Wings (1990 TV series)

Wings is an American sitcom television series that ran for eight seasons on NBC from April 19, 1990, to May 21, 1997 for a total of 172 episodes.

Wings title screen.jpg
Created by
Theme music composerFranz Schubert
Opening themePiano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959, Rondo: Allegretto
ComposerBruce Miller
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes172 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducerJames Tibmolap
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time22–23 minutes
Production companies
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkNBC[1]
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseApril 19, 1990 (1990-04-19) –
May 21, 1997 (1997-05-21)
Related showsCheers

The show is set at the fictional "Tom Nevers Field" airport, a small two-airline airport in Nantucket, Massachusetts (not to be confused with the actual Nantucket Memorial Airport), where the Hackett brothers operate Sandpiper Air, their single-plane airline. The majority of the episodes are set in the airport.

Tim Daly and Steven Weber starred as brothers and pilots, Joe and Brian Hackett. Crystal Bernard played Helen, their friend since childhood and later Joe's love interest and wife, who ran the lunch counter at the airport but dreamed of becoming a concert cellist. David Schramm played Roy Biggins, who ran a competing airline called Aeromass. Rebecca Schull played Fay, Joe and Brian's employee at Sandpiper Air. Thomas Haden Church portrayed the mechanic Lowell in the first six seasons, Tony Shalhoub was taxi driver Antonio from season 3 onwards, and Farrah Forke was Brian's love interest, Alex, during seasons 4 and 5. Amy Yasbeck played Helen's sister, Casey, from season 6 through to the show's end in Season 8. Brian Haley briefly played the mechanic Budd, Lowell's replacement, in Season 7.

Wings was created and produced by Cheers veterans David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee. The trio later created the sitcom Frasier, which was a spin-off of Cheers. The series exists in the same fictional universe as Cheers and Frasier and characters from Cheers occasionally made special guest appearances on Wings. All three series were produced by Paramount Network Television.


Two brothers, Joe and Brian Hackett, own Sandpiper Air, a small single-plane airline company on Nantucket Island. Their childhood friend, beautiful Helen Chappel, runs the lunch counter inside the airport. She has always been in love with Joe, the older brother. Helen's dream is to play the cello in an orchestra and attends auditions when not sandwich-making. Roy Biggins, the brothers' unscrupulous business rival, runs Aeromass, a larger airline in the same airport. Lowell Mather is the dimwitted airport mechanic, who maintains the planes for both Aeromass and Sandpiper. They are joined by an Italian immigrant, Antonio Scarpacci, who operates a taxi service. Fay Cochran, a sweet but scatterbrained widow, runs the Sandpiper ticket counter. Later in the series, Helen's snobbish older sister Casey moves to the island, and becomes the unwitting object of Antonio's affections and later gets romantically involved with and becomes roommates with Brian.

Cast and charactersEdit

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Tim Daly Joe Hackett Main
Steven Weber Brian Hackett Main
Crystal Bernard Helen Chappel Main
Thomas Haden Church Lowell Mather Main Guest
David Schramm Roy Biggins Main
Rebecca Schull Fay Cochran Main
Tony Shalhoub Antonio Scarpacci Guest Main
Farrah Forke Alex Lambert Recurring Main Guest
Amy Yasbeck Casey Chappel Main
Brian Haley Budd Bronski Recurring

Cast changesEdit

Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, David Schramm, and Rebecca Schull starred in all eight seasons. With a few exceptions, the cast stayed mostly consistent for the show's run:

  • Tony Shalhoub joined the cast in Season 3, having previously made a guest appearance as a waiter in a Season 2 episode. His character was rewritten to become a taxi driver and became a main character for the rest of the show.
  • Farrah Forke featured in Season 4 and became a main character in Season 5, but left at the end of it, returning briefly for a guest appearance the following season.
  • Amy Yasbeck joined the cast in Season 6, after Forke left, for the remainder of the show's run from 1994 to 1997.
  • Thomas Haden Church left the show in spring 1995, at the end of Season 6, to star in the Fox sitcom Ned and Stacey. He later returned for a guest appearance in an episode of Season 7 to wrap up his storyline and was invited back for the finale at the end of Season 8, but declined, though he was in the audience during the taping.[2]
  • After Thomas Haden Church's departure, Brian Haley briefly joined the cast as the new mechanic for a few episodes of Season 7 before the character was written out without explanation. It initially seemed like the character was meant to become a regular (or at least semi-regular) as his name began appearing in the main titles with the rest of the cast.[3]

Main charactersEdit

Joe HackettEdit

Played by Tim Daly, Joseph Montgomery Hackett is a highly responsible, compulsively neat pilot who owns the one-plane airline Sandpiper Air on Nantucket Island. Joe is usually the straight man in the series and the nice guy. He dreamed of becoming a pilot as a child, and became the de facto patriarch of the Hackett family after their mother disappeared, causing their father to go insane and be institutionalized.

