if I remember correctly) started the next show by showing the very end of what was obviously a memorial for Coach with the gang toasting him one last time. No back story about what happened. It wasn't necessary.

Later on while the show was still on I was working as a field tech doing PC repair. A young woman from the boonies of Virginia had just started working for us and she tagged along with me one day while I took her around to some of our customers. I decided to take a little detour and drove by the Bull and Finch Pub, which by then had pretty much been renamed to Cheers. I swear it was like I drove her past the Eiffel Tower or something. She was thrilled to actually see Cheers.

I never watched the show much after Shelly Long left. I've never been a big fan of Kirstey Alley. But, man, what a show.

Cheers, Taxi, M*A*S*H and WKRP were pretty much nightly rerun viewing for years in my house.
posted by bondcliff at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thursday nights in college revolved around drinking through the NBC lineup. Cheers, Cosby, Family Ties, and there was one more that I'm forgetting, and then Letterman after the news.

I'm pretty sure my Friday AM professors had no idea who I was, as I was never in their lectures.
posted by COD at 11:17 AM on September 27, 2012


Not just why I know where Albania is but also the Adriatic.

Okay, not really... but there was a time when that was certainly true.

There are a lot of philosophers and artists to whom Diane introduced me.

Also, how I learned with a zamboni was. (R.I.P. Eddie Lebec)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:18 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"No Brains Atoll" still makes me snicker.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:19 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


bondcliff: "No back story about what happened. It wasn't necessary. "

There's a nice moment at the end of the finale where Sam walks through the bar turning out the lights. He stops in an alcove towards the back of the bar, where he straightens a picture of Coach that's hanging on the wall.

I loved the way they did that: a quiet, wordless moment which carried a great deal of symbolism for the audience.
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Don't remember the context - Diane to Carla:

"Carla, you're talking about a man you once referred to as 'seepage'."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2012


We're re-watching the series on Netflix, too. I don't think I've laughed harder at a TV show than the season 2 finale, when Sam unwraps the horrible velvet-esque painting of Diane.

I've scoured the internet hoping that someone sells a print of that painting, but alas, no dince.
posted by hwyengr at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2012


In the late '70s, budding TV director James Burrows and Glen and Les Charles, two English-major brothers from Nevada, were working on the sitcom Taxi. Toward the end of its run, their agent suggested the three stop working for others and create a show of their own.

I marveled at the cinematic qualities and the twists to the four-camera style that developed in "Cheers." I read this and thought about how similar "Taxi," which followed "Cheers" in the NBC Thursday night prime-time lineup during the first season of "Cheers" ("Taxi," despite all its Emmys, is a severely underrated and almost-forgotten sitcom, in my opinion, along with "Barney Miller"), was in that respect. Well, that and the great writing and pacing.

Glen Charles: Fawlty Towers was a favorite at that time, and so we started talking about hotel stories, and we found that a lot of the action was happening in the hotel bar. We actually thought of that while we were in a bar: "Why would anyone ever leave here?"

Burrows: We also knew that we wanted to have a Tracy-Hepburn relationship.


I love both of these remarks so much. Because these guys revered and reached back to the masters in gathering ideas for their own show, and in the process they created a classic themselves -- all without remaking or sequeling or blatantly cannibalizing what had come before in a desperate bid for nostalgic cachet. There's a lesson there.
posted by blucevalo at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to me how some of these absolute classics make it into regular syndicated re-runs, and others don't. For example, I can catch old Seinfeld and Simpsons episodes without too much trouble; I can find MASH and Frasier reruns with a bit of looking; but Cheers and WKRP? Nowhere in my TV universe.

Too much a part of their times perhaps? Jokes that a modern audience wouldn't get?
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shakespherian sums up my relationship to Cheers exactly. Later on, sure, it was very good television. Funny, witty, occasionally moving. But the first couple of seasons with Diane were just brilliant and I've always been sad it didn't continue along in that vein.

I also always kinda wondered what happened to Andy Andy.
posted by Justinian at 11:40 AM on September 27, 2012


Cheers also introduced the world to Harry Anderson, who would go on to get his own show and then pretty much disappear forever.
posted by bondcliff at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's interesting to me how some of these absolute classics make it into regular syndicated re-runs

Cheers and WKRP used to be on continuous syndication. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a Cheers re-run. But WKRP is old and Cheers, while only 7 years old than Seinfeld, really belongs to a different TV era. The same will happen to Seinfeld in a decade.

I mean, you don't see re-runs of Facts of Life and Different Strokes anymore, either, and those used to be ubiquitous.
posted by Justinian at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've laughed harder at a TV show than the season 2 finale, when Sam unwraps the horrible velvet-esque painting of Diane.

