About Tom

Tom Reeder - Paris

Tom Reeder – Paris

Tom Reeder worked in the television industry for three decades, writing for Cheers, M*A*S*H, Frasier, Night Court, Barney Miller and a number of other shows, most of which are deservedly forgotten.  


He is married and the father of two, to whom he is grateful for tolerating his quirks and indulging his enthusiasm for sports, art, trivia and travel.  Tom has gotten temporarily lost in over 40 countries and a similar number of states, and is always making plans for more adventures.  


In the course of his travels, Reeder has had the opportunity to dine in some of the world’s finest restaurants —  and low-brow cafes.  It is his view that what enhances every meal is lively conversation; he hopes that something from the array of topics touched on here may be useful someday to you and a companion.


Tom Reeder has many opinions, some of which are actually supported by facts.  He shares some of those opinions here, and invites you to share yours with him.

44 responses to “About Tom

  1. I look forward to reading more of your posts – a great addition to the blogosphere!

  2. Hi Tom.
    What a fancy site you have here. And what nice tight buns for an old golfer! Here’s to a new dawn starting tomorrow, happily in our lifetime.

    Best, Stephen W.

  3. This is wonderful, I’m going to drop my newspaper and just indulge in your blog. I’m hooked. Thanks, Tom.

  4. Tom,

    You know how families have commonly used phrases/jokes – well, the last time I used this particular one (that was lifted from a TV show and since appropriated ) that gets thrown out there every couple of years my sister Gaylen said to me, “The person who wrote that has no idea that 20 years later we’re still using his line”.
    For some reason I remembered that today and after some Google-ing, I found you and this blog.
    The show: Night Court
    The line: “Bad yams”
    Looking forward to reading this blog!

    Maryna O’Leary

  5. You and Gaylen have incredible memories! Most of us can’t remember where we parked our car, let alone a line from a TV show. I had to look it up, but the “bad yams” episode of Night Court was called “The Last Temptation of Mac”; it originally aired on November 23, 1988.

    Thanks for being in touch — welcome!


  6. Except not really ( I wish I had a good memory!) and that’s what makes it funny.

    I can’t remember the specifics of the episode and wasn’t even much of a Night Court watcher – it was just a chance encounter with a funny line that we appropriated and throw out there every couple of years – at which point all parties involved nod in silent agreement b/c it perfectly sums up any story about food related illness. And by “all parties” I mean only us and my other sister Shanna.

  7. I’m another Tom Reeder, who has followed you by watching ‘Night Court, ‘Mash’ and the first time I read your fabulous name was an episode of ‘Ball Four’, many years ago, up to that point I thought I was the only Tom Reeder. Wish I were the one there, when Koufax pitched that perfect game.
    Tom Reeder, Saginaw, MI

  8. Welcome, Tom. You might be interested to know that among the many others who share our name is a character in Mark Twain’s ROUGHING IT. Twain quotes newspaper accounts of how that Tom Reeder, a drunk in Virginia City, Nevada, gets stabbed and shot multiple times. He was a tough bird, though — survived his wounds for two days.

    Check it out — it’s in chapter 49 (XLIX).

  9. Tom you’re just so dang clever – made me laugh out loud many times. I look forward to visiting often. And I will definitely suggest the name “Tributary” for the next pregnant woman I see. Hope it’s not my daughter-in-law. Yes, they are actually open to the idea of a fourth child! Who are these crazy people? I am always in gratitude that they’ve given me a family. Watching my grandson in Little League takes me back ….

  10. Just watched the “Hash” episode of Barney Miller with my wife, on dvd. Laughed until tears. It was so much funnier than some of the other episodes that I looked up the writer and came to the web to see what else you’d done. I’m glad to find you’re writing a blog.

    Forgive me, but I have to write it down: Nick talking, “Anyone seen my legs? They’re about this long. Ten toes. One of them’s busted. Looks like this.”

    Eh, thanks.

  11. Thanks, Sean. Jack Soo (Nick Yemana) gave a terrific performance in that episode, and I got some help from writer colleagues on it. Not that any of us had personal experience with mood-altering substances, you understand…

  12. It has been great getting in touch aftrer all these years. I just love your blog and I always look forward to something new from you. Great memories of you from RHS!

  13. You were a great guy to know in high school and it has been fun following you! Keep up the blog as it is a part of my “must do” reading.

  14. Alice Fleming

    I sat next to someone you know at a luncheon yesterday who told me about this BLOG. Of course, now that I have looked around it, I am HOOKED. Because I am late coming to it, I can see how I am spending my summer vacation!!