He had initially intended to launch Sandpiper Air with his fiancée Carol behind the ticket counter, but his brother Brian ran off with her prior to the start of the series, causing a falling out between the brothers. In the show, Joe is shown to be a big sports fan, supporting the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and Boston Celtics. He also grew up playing baseball and football and played on both varsity teams in high school. Joe graduated Boston College and said he pledged a fraternity, but never mentioned which one. Joe fell in love with Helen Chapell, his childhood friend.

Brian HackettEdit

Played by Steven Weber, Brian Michael Hackett is the more carefree of the Hackett brothers. His irresponsibility is often a source of consternation to older brother Joe; he had a "free ride" to Princeton and dropped out, was accepted into the Astronaut training program at NASA and was soon expelled because he was too unreliable, saying that he would have become an astronaut if they let him take his dates into the simulator, and has lost other lucrative opportunities due to his chronic irresponsibility.

Ironically, when Brian has attempted to act responsibly it has caused problems for Joe. When Brian managed to hold down a job flying charter flights on the Caribbean island of Mustique, this also emboldened him to seduce Carol to run off to Mustique with him, which caused a rift between the brothers to the point that Joe cut Brian out of his life.

When Carol left Brian for another man and their father Donald Hackett died, Brian returned to Nantucket, and Joe was eventually persuaded not only to allow him to move into his house, but also to give Brian a job at Sandpiper Air (after some posthumous support from the father). Soon they became partners in the airline. Brian and Joe reconciled and mostly he became his best friend in the series. Brian is a shameless womanizer for most of the series, but has two significant relationships: the first with helicopter pilot Alex Lambert, and then with Casey Chappel Davenport, Helen's older sister (see below).

While Wings was on the air, Weber reprised the role of Brian on an episode of Duckman titled "Role with It".

Helen ChappelEdit

Played by Crystal Bernard, Helen is a petite blonde who speaks with a Texas drawl despite having lived on Nantucket for most of her life. In the series, it is explained that Helen's family moved to the island from Texas when she was ten years old. Though Helen dreams of playing the cello in a large symphony orchestra, she runs the lunch counter in the airport terminal and never really manages to get a music career off the ground until the final episode. Occasionally Helen earns money teaching the cello.

A running gag related to her music is that bad luck always seems to follow her when she plays. Examples of this bad luck include: Helen having to join a string quartet of neurotic individuals as that was the only group at the time who accepted her; Helen getting accepted to a state-run symphony, only to learn the state legislature eliminated the funding; the Boston Symphony Orchestra appreciating a cassette of her cello playing, but them losing the label and having no way to contact her; and when she finally gets a chance to play for the BSO, the plane crashes en route.

Helen battles a compulsive eating habit that caused her to be obese in her youth. Though successful at losing the weight sometime after Brian eloped with Carol, it is still a specter in her life and a blight on her self-image. Mostly her weight gain is usually when Carol comes to town and makes Helen a mess. She has been a lifelong friend of both Hackett brothers and dreamed of marrying Joe from a young age. Helen married Antonio to prevent him from being deported. Although Antonio won the Green Card Lottery and agreed to end the marriage, when Helen tried to get a marriage license to marry Joe, she found out she is still married to Antonio. She went to Roy and found a way to get a quick divorce is go to Mexico. Luckily she and Antonio are officially divorced. At the season finale of the sixth season, Helen is finally able to marry Joe.

The writers originally had a different character in mind, written for Peri Gilpin: Joe's love interest working at the lunch counter was a woman of Greek heritage. However Gilpin was unable to commit to the role, and thus the new character of Helen was created for Bernard. Gilpin, however, did star on one episode of Wings in the third season, and was later cast as Roz Doyle on Frasier.

Fay CochranEdit

Played by Rebecca Schull, Fay is Joe's only other regular employee besides Brian (Kenny was an employee briefly in season 2). She is a retired flight attendant who handles the ticket counter, baggage check, and flight announcements for Sandpiper Air. She grew up in Syracuse, NY (next to a chop shop), and lived in Hawaii before moving to Nantucket. She is generally sweet and motherly, though slightly batty. She looks after the younger members of their circle as her own children, although she can be sweetly manipulative. She came to work for Joe when he met her on a flight to Hawaii right after Joe's fiancé left him for Brian. Joe and Fay strike up a friendship and agree to work together at Sandpiper Air.

Fay is thrice widowed; all three of her husbands were named George, and she jokes about a curse that if she marries a man named George, he will die prematurely. In one episode she almost marries a man named Lyle, only to learn that "Lyle" is only his middle name and his first name is George. Her full name is Fay Evelyn Schlob Dumbly DeVay Cochran.

Fay has a streak in which she has touched every First Lady of the United States since Eleanor Roosevelt.

