Ted Danson's character "Sam Malone" is a recovering alcoholic. A known practice for people in recovery, is to always be drinking something non-alcoholic, especially around alcohol to help with the desire to want to drink. Sam Malone is almost always drinking a bottle of water or coffee in every scene.
Cliff wasn't in the original script. John Ratzenberger auditioned for the part of Norm and wasn't thought suitable. He then asked the writers if they had a "bar know-it-all" and quickly improvised a character. This impressed the producers to the point that they created the part of Cliff Clavin for him.
Cliff was originally to be a Police Officer, but producers felt that his being a Mail Man would give him more access to information regarding his trademark "Little Known Facts". Many of Cliff's "Little Known Facts" were ad-libbed by John Ratzenberger, with scripts written simply to cue him in to the lines relating to his facts.
From the start of the series, writers and producers made it a point to never show anyone leaving the bar drunk to drive home. The series would come to be recognized and cited by anti-drinking and driving groups for depicting and helping promote designated driver programs.
John Ratzenberger was the only cast member to attend Nicholas Colasanto's funeral. NBC would not allow the entire cast to take a break from filming to fly to Providence, Rhode Island where Colasanto's funeral was held. So Ratzenberger was sent as a representative for the cast. The cast and crew held a memorial for Colasanto on the set in Los Angeles.
Early episodes did not have the familiar "Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience" announcement spoken by a different cast member at the beginning of each episode. The spoken disclaimer was added in 1983, due to some viewers' complaining that the laugh track was too loud. No laugh track was used on the show. Despite the disclaimer, viewers still complained about the "laugh track".
Kelsey Grammer's alcoholism became a problem during the final season. Co-stars noticed that he was oddly difficult to work with and would often be nearly catatonic between takes. After several intervention attempts, Grammer finally got help. He would ultimately not make a full recovery until the early seasons of Frasier (1993).
David Angell (who was a Writer, Story Editor, and Producer for this show) and his wife were killed on September 11, 2001, when the plane that they were on, American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City. They were returning home to California after attending a family wedding in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
When Shelley Long (Diane) and Rhea Perlman (Carla) became pregnant in real-life during the third season, only Perlman's pregnancy was written into the script. For most of that season, Long was mostly filmed behind the bar or from the neck up.
The series was shot on film unlike most sitcoms during this time which were shot on tape. Because the series was low-rated at first, NBC was losing money on it. Paramount considered switching to tape, due to its lower cost. A test scene was shot on tape, but the producers hated how it looked.
Norm Peterson's oft-mentioned wife, Vera, was never shown. In a Thanksgiving Day episode, she finally appeared, only to have her face covered with a pie meant for Sam (and thrown by Diane) before the audience can see her face.
The fact that Woody Harrelson shared the same first name as his character was a total coincidence. The character was named Woody before any actor had auditioned for it. According to Harrelson, he had never seen the show, and was not interested in doing television, but auditioned at the suggestion of a friend.
Cheers is the only sitcom in the history of television to place both in first and last place in the ratings during its run. It placed seventy-seventh in the ratings, last place, on the first night it aired, and it was in first place in the ratings for the ninth season.
Cheers was located under and adjacent to a restaurant called Melville's. The Bull and Finch Bar, which served as Cheers model and inspiration, was located under a restaurant called The Hampshire House.
Sadly, the set used for the bar is no longer available for viewing by the public. In 2006, The Hollywood Entertainment Museum was closed, and the set is now being held in storage. But there are plans in the next couple years to re-open a larger museum where the set will be featured again.
Shelley Long never intended to stay with the show beyond her initial contract. Long had only reluctantly agreed to co-star in the series, as she was more interested in a career as a film actress rather than one for television.
Lucille Ball was a fan of the series, and met with the producers about possibly playing Diane's mother. But she backed out, because she felt that viewers would not accept her as a character that was different than her "Lucy" characters.
For the final audition, the finalists for the roles of Sam and Diane were paired together in order to pick the best "couple". The pairings were: Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy, William Devane and Lisa Eichhorn, and Ted Danson and Shelley Long. Danson and Long were chosen because they had the best chemistry. Dryer and Duffy ended up making guest appearances in the first season.
