Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The CHEERS conspiracy

This article was brought to my attention yesterday by several of you loyal readers. Apparently there was a local sitcom in Boston in the late ‘70’s called PARK ST. UNDER that bore many similarities to CHEERS.

You can read the article here.

And of course I was asked to comment on it.

First off, I can’t speak for the Charles Brothers or Jim Burrows – the creators of CHEERS.

All I can do is talk from my experience, and I was there since pre-production of season one.  

I have never heard of the existence of this other sitcom until yesterday when I read the article. And that’s the honest-to-God truth.

No one ever mentioned this in the room. There were never any rumors about it. I have friends who lived in Boston and none of them ever brought it up. I was in Boston on several occasions for CHEERS-related events and no one mentioned it.

However, in the article Jim Burrows said the show was modeled somewhat after the radio series set in a bar, DUFFY’S TAVERN, and that I heard mentioned numerous times.

Also, in the original first draft of the CHEERS pilot Sam Malone was a former football player, an ex-Patriot. The switch was made to baseball when Ted Danson was hired and it was more believable that he had been a ballplayer. Coach originally was addled because he suffered so many bone-jarring gridiron concussions (it’s not like this is a new phenomenon in the NFL). Frasier wasn’t brought on until season three. Carla was created specifically for Rhea Perlman, who the guys knew from playing Zena on TAXI and being married to Danny DeVito.  The Cliff civil service character evolved during the first season.  He had very little to do the first couple of episodes. 

And finally this – I’ve mentioned numerous times that when we were breaking stories on CHEERS, if we learned an element even approximated something done on another show we automatically threw it out. That was one of the Charles Brothers strictest rules. In eleven years I never saw them waver from it, not even once. So it seems odd to me that they would lift an entire series from an existing show that had aired. I can’t imagine them leaving themselves open to premiering the CHEERS pilot and have the whole city of Boston up in arms because they had stolen a show everyone there was familiar with. And by the way, there was no uproar. Not even a peep. No Boston papers brought it up in their reviews. Like I said, this is the first I’m hearing of it.

Why didn’t the creators of PARK ST. UNDER sue? It says in the article they didn’t think they’d win. Episodes of this show are not available on line. Apparently they’re very hard to track down.  There are just a few clips, which I've seen (and for a local production they are pretty good). 

From the article it sounds like there were definite similarities. And I wasn’t there when the Charles Brothers and Jimmy batted around ideas for this new show they were creating. All I can tell you is from my perspective on the inside, and knowing the integrity of Glen & Les Charles and Jim Burrows, any similarities were purely coincidental. And if Robert Mueller calls, I’m happy to go before the committee and say the same thing.


I'm Outraged! said...

Sorry, but far too many coincidences to be 'purely coincidental'.

VP81955 said...

A Friday question...

Last Saturday, I attended a session of PaleyFest LA devoted to my favorite current sitcom, "Mom." It was at the Dolby Theatre, where Allison Janney won her Academy Award; she was there, as was Anna Faris, Mimi Kennedy, Jaime Pressly and Beth Hall, along with Gemma Baker, one of the show's three creators. It was quite illuminating. (A link to the event is at the "Mom" Facebook page.)

Have you ever participated in a PaleyFest discussion? Apparently the Paley Center has been holding these things for quite some time.

Mark said...

One thing that stands out for me in this article, is the assertion that ABC used their morning show as a model for "Good Morning, America." Here in NE Ohio we have heard since the beginning of time that Cleveland's "Morning exchange" was the model for "Good Morning, America." Small world.

Mitchell Hundred said...

Eh, creativity is a weird thing. Sometimes people will arrive at the same (or similar) conclusions through chance, simply because it's an idea whose time has come. There's a good video about this that came out a couple of years ago (it's about 40 minutes long).

Of course, this is not to say that theft of ideas doesn't happen (obviously it does). I just think you need a more compelling argument than pointing out similarities between two projects.

