With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it makes sense to remember American’s Irish home, the city of Boston. South Boston aka Southie is the home of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades in America. The city has also provided the setting for a number of television shows and we’re going to highlight some of the best of them. So whether you’re watching baseball with Mayday Malone or wrestling with the toughest of medical questions on St. Elsewhere, it’s time to celebrate one of America’s finest cities by remembering these TV shows.
For more information on the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, visit the website here.
Cheers, NBC (1982-1993)
Set in Boston and based in part on a well-known local bar, this “must-see TV” centered on the exploits of a sports bar run by ex-baseball player Sam “Mayday” Malone (Ted Danson), the bar’s memorable staff (Woody Harrelson, Rhea Pearlman, Shelly Long) and an offbeat group of regulars (including George Wendt and Kelsey Grammer). Boston was an integral part of the show, from Malone’s baseball background to numerous guest appearances by real-life local dignitaries.
The show followed a team of FBI investigators who sought to solve a series of mysterious, often unbelievable events that take place outside the confines of traditional science. Starring Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Noble and Lance Reddick, the show frequently used the city as a backdrop, from the campus of Harvard to various working-class neighborhoods scattered across the city.
Rizzoli And Isles, TNT (2010-Present)
Angie Harmon plays Boston detective Jane Rizzoli, who is frequently partnered with her best friend and Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Maura Dorthea Isles (Sasha Alexander). The show is a pretty traditional police procedural show, but it has frequently taken advantage of its Boston setting to shoot at a number of local locations, including the Boston Marathon.
Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Disney Channel (2005-2008)
The show revolves around the exploits of a set of troublesome twins (played by Dylan and Cole Sprouse) who live at the real life Tipton Hotel in Boston. The series was shot in a number of well-known Boston locations including Fenway Park.
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, ABC (1998-2001)
This show about three friends struggling to make it was based the lives of the show’s creators. The fictional “Beacon Street Pizza” was even loosely based on a real pizza restaurant in Teele Square, Somerville, Massachusetts. It starred a pre-movie star Ryan Reynolds along with Nathan Fillion and Jenniefer Westfeldt.
The Practice, ABC (1997-2004)
Set in a small law firm, the show was the first of four law series writer/producer David E. Kelley would set in Boston. The series made stars of Dylan McDermott and Camryn Mannheim and although the on-camera presence of Boston was rather minimal, the scripts often mentioned locations and events familiar to local residents.
Boston Public, FOX (2000-2004)
This David E. Kelley series followed the challenges of the staff and administrators at an inner city Boston high school. While it was set at a fictional Boston school and rarely mentioned real-life Bostonians, the show came under criticism from local residents who felt the show cast the city’s struggling educational system in a bad light.
Ally McBeal, FOX (1997-2002)
If there was a icon primetime women’s show in the late 1990s, it was this David E. Kelley series. Set at a law firm only concerned with making money, the series became a pop culture phenomenon and made stars of Calista Flockheart, Jane Krakowski, Lucy Lui and several others. While the show underplayed its Boston roots, it was so identified with the show that one local political candidate ran ads trying to tie himself to characters in the show.
Crossing Jordan, NBC (2001-2007)
Set in the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the series starred Jill Hennessy as Jordan Cavanaugh, M.D., a crime-solving forensic pathologist. While the show generally showed fictional locations in Boston, the chemistry of the city resonates strongly in the show’s stories and feel.
St. Elsewhere, NBC (1982-1988)
Set at a fictional Boston hospital, the ensemble series starred Ed Flanders, Norman Lloyd and William Daniels as teaching doctors working at a place that had several budgetary and medical issues. Since it was primarily filmed in Los Angeles the show didn’t have any particular Boston feel, although some of the cast traveled back East several times to shoot some scenes in the city.
Spenser For Hire, ABC (1985-1988)
Based on the Robert B. Parker Spenser novels, Robert Urich starred in the title role as a quirky and dogged private detective. Not only was the show set in Boston it was primarily shot in the city. A decision which gave the show a very real feel but that authenticity came with a high price tag. That cost was one of the reasons the show was canceled after four seasons.
Being Human, Syfy (2011-Present)
A remake of the popular BBC series, this drama centers around three roommates who try and balance their desires for a normal life with the fact they are a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf. The show is set in Boston and does take advantage of several local institutions, including Suffolk County Hospital.
Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, ABC (1996-2003)
Based on the Archie comic book of the same name, the series starred Melissa Joan Hart as a teen girl trying to come to terms with being a witch. Other than the frequent mention of the fictional town of Westbridge, Mass., the show didn’t have much to say about the town where Sabrina lived.