That episode is also a great showcase for the writers and their strength at developing characters. The way that the episode ends-- the single word with which that episode ends-- hinges entirely on having extremely strong characterization, people who are both thoroughly developed for the audience but also still capable of change, of insight, of being surprised by themselves, and the show manages to deliver all of that in one fucking word.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:46 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another I liked - Norm once told someone on the show, when they asked how he was doing, that "It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk-bone underwear."

(Actually - maybe you all know; I quoted this once to my 10th-grade English teacher, and he was scandalized. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why. Is that obscene in some way I'm not seeing, or was he just easily shocked?)


ahh yeah, I actually just quoted that here on the Blue a week or two ago - totally forget the context, some thread relating to dogs I think.

If I had to guess, your teacher probably drew some weird connection between the use of the words bone and underwear, thinking it was a joke about erections? Who knows..
posted by mannequito at 11:46 AM on September 27, 2012


never used baby shoes: The Hallmark Channel airs a couple of Cheers episodes a night. Late late at night. I think another channel might too.
posted by tittergrrl at 11:46 AM on September 27, 2012


Well, WKRP had a specific problem with syndication - they used a lot of clips from rock songs in the episodes as background music or key plot points (logically). However, the creators had the rights to do this while the show was on the air. I don't remember exactly why, but these rights did not transfer over into syndication. (Or it's the other way around, and they got some huge deal on the rights for each song just during the show.) So for the show to go into syndication, the creators would have to track down the rights to each and every one of the songs that got played in each episode, a prospect which was rather cost-prohibitive.

They tried a couple episodes in syndication where they used sound-alike generic music clips for some of the original songs but it sounded too lame.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cheers and WKRP? Nowhere in my TV universe.


I don't know for 100% certain, but in the case of Cheers, I'm 98% certain that this is more about money. Rights to Cheers have been purchased by cable channels like the Hallmark Channel and Reelz, which have probably priced local syndication out of the running, especially when newer shows are basically guaranteed better ratings. With the price going up, it doesn't make sense to try to keep re-showing old shows over and over again.

(Even The Simpsons is only showing twice a day now in Chicago!)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:49 AM on September 27, 2012


I was about to make a comment along the lines of EmpressCallypygos, but since she beat me to it, here is some info on WKRP and music licensing from wikipedia.
posted by TedW at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2012


Cheers is a show that very interestingly, to me at least, straddled two distinct eras of television and nearly went into a third. It started in 1982, in the glow of the M*A*S*H era when sitcoms were seen as both populist entertainment AND dramatic vehicles. Thusly, there's a lot of pathos and character work in those first couple seasons. Then Shelly Long leaves, and everything about the 80's, an era of business, greed, capitalism, and Kirstie Alley rushes in to fill the vacuum and it's all rich Englishmen and Tom Skerrit's million dollar moustache. Then the earnest 90's era sets in, and the show gently fades away in an earnest examination of whats really important in life - namely marrying schlubby plumbers and tending bar at the place where everyone knows your name till the day you die.. or get a spinoff.
posted by mediocre at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Justinian: You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a Cheers re-run.

Living in Boston in the days before 5000 cable channels, you could probably find an episode of Cheers to watch any time of day or night. WSBK Channel 38 had a 2 hour per day block of it for a while, if I remember correctly.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


IMBD['s Memorable Quotes page for the show is extensive.

Hands down, my favorite Cheers moment would have to be the cold open where Carla gets a phone call from one of her older kids about her baby:

Carla: What? He won't fall asleep? OK, yeah. Put his ear near the phone.

And she starts singing Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby). As she's singing the whole bar joins in, softly. She holds phone up in the air. Song ends, she puts her ear to the receiver and says softly, "He's Asleep!"

And the whole bar cheers, victorious and at the top of their voices. Presumably waking the baby.

Carla: "Thanks, guys. Thanks a lot."
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2012 [10 favorites]



Another I liked - Norm once told someone on the show, when they asked how he was doing, that "It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk-bone underwear."


That, and:

"How's life treating you, Mister Peterson?"
"Like a newborn baby treats its diaper."
posted by entropicamericana at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thursday nights in college revolved around drinking through the NBC lineup. Cheers, Cosby, Family Ties, and there was one more that I'm forgetting, and then Letterman after the news.

Night Court.

Cosby at 8, Family Ties 8:30, Cheers at 9, Night Court 9:30.

A golden age.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2012 [29 favorites]


James Edward Burrows denied that there was any influence, but he is the son of Abe Burrows, who created a radio show called "Duffy's Tavern," in which Archie the manager traded quips each week with a cast of regulars. And the younger Burrows owes his middle name to Ed Gardner, who co-created the radio show and played Archie.
posted by Longtime Listener at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


James Edward Burrows denied that there was any influence, but he is the son of Abe Burrows, who created a radio show called "Duffy's Tavern," in which Archie the manager traded quips each week with a cast of regulars. And the younger Burrows owes his middle name to Ed Gardner, who co-created the radio show and played Archie.

