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"1st & Ten: The Championship" By the Bulls (Pilot) (1984)"1st & Ten" By the Bulls (Pilot) (original title)

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The Pre-Season Party

Author: Jason Daniel Baker from Toronto, Canada
2 February 2015

Diane Barrow (Delta Burke), the considerably younger trophy wife of successful businessman and socialite Paul Barrow (Ben Cooper) is shocked to find him in the throws of passion with another man. Stung by the betrayal she secures a divorce and as revenge takes ownership of his pro football team in the settlement. Diane is gleeful in having relieved him of his prize possession & status symbol. But not for long.

The team is the California Bulls - a ragtag group of misfits who collectively resemble a special ed class in a medium security prison. They are coached by Ernie Denardo (Reid Shelton) a decrepit narcoleptic.

If that weren't enough adversity for the new owner her general manager Roger Barrow (Clayton Landey) is her ex-husband's nephew and is tied to organized crime. Roger and the league commissioner are manoeuvring to drive Diane out so that her ex can get his team back.

The main character, at first, seems like a vindictive gold-digger who engineered a ruthless power-grab and is comically in over her head. But we see signs that she is not entirely loathsome. We can allow ourselves to laugh at her a little even as we empathize with her. The forces assembled against her seem darker and more powerful.

Professional football which was coming into its own as the premier revenue sport in North America was ripe for lampooning. The show offered viewers a scathing satire of a pro sports team. The California Bulls seemed to send up every excess of professional athletes. Football fans adored this show. A certain professional sports league and its member franchises were considerably less amused.

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