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Buffalo Bill (TV series)

Buffalo Bill
Created by Tom Patchett
Jay Tarses
Starring Dabney Coleman
Max Wright
Joanna Cassidy
Geena Davis
John Fiedler
Theme music composer Tom Wells
Composer(s) Tom Wells
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 26 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Tom Patchett
Jay Tarses
Bernie Brillstein
Producer(s) Dennis Klein
Carol Gary
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Stampede Productions
Original channel NBC
Original release June 1, 1983 (1983-06-01) – March 29, 1984 (1984-03-29)

Buffalo Bill is an American television situation comedy that featured the misadventures of an egotistical talk show host, played by Dabney Coleman and his staff (including Geena Davis and Joanna Cassidy) at WBFL-TV, a small TV station in Buffalo, New York. It premiered June 1, 1983 on NBC and ran for two seasons (1983–84). It was also shown on the then-new UK fourth TV channel Channel 4.


  • Characters 1
  • Synopsis 2
  • Episodes 3
    • Season 1: 1983 3.1
    • Season 2: 1983–84 3.2
  • Reception 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6



Most of the humor came from Bill's completely unredeemable qualities and from the staff's frustration at dealing with him.


In 2005, Lionsgate released the entire series on Region 1 DVD.[1]

Season 1: 1983

No. No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "Pilot" Tom Patchett Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses 1 June 1983
When his best friend Pete Killian dies, Bill Bittinger, the egocentric talk show host of high-rated local show Buffalo Bill, wants to apply to 60 Minutes as a news anchor. To increase his chances, he pledges his director Jo-Jo White will sleep with the CBS network executive, Dan Thornwell. (Whether Jo-Jo and Dan slept together offscreen is unknown, even when she contends her refusal to Bill.) When he elects to stay in Buffalo for his talk show, Jo-Jo corrects to the crew on whether Bill really was offered 60 Minutes. Bill reluctantly accepts an order to hire a new research assistant and hires late Pete's beautiful daughter, Wendy.
2 2 "Buffalo Beat" Tom Patchett Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses 8 June 1983
After his bad interview with female chef Theresa Gallardo (Elsa Raven), Bill is given a co-host, prompting him to be worried about his popularity. Much to his relief, actress and model Tamara Brooks (Simone Griffeth) has stage fright, panicking. Bill is fearful for his life when his African-American makeup artist, Newdell, confronts him over Bill's comments about him.
3 3 "Woody Quits" Jim Drake Jay Tarses 15 June 1983
After enduring insults from Bill for three years, Woody quits as a stage manager and demands an apology, prompting Bill to hire Newdell as his replacement. Newdell turns out to be an incompetent stage manager. Woody, who also works for a company that manages properties, threatens to evict Bill out of the apartment. In the station's cafeteria, Bill hurts Woody by pushing a chair onto him, but then apologizes. Woody takes it as an apology for Bill's past demeanor toward him.
4 4 "Buffalo Bill and the Movies" Jim Drake Mitch Markowitz 22 June 1983
During his interview with actress Lauren Stockton, Bill calls Joan Seeger, the producer of the movie My Father's Blood (featuring Lauren), for an audition to be a character's father. After Bill loses the part, he rehearses a scene with a firefighter chief at the talk show to win his audience's esteem. Unfortunately, the rehearsed scene prompts the audience to praise the chief's "acting" abilities, leaving Bill disappointed. Even Woody thinks that Bill stunk and overacted.
5 5 "Mrs. Buffalo Bill?" Jim Drake Merrill Markoe 29 June 1983
After he was turned down by women and friends for dinner, Bill sneaks into Jo-Jo's house by a window out of desperation, surprising her after a disastrous date with Nick. After seven months of flirting with and dating her, Bill proposes marriage to Jo-Jo and sleeps with her, but then he has second thoughts. To his relief, Jo-Jo refuses to marry him, only to have her change her mind to please him. Becoming indecisive, Jo-Jo says "tails" for refusal and flips a coin that shows "tails", setting both free from marriage.
6 6 "Wilkinson's Sword" Tom Patchett Tom Patchett 13 July 1983
After his talk show Buffalo Bill is cancelled in favor of M*A*S*H reruns, Bill reluctantly takes Woody's job offer to work at the car dealer, Woody's Porsche+Audi. Using the name "Rudy," he is belligerent to customers and ruins car parts. JoJo demands that station manager Karl bring the show back. Karl turns to Mr. Wilkinson, who controls the programming of the station. Wilkinson lets Karl decide, and though he is somewhat hostile to Bill, Karl reluctantly resurrects Bill's show and transfers M*A*S*H to another channel -- where it will compete against Bill's show.
7 7 "Guess Who's Coming to Buffalo?" Tom Patchett Carol Gray 20 July 1983
Bill's estranged daughter, Melanie, divorces her cheating husband Steve and wants attention from her father. Annoyed by her constant presence, Bill ends up berating her in front of everyone at the TV station. He can't ignore her at his apartment when she uses a noisy purifier, impacting his home life. In response, Melanie declares to the crew that she is moving to Fresno, California. Nevertheless, to Bill's chagrin, Melanie accepts a job offer at the station to join the crew. Buffalo Bill plans to depict Eddie "Crazy Eddie" Finsek's (Earl Pomerantz) stunts at Niagara Falls with his barrel.
8 8 "Below the Belt" Tom Patchett Carol Gray 27 July 1983
Melanie, who becomes well-liked by the crew, feels neglected by Bill. When she threatens to move into Newdell's place, Bill becomes worried. During the talk show, Melanie outs herself as Bill's estranged daughter, confronts him over issues, like leaving his ex-wife and daughter behind, and is able to reconcile with him. Crazy Eddie ends up dead during a stunt at Niagara Falls, prompting Bill to interview his widowed wife.
9 9 "Ratings" Tom Patchett Gary Markowitz 3 August 1983
Bill hears from Karl that the Nielsen ratings dropped. Bill tries to find fault with the staff, but he ends up blaming himself for losing touch with other people. After going to Jo-Jo for comfort at night, he goes to the bus station, meets the janitor Charles, who is an avid viewer of Buffalo Bill, and signs an autograph for him. Bill is punched by the homeless man for refusing to give him a quarter, leaving Bill unconscious. The following day, Woody wakes him up and carries him to the station. Bill realizes that he lost his wallet.
10 10 "True Love" Jim Drake Dennis Klein 10 August 1983
Bill is attracted to Melanie's new friend, Angela Catumi (Rebecca Street), and wants her to play a flute on the talk show, but Karl refuses. When Bill goes against his orders, Karl interrupts the broadcast without regret. Angela breaks up with Bill, especially for his selfishness, after which Bill vengefully breaks everything in Karl's office.
11 11 "The Fan" Jay Tarses Tom Patchett 17 August 1983
Bill is stalked by the frequent female caller Clara (Peggy Feura), who claims him as her baby's father. When she trespasses the station with fake janitor clothes and walks onto the talk show, Bill shows empathy for Clara, moving the audience and the crew. However, when Karl enters the broadcast booth and is swarmed by bees, he assumes it is the fault of Clara as "Alexander Hague," a bee expert who was supposed to be the talk show's guest.
12 12 "Hackles" Dennis Klein Dennis Klein 24 August 1983
Bill insults Dr. Solomon, the toxic waste expert, at the talk show and abrupts the interview by bringing in the Burt Reynolds-lookalike. Wendy confronts Bill, encouraged by Karl and Jo-Jo, and Bill shows sympathy to her, prompting her to reconcile. The following day, Bill changes Wendy's prepared questions for another guest against her will, but Wendy is reluctant to confront him.

