Thursday, February 25, 2010

The night Mickey Mouse entered CHEERS

Here’s a show-and-tell Friday question. I'm being spammed so leave your question but I'm moderating them to keep out the riff-raff.

From Wally:

One day, while falling down the rabbit hole of the Internet I discovered this clip, titled "Mickey Goes to Cheers."

What can you tell us about it, good sir?

This was a special for the Wide World of Disney, aired November 13, 1988 to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday. It was done in a combination live-action/animation format a la WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (which the Disney studio also produced).

Due to some magic spell or something Mickey is transported into real life (if you can call sitcoms real life) and no one recognizes him. He enters the world of FAMILY TIES and CHEERS.

Some writers from Disney wrote the CHEERS scene and it was God awful. They didn’t even write Mickey well. Even Disney CEO, Michael Eisner recognized that. He called James Burrow and asked, as a favor, if we CHEERS writers would take a pass at it?

So a group of about six of us banged out the new scene. Eisner was delighted, Mickey was pleased for the most part, and that was the scene that was shot.

None of us were paid for it, but it was payment enough just to throw out that original scene.

About a week later a messenger from Disney arrived at the office and gave each one of us a giant tote bag crammed with Disney goodies. There were VHS copies of Disney classics, shirts, a letterman jacket, Mickey phone, stuffed animals, a watch, cards, magnetic desk toy, mouse ears, bubble bath, and God knows what else.

All of us had young children at the time and this was the greatest gift ever! If they had paid us, our fee would have probably been a couple grand a person and I’m guestimating each bag was worth maybe $500. But so what? There’s not one of us who wouldn’t’ve preferred the bag.

Seeing the scene again for the first time in over twenty years, it wasn’t our best work. But I remember we were very restricted in what we could and couldn’t do. Anyway, here it is. And to answer your next question: I still have the phone and jacket.



34 comments:

Mary Stella said...

Awwwwwwwwwww. That's a cute scene. I don't know why I missed it when it originally aired. How many weeks before the shoot date did you write the scene? I'm curious how much time the imagineers had to draw Mickey's action.

wv = unhipmag -- That doesn't need any further definition. :-)

D. McEwan said...

If only it had been Minnie Mouse, and Sam got to hit on her.

benson said...

Is it just me, or is Rhea Perlman doing a Woody Woodpecker laugh at the 1:00 minute mark of the scene?

Jason said...

Aw, that's sweet. You earned that jacket. It was just cute until the very end, and then the whole gang singing? Got me right here.

Mike said...

No, not your best Cheers moment, but I got a couple laughs, and it was worth seeing (especially since I didn't even know the scene existed until I came to this blog tonight). It also gives you an idea of what Cheers might've sounded like with cheesy canned laughter instead of a live studio audience.

And it also reminds me of something that has irked me for a while: Why isn't this on DVD? Why are the Cheers DVDs so utterly lacking of special features? (Seasons 1-3 had a few short featurettes, but nothing to really write home about, and then seasons 4-11 were just bare-bones releases.) It was one of the most popular, most honored sitcoms of all time. There are things like this scene, the Super Bowl scene, the "Last Call" special before the final episode, the Tonight Show from the real Cheers in Boston, that would have made great extras. Not to mention blooper reels (which they did for season 2 but no others; I'm sure they exist), additional interviews with cast and crew, perhaps some commentaries. I know I should be happy the episodes themselves are out there....but it feels like CBS/Paramount really missed an opportunity when they put out the DVDs.

Raymond said...

@Mike: I suspect copyright issues are involved here. CBS/Paramount may not have the rights to these "side projects". (And I bet Disney would charge a huge royalty to include the Mickey Mouse clip on the DVD.)

BTW I didn't find it all that funny. Sorry, Ken.

BigTed said...

Wow, $1.50 for a double root-beer float is a good deal, even for the '80s. (I bet it would run you 12 bucks at Disneyland.)

Did Disney have any problems with the (minor) sexual innuendo in this sketch?

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Ah, I remember standing alongside of the lovely Annette...in the frozen food section of Gelson's in Encino where I worked as a grocery clerk, with purple Quick Mark stains on my fingers. I witnessed this: Never has a package of Green Giant Creamed Corn been caressed so gingerly as it was when she held it in her virginal hands. Excuse me. I have to sit down...

