Norman Buntz

Created by Jeffrey Lewis and David Milch

Seedy, sleazy and sweaty NORMAN BUNTZ (and nobody does sweaty like Dennis Franz), last seen in the final episode of Hill Street Blues punching out pompous Chief Daniels, headed for the Hills in the sequel Beverly Hills Buntz.

Beverly Hills.

That's right. Beverly Hills. As in swimming pools, movie stars, etc.. Norm's big plan is to set himself up as a private detective. And he brought his former informer/buddy/thorn in his side Sid the Snitch along to help him.

The series didn't last long, but I thought it was great fun while it lasted--a nifty half-hour of comedy, character, and even mystery as these two fish-out-of-water lowlifes took on a series of decidedly minor cases among the rich and privileged denizens of Beverly Hills.

Unfortunately, I may have been the only one who thought so.

It seemed that audiences weren't ready for a half-hour private eye show, especially a low-key one (there were no car chases or gunplay) that straddled the fence between comedy and drama. And certainly it was a far cry from the gritty, neo-documentary feel of Hill Street. People stayed away from it in droves, and even years later, Rolling Stone considered it one of the 10 Worst TV Spin-Offs.

NBC wasn't sure how to deal with it either-- jerking it all around the schedule, from November 1987 to January 1988, before finally trying it out as a regular series in March. Not a good sign when your Christmas show airs in April.

One of those shows that "coulda been a contender." And for my money, a hell of a lot more clever than NYPD Blue, which made Franz a star.

Maybe if Norman had dropped his drawers occasionally...


    (1987-88, NBC)
    12 30-minute episodes
    Created by Jeffrey Lewis and David Milch
    Writers: Jeffrey Lewis and David Milch
    Producers: Jeffrey Lewis and David Milch
    Starring Dennis Franz as NORMAN BUNTZ
    and Peter Jurasik as Sid Thurston
    Also starring Dana-Wheeler-Nicholson, Guy Boyd

  • "Pilot" (November 5, 1987)
  • "Fit to be Tied" (November 29, 1987)
  • "Sid and Randy" (December 24, 1987)
  • "Duck L'Orange" (January 27, 1988)
  • "Umbrella in the Water" (March 25, 1988)
  • "Brief Encounter" (April 1, 1988)
  • "El Norte by Norte West" (April 8, 1988)
  • "Buntz of the Desert" (April 15, 1988)
  • "A Christmas Carol" (April 22, 1988)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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