1 9 8 3 – 1 9 8 4 (USA)
26 x 30 minute episodes
Far from the cowboy association the name suggests, Buffalo Bill was an unusual sitcom – especially so in America – in that the lead character was not at all a nice chap.
As the host of The Buffalo Bill Show – a chat show at WBFL-TV, Channel 12, a local TV station in Buffalo, upstate New York, and unhappy at being a big fish in a small pond – Bill Bittinger (Dabney Coleman) is conceited, rude, self-obsessed, narcissistic and displays a pronounced mean streak.
On the air, he is forever asking rude questions and putting down his guests to the point where the next writ is never far away. Off-screen, Bill makes the lives of his colleagues and everyone around him an absolute misery with his arrogant and bullish ways.
He constantly uses and abuses his staff: his beautiful director and sometime girlfriend Jo Jo (Joanna Cassidy), nervous station manager Karl Shub (Max Wright) – who is constantly dodging lawsuits resulting from Bill’s behaviour, meek floor manager Woody (John Fielder), programme researcher Wendy Killian (Geena Davis in one of her early roles) and the no-nonsense make-up man Newdell Spriggs (Charles Robinson) who took no grief from anyone.
Tony (Meshach Taylor) is the assistant director, Melanie Wayne (Pippa Pearthree) is Bill’s daughter, Stan Fluger (Claude Earl Jones) is the sound man, Hayden Stone (Martin Landau) is the station owner, Naomi Stone (Janet Adams) is Hayden’s wife, Katherine (Susan Ruttan) is Karl Shub’s wife, Karl Jr (Sam Whipple) his son, and Tracy (Leighton Greer) his daughter.
Good always wins out, however, which means that Bill always ends up the loser.
The series was created, written and produced by Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett, two veterans of the wonderful Bob Newhart Show. This new creation of theirs was also among the best.
‘Buffalo’ Bill Bittinger
Joanna ‘Jo-Jo’ White
Claude Earl Jones
Karl Shub Jr