Season 1 Episode 15

Father Knows Last

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Jan 20, 1983 on NBC



  • Notes

    • TV Guide citation: In the March 26, 1983 issue of TV Guide, there is a feature article about Shelley Long. This article contains quotes from the show's creators about how the episodes are put together along with their opinions about Shelley's contribution to this episode's ending.

      "On some shows the whole crew might be fired for doing what the Cheers ensemble just did. Here it is, late Tuesday night, the filming of an episode is grinding to an end, and they change the climatic scene.
      It has been a long day, with rehearsals and run-throughs in the afternoon and filming in front of an audience in the evening. Finally, there's just the cast and crew reshooting bits and pieces, called pickups, that will be edited into the finished cut.
      The last pickup calls for the cast and a couple-of dozen extras to spontaneously break into a song, neatly resolving a plot that weaves around the pregnancy of Carla Tortelli, the wise-mouth waitress played by Rhea Perlman. The tune is a sentimental clunker about love and babies that subtly parodies such teary finales. It's the sort of wry touch that's won NBC's Cheers, a comedy that revolves around the characters that hang out in a Boston bar, considerable critical acclaim.
      But for various reasons, it's decided the song isn't working. Producer Glen Charles asks Shelley Long, who plays waitress Diane Chambers, if she knows the words to "You'll Never Walk Alone," Long begins humming, and then singing: "When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high ...." Other voices chime in, and it begins to dawn on them that this tune, the venerable mainstay of a thousand sermonettes, is more appropriate than the other one. Director James Burrows perks up, and has a quick chat with Glen Charles and his brother Les, the other producer. The decision is made to change the ending.
      Long rounds up people who don't know the words and conducts an impromptu rehearsal; Burrows changes some pieces of stage business, and, with barely a missed beat, the scene is shot and the episode wrapped up. You can't do this on other shows where the script is as unyielding as a Commandment or where the director brooks no deviation from his vision. On Cheers, it's different. Burrows explains, "You can't say where the writing stops, where the directing begins, where the acting fits in, It's decision by committee. Everybody pitches in for the common good of the show. It's improvisation without any egos involved."