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Thomas F. Wilson,
Bill Bittinger is the egotistical host of a local daytime talk show on WBFL in Buffalo, NY., unhappy at being a big fish in a small pond (but unable to break into the big leagues). Bill makes life miserable for his crew, guests, and especially his station manager, Karl Shub, who is constantly dodging lawsuits resulting from Bill's behavior. The one person Bill is unable to bully is his director and on again/off again lover, Jo Jo White. Written by
When will the network suits realize that they have genius within their grasp: they've screwed up TWO Dabney Coleman series' in one decade and, of the two, this one is the saddest loss.
In "Buffalo Bill", Coleman plays Bill Bittinger, the host of a local talk show in Buffalo, New York (naturally), who isn't above a little pushing, shoving, name-calling and double-dealing to get what he wants from his show, co-workers, fans, guests...the list goes on and on.
And of course, as created by the creative team of Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses, it is not lacking for sardonic wit and commentary so biting it leaves a mark. Just check their credits - they're no strangers to this territory.
And the supporting cast contains no slouchers. Joanna Cassidy, John Fiedler, Geena Davis (!), Charles Robinson (Mack from "Night Court"); every one of them is a pro and shine their brightest. But the best support comes from Max Wright, who plays Bill's station manager - the ever-paranoid Karl Shub.
But this show was at its best when Coleman was at his most corrosive. There were touchy subjects delved into here (racism, work ethics, demanding relationships, etc.), all sharpened to razor-keenness and delivered unflinchingly with only the slightest sugar-coating.
And HERE'S the weird part: after winning accolade after accolade from reviewers, magazines, TV fans and just about everybody else...it got CANCELED! WHY??! Well, probably because it dove a little TOO deep into what goes on behind the scenes of a TV show. Oh, those crazy network suits and their 180's....
Well, far be it from me to second-guess what NBC was thinking when they got rid of this singular gem in their schedule. But it was a bad move on their part, to say the least. Maybe they figured having "Hill Street Blues" was enough?
Ten stars for "Buffalo Bill", and one bonus star for Dabney Coleman at his best. If you ever get a chance, shuffle off to THIS "Buffalo".
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