Roy BigginsEdit

Played by David Schramm, Roy Peterman Biggins is the owner of Aeromass, the only other airline on Nantucket and, with seven planes, a larger business than Sandpiper, although Roy had been unable to break into the lucrative business of charter flights. He is also a member of the City Council of Nantucket. It is revealed that he started Aeromass with money inherited from an uncle. Mostly his recurring gag, he usually address the whole cast by their last name.

Generally competitive, arrogant and unpleasant, and morbidly obese, Roy often belittles Joe for having a small-time operation and mocks Joe's business skills. Despite this, Roy feels threatened by Joe's presence as a competitor, and makes numerous attempts to either buy Sandpiper or put it out of business. Roy is usually rivals and sometimes enemies of the group.

Roy was married to a woman named Sylvia, played by Concetta Tomei. For several years he claimed that she had died, but it is later revealed that she left him, and is now married to a wealthy plastic surgeon and living in Boston. The couple has one son, R.J. (Roy Junior), who is homosexual. It took a while for Roy to support him and he was proud of him.

Roy is the most dishonest businessman on the island. Examples included forcing a customer who has just ordered a large meal from Helen to board the plane immediately, and then stealing both the meal and the money the customer leaves for Helen. He also established false charities including one for his "late wife" and using the proceeds for fly-fishing trips or to subscribe to the Playboy Channel.

Roy has an autographed picture of Richard Nixon in his office, and was once arrested for trying to force his way aboard Air Force One to have a picture taken of himself shaking hands with President George H. W. Bush.

Also in his office he has a poster of a woman wearing a thong bikini riding on a unicycle. He comments, "If that was Paris and she was holding a loaf of bread, they'd call it art."

While normally conniving and arrogant, Roy does have a sense of fun: since his birthday is February 29, 1948, a leap year, he celebrates it only once every four years as if he were only a quarter of his real age. He drives a purple El Camino, on which he claims he can disconnect the brake lights in order to engage in insurance fraud by being intentionally rear-ended by people driving luxury cars.

Despite his sleazy and conniving nature, Roy does have a more generous side: when Helen finds out that she didn't get properly divorced from her sham marriage to Antonio, Roy helps her concoct an elaborate plan to send Joe away for weekend of fly fishing in Maine while she, Brian and Antonio fly to Tampico, Mexico to get a "quickie" divorce from a Senor Pepe. Roy doesn't try to blackmail Helen or demand money, simply asking Helen to deliver a message to Senor Pepe, "The donkey has died."

Lowell MatherEdit

(Season 1–6, Guest in Season 7) Played by Thomas Haden Church, Lowell is a dim-witted mechanic/handyman who works at the airport.[4] He is a "free agent" of sorts, on the payroll of both Sandpiper and its rival airline Aeromass, as well as anyone else willing to pay him for repairs. He claims that, while he is not an orphan, his brother is. He is friendly with all the staff. Lowell knew Brian, Joe and Helen since they were kids and were friends. He was married to a woman named Bunny with whom he had several children, but they divorced when Lowell learned that Bunny was sleeping around.

After Brian sank the houseboat Lowell lived on, Lowell lived with Joe and Brian for a time, where he revealed a surprising talent for cooking. After about a year, however, his eccentricities became unbearable to the Hacketts, and they kicked him out to find his own place, which coincided with the conclusion of the insurance investigation, allowing the payout to buy himself a house on land.

Eventually, Lowell is forced to leave Nantucket and enter the Witness Protection Program after witnessing a mob hit. Although it is hard for him to leave the people he has known all his life, Lowell decides he would rather go into hiding than let a guilty man go free to possibly kill again.

Lowell usually wears a grease-stained orange ball cap, although he is sometimes seen without it at times when it is rude to wear hats indoors. During a later season, Lowell's orange hat goes missing. From then on he wears a red hat in its place. When Lowell leaves Nantucket, he gives the red hat to Joe and Brian to remember him by. The brothers nail the hat to the wall of the hangar in memoriam.[5]

Antonio ScarpacciEdit

(Guest in Season 2, Main Season 3–8) Played by Tony Shalhoub, Antonio V. Scarpacci is an Italian immigrant from Apecchio (in the Central Italian region of Marche), who owns and operates a taxi service to and from the airport. Antonio is mild-mannered, deferential, and hopelessly romantic; he falls head-over-heels for Helen's older sister Casey when she returns to Nantucket, although his feelings are not reciprocated. Antonio was originally a waiter, and made a guest appearance in the second season in this role before becoming an official cast member in the third season (by which time he had changed professions). Helen married him in order to save him from deportation. The marriage mistakenly lasted for three years (unbeknownst to either one of them) long after Antonio got his green card due to an error on Helen's part. He is a big fan of the Mary Pat Lee Show. Antonio is also friends with Joe, Helen, Brian, Lowell and Faye. Sometimes he is annoyed and bullied by Roy.

Alex LambertEdit

(Season 4–5, Guest in Season 6) Played by Farrah Forke, Alex is a helicopter pilot who moves to Nantucket to start her own helicopter tour business. She had previously flown U.S. Army Apache helicopters in Desert Storm.[6] It is also discovered that she had posed for Playboy. Though she initially rebuffs the amorous attentions of both Hackett brothers, she eventually falls for Brian's boyish charms. She and Brian live together briefly, but after Brian spends a wild night in New York with Joe and an old friend, Alex throws him out of the apartment and leaves Nantucket for good. She returns a season later to resolve some of the bitterness in their breakup; she and Brian briefly get back together before they both decide it is best to go their separate ways.

Casey ChappelEdit

(Season 6–8) Played by Amy Yasbeck, Cassandra "Casey" (Chappel) Davenport is Helen's older sister. She returns to Nantucket after being abandoned by her husband, Stuart Davenport (played by John Ritter, who was Yasbeck's real life partner and later husband), but despite having grown up there she has difficulty adjusting her upper crust tastes and sensibilities to a working class life on the small island. Antonio falls madly in love with Casey, but she takes little notice of him. Unlike Helen, Casey dropped her southern accent when she moved to Nantucket. She spends much of season six unemployed and mooching off Helen, until she starts working for Nantucket's tourism organization in season seven.

After she and Brian spend the better part of a season sniping at each other, they end up having sex the night before Joe and Helen's wedding. Afterward they find themselves unable to stay away from each other, having a passionate affair; while Joe and Helen are on their honeymoon, Casey's bra lands on the hearth of the lit fireplace and leads to Helen's house burning down. Her relationship with Brian cools after that, but they maintain a friendship. When she first appears in the show, Casey goes by her married name of Davenport, but after she and Stuart divorce at the end of season seven, she reverts to Chappel.

Budd BronskiEdit

(Season 7) Played by Brian Haley, Budd is a retired US Marine who is hired to replace Lowell. Budd is Lowell's equal as a skilled mechanic and earnest worker, but also as a quirky character. He is jumpy and insecure, and is haunted by an incident in his past when an aircraft he worked on crashed, causing him to face a court martial. Although the military cleared him of charges, Budd continues to blame himself for the incident until Brian convinces him to let it go. Occasionally Budd astonishes everyone with magic tricks, but otherwise he has difficulty interacting with others. After being introduced early in the seventh season, Budd disappears toward the end of the season and is never mentioned again.

Recurring characters and notable guest starsEdit

Carlton Blanchard: played by William Hickey, Carlton is an old man with a high-pitched nasal voice whose outwardly meek yet privately demanding behavior causes everyone who meets him to shudder at his coming. He is also known for asking bizarre questions such as "If you were to carpet Florida, how long would it take to vacuum it?" and "If a monkey were to bite you, what kind of drugs do you suppose they'd give you?" He annoys Joe, Brian, Lowell and Antonio when he wins a charity contest sponsored by Sandpiper and demands to be flown to Las Cruces, New Mexico, far beyond the scope of Sandpiper's routes.

In another episode, he tricks Helen into throwing him a birthday party and then falls down her stairs in order to force her to take care of him for a week. Though none of the regulars like Carlton, he is especially disliked by Antonio, a situation made worse when Carlton repeatedly calls him "Angelo". Hickey's casting was a nod to the film of the same name, Hickey being born in same year as its debut and the name "Carlton Blanchard" being taken from one of the film's characters, played by a different actor named William Hickey.

Lewis Blanchard: played by Gilbert Gottfried, he is Carlton's equally irritating nephew. He is very rude and abrasive, and makes only the slightest of attempts to hide his wish for Carlton to die so he can inherit his money. He seems to have crushes on Casey, Helen, and Alex, who are all completely repulsed by his lewd remarks.

Donald Hackett: played by Don Murray, Joe and Brian's deceased father took it hard when his wife, and the boys' mother, walked out on the family. He was committed to a mental institution and died just prior to the beginning of the series.

He had a good sense of humor, and in the series premiere his will was required to be read to Brian and Joe together; it required them to reunite after their six-year estrangement. He willed them a key which opened up the lockbox to another key, then another, which had Joe and Brian go to Boston then back to Nantucket airport where they ended up finding a suitcase full of spring snakes and a photograph of them as children, encouraging them to always value their kinship.

After Brian and Casey burn down Joe's house, Joe is fed up with Brian's string of irresponsible behavior and fires him from Sandpiper and orders him never to speak to him again. The ghost of their father appears and uses reverse psychology to convince Joe to make peace with Brian.

