Written by Senora Bicho
I have never been much of a television sitcom fan. There are a handful of shows over my lifetime I have regularly watched and Wings was one of them. I was introduced to and fell in love with Tim Daly as the responsible brother, Joe Hackett, and longed to be as beautiful as his on-again off-again love interest Helen Chappel (Crystal Bernard). Wings is a quirky and fun show that still provides laughs.
The series aired on NBC from 1990 to 1997. It was created and produced by David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee. This highly successful television trio also wrote for and produced Cheers and was responsible for creating the critically acclaimed and multiple Emmy Award-winning series Fraiser. The comedy of Wings is in the same vein of these other more well-known shows and characters from Cheers even appeared in the early seasons. I actually prefer Wings to these other two programs. The characters are more likeable and I could relate to them much more.
Wings is a comedy based around the people working in a small airport on the island of Nantucket. Joe owns and operates Sandpiper Air. Brian Hackett (Steven Weber) is Joe’s reckless, carefree womanizing brother. Helen runs the lunch counter while dreaming of being a famous cellist. In addition to the three main characters, there is Lowell Mather (Thomas Haden Church) a lovable but dimwitted handyman, Fay Evelyn Schlob Dumbly DeVay Cochran (Rebecca Schull) an ex-stewardess with three dead husbands that works for Joe at the ticket counter and provides lots of motherly advice, Roy Biggins (David Schramm) the obnoxious owner of Sandpiper’s rival airline who drives everyone crazy with his high jinx and insults and Antonio Scarpacci (Tony Shaloub), the sweet Italian immigrant who provides taxi service to and from the airport.
The foundation of the series is the relationship between Joe and Brian. It began with the death of Joe and Brian’s father whose last request was the reuniting of his sons. Six years earlier, Brian ran off with Joe’s fiancé Carol. After Carol leaves him, Brian comes back to the island and Joe eventually forgives him with a job and a place to live.
Season Five provides several key storylines. Farrah Forke (Alex Lambert) joined the cast in Season Four as Brian’s potential love interest and in this season they get serious and move in together. Not surprisingly, they break up before the season is over. Joe has a mental breakdown and in an attempt to have more of a work/life balance makes Brian an equal partner in the airline. Helen gets a rich new love interest who ends up proposing in the season finale, which could be enough to finally get Joe back in the picture.
Several members of this stellar cast have gone on to other things. Shaloub is now best known for his three-time Emmy-winning performance in the USA series Monk. Church left the series after its sixth season to star in Ned and Stacey and became an Oscar winner for his supporting performance in Sideways. Daly has been in several television shows and can now be seen in the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice. Weber has been in many TV shows most recently Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and films including a great performance in the film Sour Grapes that was written and directed by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. This is a hysterical film and is worth renting if you haven’t seen it. Bernard has been in numerous TV movies mostly shown on the USA network. If you have enjoyed any of these actors in other performances, you should definitely see them shine in Wings.
The DVD set offers no extras, only the 24 original episodes from Season Five. A great cast and excellent writing is what makes Wings such a delight, so get on board and prepare to takeoff for some laughs.