One special episode was filmed, but never aired on television, called "Uncle Sam Malone", in which the gang tries to convince Diane that U.S. Savings Bonds are a good investment. This is a special episode produced for the U.S. Treasury to be used during savings bonds drives. It was written by Ralph Phillips and directed by James Burrows.
Frasier was only intended to be a temporary character for the story arc, in which he first appeared. Lillith was only meant to appear in one episode before she became a regular, and likewise Kelly was only supposed to be in one episode before becoming a semi-regular on the series.
While there were initial concerns, Shelley Long's departure is largely credited with helping rejuvenate the series. Writers were able to evolve the show to a more ensemble series about a bar, which provided for a better variety of stories than the large focus on Sam and Diane. In addition, Rebecca came to be more popular than Diane among many viewers and critics, while cast members found Kirstie Alley better to get along and work with than Long.
According to the sign outside the bar, Cheers was established in 1895. But in the episode where Rebecca wants to have a 100th anniversary party for Cheers, Sam says that when he bought the bar, he made up the date.
The show's theme song "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" was released as a single in 1983, and became a moderate hit. There was some belief that Woody Harrelson was the song's singer, and was cast on the show as a result. That was not the case, as Harrelson wasn't involved with the show until being cast. The song was performed by its songwriter Gary Portnoy. A 2011 Rolling Stone reader's poll ranked the song at number one on their list of Greatest TV Theme Songs Ever.
According to Kelsey Grammer in his autobiography, he and Shelley Long did not get along. Long did not like the addition of the character of Frasier who upset the romance between Diane and Sam. Grammer claimed that Long tried to have all of his punchlines removed from the script, but Long denies this. Grammer stated that he and Long made peace with each other during her guest appearance on Frasier (1993).
Much of the show's success was attributed to the real-life close knit nature of the regular cast members. One exception, however, was reported to be Shelley Long, who by many accounts would always keep to herself during any down time on the set. In a case of life imitating art, Long was also said to be perceived as seeing herself "above" those with whom she worked on the show.
In November 1990, a Cheers To Boston celebration was held in that city in celebration of the show's 200th episode. A celebration featuring cast members was held at the actual Cheers bar. Cast members and show producers were also honored in a parade, followed by a public ceremony and rally outside Boston's City Hall.
Although it takes place in Boston, the only ones with a Boston accent are John Ratzenberger and Nicolas Colasanto, both New England natives. However, not all characters are confirmed to be Boston area natives. Woody was originally from Indiana, Frasier from Seattle, and Rebecca from San Diego. It's possible that Sam didnt settle in Boston until he played for the Red Sox, and similarly for Diane until she first attended college there.
Aside from Frasier (1993), this show only spun off one other series, The Tortellis (1987). The series focused on Carla's ex-husband Nick, and aired for thirteen episodes in the winter and spring of 1987. After its cancellation, the show's characters Nick, Loretta, Anthony, and Annie returned to their recurring status on this show. While Wings (1990) was created and produced by this show's writers, and characters crossed over between the two shows, it was considered more of a companion show, and in no way a spin-off of this show.
Kirstie Alley refused to sign a typical five-year contract when she replaced Shelley Long. Alley felt that she was a rising film star, and would only agree to a one-year contract. When the producers wanted to renew her contract the next season, Alley was able to negotiate a large pay raise.
In early 1990, Postmaster General of the United States Anthony Frank was filmed for a cameo scene. His scene was to be used as a teaser, in which he awarded a Post Department Medal to Cliff, and subsequently made Cliff type comments about Bronze. The scene wound up not being aired on the series for unknown reasons.
Towards the end of Kirstie Alley's second season on the series, reports began to surface that producers were looking to bringing back Shelley Long, and dropping Alley. Long later clarified, saying while she had been in contact with producers, she was only in discussions with them about possibly making a guest appearance.
Beginning with season nine, cast and crew would annually travel to Boston to film scenes on-location there. While most were filmed outside the "actual" Cheers bar for teaser scenes, some scenes were also filmed at other Boston locations as well.
After the series ended, Rebecca was the only regular character not to appear on Frasier (1993). Kirstie Alley explained that she refused to appear on the show as Psychiatry conflicted with her beliefs in Scientology.
