Ah, the unofficial start of summer and higher gas and airline prices! Let’s get your holiday weekend started with some Friday Questions.
Mark is up first.
I read that they did write a script for Cleese to return to Cheers, but he turned it down. So the character was rewritten and recast with John McMartin for the episode "The Visiting Lecher" (McMartin's character is an old colleague of Frasier's, similar to Cleeses's).
No. Peter Graves was supposed to play that part but flaked out at the last moment – winning no friends among the CHEERS producers.
Ken, there was a rumor going around for a while that the cast of “Friends” would reunite for a brand new season of the show, ten years after it had gone off the air. I could see this working maybe with monster hits like “Sienfeld” or “Friends”. Do you think something like that could ever really work, years after a highly successful show ended?
First off, it'll never happen with FRIENDS or FRASIER. Not a chance. Larry David pulled it off in a sense with the SEINFELD reunion as part of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM but even then they were playing themselves, not the characters.
There are several problems with resurrecting a series. It’s almost impossible to catch lightening in a bottle twice. The zeitgeist has moved on.
Another issue: will the series premise still hold up? Do you want to see those FRIENDS characters or SEINFELD characters still single, bouncing around aimlessly when they’re 50? Do you want to see Sam Malone chasing hot babes when he’s 60? It's no longer funny but sad. And if you change the premise and everyone has grown up, moved on, had kids, etc. then it’s not the same show. And the new version is probably not as good.
One final thing: let’s be honest, like with your old high school sweetheart – sometimes it’s better to just hold onto the memory than see them today, if you know what I mean.
HOWEVER… if you bring a series back only a few years after it’s gone off the air it might have a chance. We’ll see this weekend with ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT premiering on Netflix, and next spring when 24 returns. But Kiefer Sutherland can still climb a fence. I don’t think you’d want to see Jack Bauer chasing bad guys when he’s eligible for AARP.
William Gallagher wants to know:
What do you think about stage directions in a script? From what I've read, you and David Isaacs often write quite sparsely but then you'll have a terrific line that the audience will never see.
I'm thinking most particularly of Frasier: Room Service where, having revealed Niles and Lilith in bed, your script says: "And if that's not an act break, we don't know what is."
David and I will do that from time to time just to reward people for actually reading our stage direction. Most people skip over it. So it’s a little incentive.
But yes, keep stage direction brief. And thanks for noticing!
And finally, from John:
Ken, if I remember right, you said your favorite season of Cheers was Season 1 with the establishment and development of the characters. But since the show tends to be divided by fans into the pre- and post-Shelly Long years, do you have a favorite year among Seasons 6-11 for the Kirstie Alley episodes?
And to answer your next question -- there are those episodes from that era I consider our best –
“To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”
“The Big Kiss-Off”
“Death Takes a Holiday on Ice”
"Loathe and Marriage"
"Finally Pt 1 & 2"
And the Bar Wars series.
What’s your question? Please submit in the comments section and drive carefully.