It's also worth noting that Boston television station WCVB produced a local sitcom (!) in 1979 called "Park Street Under" which was set in a fictitious bar located in the Park Street subway station.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other thing I notice is how much casual sexism and misogyny there is - and it's not slight on the show, it is a time capsule after all - but it seems so foreign now.

God, yes.

Mrs. Verb and I have been going through Fraiser and Cheers in much the same way, and it's mind-boggling how much a part of the Cheers arc that sexism is. It seems particularly bad once Rebecca was the primary female focus of the show. Remember the episode where she's sexually harassed, and everyone laughs at her because she's crazy? Or the one where Sam keeps trying to get her to pass out -- because if she passes out, HE CAN SLEEP WITH HER?

LULZ!
posted by verb at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


"What's the news, Mr. Peterson?"

"Terrorists. They've taken over my stomach, and they're demanding beer."


I loved that show, and this article.
posted by Zonker at 12:17 PM on September 27, 2012




They used to play the We Will Rock You opener at Penguins games, and it always fired everyone up.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2012


"What's up, Mr. Peterson?"
"The warranty on my liver."
posted by dry white toast at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Are you kidding me? How do you think it feels to be attracted to someone who makes you sick?!"

Story of my life...
posted by Melismata at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cliffie will always be my favorite.*

And the Jeopardy episode will always be his masterpiece.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Night Court.

A court... at night?!?
I'm already laughing!

Cosby at 8, Family Ties 8:30, Cheers at 9, Night Court 9:30 (and Letterman on summer vacations) was fantastic.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2012


mrgrimm - Seconded! Every since then "_________ who/that/which has never been in my kitchen" is my default answer for any question I do not know the answer to.

I have always been the Clavin of my group, the one people run to for trivia answers. How many late night phone calls have I gotten from drunk friends trying to settle an argument.. at least before smartphones became omnipresent.. I've been outsourced and antiquated, like the US Mail.. hey...
posted by mediocre at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


And the Jeopardy episode will always be his masterpiece.

I have a clear memory of an episode of Jeopardy a few years later where someone wrote "who are three people that have never been to my house?" as a Final Jeopardy question as an homage to that episode (since they didn't know the answer), and Alex Trebek having a good chuckle about it.

Totally fascinating the way all the people involved in the show look back on Shelley Long and the way she left. Danson sounds very protective of her.
posted by dry white toast at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: And the Jeopardy episode will always be his masterpiece.

The bit where he tries to put his blazer over his podium? Genius.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2012


Cosby at 8, Family Ties 8:30, Cheers at 9, Night Court 9:30.

A golden age.


Even though you didn't watch it, you gotta include Hill Street Blues at 10.

FT and Cheers were solid, but Cosby was way overrated and Night Court was never that good.

I prefer Wings at 9:30.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Be that as it may, Alex...
posted by MoonOrb at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2012


"How's life treating you, Mr. Peterson?"
"Like I just ran over its dog."
posted by sapere aude at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm - You just lost all the points you got by referencing Clavin on Jeopardy! Night Court is an American treasure!

I was also very young when it was on.. I haven't really watched it much since, but I get the feeling that the humor was much more childlike. Between Harry Anderson: Magician Judge and Bull the Idiot Manchild, it was kind of cartoony to say the least. Even the attempts at sex humor masterfully done by John Larroquette I fully understood at age 8. Still, it was a great show. And one of my favorite bits in modern tv has been when 30 Rock had an episode where Kenneth DEMANDED the cast enact a proper closing for the show. I had two major television teases as a kid, Night Court, and ALF. Neither got proper closure.

Yeah, I know about Project ALF.. but it's.. better left unmentioned..
posted by mediocre at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2012


Night Court was never that good.

Granted, it was ham-handed, but it's totally redeemed by Dan. Dan was at that point maybe the best character ever made for television, with the possible exception of Reverend Jim. Given how each worked on polar ends of the likeability spectrum, Dan probably gets the nod.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cosby at 8, Family Ties 8:30, Cheers at 9, Night Court 9:30.

Oh, Family Ties. I was a kid and I so badly wanted to be Alex P. Keaton, it wasn't even funny. Of course, then I learned what a Republican was.
posted by dry white toast at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Circa 1990 my dad was once at a Bruins game at Boston Garden (the *real* Garden!) when one of the closed-circuit TV cameras zeroed in on George Wendt, who happened to be there. The whole arena noticed him on the monitors at the same time and shouted "NORM!"
posted by usonian at 1:12 PM on September 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Granted, it was ham-handed, but it's totally redeemed by Dan.

Given. His popularity, though, just meant the show devolved into setting up Dan. Bull and Selma were schticky; Mack and Harry character actors at best; and Markie Post mostly wasted.

Between the eras of Cheers and Seinfeld, there were a bunch of sitcoms with "premises" and I always hated them. You can't have a funny premise because the laughs are over by the time the theme song fades out and there's no changes you can ring on it. Whereas Cheers is just "a bunch of people talking about stuff" and then Seinfeld was famously "about nothing".

I dunno. The show was pretty much founded on the Sam-Diane plotline. Everything else revolved around that (at least for the first X years).

I had two major television teases as a kid, Night Court, and ALF. Neither got proper closure.

Heh, I love ALF. I have a homemade ALF for President T-shirt.

I'm still waiting for closure on The Phoenix, VR-5, John From Cincinnati, and Best of the West. I'll be waiting right over here, holding my breath ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2012


"How's life, Norm?"

"Poor."

"Oh, that's too bad."

"No, I mean POUR."
posted by Melismata at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


"What'll you have, Norm?"
"I'm in a gambling mood, Sammy. I'll take a glass of whatever comes out of that tap."
"It looks like beer."
"Well, call me Mister Lucky."
posted by Spatch at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just spent five minutes trying to figure out when Reverend Jim started producing sitcoms.

I'm sorry, but there is only ONE Christopher Lloyd in this town.
posted by bpm140 at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was just watching episode one of season five and Sam comments about seventeen minutes in that he "had a dream about killing Diane last night and he felt great," (to paraphrase as closely as I can) and I thought, whoa, I just discovered the source of the first line of "Via Chicago".
posted by mr. digits at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


"What's going on, Mr Peterson?"

"Let's talk about what's going in Mr Peterson."
posted by gompa at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can never quote it perfectly, but one of my favorite exchanges was between Sam and ... Rebecca, I think. It was an exchange she'd normally have had with Woody, I feel like, but here, it was Sam. It has something to do with somebody either getting or sending flowers, and then it goes something like:

Rebecca: "Why don't more men send flowers?"
Sam: "Mormons can't send flowers?"
Rebecca: "Not Mormons. More men."
Sam: "Whatever you call them, why can't they send flowers?"
Rebecca: "I'm just saying I'd like it if somebody sent me some damn flowers!"
Sam: [pause] "Why does it have to be a Mormon?"

Oh, MY, that was funny.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay, I was not close, but you can watch it anyway.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Besides, Sam, everyone knows that hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is."

"Whatever you say, Diane. I don't care."
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm still waiting for closure on...John From Cincinnati

Ah, fuck you, John from Cincinnati! You're the reason we got a rushed, mediocre ending to Deadwood!
posted by adamdschneider at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Every since then "_________ who/that/which has never been in my kitchen" is my default answer for any question I do not know the answer to.

You are not alone. I would've been pretty young when I saw that, and I think it permanently influenced my sense of humor.
posted by flaterik at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2012


DU: When I was in middle school, my parents wouldn't let me watch Cheers (or Three's Company) because it was too racy.
Is that you, Jim? How's Uncle Dwight doing?
posted by IAmBroom at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2012


hwyengr: We're re-watching the series on Netflix, too. I don't think I've laughed harder at a TV show than the season 2 finale, when Sam unwraps the horrible velvet-esque painting of Diane.

I've scoured the internet hoping that someone sells a print of that painting, but alas, no dince.
I was confused for a minute, because there's another scene like that - I think it's Diane's last episode.

She explains to him how different they both are, and how he'll never understand the things she treasures in life, like art, and great literature, and theater. She had dropped by to give him a birthday gift, and leaves forever.

He unwraps it - it's a seriously abstract modern art painting. He is suddenly jolted in awe, and says unselfconsciously, "Wow...".

Fade to black.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:12 PM on September 27, 2012


It's a beetabaga.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never watched Cheers with any regularity, but the character that stuck with me the most was Woody, for some reason. Maybe because Woody Harrelson shared a first name with his TV character, it seemed that people thought that he was Woody Boyd, and a lot of his career seems to have been a reaction against that. Or maybe he was just interested in offbeat roles, I dunno.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2012


I was confused for a minute, because there's another scene like that - I think it's Diane's last episode.

No that's the same episode, end of the 2nd season. Diane comes back after that but that's the last time they're together. She spends the meantime between S02 and S03 having a mental breakdown and meeting Frasier the psychiatrist, whom she eventually leaves at the altar (Sam running to catch a plane to stop their wedding is the cliffhanger of season 3).
posted by shakespeherian at 2:26 PM on September 27, 2012


Of course, then I learned what a Republican was.

