After years of being reminded that a dog is man’s best friend, we learned in the 70s that primates make pretty good pals as well, especially when one is driving a truck. First, we saw Clint Eastwood traveling the nation’s highways with his sidekick orangutan in two successful movies, Every Which Way But Loose, and the follow-up, Every Which Way You Can. Then, as network executives began to see the potential of such an interspecies pairing, we were treated to a lighthearted weekly series called BJ and the Bear.
Debuting in 1979, BJ and the Bear starred Greg Evigan as the big-rig driving BJ (Billie Joe) McKay, and his accomplice, a mischievous chimpanzee named Bear. Together they roamed the highways in a red and white 18-wheeler and frequently sparred with their shared nemesis, one Sheriff Lobo. When they weren’t trucking along the asphalt of America, the pair could usually be found at the Country Comfort Truck Stop and Diner, a place for rest, grub, and opportunities to woo the lady folk of the region, a talent for which the good-looking BJ had a particular knack.
When the second season rolled out, BJ had gone west, opening his own Los Angeles-based company, aptly-named Bear Trucking. After all, this is where the really beautiful women called their home. But along with the perks came an equal share of problems for the duo. A new enemy, Rutherford T. Grant did everything in his power to (conveniently) ensure that no male truckers in the area worked for the relocated BJ. So, BJ did what any enterprising young man would do and hired all of the beautiful lady truck drivers in the area – such as bodacious twins, Teri and Geri.
Sadly, with the arrival of the new decade, the formula of man and chimp started to wear out its welcome. BJ and the Bear managed to last a mere 3 seasons before their television adventures ended. Still, for such a short haul, the show is well-remembered by many a former kid who curled up to the TV each week to see what shenanigans BJ and his buddy would get themselves into.
Were you one of those loyal fans who made BJ and the Bear part of your weekly viewing schedule? Share your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this fun series, one of the last to show man and monkey side by side.