A Visit to Where Everybody Knows Your Name

29-Oct-10 3:10 PM by
Filed under Potpourri, Television; 3 comments.

The comedic television show Cheers left a legacy of not just 28 Emmy Awards but also of a place "where everybody knows your name": a simple bar in Boston, populated by a variety of memorable characters and their antics. When founding cast member Shelley Long first stepped foot on the show's set, she found herself transported to a bar she'd visited in Boston. Sure enough, the faux bar was modeled after an actual one: the Bull & Finch at 84 Beacon Street, on the north border of the Boston Common.

The pub rechristened itself Cheers in 2001, to capitalize on the success of the show. Its owner opened another location in nearby Faneuil Hall, built to closely resemble the television's set, as most Bostonians know by now that the original Bull & Finch has a dramatically different layout from its more popular fictional sibling. Fortunately, my guests for lunch were not like most Bostonians: with four Cheers fans from Melbourne, Australia, and my Missourian girlfriend who'd never seen the show, I figured the pub would be a good place for a quick bite to eat en route to the airport.

Cheers Boston

This sign, seen at the opening of every episode of Cheers, greets visitors to the former Bull & Finch.

We arrived around 12:30 PM on a beautiful Saturday in early October, expecting a long wait for a table at this busy tourist destination. Buzzer in hand, we milled about the top of the stairs that led to the rathskeller, taking turns posing in front of the exterior used in the show's opening shot. After only 15 minutes — half the time the maitre'd had estimated — we were directed to make our way to the rear of the restaurant to the "Back Room." My traveling companions had several unwieldy suitcases with them that made this navigation a chore, but though they surprised our server, she quickly collected herself and showed us to a staff room where the bags could be left while we ate.

Like the layout, the bar's atmosphere was also unique from that of the show. Our corner booth had intimate lighting, but the noisy atmosphere of other diners close enough to touch and several widescreen televisions sometimes made it difficult to be heard. The room was decorated with local mementos, referencing everything from pilgrims to Celtics but with few appearances by Sam Malone, Coach, or its other televised employees.


Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale

10-Jan-08 8:30 AM by
Filed under Television; 2 comments.

Via Bonzer Web Sites comes TV Series Finale, a Web site that catalogs and reminisces about the conclusions of television shows, from black-and-white classics to recent cancellations. The site reports on all sorts of current events, such as DVD releases and actor updates, but most appealing are the features that focus on the final chapters of our favorite shows.

The two best finales of all time, IMHO, are Cheers and Quantum Leap, so those were the first two I looked for on this site. TV Series Finale does not have a listing for Quantum Leap, and its podcast on Cheers has scrolled off its iTunes Store archive, so I instead downloaded their audio report on another show from my youth: Gilligan's Island.

Though I'm not much a fan of audiobooks, I enjoyed this podcast. After a brief review of the origin of Gilligan's Island and the motivation behind its cancellation, the podcast's host recounted the events of not only the series finale, but also each of its made-for-TV movie sequels, as well as animated and reality TV spin-offs. The podcast closed by enumerating the activities and fates of each of the show's alumni. The detailed narrative and professional delivery was a fun trip down memory lane that offered trivia I'd never known.

The podcasts may likely be the site's best feature, as I had some trouble accessing its text. Navigation is a bit wonky; for example, if you go to the TV show index and click on Cheers, what you get is not a listing of articles specifically about the Boston pub-based show, but instead the results of a site search on keyword "cheers" — which may have little, if any, direct connection to the show in question.

But if you're looking to recall or learn the history of some classic shows, TV Series Finale's podcasts are an fun, easy, and free vehicle for doing so.