You lucky bastard. Some of us grew up surrounded by them...
posted by brennen at 2:40 PM on September 27, 2012


I think it's Diane's last episode. ... She had dropped by to give him a birthday gift, and leaves forever.

No, Diane's final episode was in season 5 and ended with a fantasy flash forward sequence of Sam and Diane happily together in their golden years.
posted by mediocre at 3:05 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


In retrospect - What shakespeherian said.
posted by mediocre at 3:06 PM on September 27, 2012


I ❤ Cheers!
posted by ericb at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2012


Diane's final episode, by the way, which I also caught recently (thanks TiVo), is pretty much the definition of melancholy as pre-teen me would have understood it, though I didn't really understand that at the time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:14 PM on September 27, 2012


Isn't it weird how Freinds has just totally disappeared from the cultural landscape? That shut was huge in the 90s, then *poof* - gone.

Interesting -- I still see the huge influence of Friends on how my friends talk in their casual conversations. It's less direct quoting of lines (though 'How you doin?' comes up occasionally) and more just that people seem to almost be aiming for a Friends-ey beat on jokes.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:18 PM on September 27, 2012


I was confused for a minute, because there's another scene like that - I think it's Diane's last episode.

Sam was trying to commission a portrait of Diane, and that's how they met the abstract artist (the REAL Christopher Lloyd). Sam gets put off by him, ends up ordering the photo-into-a-painting velvet job from the back of a catalog, and she goes behind his back and has the abstract portrait done anyway.

You'll laugh, you'll cry. It's Cheers.
posted by hwyengr at 3:29 PM on September 27, 2012


My very favorite "hide the pregnant actress" moment is when they stuck Shelley Long underneath the floor of the bar peering up through a little opening for an entire episode. I think the premise was that something went wrong with the vents, and they sent Diane down because she was the skinniest (ha! irony!), but she got trapped.

We used to watch the entire NBC Thursday lineup every week, until I started being interested in Cheers as more than background TV noise, and then it was forbidden as, yes, too racy. Although for awhile my brother had baseball games on Thursday nights, and we had this don't-ask-don't-tell thing going on, where I would stay home alone and they would return shortly after 8:30. Also, they did buy me both the board game and a T-shirt after a trip to Boston. My parents have never been very internally consistent.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:13 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember Cheers being a Friday night staple when I was a kid. In the UK, it was Channel 4's flagship Friday night comedy, and probably one of the reasons that throughout much of the 80s and 90s Channel 4 was the place to go for American comedy (something that they continued with both Frasier and Friends). Anyway, I fucking loved it, even though, as a young kid, the vast majority of the jokes probably sailed way over my head, though my parents did their best to explain them. Sometimes the explanations made things funnier; more often, they killed something that was funny even though I had no idea why.

A weird Cheers memory, which sprung up reading that oral history, and I had totally forgotten about: there's an episode in which, for reasons I cannot for the life of me remember, Norm ends up literally crying into his beer. Big, gulping sobs. Aged nine or ten, or thereabouts, it was the first time that it occured to me that men cried. That this big, fat stoic boozehound was emotionally naked and vulnerable.

In the late 1990s, I was at an Alex Chilton gig in Glasgow, where some friends of mine were acting as his backing band. George Wendt – who I had since learned was a big Hüsker Dü fan, and good friend of Bob Mould, which blew my mind – was in the fairly sparse crowd. Coming back from the toilets, I bumped into Wendt, who was going in the opposite direction. He asked me where the bogs were, and I kind of froze, because all I could think was NORM NORM NORM.
posted by Len at 4:20 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


At one time, Cheers reruns were on the NBC affiliate in Mpls/St. Paul seven nights a week, every night, right after the 10:00 news. I have this memory of Channel 11 trying to swap in the Cosby Show on one of those nights, possibly on weekends, and maniacal Cheers fans showed up and threw snowballs into the live backyard weather forecast in protest.
posted by gimonca at 4:36 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The thing about Cheers (which seeing as I'm in my early 30's, is a total nostalgia machine) is that it was the first TV show that taught me friends could be a family. I'm sure if I were even just a few years older, I'd have gotten that from MASH or Taxi. But it was a powerful thing.

I'm a sucker for good ensemble pieces. I have to wonder if half (or more) of that cast of great TV actors would get cast today, though--they actually look like the ordinary people they play which just isn't much of a thing in American TV anymore.