McAlvie said...

I don't think the concept of a show revolving around regulars in a bar was a novel idea even back then ... wasn't there a spin off of All In The Family set in a bar? And while I can't compare the characters as I didn't see the other version, in sketch they sound like basic types. Certainly a mouthy waitress and a know it all patron (there's one in most shows/books/movies) aren't new ideas.

Stephen Robinson said...

I think people often confuse a format or a premise with a story. Stories are about people and characters and are capable of distinguishing themselves more than a format or premise. And over reliance on premise ("wacky shenanigans at a fashion magazine") without sufficient focus on story/character is generally less successful.

Perhaps it's my love of screwball comedy, but I consider Diane to be the primary character in CHEERS (at least the pilot and first season, which feel like they come from her POV). A "similar" show where the "Diane" is blonde but... ditzy is, well, not that ditzy. I'd even go so far as to say the actual premise is no longer the same. I think the series creators clearly understood the larger theme & premise of CHEERS when they introduced Rebecca -- who while very different from Diane was also someone who had larger aspirations and was "stuck" in this "crazy" blue-collar world. Even Frasier's "descent" into Cheers fit this theme.

Carla is also more than just the "brassy waitress" trope, which has existed for decade (see ALICE, as a then somewhat contemporary example), or the "slightly ethnic foil to the WASP lead" (see MARY TYLER MOORE). What distinguishes her is Perlman's performance, the writing staff's execution, and the fraternal relationship between her and Sam. The pilot of CHEERS introduces us to Sam Malone and basically his family (a father figure and a sister).

John Hammes said...

"Duffy's Tavern ... Where the elite meet to eat."

Duffy had his name in the title. Duffy's series ran a decade on radio.

Duffy was never "seen", or heard from.

E. Yarber said...

I read the article with some interest. Plagiarism is actually pretty common with spec scripts, since a lot of wannabes assume naming a character Ran Holo constitutes an original idea. I once had to totally rewrite a horror film since the premise was nearly identical to a well-known franchise (all I retained were the murder scenes, since I hate writing that sort of stuff).

The thing about plagiarism, though, is that the results are always bad. Your writer is being lazy from step one, and you can't expect things to improve from there. Characterization has to come from within for the actors to be playing any more than puppets. The Park St. Under concept seemed like more of a community issues program under the guise of a sitcom, in the didactic nature of the other program produced there, while Cheers was definitely character-driven.

Even the Duffy's Tavern connection is rather tenuous. The radio show was basically about the gang that ran the place, without really developing a set of regular customers as major players, and the hook was that each week a celebrity guest would stop by in the way that the variety-oriented comedies featured movie stars in skits. There was a brain-addled Irishman named Finegan who might be considered an early coach and a snooty female character (the boss's daughter), Miss Duffy (Played by Shirley Booth), who might conceivably be an ur-Diane, but these were both fairly stock radio comedy characters who shared little in common with the TV successors.

I took the Duffy inspiration as cornering more of a atmosphere, in the same way that Norman Lear said he created Mary Harman, Mary Hartman by recalling the familiarity of the radio serials that blanketed daytime programming in his youth.

I've heard someone claim that Saroyan's The Time of Your Life was the inspiration for Cheers, and I guess if I hung around the docks long enough someone would come along insisting the whole thing came from The Iceman Cometh. There were two versions of The Corner Bar before Park St. Under. Studs Terkel did a series of interviews with "ordinary joes" for The Great American Dream Machine in the early 1970s, set in a barroom set recalling his early TV show Studs' Place. The Terkel series seems closest in tone to Park St. Under, though I wouldn't accuse them of stealing their show from Studs.

