Looking Back at B.J. and the Bear

Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can were big hits for star Clint Eastwood in 1978 and 1979. Both films focused on the adventures of a man and his simian companion as they traveled through rural areas. It was a very television-friendly concept and was cleverly appropriated in 1979 for a one-hour NBC show entitled B.J. and the Bear.

The show focused on B.J., a trucker who roamed down the highways and byways in his red-and-white rig with his companion Bear, who happened to be a chimp. B.J.’s arch nemesis was initially Lobo, a corrupt sheriff. Lobo became popular enough to get his own spin-off series (The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo) and was replaced with additional corrupt-lawmen characters in the form of Sergeant Beauregard Wiley and his two sheriffs, Masters and Cain.

When he wasn’t busy locking horns with local lawmen, B.J. frequently spent his spare time at the Country Comfort Truck Stop, owned by Bullets. Other characters B. J. interacted with included Wilhemina “The Fox” Johnson, a state cop sent out to keep an eye on Sergeant Wiley, and Tommy, one of B.J.’s fellow truckers.

The second season of B.J. and the Bear was delayed for several months by an actor’s strike. When the series returned in January of 1981, the show’s storyline had been altered greatly. B.J. and the Bear were the only characters retained from the first season and the action was moved from the American South to Los Angeles, where B.J. relocated to run his own trucking operation, Bear Enterprises.

This storyline also introduced a new enemy for B.J., corrupt politician Rutherford T. Grant, who happened to be a silent partner in California’s largest trucking firm. Not wishing to have any competition for his business interests, Grant did everything in his power to interfere with Bear Enterprises.

 

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Grant successfully scared off any male truckers from working with B.J., thus forcing him to hire an all-female staff of truckers. This bevy of beauties included two identical twins, Teri and Geri Garrison, and Grant’s daughter Cindy. Other members of the new cast included Lieutenant Jim Steiger, Grant’s assistant, and Nick the Bartender.

The show finished its run in August of 1981. Prolific creator/producer Glen Larson had four series on the networks around the time of this show: Galactica 1980, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the aforementioned Lobo and Magnum P.I. Larson also wrote the theme song for B.J. and the Bear(sung by star Greg Evigan), making him a true TV renaissance man.

 

This post originally appeared on the long defunct Yesterdayland website.  We archive it here to preserve it.