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Archive for the ‘Cheers’ Category

by Judi

Here’s a question before we begin. Why didn’t some enterprising genius ever figure out a way to create actual restaurants based on these iconic TV hangouts? Do you even KNOW how much money would’ve been made from situating a real Peach Pit in Beverly Hills in the ’90s? SCADS OF MONEY, YES. I mean, think about how many tourists make their way to my #1 pick in Boston every year (and if you’re from Boston or been there, how many times have you heard the phrase “It doesn’t look the same on the inside though.” So make it look the same, Cheers! What the hell? Is that so hard? Why must you insist on disappointing millions of fans who just want the pleasure of sitting on Cliff’s stool while they take a break from their sixth time on the Freedom Trail (hi, Dad).)

SCADS OF MONEY. All right, I’m done now.

5. The Crashdown Cafe from Roswell (1999-2002)

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It just occurred to me that, based on my not mentioning it here very often, you might not grasp the depth of my love for the short-lived WB show Roswell (starring Katherine Heigl, Booth’s brother from Bones, Claire from Lost and COLIN HANKS THAT’S RIGHT). That’s just… unacceptable. No, no. It’s not your fault- it’s all mine. I accept full responsibility but I’m going to remedy it now.

I LOVE(D) Roswell.

The Crashdown is owned by main character Liz’s family and she’s a waitress there, along with her best friend Maria, and sometimes it seems like ALL they do is waitress there, like, shouldn’t you be in school? The Crashdown is awesome because it’s a total tourist trap of a restaurant in this alien-tourist trap of a desert New Mexico town and sets the stage for many fantastical alien-human related moments, the capper being- this is where Liz gets shot in the pilot episode, prompting strange alien-boy Max (played by slouchy-shouldered Jason Behr) to heal her, exposing his big ‘ol secret. It’s also where Michael and Maria get it on for the first time, everyone gets ready for the prom, mourns Alex, and where Isabelle uses her alien skills to reheat a cold burger.

4. Luke’s from Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

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Another show that I don’t mention NEARLY enough in its proportion to how much I love it. Actually, my whole family is so bonkers for Gilmore Girls that even my BROTHER sent me an email asking me if Rory’s boyfriend Logan from Gilmore Girls is the guy in I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (ie the movie that is destroying my soul. And yes, it’s him. Shudder.) And my mother almost got arrested on the WB studio lot for sneaking her camera in to take pictures of- you guessed it- Luke’s Diner. (That’s not her picture though.)

Luke’s Diner is such a Big Deal on the show that when Lorelai and her on-again-off-again beau Luke have a fight, she’s not allowed to go to there- which is basically detrimental to her life. Both Lorelai and Rory hit Luke’s at least once if not twice a day, Laine and her boyfriend-then-husband Zack work there, Zack PROPOSED there, sometimes Lorelai sets up an office from there (to Luke’s constant irritation), and of course, there’s the crusty proprietor of the same name who turned the once-hardware-store, owned by his dad, into a diner after he died. Apparently, the coffee’s the best in town and the burgers are even better. It’s completely fictional and yet I want both, immediately, right now.

3. The Peach Pit from Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)

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I want to reiterate- if there were a real Peach Pit, I would’ve gone EVERY DAY when I lived in Los Angeles. What’s not to love? It’s like Johnny Rockets with a DASH of authenticity AND there’s a SUPER COOL nightclub next door. Because when I think of diner, I don’t think of pickles and coleslaw- NO. I think of going into a club where I could possibly hear Donna Lewis sing a kicky of-the-moment song, where Valerie will run the place even though she’s like 21 years old and when I was 21 years old, I could barely function let alone run a night club, where Kelly will get drunk on red wine and freak out because she dropped her super-secret engagement ring, forcing the tool who’s been hitting on her to deem her TOO MUCH EFFORT because she dropped a diamond ring on the floor and was kind of nervous about it.

As for the Pit itself, it was the scene for many a-confrontation, Brenda dressed up like a ’50s cartoon character to work there, Brandon worked there, everyone thought Nat was “part of the gang” and Donna Martin flashed her navel so many times, they should’ve erected a statue of her belly shirts in the corner.

