Thursday, November 30, 2017

TMP Television Edition: Workplace


It's the last Thursday of the month. This is the time when Thursday Movie Picks, hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, turns into Thursday TV picks. The subject this time around is workplace shows. Hmmmm...there have always been a good number of those around so it'll be interesting to see what everyone comes up with. Me? I'm going with these...

Barney Miller
(1974-1982)
Like hundreds, if not thousands, before and after it, Barney Miller is a cop show. However, it's also quite unlike that same set of shows. This isn't about huge, dramatic cases. This is a sitcom about a bunch of guys in a precinct just doing their jobs. They're just local cops, handling local cases. Rarely, if ever, did anything rise to the level of a life-or-death situation. It was just mostly about the camaraderie shared by these guys, and it was funny.


Night Court
(1984-1992)
As Barney Miller is unlike other cop shows, Night Court is unlike other TV courtroom shows. We spend every episode in Judge Harry T. Stone's courtroom with him and the other zany officers of what is an after-hours court. Occasionally, some crazy puts everyone at danger, but like Miller, the show is about the relationships shared by our main characters.


Cheers
(1982-1993)
We finish with another that's about the brotherhood of its characters. In this case, the location serves as a workplace for some and a place of recreation for others. That's because it's a bar. Where everybody knows your name. Owned by main character and ex-pro baseball player Sam I'll say nothing else, other than that this is one of my all-time favorite television shows.



28 comments:

  1. The only one of these I'm familiar with is Cheers. I remember that being on Nick at Nite, but I never watched it.

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    1. Yeah, Cheers was tge biggest of these three shows.

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  2. I love your shows! Barney Miller is so funny..."Mush, mush, mush." I loved watching Night Court with the lecherous Dan who stole the show and won an Emmy every year for his portrayal(John Larroquette). There are so many classic episodes of Cheers that it is hard to know which one is the best. It was last on the ratings but Brandon Tartikoff saw that it was a gem and kept it on. When Sam & Diane finally expressed their feelings for each other, the show took off. Lilith and Frasier were so funny together and Cliff! OMG-We all know a person like Cliff. I have to admit, In 1986, I went to a bar every Friday and they yelled my name and had my screwdriver ready...the drink!

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  3. For some reason, old reruns of NIght Court were very popular at my house growing up.

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    1. I'd like to think it's because it was an amazing show, but I'm biased.

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  4. Cheers is the only I've seen as I was more into Woody, Cliff, Norm, Frasier, and Lilith.

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    1. Oh shit. I forgot about her. What an asshole I'm being. Fuck! She's hilarious. Never cared about Sam's love life. I was more into Diane than Kirstie Alley but honestly, I could care less who ends up with.

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    2. I think just about everyone was more into Diane, so don't feel bad.

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  5. LOVE your picks Dell! I wasn't as loyal to Barney Miller as to the other two but all shared a gentle, intelligent humor.

    It was to the Night Court producers (or maybe casting director) credit that when they were hit in the first couple seasons with first the passing of Selma Diamond (who was brilliant) and Florence Halop (brilliant in a different way) as the sarcastic baliff they still managed to find someone who integrated into the offbeat whole of the ensemble as well as Marsha Warfield did. They were even more successful when Ellen Foley chose to leave and they brought in Markie Post. Foley & Anderson had a nice chemistry but he and Post really connected....and of course John Larroquette was a perfect dog as Dan Fielding. Also that gigantic picture of Jean Harlow in Harry's chambers was amazing.

    In regards to Cheers I enjoyed the Kirstie Alley seasons very much but that special spark that Shelley Long added was never quite there again (though I'm sure the cast was happier since everything I've read and heard makes it clear Shelley was a giant pain in the ass).

    This one turned out to be pretty simple since the amount of workplace shows is massive. My first two are favorites and I liked my third but it was a blink and you missed it sort of affair.

    Murphy Brown (1988-1998)-After spending some time in rehab for her drinking problem broadcaster and tough broad Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) returns to work on her news show FYI joining capable but insecure investigative reporter Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto), esteemed uptight anchorman Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough) and perky former beauty queen turned features reporter Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford) and led by high strung producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud) who frequently butts heads with the assertive Murphy. For ten seasons the team tackled topical subjects (including Murphy’s baby becoming a cause celebre when Vice President Dan Quayle condemned her for having a child out of wedlock) and Murphy’s inability to find a decent secretary-over the show’s run she had nearly 100. That is unless Murphy was home dealing with her permanent housepainter-daffy, endearing conceptual artist Eldin Bernecky (Robert Pastorelli). Winner of a massive amount of Emmys, Candice Bergen withdrew her name from contention after receiving her 5th.

