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October 31, 2013 11:10 AM   Subscribe

The story behind the Cheers logo and opening titles.
"A clever Halloween costume triggers nostalgic memories of classic TV typography."
posted by Atom Eyes (24 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
MetaFllter if filmed before a live studio audience.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 11:20 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


"How's life treating you, Mister Cortex?"
posted by entropicamericana at 11:25 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've read that the photos picked were actually supposed to loosely correspond to the cast-member identified: Later in the series, George Wendt's name shares its onscreen time with the "photo" that kinda looks like Norm, and the guy holding the newspaper reading "We Win!", as that photo originally represented "Coach" Ernie Pantusso. He was added to the sequence at the end in tribute to the actor Nicholas Colasanto, who passed away during season 3 abouts.

Fun fact, the Geronimo portrait that Sam straightens at the end of the series finale originally hung in Colasanto's dressing room, and was added to the set after his death. Sam's gesture is another tribute to him at the show's end.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:39 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


That costume is sublime. More of that in the world, and I would hate halloween less than i currently do.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:47 AM on October 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fantastic costume - although it's hugely helpful that the guy bears an uncanny resemblance to the original photo. Not just anybody could pull if off.
posted by dnash at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is probably a good place to drop this question. Exactly, what do you call this type of turn-of-the-century aesthetic seen in the Cheers opening or the Trader Joes circular?
posted by dr_dank at 12:13 PM on October 31, 2013


That is very cool. I never noticed this during the show's run but I wonder why in that final credit they use both an ampersand and the word "and." Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows. Just for spacing to square it all off I suppose, although the other credits are centered & not justified like that. Hmm.
posted by headnsouth at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2013


Exactly, what do you call this type of turn-of-the-century aesthetic seen in the Cheers opening or the Trader Joes circular?

At the time that Cheers was current I heard it called "retro" or "old-timey", but the times meant to be evoked by those terms shifted along with time (now the 50's are what people think when they hear "retro").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the article refers to them as "vintage," and I've also heard that used. But that's another case where it's become confusing whether you mean "vintage" is the 1910's or whether you mean "vintage" is the 1960's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on October 31, 2013


I wonder why in that final credit they use both an ampersand and the word "and." Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows

I believe the ampersand is indicative of a writing partnership, so it is, in fact, functionally different from "and" in film/TV credits.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


I believe the ampersand is indicative of a writing partnership, so it is, in fact, functionally different from "and" in film/TV credits.

You're absolutely correct. If, for example, a film is credited to "Bob & Carol and Ted & Alice," it means that Bob and Carol worked together, and Ted and Alice worked together, but Carol and Ted did not work together.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]




Fantastic costume - although it's hugely helpful that the guy bears an uncanny resemblance to the original photo. Not just anybody could pull if off.

That's probably how he got the idea for the costome - people were probably like "hey, you look like that guy" and he was like hmmm...

Also, that is how I picture AskMe's Fedora and Pinstripes Guy looking like.
posted by sweetkid at 12:30 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're absolutely correct. If, for example, a film is credited to "Bob & Carol and Ted & Alice," it means that Bob and Carol worked together, and Ted and Alice worked together, but Carol and Ted did not work together.

In the context of that movie, I laughed so much at this example for some reason.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:34 PM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Exactly, what do you call this type of turn-of-the-century aesthetic seen in the Cheers opening or the Trader Joes circular?

Retro typeface; display type. The Cooper typeface is often referred to as "old-style," but that means it is very old indeed, as those typefaces refer back to designs from the 1400s. The others are meant to evoke a Victorian sensibility, particularly the handpainted signs of the era, borrowing heavily from art nouveau.

If, for example, a film is credited to "Bob & Carol and Ted & Alice," it means that Bob and Carol worked together, and Ted and Alice worked together, but Carol and Ted did not work together.

But they all slept together.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:35 PM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another thing I like about that last shot (and in a sense, this costume) is how when the credit comes up, it's focused on this one guy, whose pose and outfit harkens of a stuffy, blue-blood fop...