2. The Max from Saved By the Bell (1989-1993)

Douche Canoe wearing "The Max" T-shirt

Douche Canoe in "The Max" T-Shirt

Where did you hang out after school? If it was between 1989 and 1993 and your last name was Morris, Slater, Powers, Turtle, Kapowski, or Spano, then chances are you were in the place where Color Went to Die. Where the owners/head waiters do strange impressions and magic tricks for your amusement or will impersonate your dad in the principal’s office so you can go on the ski trip. Where Casey Kasem hosts a dance contest for some reason. Where we all learn a valuable lesson about playing your song, the one you shared with your waitress ex-girlfriend who cheated on you with a 34 year old soap star, and how dancing with another girl in front of her is really hurtful. Where Hot Sundae performed to a crowd of maybe 15 people. Where they turned Slater into the Human Exclamation Point for this CLASSIC scene:

1. Cheers from Cheers (1982-1993)

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Awww. Thanks to Cheers, we all grew up wishing we could someday find a place where “everybody knows our name.” Some of us are still looking for it (pause for single, dramatic tear). Who doesn’t want to open a cheerful Boston pub and see your friends everyday as they pour beer money into your waiting pockets and supply you with plenty of laughs and their fair share of crazy-pants. Add a cranky pint-sized waitress, a long-winded mailman, a portly regular named Norm, a dim-witted bartender named Woody and a snooty blonde in an apron and you’ve got yourself the most beloved faux-hangout of all time.

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by Judi

Oh, the CROSSOVER. Jack Doneghy, I’m sure, loves the concept of the TV crossover being such a fan of things like “synergy” and “product integration”, “pro-menz” (that’s “positive mention” to you, little buddy) and “making lots of money.” After all, what better way to get your TV loving public to excitedly clap their hands and buy even more bags of Baked Lays than an episode of their favorite TV show starring people from their OTHER favorite TV shows. FUN FOR ALL, I dare say.

5. Dana from Step By Step helps Corey on Boy Meets World via dolphin in “The Happiest Show on Earth” (1996)

TGIF loved and I mean loved the crossover episodes. There was Urkel on Full House, Salem the cat from Sabrina running through all of the TGIF programs wreaking havoc on the sitcom space-time-continuum, and my favorite- Dana from Step by Step on Boy Meets World. True, she’s on for one scene and doesn’t say much but what she does say is enough to convince Corey that he’s still in love with Topanga. And she does this all through dolphins. Next to a dolphin tank. By telling him a story about dolphins. While they pet and feed dolphins. Dana sure is convincing. I hope she went into sales and is now so rich, she can by and sell JT. (And yes, I also hope she’s married to Cody. Shut up.)

4. Frasier Crane ruins Helen’s life again on Wings in “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes” (1992)

There were actually two Cheers and Wings overlaps, the other one being Cliff and Norm visiting Nantucket to go on a fishing trip but then they just go to the Sidecar and drink for two days. On “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes”, Cheers regulars Dr. Frasier Crane and his wife Lilith appear to do a seminar that Frasier’s devised about enriching your life (called amusingly The Crane Train to Mental Well-Being). The only problem is that Helen Chapel, recently back from a disastrous stint in New York City where she tried to become a cellist and ended up as a waitress as a strip club, took that same seminar in New York and blames it and Crane for all of her problems since then. The episode ends in a typical sitcommy way with all the Wings characters screaming at each other at the seminar and one of Frasier’s signature raspy “You people!” rants that we all so love. I enjoyed this episode so much when I caught the repeat last year, mostly because it reminded me of my sincere love for Lilith and her deadpan delivery.

3. George and Noah and Monica and Rachel on Friends in “The One With Two Parts” (1995)

It’s funny. I just realized a pattern here- the shows that used the crossover once more often than not used it several times. Friends is a solid example. We all remember (naturally- why would you be here if this were all new information?) that Mad About You‘s ditsy waitress Ursula is Phoebe Buffay’s twin sister, forcing a confused M.A.Y. Jamie and her friend Fran to mistakenly come to Central Perk and hassle Phoebe about getting them coffee.