    Designing Women (1986-1993)-At the small Atlanta interior design firm Sugarbakers the four female partners-sisters, the fiery feminist Julia & shallow much married Suzanne Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter & Delta Burke) plus single mom Mary Jo Shively & naïve country girl Charlene Frazier (Annie Potts & Jean Smart) struggle to make a success of the business while discussing and quarrelling about their lives and the situations that cross their paths to humorous effect. Providing the male prospective is their handyman, ex-con Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor). Brilliantly acted sitcom addressed many sensitive subjects including AIDS, racism, spousal abuse, homophobia and in the award winning episode “They Shoot Fat Women, Don’t They?” the cruelty towards people because one’s surface appearance has changed. Ironically for a show about a workable partnership between four people the show because infamous for its hostile work environment behind the scenes with Delta Burke and the producers clashing so strongly (and publicly) that she eventually left the show. It never recovered the special chemistry of its initial lineup.

    Bay City Blues (1983)-Ensemble drama of minor league California baseball team The Bluebirds as they move from town to town. As the rookies, up and comers and one time big name players try and work together to form a winning team they have to deal with outside interference as well as each other. An entertaining “lost” series this extremely short-lived show (8 episodes) was Stephen Bochco’s follow-up to Hill Street Blues and starred many performers who appeared on that show or would on his next, L.A. Law including Dennis Franz, Ken Olin and Michele Greene plus a pre-stardom Sharon Stone.

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  6. My loyalties to these three shows aligns with yours.

    It's amazing how many times Night Court was able to capture lightning in a bottle as detailed in your comments about the changing cast. It seems everyone they added was a perfect cast. This might be oversimplifying things a bit, but I was always of the mind that as long as they had Harry and Dan everything else would fall into place.

    Cheers did a bit of lightning catching themselves. First, when Nicholas Colasanto (Coach) passed away and they brought in a fresh-faced Woody Harrelson. Then, every secondary character with a recurring role just fit that universe perfectly.

    I was an occasional watcher of Murphy Brown. I liked it well enough, but never made a point of seeing it. I just didn't turn the channel if it happened upon the screen I was watching. I watched quite a bit of Designing Women, but wouldn't call myself a huge fan. My grandmother introduced it to me because she loved it and watched it in syndication every damn day. I thought it was solid, but again, I never sought it out, just didn't mind if it was on.

    And I definitely blinked and missed your last pick because I've never heard of that one.

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    1. That skill of replacing a integral performer with another that is a proper fit is a rare one. That's what happened to Designing Women after Delta Burke left. Those four women worked together and sparked off each other like a well oiled machine despite the backstage contretemps and once she was gone so was the special chemistry. The producers brought in Julia Duffy, Judith Ivey and Jan Hooks, all very talented women but they didn't blend, to try and compensate but the magic was gone.

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    2. So true. I remember watching a few episodes after Burke left and thinking how terrible it was.

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  7. I liked or loved all of these shows. Barney Miller was very much a part of my childhood, and both Cheers and Night Court were very much a part of my teens.

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    1. Yes, I watched a lot of Barney Miller as a small kid and spent all of my teens with Cheers and Night Court.

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    2. Something I completely forgot about until just now--the opening music from Night Court is the natural child of the Barney Miller theme. Listen to both and then tell me you don't hear incredible similarities.

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    3. Yes, there are lots of similarities. The Barney Miller theme is the funkier of the two, but I can definitely see the relationship. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

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  8. I have good memories of watching Cheers with my family in the eighties. I recently rewatched it and, while it had its moments, it didn't seem as good as I remembered. Maybe it's been overshadowed, for me, by Frasier. I love that show.

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    1. That's interesting because I never really got into Frasier. I watched it here and there and liked it, but to be honest, I'm not sure I really gave it a fair shake. I always viewed it through the haze of Cheers nostalgia.

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    2. If only Woody had got his own show.

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  9. Have not heard of your first two picks. Cheers I've seen a few episodes when there's nothing else to watch.

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  10. Cheers was awesome. I'd love to go the Beacon Street Hill one. My favourite episode is probably the one where Lileth's ex husband hold them all hostage. Just so funny the way it was executed, especially when John from Melville's get involved. The one where Sam loses his lucky dime and gets close to drinking again is up there too.

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    1. So many great episodes, I can't pick a favorite, but those are both excellent.

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