Gosh, I hope she's doing well...

This has nothing to do with the topic, of course. So what? Think good thoughts for the lovely girl...

Mr. Peel said...

So...should this be considered canon?

BigTed said...

Here's the "Family Ties" segment -- and I bet they wish they had real comedy writers for this part. (Michael J. Fox didn't even bother showing up... there's just a flashback of him from an episode of the show.)

www.youtube.com/
watch?v=
Ir2Gfsf1C-Q

blogward said...

That laughter wasn't so much canned as freeze-dried. You earned that goodie bag!

l.a.guy said...

I thought it was cute, anyone else notice that the newsman was a young John Ritter?

Trevor said...

I remember seeing this when it first aired. It's not great but not bad either. The castmembers are all used and their characters are all consistent with the show. Heck, they even got the stars of the show to take part.

I haven't seen the Family Ties clip in years but it was terrible and the antithesis of the Cheers segment.

Michael in Vancouver said...

My Friday question relates to your earlier post about conscious/subconscious symbolism in TV shows. Am I alone in suspecting a gay subtext throughout Frasier? Niles and Frasier are written as brothers, but their repartee and body language often came across like a couple of spoiled princesses -- bickering companions who'd be perfect for each other if they weren't straight and related. Even when Niles was drooling over Daphne and Frasier had a new date every episode, the show still looked imbued with a gayness that even Will & Grace or Ellen never captured. For me, seeing Niles and Frasier written as a gay couple but portrayed ostensibly as straight added a another layer of wit that I appreciated. Did any of this come consciously from the writing room?

SuperBK said...

I enjoyed the scene. Cheers and Mickey Mouse are both icons.

bevo said...

Is that John Ritter slumming as the anchor? Things you do in a Post Three's Company world.

A Friday question: How come you left MASH?

wv - scabli: The red area on your skin that remains after the scab falls off.

Pat Reeder said...

I know someone who wrote songs for various Disney projects freelance, including Mickey Mouse albums (no, not "American Idol" CDs, but actual Mickey Mouse albums). He said that when the Disney people called, they would say things like, "Mickey wants to do a disco album," or "Mickey doesn't care for songs like that." So either Mickey is real, and a bit of a prick, or else they've got all their employees hypnotized.

St. Augustine of Hippo said...

I have noticed religion is rarely depicted on modern sit coms. (Beyond the shopworn wedding scene where the generic minister is late, the wrong denomination, drunk, etc.) Tho there is a raft of crime solving clergy (Fr. Dowley, Fr. Brown). And not forgetting Sherman Hemsley in "Amen."
Or Sally Field in "The Flying Nun."
I recall Seinfeld had the dentist who converted for the Judiasm jokes; and a bris. I don't recall an actual religious service. (I do recall a "Dick Van Dyke" episode where Buddy is studying for his long delayed bar mitzvah. ) "The Simpsons" had many episodes set in church. It's probably easier for a cartoon family to tread on sacred ground.
i
As for the rest, is this because there is a delicate line between a funny show and not offending someone's sensibilities?
Btw, I noticed on MASH that Fr. Mulcahey seemed to rely on the same twists on Bible verses: jawbone of an ass, etc. But I don't think he used my favorite, as I often cite on during the winter: Many are cold but few are frozen.

Harley Davidson said...

It was fun to view a Cheers scene I hadn't seen before. Yeah, it was a bit cheesy and not all that funny, but it was fun.

I'd also like to second Barefoot Billy's comment about Annette. I met her at the party for the grand opening of Splash Mountain more than 20 years ago. She is a lovely girl and I wish her well.

david515 said...

Was that the first and only time someone had to pay for a drink at Cheers?

Ref said...

I'd say it was a job well done. It doesn't stand up with the best stuff you did, but, for something shoe-horned in, it works.

NotRichard said...

John Ritter, yeah... and the janitor was Cheech Marin! Bet the broom cupboard smelt like concerts...

Tom Quigley said...