Ok, so technically I’m cheating here. George and Noah weren’t playing their ER counterparts but really, come on. It’s a great episode, they’re CLEARLY playing off their ER characters and it includes one of my most favorite, rarely used sitcom gimmicks ever- Monica and Rachel have swapped identities because Rachel has sprained her ankle and lacks insurance so the cute doctors think each is the other. And then they get into a fight. (How did they pick who got George, btw? I mean, I love me some Librarian and all but being the one who gets George is cause enough for a fight to the death itself)

2. Lara Flynn Boyle tells Ally McBeal to eat a cookie in “Making Spirits Bright” (1998)

Usually, crossover happen because of a shared network but they tend to happen more frequently when they also share a creator. And no, I don’t mean the sweet baby Jesus. I mean David E. Kelley. Ok, to some of you, that IS the sweet baby Jesus, but around here he’s the guy who just really likes quirky urban lawyers and piano bars.

This nifty little cameo featuring Lara Flynn Boyle as her Practice attorney Helen Gamble sizing up bobble-headed Ally McBeal was inevitable, considering the media broohaha at the time regarding the fact that both actresses were in desperate need of a few trips to Arby’s and the aforementioned bags of Baked Lays. Oh yeah, and that whole thing about Ally’s skirts being too short. All wrapped up neatly in a thirty-second shot that really makes me want to get a cookie of my own.

1. Buffy drops in on Angel in “I Will Remember You” (1999)

It was a natural enough occurrence that the regulars on Joss Whedon’s Buffy would make an appearance on spin-off Angel. Angel would, after all, be nothing more than a glimmer in his big daddy’s eye if it weren’t for our favorite pint-sized slayer. In this episode, Buffy shows up for a reason I can’t remember off the top of my head and almost immediately helps Angel slay a big baddie, whose green slime accidentally turns Angel human.

The former couple agree that they won’t let this affect them, this sudden turn of events that they’ve both been wishing for since they met when Buffy was sixteen and Angel a spry 300 years old.  That naturally lasts about ten minutes and they end up going at it on Angel’s kitchen table. The ensuing scenes are pretty much everything we, the loyal Buffy audience (at least, those of us with girlie parts) have ever wanted- Angel discovering the joys of peanut butter and chocolate TOGETHER, ice cream, sunlight and being able to be with Buffy without turning into, you know, a total, murderous monster who likes killing her friends. Sadly, it doesn’t last. He’s a weak human now and can’t protect himself or her (not that she needs it but I guess after 300+ years, a sudden identity crisis would be pretty hard to overcome) so he goes to the Powers That Be and asks to be made vampire again. They agree to turn back the clocks, with the worst after-effect being that Buffy won’t remember their time together at all. And sure enough, even though she tearfully promises to remember everything, she doesn’t and soon stalks off the show back to Sunnydale.

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by Judi

5. Happy Days– Joanie Marries Chachi in “Passages (2)” (1984)

I, like many other children of the ’80s, was far too invested in the relationship of Joanie and Chachi. This wasn’t really my fault, though, and I’ll tell you why (of course I’ll tell you why.) Happy Days ran for so long that it had kind of the same emotional effect as a long-running soap opera. Meaning that most of us actually watched these crazy kids grow up. And, of course, the producers knew that and tied in the long-awaited wedding with what has to be the sappiest montage in television history and a tearful good-bye from the Cunningham family. Also, Scott Baio was seriously cute (and such is the depth of my affection that I can almost forgive his quoting song lyrics as vows. Ugh. Almost).

4. Cheers– Diane Doesn’t Marry Frasier in “Rescue Me” (1985)

As iconic TV couples go, you just can’t ignore Sam and Diane. The classic opposites-attract model of sitcom romance, playboy barkeep Sam’s constant wooing of aloof, refined Diane is pretty much the gold standard for inciting a riot of “will they or won’t they” among viewers everywhere. And if there’s anything TV viewers like better than a sitcom romance, it’s when that sitcom romance interrupts a wedding to another person (see Friends, Ross and Emily.) Poor Frasier. Luckily for all of us, he bounced back from this hitch in Italy to marry Lilith, one of the greatest characters in the history of the small screen.