When the need came to create a new character to replace Coach, following the death of Nicholas Colasanto, producers determined that the new character shouldn't be a replica version. Producers saw the success that Family Ties (1982) was having with Michael J. Fox, and felt a youthful character would mesh well with that resulting in developing Woody. At first Coach's permanent absence was to be explained by his moving out of town. However, it was felt Coach was too loyal to his friends and job at Cheers, so it was decided to explain that he passed away off-screen from nonspecific causes.
John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin) was originally hired for seven episodes during the 1982-1983 season. Kelsey Grammer (Frasier Crane) was hired for the same number of episodes during the 1984-1985 season.
The photos in the opening credits were taken from archives of photos from the 1940s, and then treated to look older. The newspaper headline "We Win!" refers to the Boston Braves winning the 1948 National League championship. In the final photo, three men in a black and white photo are colorized, and the credit for the three Creators, Glen Charles and Les Charles, and James Burrows is shown. Two of the men in the photo are brothers like the Charles brothers.
Fred Dryer was a finalist for the role of Sam, a former professional athlete (originally, Sam was an ex-NFL player, but this was changed to Sam being a former MLB pitcher to match Ted Danson's thin physique). Dryer had played thirteen seasons in the NFL, but Danson was a non-athlete. When Dryer later made guest appearances as Sam's friend Dave Richards, James Burrows suggested that Danson watch how Dryer carried himself for tips on how Sam would move and behave.
The part of Carla was at one point offered to singer-songwriter Janis Ian. Ian declined, as she would effectively have to take seven years out of her musical career to fill the acting contract. Ironically, the following year Ian was dropped by her label after the commercial failure of the album she had declined Cheers to write; it would be seven years before she recorded or toured significantly again.
According to his 2009 autobiography, George Wendt's originally scripted role was George, who was supposed to appear as Diane Chambers' first customer at the end, and consisted of only one word: "Beer!" Later, the writers expanded and then revised Wendt's role into Norm Peterson. Contrary to popular belief that he auditioned for Norm Peterson, John Ratzenberger auditioned for the role of George, as well, before the role was revised into Norm. When the one-line role was taken, John Ratzenberger suggested to the producers that a know-it-all be available. Consequently, Cliff Clavin was created.
In episodes where scenes are set in the pool room at the rear of the bar, a poster for the "Boston Barleyhoppers" can sometimes be seen. The Barleyhoppers were a running club that met at the actual "Bull & Finch" pub in Boston.
Bebe Neuwirth left the series during the final season to do Broadway stage work in order to find a more satisfactory career path. This resulted in the storyline which saw Frasier and Lilith's separation after her affair with a male colleague and moving into an experimental Eco Pod. Neuwirth returned for a final appearance, in which Lilith returned and reconciled with Frasier, and was portrayed off-screen for the duration of the series. Neuwirth would later reprise her role on episodes of Frasier (1993).
More performers (seventeen) received Emmy nominations as lead, supporting or guest actors and actresses on this show, than did for any other series, until ER (1994), which received Emmy nominations for thirty-one different actors and actresses (as of 2009, its last season).
When this show left the air in 1993, among network-aired shows, it was the last Paramount-produced series from the company's "Blue Mountain" era to end its run. The Blue Mountain was seen on the first five seasons of this show, but on recent reruns and DVD releases, all seasons, including the "Blue Mountain" seasons, have either the 1995 Paramount logo, or in the case of seasons nine through eleven, the CBS Television Distribution logo, plastered over the original end logo.
The address of "Cheers" is 112½ Beacon Street. If that fractional address were real, it would be in the middle of a row of brownstone townhouses. Beacon Street runs from the center of Boston about ten miles to I-95 at Newton Lower Falls.
Paramount was so convinced in the potential of the series, the producers were promised that if the show was canceled by NBC, new episodes would be shot for first run syndication in a early version of Paramount's network UPN. This proved unnecessary.
In Germany, Cheers premiered in 1985 as "Prost, Helmut" ("Cheers, Helmut") on ZDF. The storylines and character names were completely changed, also the dubbing was completely inaccurate. From 1995-1996 RTL showed all episodes with an accurate translation.
Robert Prosky was considered for the role of Coach. Prosky eventually made a guest appearance late in the series playing Rebecca's father. Prosky made a guest appearance on the show's spin-off Frasier (1993) as a different character.