The story made me recall a behind-the-scenes book about television from 1984; The Sweeps, by Mark Christensen and Cameron Smith. In addition to detailing the development process of Cheers, they tell the story of Karen Salkin. Salkin was a quirky cable-access restaurant reviewer in LA who thought she'd gotten her big break when NBC asked her to send tapes of her show. It turned out they merely needed material for SCTV and wanted one of their own stars (possibly Andrea Martin) to PARODY her as a regular comedy sketch figure. THAT's a smoking gun for the big company poaching ideas from local television, but the overtures directly came from the producers.

Timothy said...


Lark Hawk said...

According to Wikipedia, Duffy's Tavern was co-created by Jim Burrows's dad, Abe Burrows. Abe was the head writer for the radio show for it's first five years. Not Cheers-related, but maybe Ken-related, Larry Gelbert wrote for Duffy's Tavern as well. Comedy seems like a small world.

Gene said...

E Yarber: thanks for remembering the Great American Dream Machine and Studs.Thought I was the only one! I also remember Terkel's radio show on public radio.

Earl Boebert said...

Patent lawyers use the phrase "in the air" to describe similar ideas that arise naturally and independently to different people looking at the same set of circumstances. Plausible that it would be the case here; correlation is not causation, no matter how good a story it makes.

Buttermilk Sky said...

This reminds me of the case, some years back, when a woman in Florida sued J.K. Rowling, claiming that Harry Potter was stolen from a book she self-published about a boy-wizard called Larry Potter. Rowling's lawyers were able to prove that she, like most other people, had never heard of the earlier book. The creators of CHEERS, who don't live in Boston, could have made the same argument. (I wonder if Abe Burrows considered suing his son for ripping off DUFFY'S TAVERN.)

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

This is very much like the debate between Babylon 5 and Star Trek: DS9. Just because we're dealing with two sci-fi shows set on space stations that premiered less than a month apart, it doesn't mean one ripped off the other. On the contrary, both were born out of very distinct ideas from very distinct writers and ended up going in very different directions, plot-wise.

Penquin said...

Isn't that what they also say about all the Lincoln and Kennedy coincidences?

Stephen Robinson said...

It also bugs me when people would refer to WHEN HARRY MET SALLY as a "rip off" of ANNIE HALL. Yes, both are romantic comedies set in New York with a Jewish male lead and WASP female lead. But WHEN HARRY MET SALLY has its roots in classic screwball comedy. ANNIE HALL doesn't. And the actual *story* -- what the characters want and what the obstacles are to those goals -- couldn't be more different.

Mike said...

Does Cheers even have a premise? It has a setting.

With the current trend in music litigation, the existence of similarities are sufficient to win the case. Intent or opportunity to copy is not necessary. The defence is the generality of the common source.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I agree with Mitchell H. When I was in high school, back in the late 70's, everyone in my public speaking class had to write and perform a commercial. I came up with the idea for a cereal made of rocks called "ROX." Real clever, huh? However, two weeks later Saturday Night Live ran it's FIRST airing of "Quarry." It was purely coincidence. Needless to say, most of the jokes were the same or similar. They did have the better tag line, "...its mined." But I have a whole classroom full of witnesses that know my version came first. Obviously, I'm not claiming that they stole my idea. There's no way they could. (Well, it is possible, but EXTREMELY unlikely.) The bottom line is that there does appear to be some kind of "cosmic consciousness" that some people can tap into. I can't tell you the number of times I've thought of a joke and/or an idea for a sketch only to see it on T.V. weeks later. Ken mentioned in a previous blog his ability to call out punchlines before the actors do. So can I. Those are some of the main reasons why I want to get into writing. I couldn't be any worse than some of the people that are GETTING PAID to write these shows. (Well, it is possible, but EXTREMELY unlikely.)
P.S. To digress for a moment, ever since CHEERS first aired I've wanted to punch that guy on the left in the face. I don't know why. He just irks me.

Dr Loser said...

I suspect I may have mentioned this before, but I know where the original Cheers Bar was. (And still is.) Which is to say, the bar that Messrs Charles and Co scouted out and tried to secure for filming.

