Despite its humble beginnings, this tv series soon became a national addiction to see what was going on in the cosy Boston bar of Cheers.
Created by James Burrows, Les Charles and Glen Charles, the series was set in a Boston bar, where the characters were the bar staff and a few patrons. Debuting on CBS in September 1982, the show had a terrible first season and came in second to last in the overall ratings, almost causing it to be cancelled.
The producers and writers reworked the half hour sitcom and the inclusion of a couple of new characters gave Cheers a new life, and the fanbase started to form around its unique group of people.
The bar was owner by Sam Malone (Ted Danson) a former baseball player, well known ladies man, and bartender, who was helped by Coach (Nicolas Collasanto) a kind yet gullible man, Carla (Rhea Perlman) a smartass waitress/housewife and Diane (Shelley Long), a know-it-all waitress/graduate student.
Their regulars included Norm (George Wendt), an accountant, and Cliff (John Ratzenberger) a postal worker, who added their wit and wisdom to the daily conversations and goings on at the bar.
The interplay of dialogue was what captured viewers, as those who were smart seemed ignorant of the real world, while those who were perceived as not smart knew more about the world.
The tv show’s theme song “Where Everybody Know Your Name” was written and performed by Gary Portnoy.
The blue collar vs white collar backdrop, mixed in humour, oddball characters, fan worship of Sam and targeting Diane for her smartypants behaviour was a regular concoction for each episode.
After the death of Nicolas Collasanto in season three, the character of Coach was also written out because of death, and Woody (played by Woody Harrelson) was added, a somewhat dim young bartender/actor, as well as eventually including Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammar), a psychiatrist and highly intelligent friend of Diane’s and Dr. Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth), fellow psychiatrist, and finally Rebecca (Kirstie Alley) as a businesswoman brought in to save the bar.
Cheers became one of those shows that developed a cult following, with many knowing the intricacies of the relationships, the catchphrases (the bar would always yell out Norm’s name when he arrived) and the love affairs of the infamous Sam Malone.
Despite humble beginnings, it ended up as a top 10 series for the rest of its run, earning 28 Emmy Awards ( a past record of 117 nominations) and having one of the highest ratings overall for its last episode in May 1993.
Successful for 11 seasons, the series ended in the following decade, still popular, but its first years, with the snappy dialogue of Sam, Coach, Carla, Diane, Norm and Cliff, is still television humour at its finest.