This Was Television On September 30

1982: Cheers opens for business

An urbane, snooty young woman takes a barmaid job at a blue collar Boston tavern run by a charismatic, womanizing ex-ballplayer, and one of the most beloved sitcoms in TV history is underway. Cheers was a defining hit of the 1980s and one of the engines of NBC’s rise to ratings dominance by the early ’90s. Initially driven by the on-again/off-again romance between Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long), Cheers thrived on the strength of a first-class cast (including Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Woodly Harrleson, Kirstie Alley, and Nicholas Colasanto) and a generous spirit towards all the lovable losers that populated the pub.

Famously, Cheers was not an immediate hit. It finished its first season at the absolute cellar of the network ratings—77th out of 77—before finding and growing an audience in summer repeats. Today, efforts at NBC to replicate this model of success have tended to breakdown after the first half of the process. -A.D.

Also on September 30

1960: The Flintstones, America’s favorite modern Stone Age family, premieres on ABC. Easily the most successful animated sitcom to air in primetime before the advent of The Simpsons nearly three decades later, the adventures of Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble (modeled on the quartet from The Honeymooners) ran for six seasons.

1984: The charmingly macabre adventures of Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) commence with the debut of Murder, She Wrote on CBS. One of the 1980s’ most beloved dramas, it followed the mystery author/amateur sleuth through 12 seasons of investigating the surprisingly homicidal hamlet of Cabot Cove, ME.

Today’s Birthdays: Lacey Chabert, party member (30); Angie Dickinson, police woman (81); Fran Drescher, nanny (55); Jenna Elfman, free spirit (41); Tony Hale, motherboy (42).

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