TITLE: BUFFALO BILL - THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS
DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005 (Lions Gate Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: Approx. 630 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; Closed Captioned
Special Features: None
Bill Bittinger (Dabney Coleman), a small town host of a local talk show in Buffalo, NY,
is trying to make it it in the big leagues. He is obnoxious, insensitive,
hypocritical and will do whatever it takes to succeed. He makes life miserable
for his producer Karl Shub and his calm, competent talented co-host Jo Jo White.
Unable to keep Bill under control, they bring in Wendy Killian (Geena Davis) to
keep a watchful eye. With its biting satire and wonderful supporting cast, "Buffalo
Bill" is known as one of the most daring and controversial comedies -- keeping
audiences talking for its entire run.
Episodes Included / Notable Guest Stars:
Buffalo Bill aired on NBC from June 1983 to April 1984. 13 episodes were aired the first
season and 13 in the second season as well. It starred Dabney Coleman, Joanna Cassidy,
John Fielder, Max Wright, Geena Davis, Charles Robinson, Meshach Taylor, and Claude
Earl Jones. The show would earn a total of 11 Emmy Nominations. Joanna Cassidy
won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical.
All 26 episodes are included on this set. Here is a breakdown with running times:
Season 1 - 1. Pilot (24:56)
Season 1 - 2. Buffalo Beat (24:56)
Season 1 - 3. Woody Quites (24:15)
Season 1 - 4. Buffalo Bill and the Movies (23:49)
Season 1 - 5. Mrs. Buffalo Bill? (24:53)
Season 1 - 6. Wilkinson's Sword (23:20)
Season 1 - 7. Guess Who's Coming to Buffalo? (24:53)
Season 1 - 8. Below the Belt (24:56)
Season 1 - 9. Ratings (24:56)
Season 1 - 10. True Love (24:49)
Season 1 - 11. The Fan (23:52)
Season 1 - 12. Hackles (23:59) (unaired according to epguides.com)
Season 1 - 13. Hit the Road, Newdell (22:16) (actually the first episode of season 2)
Season 2 - 1. Jerry Lewis Week (23:57)
Season 2 - 2. The Interview (24:03)
Season 2 - 3. Company Ink (24:03)
Season 2 - 4. Jo Jo's Problem - Part 1 (23:50)
Season 2 - 5. Jo Jo's Problem - Part 2 (24:00)
Season 2 - 6. Miss WBFL (23:24)
Season 2 - 7. Nuclear Freeze (23:14)
Season 2 - 8. The Girl on the Jetty (24:03)
Season 2 - 9. Buffalo Bill Versus the Kremlin (24:56) (a season 1 episode that aired in season 2)
Season 2 - 10. A Hero (23:59)
Season 2 - 11. The Tap Dancer (23:59)
Season 2 - 12. Have Yourself a Very Degrading Christmas (24:03)
Season 2 - 13. Church of the Poisoned Mind (22:11)
Notable guest stars included Russell Johnson (Gilligan's Island), Julie Brown,
James Cromwell, Jim Carrey (uncredited as a Jerry Lewis impersonator),
Gail Edwards, Martin Landau, Susan Ruttan (in 2 episodes), and Sam Whipple.
