Aren’t we all just searching for a place where everybody knows your name…
If there was one show that proved that it didn’t take an original idea to make a complete classic, it was “Cheers.” Aside from “The Simpsons,” “Cheers” had the longest run and arguably made the biggest impact of any of these television shows as it lasted over a decade and eventually would be the center of the entertainment galaxy during its run. Undoubtedly withstanding the test of time, it catapulted more than a few no-name actors into legendary status.
There really wasn’t anything too groundbreaking about “Cheers,” but that didn’t stop it from delivering superb writing and acting from top to bottom. The simple but effective foundation that “Cheers” is built on is one that everyone can relate to: human interaction.
“Cheers” endured things that shows normally don’t come back from: the death of a cast member (Ernie Pantusso), character replacements (Woody Harrelson in place of Ernie Pantusso, Kirstie Alley in place of Shelley Long), a hard-to-deal-with leading actress (Shelley Long) and in the beginning; it was a difficulty in finding an audience.
During the first season in 1982, despite critical approval, “Cheers” struggled to pull in the all-important ratings, as it was dead last (or close to it) throughout its first season.
After season one, with a questionable future looming for “Cheers,” NBC had a few valid reasons to renew the show for a second season: “Cheers” had the approval of a vast amount of critics, it had 13 Emmy nominations (with five wins) and it had an NBC executive (Brandon Tartikoff) who believed in it. Without those things, “Cheers” would’ve been dead in the water.
“Cheers” would end up weathering its storms and make it past its volatile start to go for the long haul. It would take a couple of seasons for “Cheers” to finally develop a following but once it did, it blew up to the point of dominating the weekly ratings for years.