Give Me a Ring Sometime

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For the song by Lisa Brokop see Give Me a Ring Sometime (song).
"Give Me a Ring Sometime"
Cheers episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by James Burrows
Written by Glen and Les Charles
Production code 001
Original air date September 30, 1982 (Continental U.S.)
October 14, 1982 (Alaska)
Running time 24:56
Guest actors
  • Michael McGuire as Sumner Sloane
Episode chronology
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"Sam's Woman"
Cheers (season 1)
List of Cheers episodes

"Give Me a Ring Sometime" is the first episode of the American situation comedy Cheers. Written by Glen and Les Charles and directed by James Burrows, the episode first aired September 30, 1982 on NBC. The pilot introduces the employees of bar Cheers, Sam Malone, Diane Chambers, Coach Ernie Pantusso and Carla Tortelli, and regular customers Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin. In this episode Diane, brought in by fiancé Sumner Sloan, meets the employees and patrons of the bar. When she realizes that her fiancé has left her alone in the bar, Diane accepts Sam's offer to be the bar's waitress to start over.

In the original script the employees were the principal characters, and Norm and Cliff were not included. Later revisions added Norm and Cliff, and scenes were restructured and rewritten. Originally, Cheers' set would be a hotel, but it was ultimatelly changed to a bar. Ratings were low when the episode first aired, but were moderately successful in reruns. It has been critically praised over the years, and earned its writers awards for Best Writing in 1983.

Plot[edit]

As owner Sam Malone opens the bar, a professor Sumner Sloane (Michael McGuire) and his Boston University student fiancée Diane Chambers are the first customers. They are planning to go to Barbados to be married, but do not have a wedding ring; Sumner leaves to get the ring from his ex-wife. While she waits, Diane learns about the other people in the bar. Sam is an ex-baseball player and a recovering alcoholic. Waitress Carla Tortelli is a bitter divorcée with four children. Male patrons are playing a "body sweat in movies" trivia game, which repulses Diane. Sumner returns a few hours later, suggesting Cool Hand Luke as a "sweaty" movie and telling Diane he could not get his ex-wife's ring. His ex-wife calls the bar with a change of heart, and Sumner leaves Diane again.

Diane and Sam argue about Sumner, and Sam pointedly tells her Sumner is probably on a plane with his ex-wife. Diane calls the airport to change their flight reservation, and finds out that "Mr. and Mrs. Sloane" have already used it. Heartbroken, she prepares to go home before realizing that her job as Sumner's teaching assistant is gone. Out of pity, Sam offers her a job at Cheers as a waitress. Because of her educational background, Diane initially refuses; however, when she remembers a number of orders (including special requests) from a table she reluctantly accepts the job. The following day, Diane's first customer is an international tourist (Erik Holland), asking for his lost luggage.

Casting[edit]

The pilot introduces employees of the bar, Cheers, in Boston, Massachusetts in order of appearance:

The creators rejected the idea of casting a star such as Mary Tyler Moore, and sought actors who were previously unknown to the public. They interviewed almost 1,000 people for the four principal roles: Sam Malone, Diane Chambers, Carla Tortelli, and "Coach" Ernie Pantusso.[3] Steve Kolzak (credited as Stephen Kolzak)[4] cast the original characters.[5] According to Danson, Rhea Perlman was the first to be cast.[6] Former umpire Ron Luciano auditioned for Coach; however, the producers "wanted an experienced actor".[7] Robert Prosky, who later appeared as Rebecca Howe's (Kirstie Alley) Navy father in the 1992 Cheers episode "Daddy's Little Middle-Aged Girl" and an author in the 1996 Frasier episode "A Crane's Critique", turned down the role of Coach.[8][9] Actor-director Nicholas Colasanto won the role.[3]

