An above-average late 70's/early 80's (the series ran from 1979-1986) show, "Benson" starred Robert Guillaume as Benson Dubois, a character from "Soap". Benson is sent by Jessica Tate to the mansion of Tate's cousin, Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling (James Tate) in order to try and eliminate waste in the house, which includes - as Benson finds in the first episode - two maids assigned to the third floor. The only problem is that there is no third floor.
While Benson initally arrived to try and clean things up in the household, it's not long before he's helping the rather dim Governor (who admits that he's not cut out for politics) navigate both his political life and family (the widowed Goveror has one daughter, played by Missy Gold) life. Standing behind him is the governor's secretary (Caroline McWilliams) and the increasingly thankful Governor, who Benson pulls out of one jam after another. Not exactly in Benson's favor are the stern German housekeeper, Gretchen Kraus (Inga Swenson, very funny) and mayoral aide John Taylor (Lewis J. Stadlen).
Created by Paul Junger Witt (who went on to "The Golden Girls" shortly after), "Benson" starts off on the right foot in this first season, with an enjoyable mix of personalities. Tate's Governor is a bit of a dimwit, but he's a well-meaning dimwit who still held things together, although often with the help of those around him, including Benson. Guillaume (whose character would get into politics himself later in the series) is the highlight of the series, showing whip-fast timing and sharp delivery with the show's snappy dialogue.
Some of the highlights of this first season include: "Change" (Benson heads to the Governor's mansion to help organize the household), "Benson in Love" (Benson falls for a woman and doesn't realize she's a state senator), "Snowbound" (a blizzard traps Benson and the rest of the staff in the Governor's Winter lodge), "Ghost Story" (a seance reveals the Governor's mansion is being haunted), "Bugging the Governor" (someone has planted listening devices in the Governor's mansion and it's up to Benson to find out who's behind it) and "Cold Storage" (Benson and Kraus get locked in the freezing storage room and resort to drastic measures to keep warm).
1. 1- 1 13 Sep 79 Pilot
2. 1- 2 20 Sep 79 Trust Me
3. 1- 3 27 Sep 79 The President's Double
4. 1- 4 4 Oct 79 Benson in Love
5. 1- 5 18 Oct 79 Conflict of Interest
6. 1- 6 25 Oct 79 The Layoff
7. 1- 7 1 Nov 79 Snowbound
8. 1- 8 8 Nov 79 Jessica
9. 1- 9 22 Nov 79 Don't Quote Me
10. 1-10 29 Nov 79 War Stories
11. 1-11 6 Dec 79 Ghost Story
12. 1-12 13 Dec 79 Taylor's Bid
13. 1-13 27 Dec 79 One Strike, You're Out
14. 1-14 3 Jan 80 Just Friends
15. 1-15 10 Jan 80 Chain of Command
16. 1-16 24 Jan 80 Bugging the Governor
17. 1-17 31 Jan 80 Kraus Affair
18. 1-18 7 Feb 80 Checkmate
19. 1-19 28 Feb 80 Cold Storage
20. 1-20 6 Mar 80 Old Man Gatlin'
21. 1-21 20 Mar 80 Power Play
22. 1-22 27 Mar 80 Takin' It to the Streets
23. 1-23 1 May 80 The Army Wants You
24. 1-24 8 May 80 Marcy's Vacation
VIDEO: "Benson" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. In comparison to most shows from the time period, "Benson" looks rather good. Sharpness and detail aren't exemplary, but the image remained moderately crisp throughout. Some minor shimmering appeared at times, but no edge enhancement was seen and only a few traces of pixelation were spotted. Colors looked accurate to the show's original appearance.
SOUND: The show's mono soundtrack offered crisp, clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: Intro from actor Robert Guillaume, "Inside the Governor's Mansion" retrospective featurette, photo gallery and "Favorites from the First Season" featurette.
Final Thoughts: "Benson" still holds up quite well today, as Guillaume's lead effort is very funny (and he's supported by a great ensemble cast) and the writing is mostly excellent. The DVD set offers somewhat better audio/video quality than one would expect from a show from this era, as well as a few minor extras. Recommended.