  15. Trying to reach Mr Reeder, as I knew his parents back in 1977. Long story, just trying to say thank you!

  16. I’ve only just heard about your blog and am delighted to have found it. Your writing has given me enormous pleasure and a lot of laughter over the years – Cheers, MASH, Barney Miller – absolutely inspired!
    Thank you so much for your wit and generosity!

  17. And thank you, Smu, for the encouragement. I hope you’ll visit often.

  18. just filling out the “required” fields!

  19. Heard you were recently chosen as a “favorite” by WordPress. You’ve been one of our favorites for a lot longer than that! Congrats 🙂

  20. Yes, a WordPress editor gave “front page” prominence to a recent post of mine, which was very nice of her. Thanks for the kind words, Dayna, and for your loyal support.

  21. Tom, Your scripts ALWAYS made me laugh outloud when I read them…even your first drafts!
    What a pleasure and privilege it was to work with you on those oldies but goodies. Been dreaming lots about the late, great, Danny. My shrink says it’s the new anti-depressants…she didn’t know that man!

  22. Looking forward to reading all your future posts!

  23. Dear Tom- I had no Idea, untill I read these blogs, that you were “the braions” behind my favorite shows! I only wrote because I saw your “Crazy Horse” mtn. story. My pseudonym is “Grey Eagle”- daughter of “Red Cliffe”
    keep up the good works!-JH

  24. Tom – as much of a pleasure as it was to read your scripts (and especially to know they required almost no expense of personal labor or hours for revisions), it’s a greater pleasure to read your blog — not only because it is good, but because you actually know things. (I’m glad someone among us actually did.)

    • All of our writer colleagues knew stuff, which was part of the reason we had fun in spite of the long hours in the room together. Over the years I worked with a lot of smart people, and I guess I retained some of the things they said. Thanks for your kind words, and I’ll try to keep posting pieces that are worth reading.

  25. I am now happily reading my way through your blog, having just discovered it. I’ve followed you through the years, since you wrote for my favorite shows…invariably, your name would be among the credits if the writing was superb! As a child, I also remember you nabbing me while I was peeking out under the curtain before a show in Clock Auditorium…I’ve reformed, however, and will continue to enjoy your observations and marvelous photos. Thank you for an enjoyable blog!

    • Thank you for your kind remarks, Wendy. Refresh my memory: When were you peeking out at the audience in Clock Auditorium? Were you in one of the children’s theater productions, or did you have a backstage pass for some reason? (Security wasn’t very tight, as I recall — it couldn’t have been if I was the one who nabbed you!)

  26. I think it was a production (’64ish?) of Aladdin, but I may be wrong. I was fortunate to be in it via my older sister Mary. Ten years later, I joined the official ranks of the RHS drama department and exhibited more self-restraint. I am glad that writing was in your future rather than security!

  27. Hi Tom, I’m not sure if you’ll remember me from my tenure at CBS and WB-TV as a “suit” back in the day, but I sure remember you – as a talented class act and a really nice guy. Your blog is a pleasure to read…many thanks for sharing your eclectic thoughts and adventures with us. Best, Karen Cooper Minnicks

  28. Of course I remember you, Karen, and I’m so pleased that you posted this very gracious comment. Writing a blog can be sort of like having a one-sided conversation, so it is a real boost when someone (like you) whose opinion I respect speaks up! Thanks for finding your way here.

  29. Hi, Tom! I just discovered your blog (late to the party, as usual). Growing up as Sally Reeder (yes, the same name as your wife), I used to love seeing your name at the end of favorite shows like MASH and Night Court. I didn’t know any Reeders I wasn’t related to (though I did have an Uncle Tom), and it was fun to know that one of us had gone to Hollywood and made good.

    So I’m thrilled that you’re blogging, and look forward to going through your posts. It’s like discovering long-lost family. And thanks for the laughs, many of which have endured long enough that I now share those shows with my own kids.

    • Welcome, Sara! I’m glad you found your way here. Over the years I have encountered other Tom Reeders, including a character in one of Mark Twain’s books and a radio DJ. Until now, though, I’ve only known one Sally Reeder, and that’s been for almost 44 years.

      It really pleases me that the laughs my colleagues and I cooked up on some of those shows so long ago are being passed along to another generation. Thank you for being in touch, and I hope you’ll find things you enjoy here on my blog.

  30. Tom: I would like to interview you for a book I am writing about “Barney Miller.” In particular, I am interested in learning the backstory of the “Hash Brownies” episode. I also wanted to get your take on Danny Arnold. You can reach me at jdberr@gmail.com. Jonathan Berr

  31. Hi Tom! You have such a brilliant mastery of the “Set up and Punch Line” Since I was a child watching my favorite sitcoms, your work has brought me so much laughter and happiness and I am grateful to you.. I have literally, watched every episode of MASH, BARNEY MILLER, CHEERS, NIGHT COURT, and FRASIER… Thank you for a lifetime of laughter.. I am looking forward to reading more about your travels!
    -Tommi Trudeau

    • Thanks, Tommi. Your mention of “set up and punch line” gives me the opportunity to mention that the joke rhythms differed quite a bit among those shows. On M*A*S*H, many of the laughs came from puns and other word play; the lines tumbled out quickly, as if to say, “you don’t like that one? OK, then how about this one?”

