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Buffalo Bill (NBC 1983-1984, Dabney Coleman, Joanna Cassidy)

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Surely one of the most unusual comedies of the 1980’s, Buffalo Bill flouted a basic rule of series TV – that the leading character must, if nothing else, be likable.

Bill Bittinger was arrogant, insensitive, and a thorough cad. As the garrulous host of an inexplicably popular local TV talk show in Buffalo, New York, he regularly played the role of “star,” shamelessly used everyone around him, and blamed others for anything that went wrong. He did all this, it must be said, with style.

Bill, as played by the talented Dabney Coleman, was a fascinating character, even if he did make you squirm at times. And, honoring one of TV’s other basic rules – that good must win out in the end – he usually failed to get his way. Practically everybody was on to him, and Bill spent many a lonely night after his latest scheme or attempted amorous conquest had fallen through.

Among the people Bill worked with at WBFL-TV was Jo Jo, the beautiful director of his show, with whom he had an on-again, off-again romantic involvement. She harbored no illusions about his nature, however. Once he had proposed to her, with the gallant comment, “You’re better than 90 percent of the bimbos out there.” Woody was his mousy stage manager, who seemed incredibly naive (he worshipped Bill) but underneath it all, understood everything. Just to rub it in, the little guy happened to be extremely successful on the side, owning an auto dealership and Bill’s apartment building! Karl was the nervous station manager at Channel 12, constantly beset by lawsuits brought on by Bill’s outrageous on-air comments. Wendy was the ingenuous research assistant, and Newdell was the show’s makeup man who took no grief from anyone – Bill included! Seen occasionally was Bill’s daughter, Melanie, portrayed by Pippa Pearthree.

Some rather sensitive subjects were dealt with in this comedy setting, including Jo Jo’s abortion (after Bill had pompously decided for her that she should have the child), and Bill’s racist dream, after he had had a run-in with Newdell (who happened to be black). The dream was filled with Zulu warriors, pushy black hookers, and other outrageous stereotypes, all in pursuit of Bill, accompanied by the music of Ray Charles’s “Hit the Road, Jack.”

production details
USA / NBC / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 31 May 1983 – 5 April 1984

cast
Dabney Coleman as Bill Bittinger
Joanna Cassidy as Joanna “Jo Jo” White
John Fiedler as Woody Deschler
Max Wright as Karl Shub
Geena Davis as Wendy Killian
Meshach Taylor as Tony
Charles Robinson as Newdell Spriggs
Pippa Pearthree as Melanie Wayne
Claude Earl Jones as Stan
Martin Landau as Hayden Stone
Janet Adams as Naomi Stone
Susan Ruttan as Katherine Shub
Sam Whipple as Karl Shub, Jr.
Leighton Greer as Tracy Shub

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TV

Ape And Essence (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Alec McCowen)

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In Scifi drama Ape and Essence, based on the novel by Aldous Huxley, a group of New Zealand scientists conduct a survey on a Britain ravaged by atomic war 80 years previously.

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 2 Episode 29

cast
Alec McCowen as Alfred Poole
Robert Eddison as Arch Vicar
Derek Sydney as Chief
Jenny Lee as Flossie
Yvonne Antrobus as Young Girl
Sydney Bromley as Craigie
Martin Carroll as Director of Food
Hazel Douglas as Mies Hook
John Falconer as Patriarch
Petra Markham as Loola
Ken Parry as Science Praet
Amanda Reiss as Polly
Jonathan Scott as Int. Priest
Fiona Fraser as Part of Crowd
Ann Mitchell as Shaven-Head
Jacki Salt as Mulatto Girl
Carol Blake as Shaven-Head
Gordon Craig as Part of Crowd
Robert Cude as First Man

crew details
Writer: John Finch
Book: Aldous Huxley
Music: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Producer: Peter Luke
Director: David Benedictus.

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC One
Duration: 1×75 minute episode
Aired From: 18 May 1966

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TV

Plane Makers, The (ITV 1963-1965, Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray)

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Plane Makers Patrick Wymark

Drama series The Plane Makers took us behind the scenes in the boardroom and shop floor of the Scott Furlong Aircraft Factory. After two seasons the lead character John Wilder took a place on the board of a merchant bank and the series was then renamed The Power Game.

cast
Patrick Wymark as John Wilder
Jack Watling as Don Henderson
Barbara Murray as Pamela Wilder (Seasons 1-2)
Ann Firbank as Pamela Wilder (Season 3)
Reginald Marsh as Arthur Sugden
Alan Dobie as David Corbett

crew details
Creator: Wilfred Greatorex
Producers: Rex Firkin (seasons 1-2), David Reid (season 3)

production details
Country: UK
Network: ITV – ATV
Duration: 57×50 minute episodes
Aired From: 4 February 1963 – 12 January 1965 black and white

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TV

Running Wild (ITV 1987, Ray Brooks, Janet Key)

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Sitcom Running Wild was about the ups and downs of separated couple, Max and Babs, trying to get on with their lives. In season two Max wants to return to his wife but Babs is not so keen.

cast
Ray Brooks as Max Wild
Janet Key as Babs Wild
Sharon Duce as Wanda
Michelle Collins as Stephanie Wild
Peter Amory as Rob
Berwick Kaler as Tom Coleman (Season 1)
Brigit Forsyth as Jenny (Season 2)

crew details
Writer: Philip Trewinnard
Producers: Marcus Plantin (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
Directors: Vic Finch (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: ITV – London Weekend Television
Duration: 13×25 minute episodes
Aired From: 6 March 1987 – 4 June 1989

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