This year, two of my favorite television series are celebrating major milestones. In September 1972, M*A*S*H first aired. It had a dismal first season, but it went on for eleven season, enduring cast changes, crew changes, and shifts in televisions shows. When the series concluded on February 28, 1983 (I will have a special post tomorrow and that is why there is a special header for the website), it had a record audience. While recents events, most recently this year’s Super Bowl, have eclipsed M*A*S*H in the number of viewers, no show will ever surpass the percentage of television viewers that watched M*A*S*H that night. Over 70% of Americans watching TV night watched M*A*S*H. In some cities, San Francisco for example, 82% of television sets were tuned to M*A*S*H according to the Nielsen Ratings. M*A*S*H may have had a slow start, but it went out with a bang!
The other show celebrating a milestone this year is Cheers. Thirty years ago, Cheers debuted. Like M*A*S*H, it had a dismal first season. In fact, when Cheers debut it was ranked 77th out of….77. But, like M*A*S*H, the population slowly came around and the show began to rise in the ratings. Cheers was number one in the ratings in its 9th season, something M*A*S*H never achieved (its highest was third in its 11th season).
Nevertheless, I really like both shows. They are completely different in content and acting styles, but, in a way, they are connected. They are one of the few shows in television history to reach eleven season and they were both almost canceled following their first season. They both over came a number of cast changes, but both Cheers and M*A*S*H had great casts.
This week, I want to highlight them both by showing a series of outtakes from both shows. Today we begin with the bar Where Everybody Knows Your Name: