First episode date
19 April 1990
Theme music composer
Country of origin
David AngellPeter CaseyDavid Lee
Tim Daly (1990-1997)Steven Weber (1990-1997)Crystal Bernard (1990-1997)Thomas Haden Church (1990-1995)David Schramm (1990-1997)Rebecca Schull (1990-1997)Tony Shalhoub (1992-1997)Farrah Forke (1992-1993)Amy Yasbeck (1994-1997)Brian Haley (1995-1996)
Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959, Rondo: Allegretto
Wings 1990 where are they now
Wings is an American sitcom that ran for eight seasons on NBC from April 19, 1990, to May 21, 1997. Starring Tim Daly and Steven Weber as brothers Joe and Brian Hackett, the show is set at the fictional "Tom Nevers Field" airport, a small two-airline airport in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where the Hackett brothers operate Sandpiper Air.
- Wings 1990 where are they now
- Wings intro theme
- Joseph Montgomery Hackett
- Brian Michael Hackett
- Helen Chappel Hackett
- Lowell Mather
- Fay Evelyn Schlob Dumbly DeVay Cochran
- Roy Peterman Biggins
- Antonio V Scarpacci
- Alex Lambert
- Cassandra Casey Davenport Chappel
- Budd Bronski
- Recurring characters
- Cheers tie ins
- Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings
- Awards and nominations
- DVD releases
- Music opening sequence and closing credits
Other regulars include Crystal Bernard, David Schramm, Rebecca Schull, Thomas Haden Church, and Tony Shalhoub. Farrah Forke later joined the cast for two seasons. When Forke left, Amy Yasbeck joined the cast for the remainder of the show's run from 1994–1997. Thomas Haden Church left the show in spring 1995 to star in the Fox Sitcom Ned and Stacey, and Brian Haley joined the cast as the new mechanic.
Wings was created and produced by Cheers veterans David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee. The trio would later create the sitcom Frasier, which was a spinoff of Cheers. Characters from Cheers occasionally made special Guest appearances on Wings. All three series were produced by Paramount Network Television.
Wings intro theme
Two brothers work in an airport.
Joseph Montgomery Hackett
Played by Tim Daly, Joe is a highly responsible, compulsively neat pilot who owns the one-plane airline Sandpiper Air on Nantucket Island. 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 fiancee 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.
Brian Michael Hackett
Played by Steven Weber, Brian 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 embolded 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). 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 Chappel Hackett
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 about 10 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 children 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 would accept 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. She has been a lifelong friend of both Hackett brothers and dreamed of marrying Joe from a young age. She married Antonio to prevent him from being deported and although they intended to divorce after he won the Green Card Lottery, they mistakenly remained married for three years because Helen forgot to mail the divorce papers. She finally married Joe at the end of the sixth season.
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.
(Season 1–7) Played by Thomas Haden Church, Lowell is a dim-witted mechanic/handyman who works at the airport. 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 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.
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 an orange ballcap, 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.
Fay Evelyn Schlob Dumbly DeVay Cochran
Played by Rebecca Schull, Fay is Joe's only other employee besides Brian. 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.
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.
Roy Peterman Biggins
Played by David Schramm, Roy 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.
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 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 a homosexual.
Roy is dishonest. 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.
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 unintentionally rear-ended by people in luxury cars.
Antonio V. Scarpacci
(Season 3–8) Played by Tony Shalhoub, Antonio is an Italian immigrant from Alecchio, 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.
(Season 4–5) 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. 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.
Cassandra "Casey" (Davenport) Chappel
(Season 6–8) Played by Amy Yasbeck, Casey 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.
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.
(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.
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.
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. 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 Boston talk show host who tricks Brian onto her show in season 6 to meet up with his ex-girlfriend Alex. She returns the next season as Roy's new girlfriend, only to use the relationship to get a show topic using Joe and Helen. 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."
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.
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.
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.
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 and leaves Nantucket to start a family.
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.
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; 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).
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.
Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings
In the United Kingdom, the series aired on Sky One and Paramount Comedy Channel from 1991 to 1997.
Reruns of the show aired regularly on the USA Network from September 13, 1993, to June 16, 2000, and then sporadically after that, and again on Nick at Nite from January 2004 to June 2006 along with airings on TV Land from 2001-2004. It can currently be seen on Antenna TV, Hulu Plus, Netflix (DVD only) and Comedy Gold.
Awards and nominations
† Nominated for guest performance, prior to the creation of Guest Actress and Guest Actor categories, respectively
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.
On July 3, 2014, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment will release a complete series set on DVD on November 11, 2014.
The series was made available through streaming services such as Netflix, however some seasons are incomplete.
Music, opening sequence and closing credits
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 with piano and strings, accompanied by the plane taking its flight to Nantucket in the opening sequence, which started out with a shot of Brant Point Lighthouse with seagulls heard in the background followed by the plane about to take flight, in which the title card was shown afterward, then showed the cast members (which showed "Timothy Daly" in its first two seasons before billing to "Tim Daly" in season 3) as the plane was flying over various places, including birds flying in the air, churches, and finally, into Nantucket, which the plane landed onto the lot of Nantucket Memorial Airport after which the Nantucket Airport control tower was seen with a reflection of the plane landing in the window with the creators of the show seen onscreen. The slow opening theme was dropped in January 1992 as episodes began using a cold open, with simply the title card being seen and the cast members followed by the creators, in the now-customized fashion as the show's logo, during the teaser scene, though it returned for the series finale in 1997. The new opening scene would show a brief shot of cumulus clouds, save for the season 4 finale when the cold open was brusquely interrupted to show the plane caught in a violent thunder and lightning storm in contrast to the clear skies often shown.
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, followed by 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).