Lou: played by Phil Leeds, Lou is a feisty old man who is introduced in Season Seven's "The Lyin' King". In that episode, Joe, in order to assuage his guilt over going to a strip club later, volunteers at the senior citizens' home, where he is assigned to spend time with Lou. After spending a moment complaining about how lousy nursing home life is, Lou manages to guilt trip Joe into taking him to the strip club with him. Though Joe is somewhat tolerant of Lou, Brian is decidedly less so, referring to him derisively as "Yoda" (due to Lou's shrivelled physical appearance). Lou, in return, makes it clear he does not care for Brian either. Lou is also prone to talking about a rift he had in the past with his brother Harry, prompting his catchphrase, "He screwed me blue!" Lou was originally intended as a one-shot appearance, but proved so popular that he was brought back in the show's final season, where we are also introduced to his brother Harry, played by Abe Vigoda.

Davis Lynch: played by Mark Harelik, Davis is a businessman Joe flies to Nantucket to invest in the airline. Though he rejects Joe's offer (and ends up investing the money in Roy's airline), he ends up dating Helen, and eventually proposes to her. Helen accepts, but ends up leaving him for Joe. Toward the end of the series, Helen reveals she never broke off the engagement. She had figured he was gone after he was skirted off to Burma in the wake of a coup d'etat to salvage major investments he had in the company. He was then placed under house arrest by the military junta. Upon his release, Davis returns to see Helen, but while she is trying to work up the courage to tell him she has married someone else, Davis announces that he will be unable to marry her, having fallen in love with a woman who worked for the State Department and had risked her life to secure his release.

Roy Biggins, Jr. (a.k.a. R.J.): played by Abraham Benrubi, Roy's only son is secretly gay. Roy had trained R.J how to do "guy stuff" such as playing football. The first time he is shown is when he is a high school student taking cello lessons from Helen as an extracurricular activity. R.J. reveals to everyone he is a homosexual. Roy does not take this news well and challenges him to a game of one-on-one basketball on the condition that if R.J. wins he is "allowed" to be gay, but if Roy wins R.J. is not. R.J. wins game after game against Roy, but Roy refuses to give up.

R.J. returns much later in the series after being estranged from Roy for a long time. He has since graduated from law school and plans to take the Massachusetts Bar Exam. Roy is proud of R.J and his accomplishments, but only so long as R.J.'s homosexuality isn't discussed. The issue finally comes to a head at Roy's birthday party, when he accuses R. J. of throwing his lifestyle in his face and ruining his party by bringing his boyfriend Luke (Tim Bagley). After R. J. and Luke walk out, Helen talks to Roy, reminding him that while he doesn't have to like it, he does have to accept it—because the alternative is accepting that it may be another six years, or longer, before he sees R.J. again. Roy catches up with R. J. just as he and Luke are boarding a flight and fumbles an apology. R.J. loses patience, and points out that Roy can't even say the word "gay." Desperate to stop R.J. from walking out of his life forever, Roy finally acknowledges it, and says that he wants to understand it. The two men hug.

Gail Scott: played by Gretchen German, she is Joe's girlfriend during the first part of Season Three. They begin dating while Helen is in New York. When Joe persuades Helen to move back to Nantucket because she is unhappy in New York, he does not tell her about his relationship with Gail because of his worry that it will prevent Helen from moving back to Nantucket.

Helen, convinced that she and Joe will pick up right where they left off, does come back, but soon discovers the truth about Joe and Gail. Believing that Joe intended to hurt her by not disclosing his relationship with Gail, Helen drives her jeep through Joe and Brian's office.

Gail is in three episodes, but is mentioned in several others, including phone conversations. She is a journalist who constantly travels. She and Helen become friends briefly, but Gail leaves Joe when she catches Joe and Helen kissing in his kitchen.

Sandy Cooper: played by Valerie Mahaffey, Sandy is a friend of Joe's, Brian's, and Helen's from high school. She has an insane, obsessive crush on Joe, but he is unable to convince anyone else of this because she acts completely normal except when she is alone with Joe, who gives her the nickname "Psycho Sandy". She appears on Nantucket occasionally and carefully plans her fantasy life with "Joey Bear" at moments when the two of them are alone. Her fantasies include a re-enacted high school prom in the basement of her old house, the couple's wedding and honeymoon in Helen's living room, and the birth of their first child in Joe's therapist's office. In one episode, Sandy is shown to be dating Brian, but the relationship is never pursued by the show's writers.

Kenny McElvey: played by Michael Manasseri, Kenny is an 18-year-old who becomes Sandpiper's backup pilot during a second season story arc where Joe is grounded for hypertension. The comedic focus of the character was his youth and relative inexperience, but he is the most qualified of the small pool of applicants to be Joe's replacement. Kenny leaves Sandpiper after Joe is cleared to fly. One episode shows Kenny also working at a fast food joint to supplement his meager income from Sandpiper.

Bunny Mather: played by Laura Innes, Lowell's wife flirts with nearly every man she encounters, and has sex with many of them. At one point she pursues Joe and Brian – her fantasy is to sleep with two co-workers. She once sleeps with Antonio, causing him and Lowell to come to blows. Lowell separates from her early in the series, and divorces her when he learns of her affairs. Despite their issues, Lowell and Bunny sleep together the very night they get divorced.