I was living in the Boston area last year, and I went to the Cheers bar because, why not? It felt like something pissing on my childhood is why not.
posted by smirkette at 5:29 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


My complete cycle runs like this: I Love Lucy, Jackie Gleason, Honeymooners, Red Skelton, All in the Family, Jeffersons, SOAP, M*A*S*H, Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Golden Girls, Simpsons, Designing Women, Seinfeld, and Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The periods in between were desolate wastelands.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:40 PM on September 27, 2012


No Third Rock From The Sun?
posted by Brocktoon at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Invariably, my response to ANYthing someone has me try:

"Boy, you can really taste the kale!"
posted by hal9k at 5:55 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


....I would like to attribute my faulty memory to one too many Screaming Vikings.

That is all.


I was getting it confused with Jim singing his own lyrics to the theme to the Bob Newhart show I think
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2012


Speaking of misogyny, I always thought Rebecca Howe was such a step backwards from Diane Chambers. Rebecca posed as a career woman but all she really wanted was to get married, preferably to someone rich, and she would have thrown her "career" aside in a moment to get a husband. Diane may have been ridiculously pretentious but she had genuine interests and ambitions and although she wanted a relationship too, she saw a romantic relationship as being only part of the life she wanted.

I do often think of some little hilarious moment or other on Cheers. I loved a scene in which Sam calls Diane from the bar and proposes to her. Cut to Diane in her apartment, and she's wearing her bathrobe, has a towel on her head and a green mud mask on her face, and is holding a chicken drumstick in one hand.

She tells Sam she doesn't want him to propose like that, that it should be a truly special occasion. Not unreasonable, so he brainstorms ideas with the guys at the bar and ends up using a perfect idea from Cliff: to rent a sailboat and take Diane out to the middle of the Bay for a dinner by moonlight. There Sam and Diane are, on the boat, all dressed up, with a candlelight dinner between them and Sam proposes.... and Diane says no. At which point Sam asks her which she prefers: to be thrown over board or to jump into the water of her own accord.
posted by orange swan at 7:13 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved a scene in which Sam calls Diane from the bar...

Here you go.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:30 PM on September 27, 2012


"Evening, Mr. Peterson. What's your pleasure?"
"Boxer shorts and loose shoes."
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:51 PM on September 27, 2012


Brocktoon: No Third Rock From The Sun?

No CBS affiliate at that time.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 11:38 PM on September 27, 2012


"How's life treating you, Norm?"
"Like he caught me in bed with his wife."
posted by shibori at 11:57 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"What are you up to, Norm?"
"My ideal weight if I were 11 feet tall."
posted by borborygmi at 3:44 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a stuffed moose head on the wall of my home office/mancave. In honor of Sam Malone's stuffed moose head in the office of Cheers, it is named Dave. Dave is one of my most prized possessions.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:12 AM on September 28, 2012


..George Wendt – who I had since learned was a big Hüsker Dü fan, and good friend of Bob Mould...

Woah, WHAT?!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love that the GQ article had the bit about the cast being really into playing foosball upstairs after the show, because I SAW THAT! During my freshman year of college, my boyfriend and I took the train from Illinois to LA to visit his father, who had been a stage manager at Second City at the time George Wendt was performing there, and knew him well. We got tickets to sit in the studio audience for a Cheers episode (it was "Home Malone") and went backstage (or, really, upstairs) after. I watched Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson playing foosball (I remember Harrelson being really bouncy and enthusiastic). Kelsey Grammer had a pitcher of margaritas or something and offered us some (of course, I didn't drink). I was overwhelmed.

A night or two later we had dinner at George Wendt's house. He was the mellowest guy imaginable, barbecuing by the pool and playing with his kids. His wife, Bernadette Birkett (beautiful woman!) was in an improv comedy troupe and we went to see her perform (she was funny but nowhere near as funny as he is).

That's really my closest-ever brush with celebrity. The guy in question didn't last (I broke up with him that fall) but I think I'll always be grateful to him for that trip.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:19 AM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


"What are you up to Norm?"
"Up to here, Coach..."
posted by Myeral at 7:31 AM on September 28, 2012


Thanks to this thread I started watching Cheers from the beginning last night. Although the opening theme music is perhaps a little bit dated, the visuals are really quite timeless and have aged better than just about any other show I can think of from that era. It's nice to hear the full theme, too - not the the butchered version that always runs in syndication.

I'm taken aback by the pang of nostalgia and melancholy I still get from the closing credits... the still shot of the empty bar and that vaguely lonely piano and clarinet music. It was always a bummer when an episode was over, even if it meant that Night Court or Seinfeld was coming on next.
posted by usonian at 8:53 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"What's shaking, Norm?"
"All four cheeks and a couple of chins."
posted by Gelatin at 9:24 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't it weird how Freinds has just totally disappeared from the cultural landscape? That shut was huge in the 90s, then *poof* - gone.