But when combined with the image as a whole: the blond kid with a more pronounced facial expression, the other dude leaning on him, the guy behind him with the crooked hat, and it becomes clearer that they're all just 'bros' living it up. The added context makes the initial guy less "Smashing, lovey" and more turn of the century "Swag" or whatever.

I could be overthinking it, but it's one of those things that makes me think that the past isn't such a foreign country after all, young people are always young people, fun is always fun, and even when everyone seemed dressed to the nines, people still posed for silly photos with their drinking buddies... "The people are all the same."

Sorry for the derail(s), I really like Cheers.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:37 PM on October 31, 2013 [16 favorites]


Exactly, what do you call this type of turn-of-the-century aesthetic seen in the Cheers opening or the Trader Joes circular?

Technically, most of them would probably be classified as either Clarendon, Grotesque, or Transitional Display faces.

I am a huuuuge font nerd with about 90,000 fonts in my collection. I love the late nineteenth- /early twentieth century commercial design aesthetic, so I always want to be able to find those kinds of fonts easily. I just classify them as "Victorian" in my font management software.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:49 PM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


people were probably like "hey, you look like that guy" and he was like hmmm...

I can't help thinking that this fellow's name "Brett Bumgarner" is just perfect for him. I never saw anyone who looked more like a Brett Bumgarner.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:11 PM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could be overthinking it, but it's one of those things that makes me think that the past isn't such a foreign country after all, young people are always young people, fun is always fun, and even when everyone seemed dressed to the nines, people still posed for silly photos with their drinking buddies...

There was actually a sweet moment in an episode of Friends that touched on this, at the end of the episode when Ross and Monica's grandmother dies - they're at the coffeeshop going through some old family photos (most of them baby pictures of Ross), and suddenly they come across a photo of grandma and all her friends when they were in their 20's. Monica reads the caption - "Me and the gang at Java Joe's". "They look like a fun gang," Monica says quietly, and they all fall silent for a moment, studying it.

I mean, it also reads as obvious that "oh hey I'm supposed to be making the connection between these modern friends at the coffeshop and grandma and her friends at Java Joe's", but despite that, it's a sweet moment. And then they're laughing at Baby Ross's butt again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:41 PM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Exactly, what do you call this type of turn-of-the-century aesthetic seen in the Cheers opening or the Trader Joes circular?
Hi, I wrote the article and the best I can do is “Victorian”. The word is as much a reference to a period as a style, but I think it conjures up the right look in most people’s minds. Happy to hear if anyone has better terms for it (for the decorative design aesthetic as a whole, not just the type — I have plenty of terms for that, as seen in the post).
posted by Typographica at 2:17 PM on October 31, 2013 [14 favorites]


Hi Typographica! Thanks for the article, it answers some long-held questions of mine. My feelings of classic-warm-nostalgia are so readily evoked by that sequence, even though I have only really seen a handful of episodes. I also wonder about how influential they were for the people who worked on the How I Met Your Mother credits, which seem similar. (Although I guess Cheers still stands apart as sitcom credits which do not feature the actual characters.) Care to speculate?
posted by warm_planet at 2:40 PM on October 31, 2013


Another thing I like about that last shot (and in a sense, this costume) is how when the credit comes up, it's focused on this one guy, whose pose and outfit harkens of a stuffy, blue-blood fop...

I always saw it as a kid having his first real drinks in a real saloon and trying so hard, amidst the inebriation, to stay as sophisticated-looking as he imagined saloon clientele to be.

...so, yes. A lovely equalizing picture, no matter what.
posted by Spatch at 3:17 PM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Brilliant costume, fascinating article. Thanks!
posted by Chrysostom at 6:37 PM on October 31, 2013


Thinking about this, I just realized there is a case to be made that this title sequence had an effect on Ken Burns' technique.

The opening titles to Taxi, another Charles / Burrows project, had a similar no-cast sensibility.
posted by mwhybark at 12:01 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]




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