'Wings' marks its 20th anniversary today, April 19. They were fun and funny times. The comedy revolved around Joe Hackett (Timothy Daly), a straight flier and owner of the one-plane Nantucket airline Sandpiper Air, his freewheeling brother Brian Hackett (Steven Weber) and transplanted Southern belle Helen (Crystal Bernard).
However, much of the charm -- and the humor -- at Tom Nevers Airport was supplied by a few fellas who would later become stars in their own right: Tony Shalhoub as the hopelessly romantic Antonio and Thomas Haden Church as Lowell the humble handyman.
Cue the crickets.
Arthur Smith, a researcher with The Paley Center For Media, defines the aforementioned sitcoms as "middlin," or shows widely considered to be "forgettable ... programming [the] equivalent of end tables. They look fine in the room, but if they disappeared, you might not notice for a while."
Not that Coach or Becker or Dharma and Greg (or, for that matter, The King of Queens, Still Standing, or Yes, Dear) are necessarily awful shows. Granted, none of them could step foot in the shadow of the quality boasted by reruns of Arrested Development, The Office, or syndication staple Seinfeld, but obviously someone had to be watching them, right? ... Right?
"Deedee Chappel. Get ready to unzip your pants!" - Lowell
That's one of my favorite lines in TV history, and I'm happy to say it was uttered in a show I had the pleasure of being an extra in many years ago, NBC's Wings. A great friend of mine, Suzanne, worked on the show and, since I was going out to Los Angeles for a vacation, she got me on the set as an extra. The episode was titled "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother" and guest-starred Debbie Reynolds. It was filmed in October of 1994 and aired on November 22.
There are no extras on the set (what, no commentaries or bloopers? This show would be perfect for stuff like that), but the 28 episodes themselves are fun. From the very first episode, where estranged brother Brian (the goofy, devil-may-care one) comes back home to Nantucket to catch up with brother Joe (the straightlaced, ambitious one) after their father leaves them something in his will that says "you're rich," you can see a fine ensemble cast working well together and really defining their characters. This show was by the people who brought you Cheers, and the similarities are obvious but never get in the way. And, like Cheers, this one had a really cool set, the small airport that housed Joe's Sandpiper Air and jerk Roy's Aeromass.
Video quality isn't the greatest. They should have done a better transfer.
Monk's Tony Shalhoub joined the cast in the third season (after a minor role in the last ep of the second season), so I don't know why he's on the cover of the box (other than the fact that he's a star now on Monk). As for me, I was an extra in season 6, but I guess that story will have to wait til they release that season.
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