I lived with a Kiwi girl in 2007 who watched it on DVD every night - as well as the very frequent repeats on E4. I've said it before on here, but while Seinfeld was shown late at night if you were lucky, Friends was huge - big enough for them to build a mock-up of Central Perk in London when it came out as a complete DVD box set or something. I think in the UK at least, where Friends was big because it made being young in NYC and drinking coffee in coffee shops look cool (I wonder how Starbucks would have done over here if Friends hadn't been imported four years before it?), Sex And The City filled that gap and wanting to be Carrie Bradshaw seemed more glamorous.

I only really saw Cheers in 2004 or so when I was unemployed and so living with my mum in a house with Paramount Comedy on the TV. I was just too young to see it when it was the big US comedy on Channel 4 (the first of such I remember is Roseanne) but I loved Frasier and its garrulous farce so much that I gave it a shot. I still need to sit down and watch it all properly - the first episodes I saw were Rebecca episodes (I still use the phrase 'too stupid to live' all the time) so I missed out on Sam and Diane as a longform narrative. Around that time I got into The Golden Girls as well, which I've been watching tons of in the past couple of weeks as it's extremely therapeutic even when one's problems can't be solved with cheesecake.


It's interesting to me how some of these absolute classics make it into regular syndicated re-runs, and others don't. For example, I can catch old Seinfeld and Simpsons episodes without too much trouble; I can find MASH and Frasier reruns with a bit of looking; but Cheers and WKRP? Nowhere in my TV universe.

Yeah, since Paramount became Comedy Central it's all King of Queens and 2.5 Men, at least when I'm over at my SO's place and get to see it. It's even more of a crapshoot when shows are imported - I missed out on things like NewsRadio because they just weren't shown here and Seinfeld isn't even shown on cable much now- but the thing that gets right on my nerves is that you can't get Murphy Brown on DVD at all, in any region, past season 1. Wasn;'t that a massive show in the US?
posted by mippy at 9:28 AM on September 28, 2012


the thing that gets right on my nerves is that you can't get Murphy Brown on DVD at all, in any region, past season 1. Wasn;'t that a massive show in the US?

It was. But the big problem with Murphy Brown is that its humour was completely topical. Dan Quayle jokes just aren't all that funny anymore.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:45 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone needs to restart Murphy Brown so that Garry Marshall has something to distract him from making terrible movies.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:48 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Garry Marshall was just on a couple episodes of Louie. So there's that.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:09 AM on September 28, 2012


"All four cheeks and a couple of chins."

One of my favorites. A week or two ago I responded with this to someone who actually asked me "What's shakin'?" He about fell over. I was passing him in the hallway and didn't have a chance to properly acknowledge Norm Peterson, but I suspect he's among those who are too young to really remember Cheers, so he wouldn't have automatically recognized it.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:13 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"What's shaking, Norm?"
"All four cheeks and a couple of chins."
posted by Gelatin at 9:24 AM on September 28 [+] [!]


I just noticed the odd appropriateness of the poster's username. I'm in the type of mood that that just killed me.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:15 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I missed out on things like NewsRadio

I have all the DVDs (probably the only DVD commentaries I've ever watched), and I end up watching the episodes on YouTube. Most of them are there ...

(Only a few of) my favorites:

* Big Day (Season 1, Episode 5)
* The Cane (Season 2, Episode 9)
* President (Season 3, Episode 1)
* Review (Season 3, Episode 2)
* Arcade (Season 3, Episode 4)
* Complaint Box (Season 3, Episode 14)
* Twins (Season 3, Episode 18)
* Super Karate Monkey Death Car (Season 4, Episode 4)
* Airport (Season 4, Episode 17)
* Noise (Season 5, Episode 4)
* Flowers for Matthew (Season 5, Episode 5)

Season 3 was really the tops. Best sitcom ever.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:20 AM on September 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


I watched Cheers 2-3 times a day in high school. Good times.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 AM on September 28, 2012


As college came to and end, so did "Cheers." Some guys who lived off-campus -- they had a kegerator! -- would make an Event out of watching each episode in the final run. Tons of people would go over to watch each episode in hushed quiet (interrupted occasionally as someone went for another beer), and then it immediately turned into a party as the show ended.