And it isn't where you think it is. (Clearly, it's not that rubbish tourist trap just off the Boston Common.)

It's worth wandering around Boston in the summer/fall and just trying to picture it in your mind, though. Try it!

DBenson said...

Now that we have legions of late-night talk shows, comedy shows AND smart-mouth pundits everywhere, it's a miracle they don't all latch onto the exact same news jokes more ofter than they do.

ODJennings said...

Sometimes it really is a coincidence. I remember back in the 70's when NBC unveiled their new corporate logo. After God only knows how many focus groups, consultants, and meetings, they saturated the airwaves with their new stylized "N" which happened to be an almost exact copy of the "N" that someone at Nebraska Public Television had come up with by doodling on the back of a cocktail napkin a few months earlier.

I was in Nebraska when it happened, and the good people at Nebraska Public Television responded by marshaling their biggest guns (including the woman who once hosted the local after school cartoon/birthday party show in a cowgirl outfit) and set out for New York to slay the giant. NBC wrote them a big check to cover their costs for changing the logo, but more importantly gave them a ton of old equipment. All of a sudden they were able to do remote broadcasts, in color no less, and we were suddenly treated to a wonderland of high school wrestling matches and girl's volleyball games live and in living color.

DBenson said...

I'm trying to recall the source of a speculation -- I thought it was Mark Evanier but couldn't find it on his blog -- on another source of plagiarism. It began by noting that writers are constantly pitching ideas to producers, and nearly all of them are rejected. Sometimes a producer would reject a pitch but hire the writer to work on something the producer already had in mind. The speculation was that a producer would, consciously or un, recall a rejected pitch and decide it was his own idea.

Another random thought: One of the wittier episodes of the old "Batman" show centered on the villainous Bookworm -- a frustrated novelist, whose mighty intellect was so crammed with literature it was impossible to write anything original. Much later I connected that with the people who read scripts and write coverage. A lot of them are likely writers, or had the education to be writers. They read and digest scripts full time; what happens when they sit down to write for themselves. Is there an anti-muse screaming "It's been done!" at them? Or are they haunted by doubts when a good idea comes too easily?

Breadbaker said...

I watched one or two episodes of Park Street Under in law school. The article somehow at the same time calls it a bit, cheap to produce, and yet subject to all the turmoil (cast changes, premise changes and relatively quick cancellation) of a show in trouble. The latter is how I reacted to it; it was intensely local in a way Boston things can be, seriously offputting to anyone not in the know.

In other words, Park Street Under was a show about a bar in Boston. Period.

Cheers was a show about a bar in Boston the way Hamlet is a disquisition about Danish dynastic politics or The Odyssey is a guide to sea perils in the Mediterranean.

Indeed, when I heard about Cheers my reaction was, is this Park Street Under come to network television? Yuck. Then I viewed it and realized it was about relationships between interesting characters and watched it loyally.

CopleyScott17 said...

Not to toot our own horn too loudly, but Boston has a glorious history of high-quality local productions that spread to the rest of the country or influenced/inspired similar programming elsewhere: Along with "Park Street Under," there was "Miller's Court" (think a highbrow People's Court); V-66, a UHF music-video channel long before MTV; a TON of PBS product out of our local station, WGBH -- "Zoom," "Masterpiece Theater," "The French Chef," "Frontline," "Nova," "This Old House," and much of Ken Burns's oeuvre, and lots more.

Dr Loser said...

