Most Important Black TV Shows – #25: Benson



Ahh Benson.  Spun off from the very funny satire Soap, Benson follows the butler made famous by Robert Guillaume as he starts working for the Governor Gene Gatling.

Time for the tale of the tape:

Relevance: It’s 2008, about to be 2009.  Turn on your television.  Now flashback to the early 80s, where a classically trained black actor headlined his own sitcom.  Nuff said.

Legacy: For most of us, will Robert Guillaume be anything other than Benson?  No one else from this show made a mark.  Wait, I take that back.  There was this little known comedian named Jerry Seinfeld who did a four episode run as Frankie before he got fired.  He was so pissed off, he vowed he’d never do another sitcom.  I heard he changed his mind, but I didn’t have time to research this.

Craft: Not as intricate as Soap, but a very good 80s sitcom.  I remember most of the supporting characters (the Governor’s daughter Katie, Kraus the German chick) and I haven’t watched that show in 20 years.  If you remember the background characters, that’s usually a sign of good acting or writing.

Crossover: Come on, it’s Benson!  If that’s not enough for you, Robert Guillaume won an Emmy for Best Actor.

Apollo: Surprisingly high.  The series ended with one of those ultimate cliffhangers.  In the last season, Benson decided to run against the Governor for his job.  Three endings were shot, but the series wasn’t picked up for another season, so we’ll never know who won.  YES WE CAN!!!

#24 should be up around New Years. 

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