Theme music composer Glen A. Larson
First episode date 10 February 1979
|Created by Glen A. LarsonChristopher Crowe|
Written by Glen A. LarsonMichael SloanFrank LupoTom SawyerChristopher CroweSidney EllisRick Kelbaugh
Directed by Gil BettmanBruce BilsonDaniel HallerBruce KesslerChristian I. Nyby IIMichael PreeceCharles R. Rondeau
Starring Greg EviganClaude Akins
Theme song B.J. and the Bear theme song
Spin-off The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
Cast Greg Evigan, Claude Akins, Judy Landers, Murray Hamilton, Mills Watson
B. J. and the Bear is an American Comedy series which aired on NBC from 1979 to 1981. Created by Glen A. Larson and Christopher Crowe, the series stars Greg Evigan. The series was produced when the CB radio/trucking craze had peaked in the United States, following the 1974-1976 television series Movin' On, the number one song Convoy (1975) by C.W. McCall, as well as the films White Line Fever (1975), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Convoy (1978), and Every Which Way but Loose (1978).
The theme song, also titled "B. J. and the Bear" was written by Glen Larson and performed by Greg Evigan.
Premise and storylines
Greg Evigan stars as Billie Joe "B.J." McKay, a professional freelance itinerant trucker who travels the country's highways in a red and white Kenworth K-100 Aerodyne (a COE semi truck) with his pet chimpanzee Bear (named after Bear Bryant, the famed football coach for the University of Alabama). In the pilot movie, it is stated that he had spent two years in Vietnam as a medical helicopter pilot, had been a captain and earned a Distinguished Service Cross. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam at the Hanoi Hilton for four months in 1973 after his helicopter went down over the DMZ. Episodes typically deal with B.J. uncovering or getting mixed up with crime in the area he's traveling through, and a local resident—usually, a young, beautiful woman—appealing to him for help.
A frequent guest star in the first season is Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo (Claude Akins, who had previously starred in the trucking series Movin' On), whose character eventually spun off onto his own show The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo along with guest character "Waverly" Ben Cooper).
Two episodes in season two, "Eyes Of Texas" (1979) and "The Girls On The Hollywood High" (1980), were designed as prospective pilots for a series about a pair of private detectives called Heather Fern (Rebecca Reynolds) and Caroline Capoty (Lorrie McCaffrey in the first one, Heather Thomas in the second). The latter episode has cameo appearances from John S. Ragin and Robert Ito as their characters from Quincy, M.E. (also a Glen A. Larson series).
In 1981, when the show returned for its third season with the two-part episode "B. J. And The Seven Lady Truckers" (not to be confused with the season two opener "Snow White And The Seven Lady Truckers," also a two-parter), B. J. has settled down to run Bear Enterprises, a trucking company based in Los Angeles. His nemesis is Rutherford T. Grant (Murray Hamilton), the corrupt head of the state's Special Crimes Action Team, who is a secret partner in a competing trucking company. Because of Grant's harassment, B. J. is unable to hire experienced truckers, and is forced to hire seven beautiful young female truckers, consisting of Grant's daughter Cindy (Sherilyn Wolter), twins Teri and Geri (Candi and Randi Brough), no-nonsense Angie (Sheila Wills), Samantha (Amanda Horan Kennedy), Callie (Linda McCullough), and a busty blonde nicknamed "Stacks" (Judy Landers).
In popular culture
In Season 4, Episode 7 of the popular Canadian sitcom Trailer Park Boys Bubbles is about to get his big rig license, he says to Julian "I'm gonna be just like that fuckin' B. J. and the Bear cock-sucker, 'cept I'm gonna have kitties in my truck instead of a dirty assed stinky little monkey."
In the 1995 movie Mallrats, Jason Lee's character Brodie makes a reference to the show with: "Why don't they ever bring back or remake good shows, like B. J. and the Bear. Now there's a concept I can't get enough of, a man and his monkey". The line foreshadows the film's close in which Jay and Silent Bob leave with an orangutan, a plot device fleshed out six years later in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
In episode 302, "Peanut Butter, Eggs, and Dice" of Mr. Show with Bob and David, during a sketch entitled "The Bob Lamonta Story," Bob Lamonta's father, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the Bob Lamonta character, played by David Cross, during an out-of-body experience to wake him and his mother when B. J. and the Bear comes on.
In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Earl's brother Randy asks Joy why a chimp was named "Bear". She obligingly explains that B. J. McKay was a fan of the University of Alabama's football team, hence the moniker. In yet another episode, while Randy is going to sleep, he asks what Bear's name is, even though he just said it in the title of the show.
In the series Breaking Bad, a replica of the red and white Kenworth appears in the episode "One Minute". In the Breaking Bad Original Mini Episode "Just Married", character Hank Schrader makes a pun with the show's title as "B. J. and the Bear, minus the bear".
In the comedy series 30 Rock, Kenneth Parcell refers to the show as You-Know-What and the Bear.
Seattle-based indie rock group Minus the Bear derives their name from a joke referencing B. J. and the Bear. "A friend of the band had gone on a date,” explains singer-guitarist Jake Snider, "and one of us asked him afterwards how the date went. Our friend said, 'You know that TV show from the '70s, B. J. and the Bear? It was like that... minus the Bear.' That’s the straight truth."
In the South Park episode "The Ring", Cartman quotes the theme song, referencing "B. J. McKay and his best friend Bear."
In the 2007 Quentin Tarantino's Movie Death Proof, Kurt Russell's character introduces himself as Stuntman Mike McKay and is mocked by two other characters (Dov and Omar) by making a reference to B. J. and the Bear due to his last name.