Here's an honest question, though. Let's be fair, and give this notion (ridiculous as it may seem on the face of it) some room to breathe. At which point would you call plagiarism, either on moral or legal or any other terms?
1) Location. A bar in Boston? Don't be silly. Somebody else must have come up with this first.
2) The bar owner? A vaguely Irish name? Obviously a nefarious attempt to pretend that you're not copying a show based in Boston with a staff entirely composed of Estonian midgets, one of whom is slightly shorter than the others, but they can never remeber which one ... this would be the obvious place to start a new and original show. (Although the transfer to Robin Colcord sounds suspiciously like the idea of a twelve-foot tall lizard trying to avoid copyright litigation, because otherwise another good old Irish name would have done. Mick O'Saloon? No, wait, that was in Archie Bunker somewhere.)
3) The use of Drano with Worcester sauce flavoring instead of beer. Come on. I've seen George Wendts' face. I know that's what you did.
4) Clearly you stole "Harry The Hat" from "Night Court." I have a boxed set of "Night Court" to prove it.
5) I'm pretty sure that some other show came up with that line, you know, that line. Two lines, really. With a caesura. Rare in modern comedy, is a caesura.
"I know. I look exactly like her, and mom was not bea..."
[beat and a half]
"...comfortable about her beauty."
Excuse me, I have something in my eye. Must go. But not before mentioning the brilliant set-up line (three or four earlier in the dialog), which generally gets ignored:
Coach: "Nothing's ever obvious to me."
Damn. Now I have something in both eyes.

PS Allyce Beasley is beautiful.

Dr Loser said...

Interesting that @Breadbaker should (with suitable scorn) mention Homer's Odyssey, however.

I read this today. I can't swear to it, but I think it was something to do with a member of the Boston Red Sox, possibly even J.D.Martinez. "He's on an Odyssey this season," it read.

Which no doubt means that he will waste ten years of his life, get every last one of his ship-mates killed, wash up on a foreign shore naked in front of several pre-pubescent girls with a ridiculous story of having "come a long way with a long story to tell," and finally be recognised by an old dog who is the only one who remembers his stench even after ten years. There's some sort of gibberish to do with winning the World Series after that, but I already knew the general plot line, so I switched over.

I'm actually more offended by lazy syllogisms than I am by lazy plagiarisms. Of course, a word-for-word version of either is cause to take out the chain saws of righteousness ...

E. Yarber said...

I've read several thousand submissions in my time, but never felt an anti-muse nagging me when I write original stories. My stuff can be traced to a specific personal experience that affected me enough that I felt compelled to explore it at great length over the course of composing the work.

Frankly, most scripts out there are already derivative. I've seen writer after writer try to jump onto a trend, not knowing that the studios already knew what was coming out and had their own ripoffs already in production.

Once I spoke to a veteran writer who told me that he'd broken into the business by writing scripts for a radio anthology. When the show was adapted for television, he was shocked to see one of his old scripts appear on video under the credit of the radio show's producer. In that case, the producer apparently felt free to swipe the audio play because it had been written as "work for hire," meaning the author got a flat payment and no further rights to the work.

Otherwise, I'm not too caught up in the idea of someone unconsciously stealing the "million dollar idea" that needs to be protected because anyone who learns it could make a fortune letting the story write itself. That simply doesn't happen. A writer who can do a fantastic job with a familiar theme is much more likely to reach an audience than someone who thinks the viewers will be awed by a concept alone. If an idea doesn't sell, it's because the writer couldn't sell it, and it's unlikely to have sprouted into a redwood under other hands.

I've never forgotten how people fell over themselves when a mediocre thriller was retitled "Snakes on a Plane." "'Snakes on a Plane!' how can that miss?" one executive told me. The idea simply sold itself! One guy even tattooed the film's logo on his arm as a sign of its unbelievable power. Enough said.

And some people with teflon reputations can be open about taking inspiration from others. Back in the 1970s, Woody Allen once explained that "Play it Again Sam," was simply a reversal of Billy Wilder's film of "The Seven Year Itch." As Allen put it, a guy is stricken with guilt in Wilder's film while not committing adultery, while Allen's hero commits adultery and everyone assures him its okay. One may note that Allen must have missed the play, which DID include adultery, while the armchair psychologists can decide what Allen's view of the story says about his psyche.

