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Benson was aired on ABC from September 1979 to April 1986. The character of butler Benson DuBois, played by Robert Guillaume, had originally appeared on the soap opera parody Soap. I never saw a single episode of Soap but I loved my Benson.
"In this spin-off from Soap, Benson the black butler, was sent by Jessica Tate to help her widowed cousin, Governor James Gatling, a sweet, well-meaning man, but terribly naive. Benson was is charge of the Governor's household and helped raise little Katie, the Governor's daughter. Benson was constantly at odds with Gretchen Kraus, the sharp-tongued German housekeeper. Benson assisted the meek governor in deciding what to do, both politically and personally. He was usually of more help than the Governor's political aides: John Taylor(1979-1980) and Clayton Endicott (1980-1986), both of whom resented Benson's considerable influence on the Governor. The other characters at and about the mansion were: Marcy Hill, the Governor's secretary (1979-1981); Pete Downing, the bumbling press assistant; and Frankie, the messenger boy. "Benson worked his way up the ladder during the series, going from butler to head of the Governor's household staff, to state budget director, and eventually was elevated to the position of Lieutenant Governor. During the final episodes of the 1985-1986 season, Benson ran for governor against Gatling. Kraus proved to be Benson's biggest supporter during this time as well. So much so, that he made her his personal assistant and campaign manager.
Over the course of the show's 7-year run it was nominated for a total of 17 Emmys. It won two, including Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Guillaume's second-to-last season portraying the title character.
List of Benson episodes
So far only the first season has been released on DVD by Sony.
Bonus Benson Fun Facts:
** Jerry Seinfeld's first television appearance was in 1980, playing the recurring role of the delivery man/aspiring comic, "Frankie". Shortly afterwards, he was abruptly fired. He has claimed in several interviews that he was not told that he would be fired. Rather, he came to the studio for a table read, only to discover that he did not have a script.
** An episode airing February 22, 1985 ("Scenario") marked the first reference to the Internet on American network television. In the episode, they were accessing the ARPANET, the progenitor of the Internet, which was used by the U.S. government to communicate with the military.
** Ted Danson played the character Dan, who married Benson's secretary, Marcy. The following year, Danson would star in the eventual hit Cheers.
TV.com's Benson page
Benson at the Internet Movie Database
Sitcoms Online's Benson page
Encyclopedia of Television
Full episodes of Benson online