Auditions were held for Sam and Diane.[10] Three pairs were tested: William Devane and Lisa Eichhorn, Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy, and Ted Danson and Shelley Long.[11] Before the show premiered Danson appeared in 1979's The Onion Field;[12] Long appeared in 1982's Night Shift, starring Henry Winkler of Happy Days.[13] Fred Dryer later appeared as Dave Richards, a sportscaster friend of Sam's, in "Sam at Eleven" in 1982.[14] Sam Malone was originally "a former wide receiver for the New England Patriots",[11] and Fred Dryer was considered for the role because he was a football player.[15] However, NBC executives liked test scenes with Danson and Long so the creators chose them instead,[16] making Sam a former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.[11] Ed O'Neill also auditioned for the role of Sam Malone.[17]

We had some surprises. Some actors were terrific by themselves but not in concert with others. Each actor read the same scene. Everyone got the same chance. We were looking for actors who could make us laugh by being loyal to the characters. Then we matched them up.[3]

—Les Charles, to United Press International, July 11, 1982
Their respective roles (Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin) were not envisioned until they auditioned for a minor, originally scripted role.

Two customers were introduced:

  • Norm Peterson (George Wendt), recognized by everyone in the bar, enters for a quick drink.[2]
  • Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) appears for a conversation with other male patrons about bar trivia.[2][note 3]

George Wendt and John Ratzenberger originally auditioned for the role of George, and Wendt was cast.[18][19] In the original script, George was Diane's first customer at the end of the episode. Annoyed with Diane's long-winded explanation of how she became a waitress, he delivered his one-word line: "Beer!"[18] After Wendt was cast, the writers revised the script; his role evolved into Norm Peterson, the first onscreen customer to enter the bar and "[badgering] Diane rather than the other way around".[20] After Wendt was cast, Ratzenberger suggested to the producers that a know-it-all character be added; this led to the creation of another character, Cliff Clavin.[19]

John P. Navin, Jr. portrays a teenage boy in the cold open, and Ron Frazier is credited for his background appearance.[21]

Production[edit]

Exterior (left) and interior of the Bull & Finch Pub (now Cheers Beacon Hill), which inspired the show's set

The creators of Cheers (and the crew of Taxi), co-writers Glen and Les Charles and director James Burrows, created a sitcom project in 1981. Initially set in a hotel, the setting changed to a hotel bar and finally a "Boston neighborhood bar". The show was filmed not in a pub, but on Stage 25 of the Paramount Studios lot. Cheers' set was inspired by the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston,[22] now known as Cheers Beacon Hill (pictured, right).[23] A Boston bar was chosen because of its "interior [made out of] brick, polished mahogany, and brass"; the city was chosen because it is "cosmopolitan", "a great sports town" and was not previously explored on television.[3] Because the creators are sports fans, an athletic element was added to the bar.[24] Burrows said that the show was intended to be about a bar which people visit for more than drinks.[3]

Jokes from earlier scripts were used. In one scene, Carla Tortelli orders a phone caller to do something about their unruly children. When one of the bartenders suggests hiring a babysitter, Carla replied that the caller was the babysitter. The cast did not know the ending of the pilot episode during production,[25] since the final draft of the script was dated April 16, 1982.[26]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

The NBC premiere lineup on September 30, 1982 consisted of (beginning at 8:00 pm Eastern and Pacific Time) Fame, Cheers, Taxi and Hill Street Blues. Cheers debuted at 9:00 pm against the two-hour season premiere of Magnum, P.I. and the one-hour season premiere of Too Close for Comfort.[27] It finished in 60th place[28] (out of 63 programs), with a 9.6 Nielsen rating.[29] In Alaska, it premiered on October 14, 1982 at 8:00 pm AKT.[30] On December 23, 1982 the episode was rerun,[31] receiving an 11.5 rating and finishing 57th out of 68 programs airing from December 20–26, 1982.[32]

Critical reaction[edit]