Leilani’s Pop said...

I agree with Ken that it is strange that the aggrieved immediately thought they “would not win”. The similarities are quite substantial. Is it plausible that a settlement may have been reached? Is it possible that we were a far less litigious society then? The question is obviously better posed to Burrows and Charles’. It all serves to add to the legacy of the great American treasure that Cheers has become.

michael said...

Just a note about Duffy's Tavern. The radio series was adapted to a movie and a syndicated TV series (YouTube has a copy of the TV series first episode).

Francis Dollarhyde said...

I read somewhere that the idea for Cheers evolved from Fawlty Towers (which, as we all know, is a comedy set in a hotel). The Charles Brothers and James Burrows liked the idea of doing a sitcom set in a hotel bar, and that eventually became a sitcom set in a bar.

I'm inclined to believe the similarities between Park Street Under and Cheers are a coincidence, because if the Charles Brothers and Burrows had plagiarised the earlier show, surely they would have made a better effort to cover their tracks? After all, had they set Cheers in any other city apart from Boston, I bet no one would be claiming it ripped off Park Street Under.

Eddie LeBec said...

The article has zero credibility as the first paragraph has a major mistake. "The A-Team" did not debut until the end of January 1983, so for the author to say "A-Team" was a top show in the fall of 1982 is WRONG!

"A few days after the official start of fall in 1982.....and the top-rated TV programs included The A-Team and Falcon Crest."

Steve said...

Whenever something is a big hit someone is able to come up with examples of startlingly similar stuff that preceded it. The Matrix was a rip off of Dark City and "The Invisibles", Harry Potter was a rip of of Young Sherlock Holmes and the comic "Books of Magic", etc... Maybe, or maybe some ideas are just out there in the ether of our culture and putting them together is not a great leap.

There's only three places that you can set a sitcom: a workplace, a home, or a "hangout" like a cafe or bar. Once you've decided to use a sports bar, is it that much of a stretch to have in run by an ex-athlete? To throw in a more educated character or two to contrast and conflict with the rest of the working class cast? Do you think this show is also where Newhart go the idea that there is a lot of potential for comedy in a psychiatrist character? Premises are easy to come up with, it's the execution of writing compelling stories and characters that takes craft.

Mark said...

Hi Ken, a Friday question for you. One you may have answered already

What is your take on actors adlibbing and adding a throwaway line if they deem it funny in the moment?

I know there's a school of thought that basically argues it's incredibly disrespectful to the writer. I could see that being the case on Cheers or Frasier, and I remember hearing that David Chase and Matthew Weiner were very strict on enforcing script reading accuracy in The Sopranos and Mad Men, respectively.

However, listening to audio commentaries for The Simpsons, I've been stunned by how many times the writers and showrunners mentioned a line here of there was adlibbed by the voice actors but kept in for its hilarity.

What would cause such a marked difference in attitudes?

slgc said...

FWIW (and it may not be much), I lived in Boston between 1983 and 1986. I never heard of Park St. Under until now. I'd think that Bostonians would have been grumbling for years if they thought that one of their shows had been ripped off.

BTW, CopleyScott17 mentioned V66 - that was a great channel! It was like having a local radio station on the air, but with music videos (both national and local). I was so sorry to hear that it was bought out by the Home Shopping Network.

Anonymous said...

How does camera switching work when filming a multi camera sitcom? Does the director choose which angle to show the audience? Is he physically pressing a button for Camera 1, 2, 3, 4? He is calling out the switch to someone else like during a live sports event?

Also is the multi camera edit used during the edit of the show or do they start over?

Thanks for great blog

VP81955 said...

"The Bob Newhart Show," where Bob played Chicago psychologist (not psychiatrist) Bob Hartley, ran in the '70s, long before Frasier Crane hit TV screens.

VincentS said...

