Clearing up `Cheers’ for the digital age

Apr 9, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Paramount is raising the bar for syndication stalwart “Cheers,” which is getting an extensive digital makeover before its cable bow.
The studio is in the process of a multimillion-dollar restoration of the 275-episode series, which was showing its age due to advances in technological standards. “Cheers” originally aired on NBC from 1982-93.
The labor-intensive restoration process, which began about eight months ago, is slated for completion this fall in time for the series’ cable debut on Nickelodeon.
“Cheers” has been running in off-network broadcast syndication since 1986 and is now being renewed by Paramount for a third cycle. Currently more than 150 TV stations license the studio’s prized chestnut in broadcast syndication.
“A whole new generation will be exposed to the show,” noted John Nogawski, president of distribution, domestic television, Paramount Television Group. “And the episodes look incredible-spectacular. With the restoration, they’re much more vivid, warmer. There’s a rebirth as a brand-new show.”
By today’s television display standards, the show looked very dated, conceded Phil Murphy, senior vice president of operations for Paramount Television Group.
“The look that it had was very contemporary at the time, but by today’s standards it’s somewhat soft,” he elaborated. “We’re going back to the film to bring its resolution up to today’s television standards.”
Resolution is the ability to distinguish details in the picture. Depending on who you talk to, today the studio can get about four to 10 times the number of pixels (“picture elements” or dots) that existed on the 1982 master tapes when other factors are taken into account.
Paramount believes this adds value to the product. “No one else is providing a show of this age at this quality,” said Mr. Nogawski. “It’s supply and demand-you hope that this will create a demand for the product that is far above what it was. If we didn’t do this process, the show would only get older-looking and wouldn’t get [the] respect it deserves.”