"Cheers" is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. After an eleven year run the cast said goodbye in 1993.
Jay Leno was still relatively new in his job as host of the "Tonight Show". With the "Tonight Show" following the May 20th broadcast of the final episode it seemed like a natural fit to tie the two together. So, NBC announced that the "Tonight Show" would be the setting for the "Cheers" after party.
What followed was one of the single most bizarre broadcasts in television history.
This isn't to say it wasn't a success. The show drew the largest audience Leno has EVER been able to pull for the "Tonight Show". I guess it was like a car wreck, people WANT to look away, but they just can't.
The episode was broadcast LIVE from the Cheers Bar in Boston. This is the bar that the bar in the show was BASED on. It also was used as the establishing shot, but NOT the interior. The interiors are in Hollywood.
(For more about these bars and Norm's Nuts click here for BOJ's offbeat attractions.)
The show kicks off immediately after "Cheers" ends with Jay and Branford Marsalis standing outside the bar. A large audience is also outside and they are ready to party.
Almost IMMEDIATLY Jay apologizes for the "Cheers" cast being drunk. Jay continues to say this again and again throughout the show. You know, this tape would make an excellent drinking game! You could drink every time Jay says "They're totally wasted!”
Of course your liver would explode before you got to the 40 minute mark, but you would give all the emergency room workers a great story to tell their friends.
After a brief opening monologue Jay enters the bar. Unfortunately is so FULL of VIPs that Jay and the cameraman can hardly move around. One of the first people Jay runs into is Bob Costas. Apparently, Bob heard that the bar had every type of person in it but an "obnoxious dwarf" so he raced to the rescue.
Bob decides to become Jay's tour guide and lead him through the bar. Jay hints that Bob should stop "trying to take over my show" but Costas refuses to listen and instead treats Jay (and the audience) to the names of every athlete in Boston and their wives.
Suddenly someone jumps in to the rescue. It's none other than JOHN KERRY!
Jay slings the witty remark "wouldn't it be great to go into a bar and NOT have to say 'hello Senator?'
Kerry smiles and tries to respond but Jay is distracted by George "Norm" Wendt drinking a beer.
JAY: You must be making up for lost time after having to drink all those fake beers on the show.
NORM: The FCC won't allow you to drink real beer on TV. (Norm chugs the beer and then laughs hysterically.)
JAY: They are so drunk!
Then we meet every member of the Kennedy family you NEVER heard of. The only reason we know they are Kennedys is because Jay told us they were. For all I know they could be related to the MTV VJ and not the President.
Jay quips "I have made so many jokes about your family I thought you would be mad."
Some anonymous Kennedy clan member says "We Kennedys don't get mad..." then he pushes Jay into a closet "...we get even." had he ended the show there it would have been the greatest television show ever. Instead Jay is shown inside the closet with comedian Steven Wright. Steven talks about how he used to park cars in Boston and still has some people's keys. He hopes to find them so he can get them their cars back.
I know it doesn't sound too funny, but it was the funniest part of the show.
Jay then tries to interview the entire cast and guess what: THEY ARE DRUNK! They are shooting spitballs at each other and shooting each other with a water gun.
A drunken Ted Danson keeps trying to grope Rhea "Carla" Pearlman. Then he refers to Woody Harrelson as "one of the greatest fighting men of all time." No one (including Danson) could explain what he meant.
Jay asks if there were any affairs among the cast. Everyone says that Wendt and Pearlman had an affair in Seattle, and then they all make gay jokes about each other.
Trying bravely to salvage the few minutes remaining, Jay puts together a trivia contest. My favorite answer was when Rhea cursed on air.
Jay: What did Frasier do for a living?
Rhea: Shrink sh*t.
Ted: She swore!
By the way, if you turn on the close captioning it says "shrink ship." Perhaps the caption people were drunk as well.
Kirstie Alley was not at the bar because she was hard at work on some other project. So, she sent a video. The video shows her hanging out with cast look-alikes so that she could adjust to life off the show. It sounds funnier than it is.
To close the show, Jay interviews the singer/composer of the theme. He plays the song outside on the piano with the cast to close the show.
The cast did not reunite again until many years later when they formed "Cheers Veterans for Truth" an organization dedicated to keeping John Kerry out of the White House.