      On the other hand, Barney Miller would often use very long setups — several lines of dialogue — as much as a half a page, maybe — culminating in a really good joke. Frasier had wonderful dialogue, I thought, but also benefited from some brilliant physical comedy.

      Anyway, that’s how it seemed to me, but if you have literally watched every episode of those shows, you’ve seen more of them than I have, so you’re certainly entitled to your own opinion! Again, thanks for your gracious comment.

  32. I can’t think of a comedy show that currently uses long set ups.. I wonder if audiences now-a-days just don’t have the attention span.. I mean, it does take a bit of concentration and a little patients to sit through five minutes of “Fish” telling a story about his wife Bernice.. Personally, I thought Fish’s stories about Bernice hilarious.. But, I am kinda old.. :-/

  33. Hi Tom. So glad to have discovered your blog and also that we are nearly neighbors. We just moved to Camarillo. I look forward to seeing you at the RHS 50th Reunion (can it really have been 50 years!)

  34. My dream retirement would involve a good log cabin in the mountains. Who needs a beach?

  35. Tom.
    As a published writer of Tinseltown history from the classic age,’The Film Crew of Hollywood’, being my first; I was delighted to find this connect to you after watching one of your Barney Miller episodes. My favorite since young adulthood,(I am an ancient child of the late 50’s), you’re ancillary characters had such a human streak for the boys to play-off of, that I often go from laughter to tears in the same scene.
    Ruling out my anxiety disorder(normal in Los Angles), I have come to realize just how talented a word smith you are.
    While my current tome is titled The Stunt Legends of Hollywood’ and celebrates the folks from the Independent age of television and film making
    (in the stunt world, obviously); my true love is interviewing and photographing people. My first splash(with McFarland) was also a celebratory compilation of interviews with the post world war two guys who made the films we all love and were influenced by. Everything from Little Big Man to Bullitt, and Catch 22 to In Cold Blood have been the stuff of my stories. If curious, please see http://www.udelbrosphotography.com/the-book
    I mention this because I would love to buy you a cup of coffee sometime and get to talk with you. No one has done a writers book of stories from the day; perhaps we could be the guys who do?
    Your fan base and their letters are amazing. And justifiably so.
    From the decades of content via classic shows like Night Court and Frazier to Cheers, Mash, and Barney Miller; you’ve written the very fabric of American humor as it thrived for 30 years. Thanks for all the laughs. And tears.

    Best Regards
    James C. Udel

    P.S. I am also a pal of your old friend Sam Christensen.
    I’m shooting head shots of actors through his place in North Hollywood.

  36. Love your work man

  37. Just finished watching a series of Barney Miller episodes, including Identity, Atomic Bomb, and my all time favourtite, Hash Brownies, all from your prolific pen. Wanted to say thank you for writing these. It’s amazing how after all this time how one episode can continue to make me laugh, no matter how many times I’ve watched it. Not just the lines of Jack Soo, but Max Gail running his fingers up Hal Linden, Ron Glass interacting with the Polish actor character, Abe Vigoda final interaction with Ed Peck and the realization of what he just said, Wojo asking Barney to be divine. Also in Atomic Bomb (i think that’s yours), the German scientist forgetting he’s now American. A treasure trove of character actors, from Phil Leeds to Don Calfa to Ken Tigar made it such a great show – even an early appearance by Jeffery Tambor. Above all, it was the writing.

    • Thank you so much, Mark. The cast of regulars was outstanding, and as you mention, the guest actors were terrific, too. Barney Miller was my first writing gig, so at the time I don’t think I realized how fortunate I was to have them delivering the material we gave them. By the way, one of the things I used to do to get inspiration for stories was to comb through old newspapers and magazines at our local library. (Those days were long before Google!) Atomic Bomb was loosely based on an article I found about a student who had written a term paper about how to make an atom bomb. Having a character like Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) who knew everything enabled us to deliver some very technical exposition in a plausible and funny way. Again, thanks for your kind words.

  38. Just found your post on terrycloth and very much enjoyed it. Have you moved on to bigger, better things?

    • Not necessarily bigger or better, but different things. It’s nice that people like you come across material I wrote years ago, and still enjoy it. Please feel free to browse around in the 300+ posts that are up. Thanks for your comment!

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