I get a lot of questions about the “Bar Wars” episodes of CHEERS that my writing partner, David Isaacs and I wrote. So here are the FAQ’s.
Did we purposely plan for the Cheers gang to lose every time?
Except for the last one. Frustration is much funnier than victory. The
trick however, was to find different ways for them to lose – or screw
themselves. Guess I grew up watching too many Road Runner cartoons.
What about the last Bar Wars in the final season?
we decided to not only let Cheers win but to demolish Gary’s Olde Towne
Tavern once and for all. We’re nothing if not vengeful. Trivia note:
That is the only episode of CHEERS that I appear in. I’m sitting at the
bar in an early scene.
Who played Gary?
answer is: which time? We had two actors who played Gary, in no
particular order. The first time the character appeared, Joe Polis
played him in a 1985 episode called “From Beer to Eternity”. When we
wrote the first Bar Wars episode Joe wasn’t available. It was the very
end of the season. We had no other scripts so we just had to recast.
Robert Desiderio became Gary. For Bar Wars II we went back to Joel Polis
and used him one other time. Otherwise, it was Robert Desiderio.
Confusing? I don’t understand why we did it either. Hopefully this
mystery will be tackled in the sequel to the DA VINCI CODE.
What is your favorite Bar Wars episode?
Wars V. My partner came up with this idea. Sam’s prank kills Gary. Or
at least that’s what Sam thinks. If you can’t get laughs with a man
digging up a grave you’re not a comedy writer.
What is your least favorite Bar Wars episode?
Wars VI. The gang thinks a wise guy buys Gary’s bar so a prank
unleashes the Mafia after them. We were reaching. And sometimes too
clever for our own good. In Bar Wars II, there’s a Bloody Mary contest.
I mentioned this last Thursday. We had too many twists and turns. By the end I think there were maybe six too
many. It was the BIG SLEEP of Bar Wars episodes – no one alive can tell
you exactly what happened.
Was it hard to plot these episodes?
Very. These episodes were a bitch to conceive and then hard to write
because there was always so much story. By nature, exposition and set
ups are not inherently funny and entertaining. We had to pull a lot of
jokes out of nowhere.
What was your favorite gag?
Rebecca’s office with sheep. That’s the power of being a writer. You
come up with a goofy idea. And voila, there are fifty sheep being herded
onto the set. I’m sure the guy who came up with snakes on the plane had
the same heady feeling.
There are some Bar Wars type episodes not called Bar Wars. How come?
were episodes not originally designed to be bar wars but evolved into
them. Or they were competitions not practical joke wars, per se. In
other words, I dunno. I’m still trying to figure out BAR WARS II.
And finally, are you that diabolical?
Let’s just say I hope you’re not allergic to sheep.