Recurring barfly actor Al Rosen was sounded out about possible elevation to main cast status in-between seasons six and seven, but he turned it down on the grounds that his health wouldn't permit it. Rosen ultimately died of cancer a couple of months after season eight finished filming.
The silhouetted photo of Sam "Mayday" Malone, his nickname during his baseball career, in his baseball days that hangs in the bar, is actually a photo of Jim Lonborg, a Boston Red Sox pitcher in the 1960s and early 1970s. Lonborg wore #16 for the Red Sox. In one episode, Sam's jersey is shown with #16 on it.
During the run of the series, George Wendt played off his role of Norm in a series of television ads for Meister Brau beer. Similarly at the same time, Kelsey Grammar played off Frasier's therapist image in television ads for Snapper Lawnmowers.
Though every main actor and actress on the show received either an Emmy nomination or an Emmy win throughout the show's run, Ted Danson was the only person to be nominated for an acting Emmy for all eleven seasons.
The series was originally to have been set in Barstow, California, and Sam Malone was to originally to have been a retired football player. When Ted Danson was hired for the role, his character was rewritten to be a retired baseball player for the Boston Red Sox to match Danson's body type.
When character actor Jay Thomas wasn't portraying Carla's Bruin-turned-ice-show-performer husband Eddie LeBec, he was the host of a popular morning radio show in Los Angeles. Which is exactly what led to his character being killed off rather prematurely by way of Zamboni. "A few episodes of recurring bliss and then one day on Jay's radio show, a caller asked him what it was like to be on Cheers," recounted writer Ken Levine. "He said something to the effect of, 'It's brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.' Well, guess who happened to be listening ... Jay Thomas was never seen on Cheers again." Thomas was actually a shock-jock ala Howard Stern, and would regularly make incendiary statements like this about everybody; but the potshots at Rhea Pearlman did not sit well with her and the show's creators and the character was let go. Rhea denies the story and said the following in a recent interview: " That's not true. I loved Jay Thomas as Eddie LeBec. But there was a point where they [thought] maybe we would live together, and I didn't like the idea of Carla being with somebody because that would make you feel like [you're] not part of the people in the bar." Rhea's story that she actually just liked that Carla was a loner and that made her more identifiable has not been backed up by other people on the show however. Everyone else seems to think she just wanted Thomas to be fired. The producer Ken Levine addressed the controversy in a recent article about the show: "Longtime TV comedy writer, producer and creative consultant on Cheers at the time, backs up Thomas' version of events, noting: 'Rhea came up to my office and she was furious-I'd never seen her like this. She said, "I want him off the show."'
Ted Danson, George Wendt, and Kirstie Alley are the only cast members whose names never lost their places in the opening credits when a new cast member was added. Ted was always first, Kirstie was always second, and George was always last.
A digitally remastered set of episodes was recently donated to the Museum of Television and Radio by Creator James Burrows on behalf of Paramount Pictures in the summer of 2001. Paramount began circulating the digitally remastered episodes in syndication in the fall of 2001, and on Nick at Nite on October 7, 2001.
Of the many vintage images that appear in the opening credits, the photo shown with Kirstie Alley's name is the only image that does not depict a place where alcoholic beverages are being served or consumed. The image (which is the cropped left half of a larger photo) is of a store clerk at a pharmacy in Springfield, Massachusetts. The cropped-out right half of the photo shows a female patron sitting at the counter of the store's soda fountain and a male clerk ready to dispense a soda from behind the counter. The photo was taken circa 1895 by one of the Howes Brothers, three professional photographers who specialized in recording images of daily life and work in Western Massachusetts from about 1880 to 1910.
Diane was originally to be a businesswoman or executive but evolved into a pretentious "scholar vs. intellect" to play off Sam's "dumb jock" persona. Producers successfully revisited the businesswoman contrast when developing Rebecca.
John Lithgow was originally approached to play Frasier, but he flatly turned down the producers as he had no interest in being a regular on a television series at the time. This would change later, as he became the star of 3rd Rock From the Sun (1996).
Elaine Stritch appeared in the original pilot of the show, playing Mrs. Littlefield, a sharp-tongued Boston Brahmin, who was confined to a wheelchair. However, the pilot ran too long and her part was cut out before broadcast. Stritch's character was named after Warren Littlefield, NBC's then President of the Entertainment division.
