Bosom Buddies: The Complete Series
Paramount/CBS will be releasing this week Bosom Buddies: The Complete Series.
This sitcom about two men in drag ran from 1980-1982. Its two seasons contain a total of 37 episodes, and it’s best known today for being Tom Hanks’ first major role.
Hanks plays Kip Wilson. He and his best friend Henry Desmond (Peter Scolari) work together for an ad agency. When their apartment is condemned, they have to find a new place to stay quickly. Their co-worker Amy (Wendie Jo Sperber) says her building has an opening, but it’s a hotel for women only.
When Kip meets Amy’s roommate, the dancer/nurse Sonny (Donna Dixon), he wants to stay, because he has a huge crush on her. He talks Henry into seeing the experience as grounds for a future novel. So they decide to dress in women’s clothes as “Buffy” and “Hildegarde”. By episode 2, they’ve introduced the idea that Kip and Henry are Buffy and Hildy’s brothers so they can hang around with the girls without being in drag.
As you might expect, this is a rather broad sitcom, with a prominent laugh track. There are some high points, though. I always liked seeing Holland Taylor as Ruth, the boys’ tough boss lady executive. And Telma Hopkins gets some good lines as the sassy neighbor.
Season 2 reveals the guys to the girls and swaps the workplace to Kip and Henry buying a video production studio. This allows them to get out of the hotel and ad agency (although Ruth comes along to help them with the new business), make commercial parodies, and, in the insane last episode, pretend they’re running their own cable station.
Of course, viewed today, some of this is iffy. Amy actively pursues Henry to the point of being obnoxious. Then, a large woman being so blatant about her feelings was funny; now, it’s either sad (that she’s treated as so much of a joke) or stalker-y. There are the expected episodes with obvious emotional lessons, most about what it means to be a good friend. One occurs when Adrian Zmed shows up as Kip’s old buddy, now a rock star, and Kip has to learn not to be starstruck.
Other episodes are very much of the time, as when Henry dates the boss’s niece, who’s gone punk. Or the gang goes to a new wave club and comes back pogoing. Video quality can also be fuzzy, since this was shot on videotape almost 40 years ago.
Still, the stars are very talented, and some of the incidents are funny (if silly), as when the whole gang concocts an elaborate scheme to humiliate someone who’s mean to Amy on a date. Or, after surviving a near-death accident, Kip and Henry decide to go gambling in Monte Carlo. And, while I didn’t rewatch every episode, I didn’t see any gay jokes. (Too many comedies from that era have unfortunate “jokes” that haven’t aged well.)
This package is the same as the previous two season release sets, only in more compact form at a cheaper price. Unfortunately, in both cases, the episodes are missing the original theme song, Billy Joel’s “My Life”. It’s been replaced by the generic “Shake Me Loose”, sung by Stephanie Mills. The only extra on the six-disc DVD set is a seven-minute sales presentation, apparently for syndication, used to promote the show and explain the premise. Since it mentions Bachelor Party, it has to be from after 1984. (The studio provided a review copy.)