When the episode originally aired in 1982, Fred Rothenberg of the Associated Press called it an introduction to a "new wise-cracking comedy", "a warm and wacky companion of a television show, a delightful place to spend idle time, [and] a five-star watering hole" known as Cheers.[2] Television and radio critic Mike Drew said it was not great but "funnier [...] with cute lines [...] than" any other sitcom, even those (like Archie Bunker's Place on TV and Duffy's Tavern on radio) set in bars.[33] Fred L. Smith of The News and Courier found this episode similar to Taxi: "Both are set in a place of business (Cheers at a [Boston bar], Taxi at a [New York taxi company]); both have a sensible guy and a pretty, preppy girl as main characters (Ted Danson and Shelley Long in Cheers and Judd Hirsch and Marilu Henner in Taxi), and both are wacky comedies." He found it "amusing"; some jokes were funny, many others seemed forced, and the number of "weird characters" in the show was greater than their real-life bar counterparts.[34]

In 2009, Lex Walker on the Just Press Play website found this episode "sadder and more sentimental" than funny; the episode focuses "less on character development and more on" Diane restarting her life as a waitress after the loss of love, and he said it contradicts "what [Cheers] will grow to be". Nevertheless, he called the episode a true introduction to the series and considered the intertwining stories of Sam and his friends the series' premise.[35] In 2010, Robin Raven from Yahoo! Voices called it one of her top five Cheers episodes.[36] In 2011, Austin Lugar from The Film Yap website called it the "best".[37]

Awards[edit]