Frasier's last name was originally Nigh, not Crane. Kelsey Grammer suggested to producers that "Nigh" sounded wrong and it should be changed. (If they hadn't changed it, Frasier's brother's name might have wound up being Niles Nigh!)
George Wendt suggested he reprise his role from Cheers (1982), by doing an episode in which his character Norm (along with John Ratzenberger as Cliff) made a series of prank calls to Frasier's radio show. Ultimately, Norm and Cliff appeared on this show together under a different scenario during this episode.
Rebecca's world map that occupied the wall by her office for her first three seasons on the show is a reproduction of a 1670 map ("Magna Carta Mundi") by the Dutch mapmaker and engraver Nicolaes Visscher I (1618-1679).
In Cheers: The Belles of St. Clete's (1985), Carla and her friends from grade school are hanging out in the bar. Even though Carla and one of her friends are pregnant, they are drinking beer, despite the fact that fetal alcohol syndrome was discovered in 1973.
In the early seasons featuring Shelly Long, if you pay attention to Norm's entrance when everyone shouts out "Norm!", Long's character Diane, never joins in the shouting. After everyone shouts "Norm!", a moment later, Diane will quietly, and properly, address him as "Norman".
Magician/ Comedian/ Actor Harry the Hat Anderson had made a couple appearances on Cheers, playing a character named Harry the Hat, a conman, and was such a hit with viewers that the network decided to build a whole show around him, hence Night Court was born. If Night Court had not been developed Anderson might very well have become a regular on Cheers.
The image in "Cheers" opening credits that appears when Kirstie Alley's name is on the screen, was taken circa 1895 in Springfield, Massachusetts by the Howe brothers, known for their imagery of American workers. Kirstie Alley's character's name is Rebecca Howe.
In the original conception of the show, Diane Chambers was a tough business woman and the owner of Cheers; Sam was to be in her employ. As we all know, this was changed in part because of how Shelley Long and Ted Danson played the parts during the audition process. After Shelley Long quit in Season 5, producers went back to the original concept, with Rebecca in that manager role and Sam in her employ again.
Both Jay Thomas (AKA Eddie LeBec) and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier Crane) said their on screen girlfriends (Carla and Diane) tried to get them fired. And both actresses deny this. Both Rhea Pearlman and Shelley Long say they did not try to get their actor/boyfriends fired on the show. Although the evidence seems to support that with Rhea; that's actually true; and Jay Thomas was fired (the producer Ken Levine; James Burrows and the rest of the cast support this.) But in Shelley Long's case; it's not so clear; Long herself denies this; and none of the rest of the crew agrees with this story; and Kelsey Grammer was kept on the show. In any event one boyfriend was fired; and one survived to get his own spinoff.
John Cleese plays Dr. Simon Finch-Royce, a psychiatrist and marriage counselor on Cheers in Simon Says. In the episode he counsels (or confronts) Sam and Diane several times (at Diane's insistence). This is ironic because Cleese starred in the sitcom that was the model and inspiration for Cheers, Fawlty Towers.
Several actors and actresses appeared on both Cheers (1982) and Taxi (1978). Ted Danson, Christopher Lloyd, Carol Kane, J. Alan Thomas, Anne Desalvo, George Wendt, Michael Mcguire, Allyce Beasely, Murphy Cross and Rhea Perlman all made appearances on both programs. Rhea Perlman was a regular recurring character on both shows.
It was not originally intended for Frasier to be spun off into his own series. In 1990, NBC simply offered Kelsey Grammar his own undefined series upon the conclusion of Cheers. It was only until the series was well into development when the idea of Grammar reprising his role as Frasier was proposed and agreed upon.
With the exception of the final scene, the series finale was filmed just twenty days before the 11-year anniversary of the day that the pilot episode was filmed. That scene was filmed the following week, 13 days before the 11-year anniversary.
Cheers (1982) became the longest running American primetime scripted series then on the air when Knots Landing (1979) ended on May 13, 1993 and retained that status for only one week before its final episode was broadcast on May 20, 1993. This is the shortest length of time that any series has held that distinction. Conversely, The Simpsons (1989) has held it for the longest time: 20 years since Family Matters (1989) ended on July 18, 1998. Cheers (1982) was succeeded by Murder, She Wrote (1984).
