Saturday, February 10, 2018

What Might've Been: Buffalo Bill (1983)

It seemed as though Dabney Coleman was typecast after acting opposite Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, & Dolly Parton in 1980's "9 to 5". 1983's summer replacement series, Buffalo Bill, was renewed that same fall for ratings-starved NBC, which shifted the series from Wednesdays to Thursdays, landing a plum spot on the latter night in between Cheers & Hill Street Blues.

Bill Bittinger (Coleman) is a egocentric talk show host in Western New York who can't help but alienate his own staff, including floor manager Woody (John Fiedler) and producer Jo-Jo (Joanna Cassidy). His Ugly American viewpoints, however, would likely be embraced today by a certain President.

The series' supporting cast also included Meshach Taylor (later of Designing Women & Dave's World) & Max Wright (later of Misfits of Science & Alf).

In this sample clip, Bill is imagining being confronted by a group of angry African Americans after making some racist remarks. Set to the beat of Ray Charles' "Hit The Road, Jack", with Charles' vocals lip-synched by Coleman.

Unfortunately, Buffalo Bill lost viewers in season 2, and was cancelled with only 26 episodes produced. Coleman would try again with The Slap Maxwell Story (ABC) & Madman of the People (NBC), but wouldn't fare too much better.

Rating: B.


Hal said...

BUFFALO BILL was ahead of its time, and considerably better than the later Coleman series. In both of those, the network tried to soften his character a bit, which predictably didn't work. But this time around, we got full-tilt Dabney for 26 shows.

This was a really well-done episode, as was the one with Martin Landau as Bill's new boss. I also remember the Christmas show with Martine Beswick guest starring.

hobbyfan said...

I'll try to find that Christmas show when we get back to that point, Hal. We'll be looking at Madman of the People & Slap Maxwell down the road.