Season 2: 1983–84

No. No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
13 1 "Hit the Road, Newdell" Tom Patchett Dennis Klein December 22, 1983
Having enough of makeup artist Newdell's patronization on Bill's ego, Bill tells Karl to fire Newdell. Fearing discrimination lawsuit and NAACP, Bill hires Newdell back. Before doing so, Bill confronts him about Newdell's attitude and tells him Bill's past story about taking a ride without his pants in a taxi driven by an African-American man. Newdell accepts taking his job back only to demand sharing Bill's dressing room, which he reluctantly accepts.
14 2 "Jerry Lewis Week" January 5, 1984
15 3 "The Interview" January 12, 1984
16 4 "Company Ink" January 19, 1984
17 5 "Jo-Jo's Problem: Part 1" January 26, 1984
18 6 "Jo-Jo's Problem: Part 2" February 2, 1984
19 7 "Miss WBFL" February 9, 1984
20 8 "Nuclear Freeze" February 16, 1984
21 9 "The Girl on the Jetty" February 23, 1984
22 10 "Buffalo Bill versus the Kremlin" March 1, 1984
23 11 "A Hero" March 8, 1984
24 12 "The Tap Dancer" March 15, 1984
25 13 "Have Yourself a Very Degrading Christmas" March 22, 1984
26 14 "Church of the Poisoned Mind" 29 March 1984


The series received 11 Emmy Award nominations (including two for Outstanding Comedy Series). Joanna Cassidy also won a Golden Globe Award in 1984. In 1999, TV Guide ranked Bill Bittinger number 42 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.[2] Former NBC President Brandon Tartikoff wrote in his memoirs that his biggest professional regret was canceling the show.[3]


  1. ^ "Buffalo Bill - The Complete First and Second Seasons (1983)". Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  2. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 651.  
  3. ^ Tartikoff, Brandon (1992). The Last Great Ride. New York: Hyperion Books.  

External links

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