Why did Cheers change recording technology?
August 5, 2011 11:27 AM   Subscribe

The old sitcom Cheers - what technology changed the camera when Woody arrived?

I'm watching the series on Netflix. Around about episode 70 (when Woody Harrelson shows up) the color and film quality changed dramatically.

Was this a switch from film stock to a newer technology? If so, why did they change?
posted by krisak to Technology (9 answers total)
Best answer: This would be around about the start of Season 4. So 1985?
posted by krisak at 11:30 AM on August 5, 2011

You are not the first one to notice this. Wikipedia says that Burrows insisted on shooting on Film, so it sounds like it's something else. Check Episode 71 and see if the quality changes dramatically. There may have been a problem with the original negative of Episode 70 which resulted in them going back to a tape master, as theorized in my first link.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

it might be something that changed during filming, or it might be something that changed in the storage of the film. it seems to me that the quality of cheers changes a few times throughout as seen on netflix in ways that i don't think were originally broadcast like that.
posted by nadawi at 11:37 AM on August 5, 2011

The technical specs on IMDb don't indicate any change in the camera or process, but it's possible that more details are available if you have (or know someone who has) IMDB Pro.
posted by Gator at 11:37 AM on August 5, 2011

The technology was always film, but as this timeline from Kodak (assuming they shot on Kodak stock) shows, lots of films were discontinued and introduced in the period. Most studios bought large amounts at a time so it might have taken some time for the new stock to end up in use.
posted by tommasz at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think nathancaswell nailed it. Episode 71 has the normal color.
posted by krisak at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: tommasz - that's an awesome link.
posted by krisak at 11:54 AM on August 5, 2011

Ken Levine answers questions about his years writing for MASH, Cheers and other shows, you might want to drop him a note. He's been known to contact other people who worked on the show when he didn't know the answer to a question.
posted by beowulf573 at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

For those who wonder about Burrows "insisting on shooting on film", this recent story discloses that Lucille Ball made that same demand, maybe thirty years earlier, which allowed her company to ensure that syndication of the show would be long-term.
posted by yclipse at 5:47 PM on August 5, 2011

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