Sylvia: played by Concetta Tomei, Roy's ex-wife divorced him and married a plastic surgeon. Roy initially tells people that she is dead, but after being caught in this lie, he goes to see her, only to find out that she has a new husband and a new life. She returns to the island in season 5 to sleep with Roy in an attempt to get back at her current husband for having an affair. Roy finds out and decides not to go through with it.

Mary Pat Lee: played by Caroline Aaron, she is a dishonest, bullying Boston talk show host who tricks Brian onto her show in season 6 to meet up with his ex-girlfriend Alex. She returns two seasons later as Roy's new girlfriend, though Roy dumps her when she uses their relationship to get Joe and Helen on her show to ambush them about a momentary slump in their sex life. Antonio is one of her biggest fans. Her budding relationship with Roy causes Antonio to mutter, "But.....she's Mary Pat Lee....and he's.....Roy." She is never seen again after Roy dumps her, angry that she used him to target Joe and Helen. She seemed to be a parody of both Kathie Lee Gifford and Geraldo Rivera, with all the traits people hate about the two.

Edgar Clayton: played by Mitchell Ryan, he is a wealthy industrialist who buys Sandpiper from Joe and Brian to keep it from going under. He installs his son Cord as the new president only to see Cord fail miserably. He also fires his uncle Mike in front of his whole board of directors and has been known to give terminated employees "The Big Ugly". He is part of a three-part story arc, "Wingless", during the show's final season. Though he is identified in the closing credits as Jonathan Clayton, his name in dialogue is said to be Edgar Clayton.

Eleanor "Bluto" Biggins: played by Rose Marie, Roy's eccentric mother lives in a nursing home. She is a meddlesome, domineering nag and Roy feels threatened by her. Joe, however, stands up to her and calls her a "Miserable Old Gargoyle". Eleanor is also a heavy drinker and Roy once says she has to be "cut off after six boilermakers." She is frequently mentioned, but is not seen until the final season.

Walter: played by Ralph Bruneau, he is an air traffic controller. Though he envisions himself as cool and collected he is generally hyperactive and easily distracted. He acts overly friendly towards both Joe and Brian, both of whom find him highly irritating. In season 4, Walter gets married; though he doesn't appear on-screen anymore after that, he continues to be mentioned frequently. He takes a temporary leave of absence in Season 6 to have eye surgery to correct a double vision problem. In the final episode, he is said to be cheating on his wife.

Mark: played by John Hawkes, he is the waiter at the Crab Restaurant. He becomes infatuated with Helen, who later pushes him toward Alex.


The series takes place primarily at the fictional Nantucket airport Tom Nevers Field. Until 1976, the real-life island was the site of the United States Navy's Tom Nevers Naval Facility, later the home of the Nantucket Hunting Association. The Club Car (a real restaurant on Nantucket) is also often featured on the show.[7]

The airplane for the show was a 1981 Cessna 402C one of which was C/N 402C0507, N121PB, owned and operated by Express Air, owned and operated by Mike Josefek and Richard Sevigny. The pilot during the filming was Austin Carey. The aircraft was eventually sold to Cape Air where it is still flying;[8] in the pilot episode (as well as a few other episodes) the airplane fuselage shown in the hangar was C/N 4110069, N121PP (which was destroyed).[9]

British Pilot Remake (1996)Edit

A pilot for a British remake also called Wings was filmed in 1996. It was commissioned by Channel 3 North East and Yorkshire Television. The title of the episode is "The Legacy" (similar to the original show's pilot episode being called "Legacy"). Much of the dialogue is lifted word-for-word from that original pilot episode (with some elements also taken directly from the original's Season 2 premiere episode "The Puppetmaster", written by Philip LaZebnik), as are many of the character names (though not all of them), the location now moving to Jersey in the UK. Even the look of the set is almost identical to the original series. Sandpiper Air retains its name though Roy's competitor airline, Aeromass, has been changed to Goldhawk Air. Very little is known about this attempt at the remake. Seemingly only one episode was filmed and likely aired on November 19, 1996. It was directed by Roy Gould, produced by Andrew Benson, and scripted by all of the original creators - David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee (or because their original pilot script was used), who are also credited as creators of the remake - and starred Tony Gardner and Jonathan Cake as brothers Michael and Steve Hackett (formerly Joe and Brian Hackett in the original), with Una Stubbs portraying Fay and Debra Beaumont as Helen Chappel. The character of Roy also appeared, played by Tim Wylton, as did Lowell, now renamed Noel and played by Bob Mason. Jason Hall was credited as Passenger and Anthony Schaeffer as Dispatcher. Some limited footage (a handful of clips totalling less than two minutes) surfaced online. With very little known details and footage existing, this could well be an example of a lost television broadcast.[10][11]

Cheers and Frasier tie-insEdit

Although not a spin-off, Wings takes place in the same universe as Cheers, and by extension, its spin-off Frasier. Several episodes had tie-ins with Cheers; Kelsey Grammer (who was nominated for an Emmy for his guest appearance), Bebe Neuwirth, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, and Kirstie Alley all appeared on Wings playing their Cheers characters.

  • Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson visit Nantucket in the season two episode "The Story of Joe". Their goal is ostensibly to go fishing, but the two never seem to get any farther than the island's drinking establishments.
  • Frasier and Lilith Crane were the focus of the season three episode, "Planes, Trains, & Visiting Cranes." In the episode, Frasier and a skeptical Lilith come to Nantucket to put on a motivational seminar, but run into opposition from Helen Chappel, a dissatisfied former customer of Frasier's program. In the Cheers episode "License to Hill", which aired the same night as that particular Wings episode, Frasier even mentions that he and Lilith are going to Nantucket, foreshadowing their crossover appearance. (An additional note: Nine years later, at the beginning of the Frasier episode "Bla-Z Boy", Niles plays the Wings theme on the piano.)
  • Rebecca Howe has a cameo appearance in the season four episode "I Love Brian", whose plot revolves around Brian's attempt to infiltrate a post-concert party in Clint Black's hotel room. As Rebecca is seen being asked to leave by Black's bouncer, she begs Black to come to the bar in Boston where she works so she can prove to the others there that she knows him. Black responds, "Maybe next year," causing Rebecca to exclaim right before she is kicked out of the party, "But none of you know where we're going to be next year!", a reference to the fact that Cheers was in its final season on television.

In addition to the above, Peri Gilpin - who had also appeared in Cheers and was later known for playing Roz in Frasier - was originally up for the role of Helen Chappel and also appears in the Wings Season 3 episode "Four Dates That Will Live in Infamy" playing a different character,[12] while her character on Frasier, Roz Doyle, is named as a tribute to one of Wings's producers, who died from breast cancer in 1991.[13]

Rebecca Schull and Tony Shalhoub both guest-starred on episodes of Frasier as different characters (Shalhoub in the Season 3 episode "The Focus Group" and Schull in the Season 7 episode "RDWRER") and in the Season 9 episode "Bla-Z-Boy" Niles (David Hyde Pierce) plays the Wings theme song (Schubert's Piano sonata No. 20 in A Major, D. 959, IV. Rondo. Allegretto.).[14][15]

Also, several of the same extras and actors in smaller supporting parts appear across all three shows, so it's not unusual to spot familiar faces in the airport in Wings, the bar in Cheers, and sometimes on Frasier as well.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingRef.
First airedLast aired
16April 19, 1990 (1990-04-19)May 24, 1990 (1990-05-24)
222September 28, 1990 (1990-09-28)March 28, 1991 (1991-03-28)4212.2[a][16]
322September 19, 1991 (1991-09-19)May 7, 1992 (1992-05-07)1815.1[17]
422September 24, 1992 (1992-09-24)May 13, 1993 (1993-05-13)3113.0[18]
524September 16, 1993 (1993-09-16)May 12, 1994 (1994-05-12)1814.1[b][19]
626September 20, 1994 (1994-09-20)May 23, 1995 (1995-05-23)3011.9[20]
726September 19, 1995 (1995-09-19)May 23, 1996 (1996-05-23)3511.0[21]
824September 18, 1996 (1996-09-18)May 21, 1997 (1997-05-21)767.6[c][22]

Broadcast historyEdit

In Italy, the series aired on Rete 4 in 1995.

In the United Kingdom, the series aired on Sky One and Paramount Comedy Channel from 1991 to 1997.

TVNZ aired the show in New Zealand on Channel 2 throughout the 1990s, usually immediately after Cheers.

Reruns of the show aired regularly on the USA Network from September 13, 1993, to June 16, 2000 (and sporadically after until the mid-2000s), and on Nick at Nite from April 2003 to June 2006, along with airings on TV Land from 2001 to 2004; Antenna TV from 2016 to 2021, and Antenna TV's spinoff Rewind TV from 2021 to present. It has also been available on several other services, including CBS All Access (now Paramount+), Hulu Plus, Netflix (DVD only), the now defunct Comedy Gold, and on a Wings channel on Pluto TV.

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
1992 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Kelsey Grammer Nominated
1992 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Tyne Daly Nominated
1992 BMI Film & TV Awards BMI TV Music Award Bruce Miller Won
1994 BMI Film & TV Awards BMI TV Music Award Bruce Miller Won
1995 American Cinema Editors Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television Darryl Bates Nominated
1996 Emmy Award Outstanding Makeup for a Series Tommy Cole, Ken Wensevic Nominated
1997 GLAAD Media Award Outstanding TV – Individual Episode Nominated
2005 TV Land Award Favorite Airborne Character(s) Tim Daly, Steven Weber Won

† Nominated for guest performance. A rule change, instituted for the 1992 year only, stated that regular and guest performers would compete in the same category.

