Benson Forums

ABC (ended 1986)

Why was Benson...

  • Avatar of bobfraser


    [21]Apr 2, 2008
    • member since: 02/14/07
    • level: 2
    • rank: Sweat Hog
    • posts: 1

    As the head writer and show-runner on Benson for seasons 2-7, I think I can clear up a few misconceptions.

    First, Benson was not cancelled because of ratings. It was cancelled because of costs - an 8th season would have been quite expensive for the production company and ABC ... and they decided (at the last possible minute, by the way) to forego another season.

    In fact, when we were up against Dallas (as has been mentioned by a couple of folks) we actually won that time slot every week - we also beat The World Series game we were up against that season, not to mention The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard as well as everything NBC put up against us. The reality is that Benson rarely lost any timeslot we were in – during seasons 2 thru 7.

    The cliffhanger ending.

    Since I and the writing staff designed the cliffhanger (at the behest of ABC) I can say with some authority that the actual ending was to be Governor Gatling winning by a very small margin, Tyler (the character I played) calling for a re-count ... and Benson getting ready for a 'new life.' By episode 3 of season 8, the election would be decided in Governor Gatling's favor and Benson would be considering a job as a lobbyist for an environmental group.

    However ...

    In a surprise twist, the Junior Senator from the state would suddenly die and Governor Gatling would appoint Benson to fill out the term. Benson was going to Washington. Kraus and Clayton would be working for Benson - and he would take on the Federal government bureaucracy. We had a few more twists up out sleeve - but since none of our 'plans' were ever brought to fruition - I leave it to the fans to imagine the 8th season and beyond.

    I hope this answers a few lingering questions out there.

    I'd also add that it's great to see that there are still many fans of the show.

    Bob Fraser

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  • Avatar of GovGatling


    [22]Apr 3, 2008
    • member since: 10/09/06
    • level: 7
    • rank: Talk Show Host
    • posts: 21

    Bob, thanks so much for clarifying things and for giving us curious fans some insight into the "mythical" Season 8. I might be in the minority here, but I am actually glad that you had Gatling winning that "cliffhanger" election. I swore up and down Benson was going to win because I believed he was meant to become Governor. That seemed like the logical conclusion (after all, the show was called "Benson").

    And yes, there are lots of us Benson fans around. It was such a terrific show wonderfully acted and it irks me that it seems so underrated and underappreciated whenever great sitcoms are discussed. On the positive side, it seems to me that Season 1 has sold pretty well on DVD and if we can continue to see the remaining seasons released I believe it will introduce a whole new generation to the show.

    Please come back and visit again. And by the way, you were great as Senator Tyler!

    Warm regards,


    Edited on 04/03/2008 7:54pm
    Edited 2 total times.
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  • Avatar of ladybritcomfan


    [23]Jan 24, 2009
    • member since: 06/16/05
    • level: 36
    • rank: Young and Restless
    • posts: 767
    malicedoom wrote:
    Benson was cancelled because the ratings were low. The ratings were low because ABC decided (after R.G. had just won them their ONLY lead acting Emmy award that year) to push the show up an hour (to 8pm CST), up against Dallas on CBS (smarrrrt move).

    The show floundered in this new timeslot (as did just about everything else put up against Dallas) and it was taken off and moved to a slightly better spot on Saturday night. But the damage was already done and the show never recovered. The Friday 8pm (CST) slot was horrible and the first episodes of the final season even aired a month later than the other network shows. I guess that was ABCs way of not quite cancelling it right away, but slowly killing it off. A shame.

    That's right. I think they did the same thing with Soap. slowly killed it off.
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  • Avatar of BYarro


    [24]Aug 10, 2010
    • member since: 03/09/09
    • level: 2
    • rank: Sweat Hog
    • posts: 10

    It shouldn't have been.

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