The writer of the article - who claims to have viewed some of the episodes - seems to straddle the fence as to whether he believes this his a CHEERS rip-off. On the other hand, although they are probably doing this an lawyers' advice, it doesn't particularly look good that James Burrows and the Charles brothers refused to comment on the story.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Certainly a mouthy waitress and a know it all patron (there's one in most shows/books/movies) aren't new ideas.

Those aren't "new" in life. If a waitress is "mouthy", you might stiff her (or pay a dime) and never come back. You might also like her (like Carla), tip her well, and come back. You might even give her some "mouth" back.

Diane D. said...

Surely the fact that the Showrunner had never even heard of Park Street Under should settle the matter.

Steve, however (if you need more) has a lovely and deliciously concise explanation of how it could come about coincidentally.

tavm said...

As a kid of the late '70s/early '80s, I remember listening to "Duffy's Tavern" on a public radio station on Saturday at noon. Only thing both have in common is they both take place in a bar and are meant to be funny, that's it!

Edward said...

"mouthy waitress" is not that unique for a TV show.

Shirley Hemphill playing "Shirley" the waitress in "What's Happening" had quite the attitude.

That show started in August 1976, long before the local Beantown show.

Johnny Walker said...

It’s pretty that you’d see similarities if you’d been working on that local show, “it’s a sitcom set in a Boston bar!”, but outside of that there’s obviously little connection. CHEERS was clearly a different beast, and the other connections are superficial at best.

Fraser Crane was brought in as a partner for Diane in season three — and was only planned for a three episode run. He didn’t become a barfly proper until she dumped him later and was only brought back because the producers sensed good chemistry. His job was irrelevant to his character in the beginning. He could have easily been another heady professional. He wasn’t brought in because Park St. Under had a shrink and they were getting desperate! Cheers was a hit by then.

Note also that the original pilot of CHEERS featured a grumpy woman in a wheelchair. Did Park St Under have a character like that? Nope.

The Boston setting was irrelevant, too. If you were genuinely stealing an idea, you would change the location, as it had no bearing for a national audience.

Also note that the crux of Cheers, the thing that made it what it was (especially in the first season) was the relationship between Sam and Diane. You could change every other variable, except that one, and it was largely be the same show. Everything else was superficial to what made Cheers a success.

(If anything the vague descriptions of PSU sound more like Cheers season six onwards when Diane had left.)

If you look at it that way, and take into account Ken’s other comments, you have whittled down the similarities to: a sitcom in a bar.

The author of the article can’t quite stomp out the hopes and dreams of fans of that little local sitcom, but it’s obvious that they found little connection when they watched the tapes, and the years have only heightened the sense of nostalgia for the people who watched that 30 year old, never repeated, show.

Johnny Walker said...

The premise is something like “workplace as family/opposites attract couple”, neither of which anyone is talking about when referring to PSU.

Johnny Walker said...

Zoom out far enough and you’ll see connections wherever you want to. There’s no smoking gun here.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Always thought Carla was a female Louie De Palma.

Harry said...

I haven’t thought about PARK STRET UNDER in eons, but as a teenager in suburban Boston, I did watch it and vaguely recall liking it, or at least not finding it a waste of time. Today, I don’t remember it all that well, though I was able to summon the later part of the theme song from the back of my brain on command.

But I do remember that when I first saw CHEERS, I was was struck by the parallels to PARK STREET UNDER. I was inclined to think it was a coinidence then, and now.

Unknown said...

I can answer your question once and for all. One of the co-creators of the sjow was James Burrows. His father, Abe Burrows was the co-creator of Duffy's Bar.

msdemos said...


"Why didn’t the creators of PARK ST. UNDER sue? It says in the article they didn’t think they’d win."

Hmmm.....that either means they realized the two shows, though similar, were obviously just that.....two similar, but SEPARATE shows that just happened to be produced within a few years of each other, or they couldn't find a lawyer cut-throat enough to go after the "Cheers" production team....