Well, hey, I by no means thought Id be standing right here, Ted Danson says in the pilot of Mr. Mayor, the NBC sitcom that debuted with a two-part premiere on Thursday. Danson, delivering his first fictional press convention as the sequence titular mayor of Los Angeles, billboard billionaire Neil Bremer, explains that hes returned to the workforce to steer the rudderless post-pandemic metropolis after main a life of leisure for eight years. This time final yr, he continues, I used to be fortunately retired.

Thats a method wherein Bremer and Danson differ. This time final yr, Danson was starring in the climactic episodes of the fourth and ultimate season of The Good Place, the sequence that helped him earn his sixteenth, seventeenth, and 18th Primetime Emmy nominations (together with a report 14 for a lead actor in a comedy). Now hes embarking on one other prime-time undertaking, practically 40 years after Cheers charmed a Thursday night viewers for the first time in September 1982. In the intervening a long time, Danson has hardly ever allowed a lot time to elapse between roles. Maybe Bremer by no means thought hed be standing in entrance of the cameras once more, however it will be bizarre if Danson werent on the air.

Although Bremer tells the public he ran for workplace as a result of he interpreted a snippet of textual content on a billboard as an omen, the rookie politician later reveals the actual purpose he sought the highlight once more: He wished to show to his teenage daughter (Kyla Kenedy) that he had one thing left. She thinks Im a ineffective previous man, he says. And I get it[shes] by no means seen me work. But now, I’ve an opportunity to show to herto myselfthat Im not carried out. Not but. Fifty years into his performing profession, it will be troublesome for any TV viewer to not have seen Danson work. In truth, hes labored greater than nearly another actor of his ilk. And though no person wanted convincing that the 73-year-old Danson may nonetheless anchor a sitcom forged, Mr. Mayor proves that Dansons not carried out bolstering his case as the GOAT of TV.

According to an evaluation of knowledge drawn from IMDb and offered by Ringer contributor Rob Arthur, Danson is on the verge of turning into the most prolific TV actor of all time, in phrases of complete episodes. A pair of caveats: In order to restrict our inquiry to actors in a class corresponding to Dansons, we excluded actors who primarily appeared in applications produced for non-American audiences. We additionally excluded cleaning soap opera and telenovela lifers and individuals who primarily labored on childrens applications or as voice actors, puppeteers, or wrestlers. If not for these filters, the higher echelons can be dominated by cleaning soap stars, actors who do dubs for anime, and the forged of The Electric Company, which might replicate a sort of prolificacy however wouldnt seize the sort of mainstream small-screen ubiquity that Danson has maintained since he started to embody Boston bartender Sam Malone.

The desk under lists the leaders, excluding their voice-only or credit score solely roles.

Most Prolific TV Actors

Name Episodes
Name Episodes
Michael Landon 796
Ted Danson 768
Bill Cosby 746
David McCallum 742
Mark Harmon 734
Ed Asner 712
Betty White 701
James Arness 694
Ed Begley Jr. 652
Dabney Coleman 649
Wendie Malick 646
Kelsey Grammer 641
Denver Pyle 641
Cloris Leachman 615
Henry Winkler 543
Ron Howard 540

Dansons present rely of 768 contains solely the two episodes of Mr. Mayor which have already aired, which suggests hell add 11 to that complete by the finish of the sitcoms 13-episode first season. That would put him 17 away from a first-place tie with Michael Landonclose sufficient that he may supplant Landon with a second season of Mr. Mayor plus Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm (which began capturing in November). Landonlike Danson, an NBC staplestarred on Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven throughout an uninterrupted 30-year run on community prime time. He was slated to star in a fourth sequence, the CBS drama Us, when he died of pancreatic most cancers in 1991, just a few months quick of his fifty fifth birthday.

If Danson can declare the prime spot, he has the potential to carry it indefinitely. Mark Harmon, whos just a few years youthful than Danson and nonetheless stars on NCIS, may catch him, however Harmon has been the topic of latest retirement rumors. Its unlikely {that a} youthful star will surpass Danson in an period of shorter TV seasons. If Danson stays lively for just a few extra yearslet alone so long as indefatigable octogenarians David McCallum and Dabney Coleman or nonagenarians Ed Asner, Betty White, and Cloris Leachmanhis ultimate complete could also be a mark as unassailable as baseball legend Cy Youngs 511 wins, a report generated via a mixture of excellence, longevity, and dramatically totally different circumstances than people who prevail at the moment.

Of course, amount isnt every part; if it had been, we’d rely all the cleaning soap stars. But an nearly unparalleled episode rely isnt Dansons solely declare to the title of the GOAT of TV. Nor is the indisputable fact that he performed one of TVs most iconic characters, though the depth and vulnerability he lent to his signature good-looking heartthrob is a testomony to his talent. Its the breadth of Dansons memorable roles, the quantity of networks hes graced, and the impeccable comedian timing hes introduced each to traditional sequence and formulaic fare.