This set comes in a large snap case. The cover art featurs a photo of Dabney Coleman
holding a microphone with small photos of the supporting cast members (Joanna Cassidy,
Max Wright, John Fielder, Geena Davis, Meshach Taylor) at the top. The back
has a photo of Coleman sitting on a couch holding a microphone. Inside the case,
there are are holders for the 3 discs. Disc 1 is on the left and discs 2-3 overlap
on the right. A single sheet lists the episodes by disc, and the back has the
same photo as the cover art. Each disc has the Buffalo Bill logo at the top
and the Buffalo skyline at the bottom. Disc 1 is yellowish in color and has
episodes 1-8. Disc 2 is blueish and has episodes 9-13 from season 1 and episodes 1-4
from season 2. Disc 3 is reddish and has episodes 5-13 from season 2. I'm really
not a fan of how the discs overlap. When this package arrived to my house, all of the
discs were off the holders. Fortunately, none of the discs were scratched. It's
not a good sign when you pick up a package and gently shake it and all the discs are loose.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are nicely designed and easy to navigate. The main menus feature a
photo of Dabney Coleman with the Buffalo Bill logo at the top. The theme song
can be heard in the background, and it loops after awhile. There is a small box of videoclips
on the left-hand side of the screen. There are options to "Play Season" (all the episodes
together on each disc) or you can play them individually by "Season One" or "Season Two" based on the disc. When you select the episodes, there is a short musical transition heard. This
leads you to a sub-menu. There is another small box at the bottom that has various video clips playing, and, once again, the theme song is heard in the background. The episode titles are
listed vertically in two rows. There are chapter stops within the episodes but no
separate menus for scene selections.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality of this set didn't overwhelm me. When I first started watching the
episodes, the show had a look of a mid to late 1970's show. I'm not sure if it was the lighting
or the quality of film they used that made the quality look lower. The series was shot on film
and had a laugh track added (I don't think it was filmed before a studio audience,
but I'm not positive). There is some
dust and grain and other digital artifacts in these episodes. The show has apparently
aired before in syndication on A&E awhile ago, but I don't remember seeing any of those
episodes, so I don't have anything to compare them to. For the closing logo enthusiasts,
there is a logo for Stampede Productions. Overall, even though the video
quality is only mediocre, all of the episodes looked watchable.
The majority of the episodes look to be unedited, running around 24-25 minutes. It's hard
to say if the episodes running around 23 and 1/2 minutes are unedited. See the complete
running times near the top of the review. There are only
two episodes which appear to be from syndicated prints or missing some minutes of footage.
"Hit the Road, Newdell" runs 22 minutes, 16 seconds. There is a text disclaimer
at the start of this episode from show creator Tom Patchett which says that there
is a scene missing from the episode that included the song "Hit the Road Jack" by
Ray Charles. He says they tried to get the rights from the music publisher, but they
would not let them use it at any price. This was a dream sequence that Bill
had after he had a run-in with Newdell. The final episode of the series, "Church of the
Poisoned Mind," runs only 22 minutes and 11 seconds. There is no explanation given
why this episode is so much shorter than the others.
UPDATE: There is a cut scene in "The Search High and Low for Miss WBFL."
Geena Davis performs "It Had to Be You" with a meowing cat. This occurs in between scenes of Bill begging Melanie not
to enter the contest and Melanie doing her sax solo, and runs :27, with a further :03 cut at the beginning of the sax solo
scene, omitting Dabney Coleman's line, "Now here's Contestant #4, Miss Melanie Wayne."
Additional Notes on some scenes not on the DVD
The audio is in 2.0 Dolby Stereo. It's at a good level and is generally better quality
than the video. The catchy news show style theme song by Tom Wells opens all the episodes.
Closed captioning is available on all episodes.
No special features are included. It would have been nice to hear some audio
commentaries by the creators, directors, and cast members. Some interviews
with the cast would have added some enjoyment to this set.
I've always been a big Dabney Coleman fan from movies like WarGames and Cloak & Dagger, but I
don't remember ever seeing this show. He's very good here, and there is a strong supporting cast who would go on to become very recognizable names. Max Wright later appeared on ALF, Meschach Taylor went on to Designing Women, and Charles Robinson would soon join the cast
of Night Court. This was one of Geena Davis' early TV roles, and she is now
a major star. Sad to hear that John Fielder passed away recently. This is a pretty nice set, with the only negatives being a few edited episodes and a lack of special features. I'm not sure why they just didn't call it the "Complete Series." It's great to see some rare
sitcoms come to DVD. I'd like to see somebody release The Slap Maxwell Story
in the future.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.0/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/03/05
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