Benson

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Benson S1 6412.jpg

Benson was a half-hour Sitcom that aired on ABC from 1979-1986. A Spin-Off of Soap, it starred Robert Guillaume as Benson DuBois, who took over as head of household affairs at the Govenor's Mansion under Gov. Eugene Gatling (James Noble) - cousin to Jessica and Mary of Soap. This put him in immediate conflict with Kraus (Inga Swenson), the head cook who coveted the position for herself. Other characters included Katie (Missy Gold), Gene's daughter; Clayton Endicott III (Rene Auberjonois), Gene's Chief of Staff; Pete Downey (Ethan Phillips), the Governor's official photographer; and Denise Stevens Downey (Didi Cohn), the Governor's ditzy personal secretary.

As the show went on, Benson climbed up the political ladder, thanks to Gov. Gatling's trust him him, going from working in the mansion staff to state Budget Director, and then to Lt. Governor, before finally running for Governor himself in the final season.

Tropes used in Benson include:

Gov. Gatling:How did Taylor do?
Marcie:He lost. He came in sixth.
Benson:How did he come in sixth? There were only five candidates.
Marcie:There was a very large write-in for "none of the above".

  • Expy: Gene Gatling is clearly based partly on Jimmy Carter.
  • Genius Ditz: Denise, who could do complex math entirely in her head. Gov. Gatling, to a slightly lesser extent.
  • Halloween Episode: "The Stranger".
  • Left Hanging: The show was cancelled at the end of its 7th season. The series finale ended on a freeze frame of Benson awaiting the election results. Conflicting accounts exist for this - one is that the staff shot three different endings to cover three scenarios, but wasn't satisfied with any of them and used the freeze frame instead. The other, from a staff member of the show, suggests the network insisted on the cliffhanger and planned to cancel the series due to dissatisfaction with the storyline of a potential 8th season.
  • Loophole Abuse: Gene uses a loophole in the state constitution to run for a third term, despite the fact that he'd already endorsed Benson in the race.
  • Missing Mom: Gatling is a widower.
  • No Party Given: It was never disclosed which party Gene was a part of - though it was "None of the above" by the final season.
  • Our Governors Are Different Gene Gatling, Gov. Genius Ditz.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Marcy Hill, Gov. Gatling's first secretary. Got married and moved because of her husband's job. She got a farewell party at the end of Season Two.
    • Pete and Denise in the final season. Denise took a job with NASA and Pete went with her.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Jessica Tate showed up in a couple of episodes.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Clayton and Denise to Taylor and Marcy.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Benson and Kraus evolve into this by the end of the series.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The state Benson was set in was never revealed, nor was the name of the city the mansion was located in.
    • The capital city is always referred to as...Capital City. That might be its proper name.
      • Which would theoretically put it in the same state as the Trope Namer?
        • They do mention a "Springfield" in one Season 3 episode, which is good enough for this troper to make it an official WMG.
  • You Look Familiar: Both from the parent show, Soap. Inga Swenson (Kraus) played Corrine's birth mother Ingrid Svenson. Caroline McWilliams (Marcy) played Burt's secretary, who claimed to have had an affair with him at the behest of Svenson. It was never mentioned on Benson.