Well, hey, I by no means thought Id be standing right here, Ted Danson says in the pilot of Mr. Mayor, the NBC sitcom that debuted with a two-part premiere on Thursday. Danson, delivering his first fictional press convention as the sequence titular mayor of Los Angeles, billboard billionaire Neil Bremer, explains that hes returned to the workforce to steer the rudderless post-pandemic metropolis after main a life of leisure for eight years. This time final yr, he continues, I used to be fortunately retired.

Robert Trachtenberg/NBC

Danson didnt break via on Cheers till he was about to show 35. His first recurring function got here on The Doctors, a daytime cleaning soap, and for a number of years he acquired visitor work on sequence starting from Laverne & Shirley to Magnum, P.I. and Taxi (with a number of less-impressive stops in between). Cheers made him one of the most recognizable males in America. Although Danson says it took him a very long time to really feel snug taking part in Malone, he appeared to have a really feel for the character from the first scene.

Despite presenting as a square-jawed mimbo, Malone wasnt a stereotypical athletic lothario. For one factor, he was, by all accountsexcept, generally, his ownpretty unhealthy at baseball, extra Charlie Brown than Billy Chapel. He was a recovering alcoholic, and his preening masked an interior insecurity, simply as the again of his head hid a bald spot. He might be coarse, crude, and merciless, however he additionally had a delicate facet. He fell for an mental, and though he gathered innumerable notches on his bedpost, he by no means actually acquired the ladies he noticed as one thing greater than that. Almost 30 years after Cheers went off the air, the sitcom nonetheless holds up, which is partly a credit score to Dansons complicated panache.

Danson dabbled in function movies throughout his 11-year run on Cheers, and he confirmed that he may deal with dramatic roles. (He gained a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for his efficiency in a 1984 TV film about sexual abuse, Something About Amelia, wherein he appeared alongside future Damages costar Glenn Close.) But few of his movies from that period actually resonated with critics and audiences, other than the 1987 comedy Three Men and a Baby.

Freed from his 22-plus-episodes-per-season sitcom commitments after the much-watched finale of Cheers in the spring of 1993, Danson will need to have appeared like a film star in ready, however his post-Cheers decisions had been poor. Made in America, which opened the week after Cheers closed, was panned by critics, and the relationship with costar Whoopi Goldberg that began on set led to a disastrous roast at the Friars Club in October 1993, the place Danson wore blackface and repeatedly used the n-word and different racial slurs. Goldberg defended Danson as the personal roast developed right into a public scandal, however their relationship quickly ended.

Prompted by a reporter to preview his set previous to the roast, Danson had declined and joked, My profession would finish. It didnt finish, however it definitely stagnated. His subsequent few moviesGetting Even With Dad, Pontiac Moon, and Loch Nesshad been forgettable flops, though he met Mary Steenburgen whereas making the center film and married her in 1995. Having didn’t construct buzz on the massive display screen, Danson returned to TV. In retrospect, his failure to launch as a number one man in motion pictures might have been a blessing. Although hes sprinkled sporadic appearances in function filmsincluding an unlikely cameo in Saving Private Ryan and a return to tending bar in the 2018 comedy Hearts Beat Loudamid his many subsequent sequence, abandoning his quest to ascertain himself as a giant box-office draw allowed him to grasp the medium he met first. It additionally gave him time to amass a TV rsum that went effectively past Sam Malone.

Danson performed an irascible physician on Becker for six seasons, proving once more that he may command an viewers (at the very least so long as he had Everybody Loves Raymond as a lead-in). After Becker, he recalled in 2018, I felt like Id stayed too lengthy at the half-hour comedy social gathering, and I used to be sort of boring myself. But his on-screen assignments steadily diversified. Starting in 2000, when Becker was nonetheless on the air, he started to play a fictionalized model of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, including a second entry from the all-time TV comedy pantheon to his bio. The distorted Dansons silver-fox exterior and warm-hearted, beneficiant persona obscures the interior conceitedness and selfishness that Larry David shares however doesnt attempt to disguise, making him a positive foil and nemesis for the extra genuine however much less personable protagonist.

As Curb continued, Danson broadened his vary. Few actors may transition seamlessly from authorized thriller (Damages) to oddball HBO comedy (Bored to Death) to CBS forensics procedural (CSI and CSI: Cyber) to status drama (Fargos incredible second season) to serialized NBC sitcom (The Good Place) to sci-fi satire/tribute (The Orville), however Danson did. Whatever ones TV-viewing proclivities, hes nearly omnipresent. I appear to be nearly like a contract participant in the 50s or one thing, Danson mentioned in 2018. I are inclined to do whats subsequent in entrance of me and I appear to be very, by and enormous, blessed. No surprise Danson has no curiosity in bringing again Cheers; hes too busy for a reboot.

