Partway through his interview with Seth Meyers on Tuesday’s Late Night, The Good Place star and TV legend Ted Danson called it a “a bizarre, strange, sad day” to be there. He was referring to the fact that now-convicted rapist Bill Cosby is headed to jail, noting that it was the overwhelming popularity The Cosby Show that kept low-rated Cheers afloat during the early years (when Cheers once wound up dead last out of the whopping 70 network shows on TV at the time). Calling himself unqualified to comment on the “horrible things” his former NBC network-mate did, Danson yet stuck up for the enduring quality of The Cosby Show and its other talented actors, saying, “I think it’s okay to say that.”
With entertainment titans being exposed as male sex monsters with dispiriting regularity these days, it’s dangerous to pin one’s faith on anyone in Hollywood (or Washington D.C., or anywhere), but here’s praying we get to keep the universally beloved Danson, since there are some blows our TV-watching childhoods just can’t take. Danson’s central place in our television viewing consciousness was underscored in last season’s The Good Place finale when—SPOILERS for anyone foolishly not watching The Good Place—Danson’s dapper reformed demon Michael adopted a goosebump-inducing guise in order to steer semi-reformed “Arizona trash bag” Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) in the right direction with some sage barroom wisdom. As Meyers noted, seeing Danson polishing shot glasses behind a bar, towel draped casually over his shoulder, was the sort of unexpected gift from The Good Place creator and Cheers fan Michael Schur that makes a Sam Malone enthusiast want to stand up and salute. (That being said, Danson said an emphatic no thanks to Meyers’ question about any possible Cheers reboot.)
Dishing on his eleven seasons as Boston’s most eligible bartender, Danson confessed that he was, at the time, almost comically unsuited to the role of Sam “Mayday” Malone, since he never frequented bars and was most un-Sammy-like when it came to romance. Telling Meyers that he went to bartending school in order to add some verisimilitude to his work behind the bar, Danson revealed that it was a waste of time, since the creators of the show cared more about the jokes than the mixology. Plus, nobody at Cheers ordered much except beer. Danson—who went out for tequila with wife Mary Steenburgen after ditching the most recent Emmys immediately after losing to Bill Hader—told Meyers that his old Boston butterflies kicked in as soon as he stepped behind the bar once again. “I was full of insecurity and felt horrible,” confided Danson shockingly, considering the naturalness with which Michael made Eleanor—and us—feel, well, like he was glad she came.