On April 19th, 1990, Wings debuted on NBC and would go on to run for 172 episodes until May 21st, 1997. Created by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee (the creators of Frasier and writers of Cheers), Wings exists in the same universe as Cheers and Frasier. Cheers characters make cameos on Wings from time-to-time, which makes for a fun watch.
Wings takes place at Tom Nevers Field, a fictional airport in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Joe (Tim Daly) and Brian Hackett (Steven Weber) are two brothers who operate a single plane airline called Sandpiper Air. The majority of the episodes take place inside the airport and feature a fun cast of regulars including Helen (Crystal Bernard) a childhood friend of the Hacketts who runs the local eatery. Roy (David Schramm) who runs a competing airline Aeromass. Lowell (Thomas Haden Church) the ditzy mechanic. Fay (Rebecca Schull) the single employee of Sandpiper Air and Antonio (Tony Shalhoub) a local cab driver.
Similar to Cheers, Wings stuck mainly to its single location and allowed the drama to unfold within those walls. It’s hard to classify Wings as a workplace comedy since little of the conflict seemed to have anything to do with the workplace. Instead, the series thrived on pairing up excellent characters in a single room and allowing chaos to unfold.
Wings debuted at a strange time in network television history. The early 90’s were still trying to define themselves, and TV shows began evolving from the 80’s. Edgier content was becoming popular thanks to Married with Children, but Wings played it relatively safe. It was in a way, Cheers set in an airport. It’s light-hearted and a very easy watch. The Must-See TV revolution hadn’t started yet as Friends, and Frasier were still a few years away. As the 90’s rolled on, sitcoms became very popular, and Wings didn’t get near the attention it deserved. I think in part because of how safe it played it, storyline wise, and how crowded the market became with successful sitcoms (Roseanne, Home Improvement, Seinfeld, etc.)
My first introduction to Wings was through re-runs on USA. They would air in the late morning (11 AM, maybe?) and they were a favorite of mine to watch when I was home sick from school. I had a teenage crush of Crystal Bernard and I found myself picking up copies of her country albums which were quite good. She also did a fantastic duet with Peter Cetera worth listening to.
I’ve mentioned Wings several times in posts, but I’ve never actually written one about it. Wings is one of my favorite sitcoms and one I truly enjoy. The quality of the show holds up till the very end which is quite uncommon in sitcoms.