This month, Ted Danson will star on the second season of the FX dark comedy series, Fargo. Danson is one of the best TV comedy actors of the past three decades. In honor of his return to television comedy, we thought we’d look at our five favorite Ted Danson roles and show why the best TV is TedTV.
Ted Danson will best be remembered as Sam Malone. He broke through as the lead character in Cheers, one of the most successful sitcoms in history. Danson was the soul of the show, bringing silliness, sensitivity, and strength to the center of a large ensemble cast. For eleven seasons, Danson was the owner and bartender where everybody knows your name. Producers recalled that when they had to film one episode without Danson late in the show’s run, because Danson had chicken pox, they realized what a struggle it was. He was the only character who was as irreplaceable as the bar itself. Even though it always seemed like a stretch that Malone was a former star relief pitcher for the Red Sox, Danson was good enough that you could ignore that backstory.
If Larry David respects your comedy chops, then you know you’re legit. Danson is one of the most-frequent guest-stars on Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing himself in thirteen episodes of the HBO series. He gets into countless fights with Larry — about issues as mundane as deli sandwiches, shirts, and dessert etiquette.
Danson appears in each of the first seven seasons of the show, serving as a great foil to Larry who never plays too over-the-top in his anger. Instead, he is a level-headed friend who occasionally, frequently, gets annoyed with Larry’s shit.
Jason Schwartzman starred as a fictional version of Jonathan Ames in HBO’s detective comedy, Bored To Death. The fictional Ames is a struggling writer who moonlights as a private detective. Zack Galifianakis and Ted Danson play his friends, Ray and George. Danson is the best part of the series. Scenes with Danson’s character, George Christopher — Ames’ friend and quasi-mentor — easily stand out as the highlights of each episode. He plays a wealthy, eccentric, adventure-seeking drug-user. In his mid-60s, Danson kills it opposite his younger co-stars.
HBO canceled the series after only three seasons and 24 episodes, but Danson’s hilarious performance made Bored To Death memorable beyond its run.
Ted Danson played the miserable Dr. John Becker in Becker. The sitcom ran for six successful seasons. He grumbles at his patients, whines about his friends, and rants about how much he hates pretty much everything. Danson plays a very different role than the likable, friend-of-all that he played on Cheers, but he is just as funny. He bitches about everything from street noise to midgets and brought a dark comedic layer that you typically don’t see on a CBS sitcom.
Tim and Eric decided to shrink Ted Danson in this fake movie trailer for “Little Danson Man,” a movie where Danson becomes Tiny Ted Danson. The whole trailer is a bizarre, hilarious short that perfectly fits Adult Swim’s model. David Cross plays Tiny Ted Danson’s agent. The log-line: “He was once tall. But now he’s small. It’s a small Ted Danson.” They should make that a spin-off series ASAP.