Shortly after his being elected president, rumors and claims surfaced that Donald Trump made a non speaking cameo on the series. While Trump's name was directly mentioned or referenced in a few episodes, he never appeared on the show in any capacity.
Anthony Heald played Kevin in the "One For the Road" final episode of Cheers. He was famous for playing Hannibal's jailor Frederick Chilton in Silence of the Lambs. He also played Judge Cooper on several recurring episodes of the Practice; and Scott Guber on Boston Public.
The Chester Heights, Pennsylvania-based professional wrestling promotion Liberty All-Star Wrestling has a Norm Peterson-inspired character called Norm the Barfly, who is billed from Boston, Massachusetts. He teams with the Maverick, a "The Lone Ranger"-inspired character who, as a single, is billed from "Frontierland", as TV Gen, who are billed from "TV Land".
Magician/ Comedian/ Actor Harry the Hat Anderson had made a couple appearances on Cheers, playing a character named Harry the Hat, a conman, and was such a hit with viewers that the network decided to build a whole show around him, hence Night Court was born.
An alternate ending was shot before the studio audience of Shelley Long's final episode to hide the fact that Long was leaving the series. That ending, in which Sam and Diane actually go through with the wedding ceremony and get married, was discarded in favor of the real ending, which was filmed without a studio audience, in which Sam and Diane stop the ceremony before they are married.
Originally, the character of Rebecca Howe was written as a frigid, no nonsense ice queen, and this was how she was portrayed in her early episodes, and fans did not warm to her character. Meanwhile, Kirstie Alley had actually become quite popular with the cast. It was not until the episode where Rebecca gets drunk and confesses her feeling about her boss to Sam Malone that audiences finally responded to the character. The writers, seeing this, re-wrote the character as neurotic and zany, and she remained that way for the rest of the show.
Due to the nature of filming the series (episodes were not filmed in consecutive order for their respective season and cold opens were either filmed independently or were scenes cut out of a previous episode) Nicholas Colasanto's death led to a somewhat confusing latter half of Season 3 for his character Coach. His last consecutive appearance in each episode was S3 E17 "The Mail Goes to Jail." The last episode filmed entirely with Colasanto was S3 E23 "Cheerio, Cheers." Coach did also appear in the cold open of the Season 3 Finale Episode 25 "Rescue Me" due to the aforementioned way some cold opens were filmed for episodes. The episodes he did not appear in briefly explained in each episode where Coach was at the time, usually by Sam. Finally, in the Season 4 premiere "Birth, Death, Love and Rice", Sam tells Woody, who comes in looking for Coach, that Coach passed away. As a nod to the character and actor, in the final episode of the series, "One for the Road," Sam adjusts a picture of Geronimo, which Colasanto kept in his dressing room as a "good luck charm." The picture hung up on the set of the bar, and can often be seen, after the actor's death. A line Colasanto had trouble remembering and wrote near the entrance to the set became a good luck charm for the cast, touching it every day as they walked in. It was later painted over when the set was repainted, very much upsetting members of the cast, some of which, according to Ted Danson, threatened to quit.
Cliff Clavin, whose motor mouth unintentionally provokes trouble, is ironically the only series regular who was never in a physical altercation. Sam Malone kissed his best friend on the lips as part of a "Let's pretend to be lovers" charade aimed at Rebecca, that didn't include kissing, which prompted Sam's friend to punch him in the face. Off-camera, Lilith Stern-Crane's road rage sailor mouth while Sam was teaching her how to drive, prompted a fight between him and a motorist. Also off-camera, Frasier Crane was involved in a sports event scuffle while in attendance at a hockey game. Woody Boyd was involved in a "domino effect" bar fight that ensued at Cheers. Off-camera, his wife Kelly Gaines' then-boyfriend punched Woody in the face. Norm Peterson got into a "match" at Cheers with his high school wrestling buddy who tried to make a pass at Vera after finding out that she and Norm were separated. Cliff Clavin came close twice: when a bar patron who was fed up with Cliff's know-it-all banter, wanted to step outside with him, and when Cliff said something disrespectful to Frasier about his wife, Lilith.
The writers of the show admitted that they preferred writing the show after Shelley Long left, as they felt they had more freedom to make the show more ensemble-based and there was no pressure to make Sam and Diane the central focus.