I got a kick out of it, especially the M-I-C-K-E-Y etc. at the end. Have never seen this clip before...

Disney seems to be such a self-enclosed entity, I'm surprised they didn't dictate that the scene be written as a costume party, with all the bar patrons dressed up as Disney characters...

BTW, as I recall, Tommy Cole, one of the original Mousketeers, was on the staff of FRASIER... I remember seeing him when I attended a filming the first season.

Mike Bell said...

I love how oblivious everyone was. I was also surprised you got away with the "Come over to my place and have a good cry" line. Loved it. But I'm just a sucker for anything Disney.

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max Clarke said...

Never saw this before. Well done.

Whatever Disney wrote wasn't as good as this. You packed a lot into a few minutes, but Cheers writers did that all the time. Episodes such as Dinner at Eightish, Everyone Imitates Art, and No Contest had as many memorable scenes and moments as longer shows.

Draugen said...

I love everything about this story, Ken!

Given that this is written for a 1980s era themed special, which were typically god-awful affairs, this was exceptionally well done. And the swag bag from Disney must have just driven the kids over the top.

I think companies often overlook the value of a decent goody bag when they are dealing with vendors. A few years back, I did some creative work for a client who made high-end MP3 players, and they wouldn't even LEND me one to try out. On the other hand, I did a project for a maker of a popular DVD-based board game, and they sent every person on my team out of the first pitch meeting with armloads of games and merchandise. I guarantee you, the couple of hundred dollars worth of crap they sent us out with probably saved them ten thousand dollars in billings over time, just in the good will it generated. MP3 player guy, though, routinely got soaked.

Sorry about that, MP3 player guy. And, oh yeah -- I'm listening to music on your competitor's product now.

Alan Coil said...

I shouldn't have watched that. I'm weeping.

Barefoot Billy, I am so envious that you were in the same room with my girlfriend. (That's how I thought of her when I was younger...much younger, unfortunately.)

Anonymous said...

Yikes. Aside from the Cheers-worthy "give me four" line, this appears as strained as Ted's acting.

YEKIMI said...

and Ritter was rockin' that mullet!

Mister Charlie said...

OK, It was reasonably interesting enough and well done but not moving UNTIL they started singing the Mickey Mouse Club Theme, then this old baby boomer got a smile on his face and a lump in the throat. Nice touch for the ending (yeah, corny perhaps but....ya had to be there).

-bee said...

That was like 100x better than one could have expected based on the description ("Mickey Mouse visits Cheers") bravo to you and the other writers.

I was struck by the gag where flies came out of Mickey's empty pockets - I don't think I've ever seen that one before - did you guys come up with it?

mwh1980 said...

Actually, is wasn't the last time Cheers would figure into a Dsney special.

There was Disneyland's 35th Birthday special a few years later. As Sam and the guys are trading old stories, Sam begins to tell them how when he went to Deneyland as a boy, some kids he was with abandoned him because he didn't want to go on the Hunted Mansion ride. It is then this cute girl asks him to come along with her. By the end of the story, Sam's had a great time, the two boys apologize for ditching him, and young Sam sees the girl waving from an upper floor of the mansion...before she disappears!

Maybe that clip exists somewhere online. Being a Disney-obsessed person since I was very young, stuff like that just sticks in my mind.

mwh1980 said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIdQepc_q7M

Ok, the previous comment, I was wrong. I guess since Sam's always been a ladies man, I figured he had e same luck as a boy.

It was actually Woody who had the ghostly experience, as the clip above shows.

The Cheers cast (sans Sam or Rebecca...hmmmm) are watching wrestling on tv when Woody asks them to tune into the Dsneyland Special. Needless today, many are of the persuasion that female wrestling is better than Disney stuff.

The guys then start discussing their favorite Disnry girls. Cliff picks Cinderella, Norm says Ariel has jumped into the #1 spot due to her red hair.

Frasier who is sitting next to Lilith mentions how he liked Snow White: "skin white as snow. Hair as black as night. Lips red as the rose...wait a minute, I married her."

Lilith then says, "with a little bit of the Wicked Queen thrown in." Though this sounds ad-libbed, or maybe It was an added line Kelsey was supposed to say.