Wings, Sixteen Years Later: The Sixteen Thoughts That Remain -The Toast

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1. The pilot episode remains deeply charming. Also, it was a pilot about pilots. That is a tiny nugget of joy that was given to you by the universe for free. Swaddle it gently in your arms. Treasure it. The entire series run is available both on Netflix streaming and on YouTube, a second gift. What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

2. Season 1 ran only 6 episodes, one of which prominently featured Megan Mullally, using a bizarre and untraceable accent, as a promiscuous beautician named Cindy (at one point, someone claims she has been with every man on the island, which might actually be doable) trying to start a new life off the island. One-sixth of season one of Wings is about a baby Megan Mullaley.

3. Tony Shalhoub appears as a waiter in an Italian restaurant in season two (the episode where Joe and Helen both go to different places on Valentine’s Day), then reappears as a regular cast member with a completely different background in season three. Later, he marries Helen in order to obtain a green card. They remain married for the next three years because Helen forgets to send in their divorce papers, a plot that was later reused between Ross and Rachel on Friends.

4. Thomas Haden Church left Wings after season 6 (his character accidentally saw a mob hit and joined the Witness Protection Program) for the short-lived Ned & Stacey with Debra Messing (who would later star on Will & Grace with Megan Mullally, using different but equally bizarre vocal stylings).

5. It is possible that Lowell could have reinvented himself as the Ned of Ned & Stacey, and that Megan Mullally’s Cindy reinvented herself as Karen Walker of Will & Grace, but both cannot be true at the same time, due to the Debra Messing Overlap. 

6. Three years after Wings ended, Rebecca Shull, who had played Fay the flight attendant and possible murderous black widow, guest starred on Frasier. Eight years earlier, Frasier and Lilith appeared on the island as part of a Cheers crossover. Frasier gives no sign of recognizing Fay in the 2000 episode, “RDWRER.”

7. All three of Fay’s ex-husbands (who are all named George) are dead. Episode 37, “Try to Remember the Night he Dismembered,” has rival airline owner Roy Biggins getting the best of the gang when he says he hid $250,000 in his backyard, getting them to dig a hole big enough for his new hot tub. Originally, the script called for Roy to have murdered his wife and buried her in the backyard. Before the episode was shot, producers decided this storyline was too dark and rewrote it to feature a hot tub instead. All that remains of the original twist is the episode title.

8. Over the course of eight seasons, Helen leaves the island to pursue her dream of becoming a concert-level cellist six times. She attempts to give up the cello at least twice. Her mother is played by Debbie Reynolds in season 6. Debbie Reynolds later went on to play Debra Messing’s mother on Will & Grace; the Debra Messing Overlap at play once again.

9. Steven Weber has a solid Sean Connery impression, which came in handy during an extended fantasy sequence in season 7.

10. The entire cast of the Brady Bunch Movie makes an appearance in season 6. Several of the Monkees appear in season 7. Don Murray plays the ghost of Joe and Brian’s father in one very special, very haunted episode.

11. By the end of Ned & Stacey’two-season run, both Ned and Stacey have fallen in love with one another; however, the show was canceled before this development could be explored. Thomas Haden Church never guest starred on Will & Grace.

12. In the fourth episode of season 1, after a series of misunderstandings, Lowell becomes convinced that Roy is actually a woman, and that brothers Joe and Brian have fallen in love with one another and are conducting a secret affair. He comes to gently bemused terms with both prospects and gives everyone his blessings. It’s oddly sweet.

13. Before Debbie Reynolds guest starred as Helen’s mother, Fay mentions receiving a “Debbie Reynolds workout tape” for her birthday, implying that Debbie Reynolds and Debbie Reynolds’ character exist simultaneously in Wings continuity.

14. Steven Weber’s first Steven King miniseries (The Shining) is demonstrably superior to Tim Daly’s Steven King miniseries (Storm of the Century), while his second (Desperation) is about the same.

15. Part of the greatness that was Wings was that where other shows would occasionally hold a “bottle episode” as a ratings stunt, the majority of Wings episodes were bottle episodes, taking place primarily or exclusively in the terminal of the Tom Nevers Airport. 

16. Ken Levine, a former writer for the show, wrote a Wings tribute on the 20th anniversary of the airing of the pilot episode. He still wears the show jacket, even now. None of the main cast were ever nominated for an Emmy, which is an actual crime.

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