His hit fee isnt a coincidence. The latter-day Dansons standing as a reliable sitcom sweetheart helped promote The Good Places all-timer twist; we knew our heroes had to be in the Bad Place when Dansons avuncular chuckle gave approach to an evil snicker (which was Dansons concept). Like Malone, reformed demon Michael is a research in contradictionsan immortal being whos historic and highly effective however nonetheless type of sucks at his job and is having a tough time getting the cling of befriending people relatively than torturing them. Hes earnest and sober in a single scene, zany in the subsequent.

Even on the small display screen, Dansons produced some duds. Ink, a mid-90s CBS sitcom wherein Danson and Steenburgen performed divorced newspaper journalists navigating the identical New York newsroom, ran for a single season. Help Me Help You, a 2006 ABC sitcom that starred Danson as an selfish therapist, was pulled from the schedule after its ninth episode aired. So the success of Mr. Mayor isnt assured, though the cachet of its forged (which incorporates Holly Hunter) and its creators (Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) ought to grant it a reasonably lengthy leash. That the sequence exists in any respect in its present kind is essentially a tribute to Danson: Originally envisioned as a 30 Rock spinoff wherein Alec Baldwin would reprise his function as Jack Donaghy, Fey and Carlock reimagined the present as a car for Danson after Baldwin dropped out. When Danson balked at relocating for a sequence set in New York, Fey and Carlock switched the setting to Los Angeles. If Danson doesnt come to you, go to Danson.

In its first two episodesthe solely two NBC despatched to criticsthe sequence doesnt fairly click on. The premise of an entitled, inexperienced politician fumbling an vital place doesnt appear so humorous in the midst of a pandemic and a constitutional disaster. The setting doesnt appear particular, and (possibly as a result of of the audible from Baldwin to Danson) the sequence hasnt picked a most popular setting on the Parks and Recto-Veep feel-good-to-cynical spectrum. The script isnt as snappy and laugh-filled as 30 Rocks, however 30 Rock began gradual too. Mr. Mayor might discover its stride. In the meantime, Danson is pleasant, his aptitude for bodily comedy undiminished by age or arthritis.

He eats a weed gummy and will get goofy. He rolls up a bit of pizza tip to crust and chews it like a burrito, speaking and laughing with a mouthful of meals. He smacks L.A. Kings mascot Bailey the lion, knees him in the groin, and hits him with a rubbish can, exclaiming Fly again to hell earlier than fleeing the scene. His antics get laughs partly as a result of theyre carried out by the legendary Danson, TV royalty who nonetheless embraces seeming foolish and graciously provides different individuals punch strains. But they amuse largely as a result of he nonetheless sells them, simply as he offered his dedication to floss in a viral clip from the Good Place set. Im nonetheless that excited individual that first drove via a studio gate 40 years in the past, Danson mentioned in 2018. The pleasure he professes to really feel comes via on the display screen, the place he by no means seems like hes phoning it in or resting on his appreciable laurels.

Hunter, an Academy Award winner and four-time Oscar nominee, didnt begin slumming it on the small display screen till she was nearly 50. (She made her TV debut in 2007s Saving Grace.) Mr. Mayor is her first sitcom; she performs ultraliberal councilwoman Arpi Meskimen, who turns into Bremers deputy mayor. Over time, their antagonistic tone might morph right into a Leslie KnopeRon Swanson dtente. At the Golden Globes, shes sitting in the film part. Im down in the TV part, Danson joked about Hunter in an interview revealed this week. But in Mr. Mayor, hes on his house turf. Danson has stayed at the prime of his recreation lengthy sufficient to see film stars flock to the small display screen and a pandemic elevate the front room above the theater in the cultural dialog. In the finish, its in all probability higher to be the greatest TV actor ever than one of many film stars.

I made that previous white man appear cogent and funky, chief of workers Mikaela (Vella Lovell) says about Bremer in Mr. Mayor. In actuality, Danson does that himself. (It helps that Michael and Mayor Bremer are hardly ever sighted outdoors of slimming fits, and that Danson nonetheless wears a hairpiece when he isnt at the seaside.) What would possibly Danson do subsequent? In 2018, he mentioned he wished to do a Western, so maybe hell attempt to observe in the bootsteps of Landon, James Arness, and Denver Pyle. What he wont do is try and observe in Feys. Im not a storyteller, he mentioned in 2018, including, I do not need that facet of my mind working that will permit me to provide or direct. So be it; one cant develop into the most prolific TV actor by being a multihyphenate.

All that dumb stuff at the moment? I imply, individuals confirmed up since you had been gonna be there, Arpi tells Bremer at the finish of Mr. Mayors second episode. The identical remark applies to the sequence itself. Maybe Mr. Mayor will burnish Dansons illustrious small-screen CV, or possibly will probably be a footnote, a blip between higher reveals. Either approach, many of those that watch will accomplish that for Danson, who as all the time will depart them wantingand possible gettingmore.

Thanks to Rob Arthur for analysis help.