At the 1983 Primetime Emmy Awards, writers and co-creators Glen and Les Charles won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for this episode.[38][39][note 4] The brothers also received a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay - Episodic Comedy.[40] The episode earned production designer Richard Sylbert and set decorator George Gaines an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for a Series[39] (won by Tales of the Gold Monkey).[41]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sam Malone is described as a divorced Lothario in the next episode, "Sam's Women".[1]
  2. ^ Nick Tortelli first appears onscreen in Season 2 episode, "Battle of the Exes" (1984), and is portrayed by Dan Hedaya.
  3. ^ Actor John Ratzenberger appears as Cliff Clavin and is always credited in the closing credits of every episode of Season 1, including this episode, instead of opening. Moreover, Norm and Cliff have not yet been established as "best friends" until the Season 2.
  4. ^ "The Boys in the Bar" and "Diane's Perfect Date" were also nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.[38][39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bjorklund, p. 263.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rothenberg, Fred. "`Cheers': Viewers May Leave Favorite Pubs for This Tavern on the Tube." Boca Raton News [Boca, FL] 30 September 1982: 6B. Google News. Web. April 5, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Scott, Vernon. "Series Producers Working Now to Get `Cheers'." Telegraph Herald [Dubuque, IA] July 11, 1982: 20. Google News. Web. April 5, 2012.
  4. ^ Bjorklund, p. 281
  5. ^ "My thoughts on GQ 'Cheers' article". ...by Ken Levine. October 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ Danson, Ted (2003). Setting the Bar: A Conversation with Ted Danson (DVD). (Interview). Paramount Pictures. Cheers: The Complete First Season. 
  7. ^ Woodley, Richard (July 12, 1982). "`I've Been Wearing a Mask All My Life,' Says Ron Luciano, but Now the Umpire Strikes Back". People 18 (2). 
  8. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Robert Prosky, Seasoned Actor of Stage, Film and Television, Dies at 77." Playbill. December 9, 2008. Web. April 6, 2012.
  9. ^ Rozen, Leah. "The Stage Is His Usual Beat, but Robert Prosky Copped a Prime-Time Job as Hill Street's New Sarge." People October 22, 1984. Web. April 6, 2012.
  10. ^ "Ted Danson, On Life (And 'Death') After 'Cheers'". NPR. 17 September 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c Meade, Peter (29 April 1984). "We'll Cry In Our Beers As Sam, Diane Split". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. p. 14.  Editions of April 27–29, 1984, are bundled in the webpage. Article is located at page 85 in Google.
  12. ^ Brady, James (December 6, 1987). "In Step with: Ted Danson". Parade (New York: Parade Publications, Inc): 17. Retrieved July 24, 2012, at Google News Archive.  Distributed in The Prescott Courier along with other newspapers.
  13. ^ "Night Shift: Henry Winkler—'108 Degrees from The Fonz'". The Afro-American. August 14, 1982. p. 11. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  14. ^ Bjorklund e-Book, "Season One: 1982–83", p. 284.
  15. ^ Balk, Quentin; Falk, Ben (2005). Television's Strangest Moments: Extraordinary but true tales from the history of television. London: Robson–Chrysalis. p. 166. ISBN 1-86105-874-8. 
  16. ^ Carter, Bill (9 May 1993). "Why 'Cheers' Proved So Intoxicating". The New York Times. p. 6. 
  17. ^ Gliatto, Tom, and John Griffiths. "At Last, Ed O'Neill Knows...Sort Of...What It's Like to Be Ryan O'Neal." People December 3, 1990. Web. April 6, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Wendt, p. 112.
  19. ^ a b Wendt, pp. 113–114. John Ratzenberger auditioned for the role George, as well.
  20. ^ Wendt, p. 113.
  21. ^ Bjorklund, p. 262.
  22. ^ Lehman, Betsy (October 1, 1982). "Cheers 'to the Real Cast'; Beacon Hill Pub Goes Hollywood - via TV". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 19, 2012.  ProQuest: (registration required).
  23. ^ Ferdinand, Pamela, from The Washington Post (September 1, 2001). "'Cheers' pub reincarnated". Bangor Daily News. p. G2. Retrieved June 21, 2012.  Google News.
  24. ^ Meade, Peter (29 April 1984). "We'll Cry In Our Beers As Sam, Diane Split". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. p. 14.  Editions of April 27–29, 1984, are bundled in the webpage. Article is located at page 85 in Google.
  25. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (September 30, 1982). "Cheers, the New NBC Sitcom Has Is Cheerleaders, Chief Among Them Shelley Long". Los Angeles Times. p. 1, Part VI (Calendar). 
  26. ^ "Give me a ring sometime". Worldcat. OCLC 17605276. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Television Schedule". Los Angeles Times (microfilm) (Library ed.). September 30, 1982. Calendar section (Part VI).  The September 26, 1982, Sunday edition has titles of television episodes.
  28. ^ "CBS Finishes Atop Ratings". The Post (Palm Beach, Florida). October 7, 1982. p. B9. Retrieved April 5, 2012, at Google News.  Love, Sidney (NBC), World's Greatest Escape Artist (ABC), The Devlin Connection (NBC), and Voyagers! (NBC) were other lowest-rated shows in the week of September 27–October 3, 1982.
  29. ^ "Television Ratings." Los Angeles Times 6 October 1982, Library ed. Print. Part VI (Calendar section), p. 11. In 1982, ratings were based on 83.3 million households that have at least one television set. Magnum, P.I. scored a 23.1 rating, and Too Close for Comfort scored 21.5.
  30. ^ "Television (Thursday)". Anchorage Daily News. October 14, 1982. 
  31. ^ "Television Schedule—Thursday, December 23, 1982." Los Angeles Times: Television Times 19 December 1982, Library ed. Print. The December 23, 1982, edition does not display the summary of this episode.
  32. ^ "Television Ratings." Los Angeles Times. December 30, 1982, Library ed. Print. Part VI (Calendar Section), p. 10.
  33. ^ Drew, Mike (September 30, 1983). "Drink a toast to Cheers". p. 13. Retrieved July 20, 1983, at Google News Archive. 
  34. ^ Fred L. Smith (October 5, 1982). "Cheers, Taxi Alike in Characters, Setting". The News and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina). p. 10A. Retrieved October 25, 2012, at Google News Archive. 
  35. ^ Walker, Lex (May 27, 2009). "TV Sets: Forever Funny Review". Just Press Play. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  36. ^ Raven, Robin (March 1, 2010). "Top 5 episodes of Cheers". Yahoo! Voices. Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  37. ^ Lugar, Austin. "Week Five TV Contest Results." The Film Yap 21 August 2011. Web. 6 April 2012.
  38. ^ a b "Cheers." Emmys, 2012. Web. April 5, 2012.
  39. ^ a b c Bjorklund, p. 421.
  40. ^ "The Writers Guild Foundation Library Catalog". Writers Guild of America. 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Outstanding Art Direction for a Series 1983". Emmys.com. 1983. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]