Benson was one of the brilliant shows that ABC used to dominant the Friday night line-up. The show was actually a spin-off on an earlier show called "Soap" in which Robert Guilliame's character was a butler to the Tate family, but they changed him to head of the household services. Benson was a rare example of a spin-off series being more successful than the original. Robert Guillaume was perfect as the wisecracking butler who didn’t take any guff from anyone. His Benson character was witty, and hilariously funny. His constant squabbles with Clayton, played by Rene Auberjounis III, and Miss Kraus played by Inga Swenson made Benson the funniest show on the air. Benson assisted the governor in various aspects of his tenure in both business and personal. Benson is later appointed state budget director and then elected Lt. Governor. The series ends just at a pivotal moment when Benson and the Sitting Governor are both running for the Governors seat. We never know what the final outcome.
Benson was cast in stereotype and played out in reverse. A white politician-type Governor having a Black household servant in his employment is Dog-bites-Man. That the servant had more sense than the Governor made the show noteworthy.
The show was tastefully apolitical. Issues were never dealt with. Rather the focus stayed on running the Governor's household. That kept the show light and airy.
This show is classic (79-)80's television with the sunny and sagacious Robert Guillaume at the helm. The entertainment and intellectual stimulation is yummy and a real treat for all. For example I'm 17-yrs.old!
TV Land's 48-Hour-Marathon was a perfect opportunity for "Benson" to be reintroduced into American living rooms. It was June 3rd, 2006. The first week-end of summer had more blossoming flowers when the famous black man smiled at us on the screen again.
The perky and familiar music resonates and allows the discovery of real Susan Harris craftiness in words and feelings. My family enjoyed this show in the good old (79-)80's and now I myself, along with a new generation of viewers will learn a lesson or two from "Benson." May world peace finally come.
I watched Benson during its original run on ABC, and I am watching bits and pieces of TV Land’s 48 hour marathon, although I feel the cable network’s tradition of introducing a new show to its line-up with a 2 day marathon is over kill. I have to say that the show is frequently very funny, and certainly cute, often lapsing into extreme sentimentality, certainly not groundbreaking or controversial. It definitely looks like a Witt/Thomas/Harris show, particularly with its extreme lighting, and musical transitions. Benson has many of the same writers and producers that would go on to work on The Golden Girls. I still prefer the Norman Lear shows, where adults actually discuss real life issues and take sides. Susan Harris got an early start with Lear, writing the controversial abortion episode of Maude. Viewers wishing to catch a glimpse of a young Jerry Seinfeld will be disappointed. His one season appearances as Frankie are brief, and unmemorable. In watching the marathon, some episodes have Seinfeld listed in the closing credits, although he is not in them. Fans of TV themes will also notice that the Benson opening is edited and cut short, like The Golden Girls in syndication.
Back in the eighties when ''Benson'' was airing i was one of those guy's watching faithfully and i could be wrong, but i believe that it aired on fri.nights allthough iv'e read it was on sat. but of course your going back 20yrs but thats realy not important ,but what i remember was this shows creative writing and acting,probably one of the better writin' shows iv'e seen .The chemistry was there with each character,J.Noble as the ''GOV.'' played the part perfect i dont think they could have found a better acter to play that part and R.Auberjonois as ''Clayton'' same with him, great acter. I know there were two other acters that played this part before him but Auberjonois was put in during the start of the 1980 season and was the right choice being that he stuck around till the end says something.The second best character was ''Krause'' played buy I.Swenson her banter and wit made her a perfect choice, and then there's R.Guillaume ''Benson'' the bantering between Benson and Krause is what made the show for me to have good writing is one thing but you have to have the talent to pull it off and they all did for many years.Now the other characters like E.Phillips who played ''Pete''i liked, a good acter who fit into the show well and C.McWillims who was Marcy i thought was also a good fit for the show but only stuck around for 3 seasons was replaced by Didi Con ''Denise''who i thought was ok and the last acter Billie Bird ''Rose'' who took over Kraus's position on the show was my least favorite, to me, she just wasnt funny or didn't have funny lines?.Benson was one show that i allways laughed at at every episode even at some of the shows that had a serious tone to them . They weren't all brilliant though a couple of the episodes like ''Made in HongKong''episo.1 and 2 were not one of my favs.That episode wasnt as funny as it tried to be along with being a little to goofy at times .It seemed to me that they could have just saved time and money and filmed those two episodes on the back lot of Warner Bros.Filming the outdoor scenes ''on set'' would have been better for those episodes,it's hard to get laughs when your filming outside and then you go into studio to record your voice tracks to be used for when your out on the steets walking around ,some of the voice acting didn't seem to fit in the scenes they were shooting it seemed bland,unfunny and forced at times,also it didnt seem like they wanted to be there or were not having a good time when they were filming but im nit-picking,overall the series was sheer brilliance,Guillaume of course made the show what it was and if you whatched the series marathon on Tv-Land you could see the energy and freshness from the start of the'79 season on up to the '84 season but you could see where the acters were almost starting to get a little tired maby the writing wasnt as fresh as the earlier shows or trying to come up with new and funny ideas maby the wholeness of it was starting to get a little stale like Missy Golds character Katie was good but when you grow up you lose that cutness in that character and she didnt have the same impact on the show that she did when she was 9 it's almost like they were trying to fit here into differnt scenes near the end .It wasnt her fault and she was never a ''main '' character although she lasted through it all which says something, with that said, they did make great ones on and off through the '84-'86 season but i noticed the energy wasnt as strong and the plots were so-so .I mean how far can you take a series and keep it fresh year after year?I just wish they would do a reunion show ! .But 7 seasons is a long time for a sitcom considering a lot of shows dont even make it to post production .So yes,you would say that i was hooked from day one and to think back was probably one of the top ten shows of all time in my eyes anyways.Maby soon we'll see a DVD set.
This show was good for what it was. It was not an off the wall show, like the show it spun-off from, "Soap" the characters were kind of dull and boring, and Benson was no where near as funny in this show as he was in "Soap." There was no more making fun of Mr. Tate or Mrs. Tate or griping about Jessica's sister and her crazy family. The chemistry was not the same, and the characters were not as interesting. I am very surprised it lasted longer than "Soap."
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