3. Melrose Place– Craig marries Sydney in “Who’s Afraid of Amanda Woodward?” (1997)

Melrose Place was a solid prime-time soap, a bit dirtier and grungier than its BH counterpart and oh, we so loved it for that. Forget any shred of sap or sentiment. This wedding basically came about due to the high you get (or so I’ve heard) from a solid backstabbing- Craig and good old Syd plan to get hitched after basically ruining Amanda and stealing all of the clients from D & D.  Too bad it ends up with Sydney being awesomely mowed over by a car and, you know, dying. (Or not as she’s apparently going to be on the CW’s remake which I’m sure will be just as boring and stupid as the new 90210). I’m pretty sure Craig was the only one at the wedding who was actually bummed about it too.

2. Taxi– “The Wedding of Latka and Simka” (1982)

Andy Kaufman’s Latka was always good for a go-to laugh, if only for the seemingly bizarre culture of his native country, which Wikipedia helpfully reminds me was called “Caspiar.” His marriage to Simka is a perfect example. Instead of a simple ceremony, the couple are forced to partake in a series of really weird tests before they can get married in the garage, presided over by that dude from Ghost. Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

1. Mad About You– “Mad About You” (1995)

While not even close on my list of favorite shows, I sometimes get the strangest hankering for old episodes of Mad About You. Maybe it has something to do with the way Paul Reiser talks with his hands. Or how Helen Hunt always looks like she wants to kill someone. Whatever it is, unlike Beal, I found the show to be pretty smart for a traditional sitcom. It felt more realistic as a New York show (than, say, Friends) and, let’s face it, meditations on married life can either be great (Everybody Loves Raymond) or AWFUL (‘Til Death) Mad About You struck right in the middle, though sometimes veering a little too far into reality for some people’s taste (they split up for a while, a big no-no in sitcom land).

This is my favorite wedding for personal reasons. In short, I think weddings are kind of stupid. A wedding costs an OBSCENE amount of money for what basically amounts to a party with bad food. You throw together all of the people in your life (ie AWKWARD) and then basically demand a giant gift in return. Other than the free booze and seeing your Aunt Muriel boogying to old Motown, I’d much prefer to get married the way Paul and Jamie do- on a dirty New York street in front of a work crew at 4am, presided over by Lyle Lovett.

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Why NBC, you’ve done it again! I had lost all hope in you when your Thursday night lineup slummed to Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice and ER. It was like, just because Friends and Seinfeld had played out, you didn’t have to give up completely, but you did. I believe it was your shit Thursday that singlehandedly took your network to #4 in the ratings. Up to that point, I had always flipped to NBC when I had nothing in particular to watch during prime time, because your programming was generally better than any other network.

But then, you put Law & Order “spin-offs” [read: exactly the same show with a new tagline] (and what the hell was that one with Bebe Neuwirth?) on every single night, in every single time slot, and I had to let you go. It was a sad era for television, and I, along with the masses, said to hell with network and began obsessions with HBO and cable programming. 

Which brings me to last night. NBC, you’ve won me back!!

You have created a “Must See TV” lineup like no other, and I thank you for it. I submit that it’s better than its last heyday(s)The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Hill Street Blues—Wings, Seinfeld, Frasier, L.A. Law—and later—Friends, Seinfeld, ER.  [Yes, I intentionally didn’t mention the shitty shows that appeared amongst these gems: Boston Common, Mad About You, etc.

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Last night, I laughed OUT LOUD, alone, during each of the situation comedies you featured. Parks & Recreation was as funny as I could have hoped for, which obviously means it’s going to be cancelled, but I say please, please give this one a fair chance. Amy Poehler was the only reason I continued to watch SNL once it turned terrible, so I thank you for putting her in prime time. Her character is hilarious. When she rolled in in the duck taped travel pillow, pretending it was a neck brace from a fall she had endured into a pit, I peed a little. So so funny. And The Office can be totally hit or miss, but it’s funny more often than it’s not, and Michael Scott only forces me to change the channel sometimes. 30 Rock, hilarious, hilarious, hilarious. I won’t say any more. 

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As for Southland, I plan on giving it a fair chance and reporting back. My Name is Earl is a throw away show that’s essentially a bad skit gone on far too long. But that I can accept. Your new lineup with it’s new name COMEDY NIGHT DONE RIGHT, is no longer a lie. You win.