Home mediaEdit

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS DVD have released the entire series on DVD in Region 1.

On September 6, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to the series. They have subsequently re-released the first four seasons.[23][24]

On July 3, 2014, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment will release a complete series set on DVD on November 11, 2014.[25]

DVD name No. of
Release date
The Complete First and Second Seasons 28 May 23, 2006
October 1, 2013 (re-release)
The Complete Third Season 22 October 24, 2006
January 21, 2014 (re-release)
The Complete Fourth Season 22 May 15, 2007
January 21, 2014 (re-release)
The Complete Fifth Season 24 November 6, 2007
The Complete Sixth Season 26 March 25, 2008
The Complete Seventh Season 26 September 9, 2008
The Complete Eighth and Final Season 24 April 14, 2009
The Complete Series 172 November 11, 2014

Music, opening sequence and closing creditsEdit

The theme was a short version of a Franz Schubert piece, Piano sonata No. 20 in A Major, D. 959, IV. Rondo. Allegretto. Schubert received screen credit as the theme composer in every episode.

The opening theme heard during the first two and a half seasons was a fairly straightforward arrangement of piano and strings. It starts with a shot of Brant Point Lighthouse with seagulls crying in the background. The title card is shown, then the cast members' names as the plane flies over various places and finally into Nantucket Memorial Airport. The Nantucket Airport control tower is seen with a reflection of the plane landing in the window with the show creators' names onscreen. The slow opening theme was dropped in January 1992 as episodes began using a cold open, with simply the title card and the cast members and creators. In the season 4 finale the cold open was brusquely interrupted to show the plane caught in a violent thunderstorm instead of the usual clear skies.

The closing sequence used in seasons 1-5 was accompanied by the plane flying over Nantucket Sound in a sunrise setting. A jazzed-up version of the theme was heard during the closing credits for the first two seasons, then a more up-tempo version with a piano lead from season 3 onward. The closing credits were changed in season 6 with the tag scene accompanied by the closing credits (for NBC's original airings, the generic credits were used when NBC started doing this in the 1994–1995 season as well), though some episodes from seasons 6–8, including the series finale, used the standard closing sequence from seasons 1-5 (but with a slightly different font).

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Wood, Jennifer M. "13 Things...Wings". Mental Floss.
  2. ^ "'Wings' flies off into the sunset - News - - New Bedford, MA". Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  3. ^ "Wings: Season Seven". Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  4. ^ "Lowell Mather (Character)". IMDb. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ "Wings". April 19, 1990. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via IMDb.
  6. ^ Episode "Two Jerks and a Jill", season four
  7. ^ "Fine Dining On Nantucket". The Club Car. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  8. ^ "Aircraft Data N121PB, 1981 Cessna 402C C/N 402C0507".
  9. ^ "Aircraft N121PP, Cessna 411 C/N 4110069". Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  10. ^ "Wings the Legacy". IMDb.
  11. ^ "Wings the Legacy (1996)".
  12. ^ "Wings: Four Dates That Will Live in Infamy | TVmaze".
  13. ^ "Paying tribute to a friend". USA Today. May 12, 1994. Retrieved May 22, 2011.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Bla Z Boy — Frasier Transcripts Season 9 Episode 7 — the Frasier Archives".
  15. ^ "Frasier Soundtrack - S9E7 (Bla-Z-Boy)".
  16. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1990-91 Ratings History -- ABC Reclaims 1st Place After 11 Years, Sitcoms Still Dominate".
  17. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1991-92 Ratings History -- Political Controversy Catapults CBS Back to 1st After 7-Year Absence, NBC Fortunes Plummet to 3rd".
  18. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1992-93 Sitcoms -- Ratings on The Technology Cusp".
  19. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1993-94 Ratings History -- ABC Sitcoms Go For Gold, NBC Still Down".
  20. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1994-95 Ratings History -- ABC Again in 1st, NBC's Creative Renaissance Lands Them in 2nd, UPN and WB Debut in the Cellar".
  21. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1995-96 Ratings History -- NBC Reclaims 1st Place After 5 Years as Seinfeld, Friends and ER Become the Thursday Rage".
  22. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1996-97 Ratings History -- No Changes In Ranks With NBC Leading, CBS Struggles".
  23. ^ "Wings DVD news: Announcement for Wings - The Complete Seasons 1 and 2 -". Archived from the original on September 10, 2013.
  24. ^ "Wings DVD news: Announcement for Wings - The Complete Seasons 3 & 4 -". Archived from the original on November 10, 2013.
  25. ^ "Wings DVD news: Release date for Wings - The Complete Series -". Archived from the original on August 14, 2014.
  26. ^ "The Wings Serenity Movie Project". Funny Or Die. April 2013.

External linksEdit