As many of you know I love sitcoms. In the past I’ve talked about the importance of good writing, good acting, taking risks, being edgy, comedy coming from the situation and knowing everything you need to know about the show from it’s pilot. I am surprised, almost embarrassed even that I never mentioned Buffalo Bill. This brilliant, but sadly, short-lived sitcom aired from 1983 to 1984 and starred Dabney Coleman as Bill Bittinger, a local talk show host in Buffalo NY.
I remember back in 1983 NBC promoted the show by saying, Buffalo Bill makes “J.R. Ewing look like a Boy Scout” That was enough to make me want to watch the show. The shows opening told you that the title character was a sleazy guy with a good public image. The pilot actually delivered on the network’s promise (although I saw Bill more as a white collar Archie Bunker without the moral high ground). Bill was truly the man you loved to hate. The show did not last long, a real shame because I have never met anyone who did not like the show. I used to say that the show was ahead of its time. I’ve since had to amend that statement because, 22 years later, that time has still not come.
When I found out that Buffalo Bill was coming out on DVD, I went to the store and got the last copy. I had to wait a few weeks to watch the DVD because I was watching the new fall shows, the returning shows and besides I HAVE A LIFE!
Both my wife and I have a favorite episode, #13 Titled: Hit the Road, Newdell. In this episode the racist Bill fires Newdell (Charles Robinson), then has a nightmare where he is persecuted by a roomful of African Americans while lip-syncing Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack”. For legal reasons (music rights) the nightmare scene was cut. Why was there not any mention of that on the DVD case? That episode was one of the reasons why I bought the DVD in the first place. I also wish the DVD had some extras like interviews with the shows actors and writers. They must have some great stories. Maybe we will see that on TV Land Confidential.
To quote Bill Bittinger, “Be good to yourself and be good to Buffalo”.
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