Revisiting the Humble Beginnings of “Cheers”

One of the all-time great television shows

Cast of "Cheers"
Actors from the TV series, 'Cheers,' on the barroom set, 1983.
NBC Television/Fotos International/Getty Images

It’s now been 40 years since a beloved comedy set in a Boston bar first reached the airwaves. From the vantage point of 2022, Cheers holds a place as one of the greatest comedies in television history, with a talented cast and memorable writing. But much like Seinfeld, another acclaimed comedy that aired Thursdays on NBC, Cheers took its time to find an audience.

In a new article for Ultimate Classic Rock, Dennis Perkins looked back at the pilot episode of Cheers and how it was received at the time. Perkins notes that the pilot is “tightly plotted, pitch-perfectly punchy and elegantly eventful” — not to mention perfectly cast, though several of the leads — including Ted Danson and Shelley Long — were not the first choice for their respective roles.

It does beg the question, though: Somewhere out there, is there a parallel universe in which Fred Dryer played Sam Malone and Danson played the title character on the police drama Hunter?

Perkins’s article is a solid combination of history and analysis, explaining how the disparate elements of Cheers came together to make a beloved show. And if you’re looking for more notable writing about the show, Rolling Stone‘s recent entry on the show on its list of all-time greats is also well worth your time.

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