Benson (1979–1986)

TV Series  |   |  Comedy, Family
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Jessica Tate's sharp-tongued former butler, Benson DuBois, moves up in the world, becoming first the governor's "director of household affairs," then the state's budget director, then lieutenant governor and candidate for the executive mansion.

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Title: Benson (1979–1986)

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7   6   5   4   3   2   1   Unknown  
1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   1981   … See all »
Nominated for 4 Golden Globes. Another 3 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Benson DuBois (159 episodes, 1979-1986)
...
 Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling / ... (159 episodes, 1979-1986)
...
 Miss Gretchen Wilomena Kraus / ... (159 episodes, 1979-1986)
Missy Gold ...
 Katherine 'Katie' Olivia Gatling / ... (158 episodes, 1979-1986)
...
 Clayton Runnymede Endicott III (135 episodes, 1980-1986)
...
 Peter 'Pete' John Downey / ... (97 episodes, 1980-1984)
...
 Denise Florence Stevens Downey (73 episodes, 1981-1984)
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Storyline

In this spinoff of "Soap", Benson DuBois is sent out West to serve as butler to widowed state governor Gene Gatling, an honest but bumbling servant of the people. Although he has his rivals in German maid Kraus and persnickety aides Clayton and Taylor, Benson, armed with an acerbic wit and plenty of smarts, becomes the Governor's close friend and helper, and eventually is elected Lieutenant Governor! Written by Marty McKee <mmckee@soltec.net>

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Comedy | Family

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Release Date:

13 September 1979 (USA)  »

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4:3
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The show marked the acting debut of a then-unknown young comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. See more »

Goofs

In the episode "Fools Gold" the blueprints Benson was hiding in his robe weren't visible in early shots (long or close-up) of the scene, but can be clearly seen sticking out of his robe right before he takes them out to show the Governor. See more »

Quotes

[Repeated line]
Gretchen: I HEAR YOU!
See more »

Connections

Featured in ABC's 50th Anniversary Celebration (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

One of the great sitcoms of the late-1970's "Benson" from the team of Harris-Witt,and Thomas
31 October 2012 | by (Durham,North Carolina) – See all my reviews

Produced by the team that bought you "Soap",and later on "The Golden Girls", "It's A Living",and "Empty Nest"(under the supervision of executive producers Susan Harris, Paul Junger-Witt,and Tony Thomas),the sitcom "Benson" became one of the biggest hits to come out of the late-1970's and continue its streak into the mid-1980's. This series was basically a spin-off from the soap opera parody "Soap"(the title character,portrayed by Robert Guillaume,had originally first appeared on the earlier series as the wise-cracking yet level-headed African American butler for the highly dysfunctional Tate family);however,"Benson" discarded the soap opera format of its parent show in favor of a more conventional sitcom structure,which was created by Susan Harris who also served as executive producer of this series.

In the show,Benson DuBois(Guillaume) had been hired to be the head of household affairs for the scatterbrained and widowed Governor Eugene Gatling(James Noble),and his daughter Katie(Missy Gold). Governor Gatling was cousin to Jessica Tate(Katherine Helmond),and Mary Campbell(Cathryn Damon),the two sisters on whose families the stories centered on "Soap". The state of which Gatling was governor remained unidentified with the series,although "Soap" had taken place in Connecticut. The series revolved around Benson's housekeeping dilemmas,his fights with the German cook Gretchen Kraus(Inga Swenson,one of Guillaume's fellow alumni from "Soap" and his interactions with John Taylor(former "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" alumnus David Hedison in the pilot episode,and during the first season Lewis J. Stadlen),who assisted Governor Gatling as the chief of staff. After the first season,Taylor's job was filled by Clayton Endicott(Rene Auberjonois for the remained of the series run)who was written out by having him run for political office and actually snub his employer's endorsement. He lost the election,but returned when Benson asked him to. But in spite of their adversarial relationship(during the early years of the series)the insults between Kraus and Benson were intense at times but still became good friends. Benson also have very good relations with the Governor's secretary,Marcy Hill(Caroline McWilliams),and her successor,Denise(Didi Conn). Marcy left after the second season after getting married. Denise and Pete Downey(Ethan Phillips),the Governor's press secretary(who were introduced in Season 2)met and later married while working in the Governor's mansion and were expectant parents for most of the third-to-the-last season.

Throughout the course of the series,Benson worked his way up the ladder going from the head of household affairs to state budget director,and eventually was elevated to the position of Lieutentant Governor(by the show's final season)and almost was elected Governor in the show's final episode(which was a two-part series finale) where Benson DuBois was running against his former employer Governor Gatling. "Benson" was mostly seen on ABC's Friday night line-up of great shows,and it was a immediate hit spanning seven seasons on the air from September 13,1979 until the show's final episode on April 19,1986. A total of 158 episodes were produced. Over the course of the show's seven-year run,it was nominated for an impressive 17 Emmys. It won two including Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Guillaume(beating out Sherman Hemsley of The Jeffersons)marking the only time an African American has won the award.


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