Thinking about it now, I don't believe anyone talked to the screen or had formal drinking rules: we just all liked the show, and were a little sad it was going off the air. Well, also, they let us all drink their beer, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2012


WSBK Channel 38 had a 2 hour per day block of it for a while, if I remember correctly

Out if curiosity, I just did a search on Xfinity's Tv listings for Cheers here in Boston. Came back with 68 results -- and is broadcast on Hallmark, USA and Reelz. Obviously, it's a hometown favorite here.
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on September 28, 2012


Thomas Kershaw, the owner of the Bull & Finch Pub (now called Beacon Hill Cheers) and The Hampshire House restaurant (upstairs), was brilliant to negotiate rights to the show logo and trademark, as part of his deal with Paramount. in 1985 when the series started to get great traction he started to sell merchandise at the pub ... and later at other venues. Obviously such has turned into a huge revenue generator for his company.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on September 28, 2012


Oh - does anyone else remember the open when they get into a discussion about the whole "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it" thing, and Coach comes up with the best comeback I've ever heard: "If no one was around to hear it, how do you know it fell?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]




"If no one was around to hear it, how do you know it fell?"

I guess ... I don't get it. Isn't that just one half of the classic paradox? It's the same thing Lisa said to Bart when she asked him.
posted by mannequito at 3:36 PM on September 28, 2012


"If no one was around to hear it, how do you know it fell?"

I guess ... I don't get it. Isn't that just one half of the classic paradox?


Incongruous humor. Coach is deflating a famous abstract riddle with real-world, practical conceits, i.e. the riddle is founded on the notion that we know a tree has fallen and that no one heard it. That is the fundamental premise of the riddle. Coach refuses to play that bullshit game and challenges the initial premise ... which must, of course, be taken as de facto truth in order to discuss the riddle.

Incongruity.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:54 PM on September 28, 2012


It's the same thing Lisa said to Bart when she asked him.

Actually what she says (IIRC) after he says "sure ... bongggg" is "how can it make a sound if no one is there to hear it" - just another rephrasing of the riddle. The fundamental premise is still accepted.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2012


Um. The joke is that Coach is stupid.

The joke is always that Coach is stupid.

Coach is stupid.

Conveniently, Woody is also stupid.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:04 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't currently get Cheers, over the air at least, in the Seattle area. But the KCPQ family of stations (Joe TV, Q13 Fox and Antenna TV) have a lot of classic reruns. Joe TV shows an hour of Friends every weeknight, and WKRP has been on regularly on Antenna TV, so it made it into syndication somehow (I think they creatively edit around the music).

Ken Levine, who was a writer and showrunner for M*A*S*H and Cheers (among others, including MLB announcing), runs a great blog. He has a lot of insight into television sitcoms, and writes quite a bit about his experiences on Cheers and M*A*S*H. And he answers reader questions every Friday!

Cheers started around the time my wife and I got hitched, it was an important part of the first ten years of our marriage. I guess I'm going to start cranking through Cheers eps on Neflix...
posted by lhauser at 4:07 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess ... I don't get it. Isn't that just one half of the classic paradox?

The paradox accepts the fact of the tree having fallen. The paradox refers exclusively to the sound of said tree falling.

Coach is challenging the one part of the paradox that is assumed to be fact.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love both of these remarks so much. Because these guys revered and reached back to the masters in gathering ideas for their own show, and in the process they created a classic themselves -- all without remaking or sequeling or blatantly cannibalizing what had come before in a desperate bid for nostalgic cachet. There's a lesson there.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.” --Jim Jarmusch
posted by zardoz at 5:59 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


haha, alright then! Now I'm wondering if those are the only two places I know that riddle/paradox from. Oh TV, what haven't you taught me!?
posted by mannequito at 8:27 PM on September 28, 2012


In another favourite Cheers memory, Kelly's then-boyfriend challenges Woody to a boxing match to settle a score. The other guy says he's a former first-string boxer at Harvard. Woody says something about how he once did a few rounds in a fall fair in Iowa — or something equally ludicrously non-impressive.

So they head off to the back room of Cheers for their grudge match, and the bar flies all follow them. But the cameras stay in the main area of the bar, and we just hear this:

Bar flies: WOODY! WOODY! WOODY!

[sound of a single punch making contact, followed by sound of a body hitting the floor]

Bar flies: RICH GUY! RICH GUY! RICH GUY!
posted by orange swan at 5:56 PM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq: Um. The joke is that Coach is stupid.

The joke is always that Coach is stupid.

Coach is stupid.

Conveniently, Woody is also stupid.
No, coach is Lear's jester.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:24 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um. The joke is that Coach is stupid.

The joke is always that Coach is stupid.

Coach is stupid.

Conveniently, Woody is also stupid.


True enough. I have a friend who hated Cheers and I think that's part of it--there is a lot of lowbrow (and sexist and racist) humor in it (Seinfeld too).
posted by mrgrimm at 4:38 PM on October 2, 2012


No, I'm not knocking it! Coach's stupidity is the perfect foil to Diane's pretentiousness.

(Kind of like Mr Rumbold was to Captain Peacock.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:51 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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