Happy 30th Anniversary, Wings! A Celebration of a Classic TV Sitcom

wings

Have you ever almost been physically injured while watching a sitcom?  I have.  The year was 1998.  It was my first semester of college, and I was enjoying my new schedule.  A schedule that allowed me to go to the gym early in the day.  I was on the treadmill at Sun Oaks in Redding, California, and on one of the TVs in the room was a show I’d never seen before: Wings

It was on closed-captioning, so I could only read the dialogue, but remember the episode distinctly.  It was from season 8, episode 21: “Oedipus Wrecks.”  I was running on the treadmill, reading the closed-captioning, and laughing out loud.  I laughed so hard at one point that I nearly lost my footing and fell off the treadmill.

Luckily, that’s didn’t happen, but at the moment I knew that I had to find out more about this show.  At this point all I knew about it was that it was hilarious, it was on USAM (Primetime Comedy in the Morning), and that I was now a Wings fan after one episode.

And so began my journey and my mission: I had to record and watch this series.  At the time, VHS was the big thing, so I would set the timer and record Wings whenever it was on USA.  And every day I would watch.  And I loved every minute of it.  The comedy.  The characters.  The storylines.  One fateful day seeing an episode on at the gym made me a fan for life.

It’s hard to believe Wings turns 30 this year.  It made its debut on NBC on April 19, 1990 and ran for 8 hilarious seasons.  Created by the team that would create another of my favorite shows, Frasier, Wings is one of the quintessential sitcoms of the 90s.  While it’s often overlooked by many, the series has a comedy style and dramatic undertone that makes it one of the best series I have ever seen (and I’ve watched it many, many times). 

Existing in the same universe as Cheers and Frasier, Wings is the story of two estranged brothers who reunite and end up working together at an airport on the island of Nantucket.  It’s part workplace comedy, part family drama, and 100% funny.  Wings has one of the best ensemble casts I have ever seen.  The chemistry between the characters and the actors is electric and incredibly fun to watch.

One of the keys for an ensemble show to work (in my opinion) is when any pairing of two characters can result in comedy gold.  And Wings was able to do that a thousand times over.  Each actor brings their A-game to each scene, each moment, and each storyline, and the result is comedy gold over the course of eight seasons and 172 episodes.

With VCRs gone the way of the dinosaurs, I was extremely happy when Wings popped up on DVD (and equally happy not having to fast-forward through commercials!).  Wings is what I consider a Comfort Show.  It’s a show that’s fun, light, easy-going, and there are plenty of laughs to be had after a stressful day or week. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more about the show, including posts discussing my Top Ten Favorite Wings Episodes in celebration of its 30th anniversary, and even an interview with one of the show’s writers. 

Wings is a series that doesn’t get the recognition I feel it rightfully deserves in the annals of TV history, and this is my way of making sure the creators, writers, actors, directors, and crew are celebrated for their efforts.

So, if you’ve never seen the show, I highly recommend you check it out on Hulu or Amazon Prime.  And if you’ve seen the show, why not watch it again! 

Here’s to Wings!  A great series, a great cast, and a great comedy.

Remember, Everything Begins as a Draft

As consumers of entertainment, we have become accustomed to seeing the best version of what is being presented to us.  Whether it’s a novel, a movie, a TV series, or a play, we are witnessing this project at its highest level of completeness and – for lack of a better word – perfection.

You may read a novel and think to yourself, I could never write something that good.  Maybe you’ve come out of a movie thinking, I don’t think I could create a screenplay that great.  This is the big mental block that can invade the minds of creative people in any medium.  We see what has been produced, printed, or staged and our minds begin to doubt our own creativity.  

We wonder if we can ever be that good at what we do.

Consider this: Every film we see, every novel we read, every play we watch started as a draft at some point. Whoever wrote it had to start just like you: with an idea.  They had to cultivate it in their mind, then begin jotting down ideas that bloomed into a rough outline that was then filled with things crossed-out and put in that were better.

We often forget that prolific authors like Stephen King or Judy Blume deal with creative highs and lows while they are crafting a story.  And everyone has to tackle a rough draft at some point in order to get to the next step of revision and editing.  Yes, even the greats have to go through the same process every time they write.

It’s easy to get hung up on what has been published or produced and be intimidated.  But you have to remember that even people who are well-versed in their craft often struggle the same way all creative people do.  It’s just how the creativity game is played.

Creating is hard work for anyone.  We look at artists we admire and think that it comes easy to them.  It really doesn’t.  They, too, put in hundreds of hours to create what we are watching, reading, or listening to. With that perspective in mind, it’s easier to realize that we also have the ability to do great works; as long as we are willing to invest the time, effort, and creative energy to do so.

So, the next time you finish reading a novel or watching a movie and begin to wonder how you could ever write something as good, remember that at one point that brilliant work began as a rough draft that evolved into what you just read or saw.  

You, too, can begin at the draft phase and watch it evolve into something greater.  You just have to take the first step and begin writing and creating.

You can do it!

The video below is a snippet of an interview with Wings and Frasier co-creator David Lee discussing the evolution of the Wings pilot into what it eventually became.  A perfect example of how even those we revere as talented creative types often have to work hard to create something that works.  Enjoy!