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Perhaps I’ve mentioned it before, perhaps everyday, but I like to watch The Golden Girls each night from 1 am to 2:30 am on the Lifetime network. It’s the perfect wind down from an otherwise turbulent day of searching for something great to watch on television. I’ve also gotten myself into the habit of watching Frasier for an hour before GG begins. Upon consulting the guide to determine which episodes would be on tonight (only two are usually on on Mondays, because Rita Rocks reruns at 2). At any rate, Desperate Housewives was positioned in the 1 am block. What the fuck is this? What asshole is trying to destroy the one and only thing I can actually call a “routine” in my life? 

I don’t know how I am going to function. I can’t find a new show to watch, The Golden Girls is absolutely the only program that will suffice!! Ugh, I’m never going to fall asleep again!!!!

Wait a minute, hold up, what’s that? HALLMARK CHANNEL YOU’VE SAVED THE DAY! 

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Whew! Crisis averted. And check out these added bonuses:

1. The Golden Girls are on from MIDNIGHT to 2 am  night (except Sunday– BTW what’s up with that? Lifetime didn’t air it on Sunday either. Is there some sort of Sabbath rule on watching the elderly date promiscuously?) so I can function almost normally, and maybe even fall asleep a half hour earlier each night.

2. Hallmark is airing I Love Lucy at 2 am. Perfect! Thank you! I can handle a zany half hour of olden timey situation comedy as I fall asleep. I back this little mix-up.

3. At 2:30 am, Lifetime converts to paid programming. Not only does Hallmark provide an extra half hour of regular programming, wait for it, they fill that half hour with Cheers

4. And, if all that wasn’t enough, the 11 p.m. Hallmark hour is filled with Murder, She Wrote. Are you kidding me right now? What a terribly terrific program! Angela, I foresee a beautiful friendship burgeoning here. 

5. Although I was briefly furious with Lifetime for removing GG from their lineup, they did replace one hour of it with one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Desperate Housewives–which I watch solely for the Karen McClusky character, and so in the event that GG is one I’ve watched too recently, I have a satisfying alternative.

So, let’s review. On any given night, nestled in my own bed, I have the potential for one of the greatest lineups in all of television history:

11:00 Murder, She Wrote

12:00 Frasier/The Golden Girls

12:30 Frasier/The Golden Girls

1:00 The Golden Girls/Desperate Housewives

1:30 The Golden Girls/Desperate Housewives

2:00 I Love Lucy

2:30 Cheers

 

–BEAL

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Lilith Sternin

I’ll admit it. It’s been years but the decision to split up Cheers’ Frasier and Lilith still makes me scratch my head. I guess some people would say it’s a no brainer that eventually warm, caring, perpetually misguided Frasier Crane would eventually come to his senses, ditch the icicle at his side and move to Seattle so he could resume a life of bachelorhood (may I say, “ew”).

But really, keeping these two together would’ve been so much more entertaining, in my humble opinion. Eleven guest spots on “Frasier” just don’t cut it. I would’ve loved to have seen Niles and Lilith face off on more of a daily basis. Watch Frasier continue trying to be everything to everybody while Lilith acts as the dead voice of cynicism and doubt, constantly undermining his good intentions by cutting right to the chase. How can you not love her? Anyone who walks around thinking they can solve all your problems for you needs to be cut down to size daily. Unfortunately, they decided to give the job to John “I’m INCARCERATED, Lloyd!” Mahoney instead of keeping it in Lilith’s capable, bird-like hands where it belonged.

Better yet, forget Frasier altogether. If they had to split them up, they should’ve just given the spin-off to Lilith instead. She’s the strangest character ever but she works and she’s endlessly fascinating to watch. Bebe Neuwirth manages to keep her dead cold, monotone, dry as my skin in winter and seriously funny, which is a solid accomplishment for a woman whose career would eventually come to be better known for posing in “Chicago” and throwing benefits for out of work dancers. Lilith is always completely nonplussed and even-steven, the original ice princess, and watching her navigate a warm and cuddly sitcom world by herself would’ve been so much fun. (How does she raise a CHILD? It’s FASCINATING.)

Sigh. At least we’ll always have our “what ifs”. And reruns.

– Judi

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