Tom Hanks’ short-lived 1980-82 drag sitcom is suddenly in the zeitgeist the last couple of weeks, owing mostly to Adam Scott’s The Greatest Event in Television History recreating the show’s winning opening credit sequence, and a little to an appearance of a Bosom Buddies-era photo of Tom Hanks figuring into a recent episode of HBO’s Girls. Here are some very important facts about this very important TV show.
The show lived on for far longer than it had any reason to do so. It lasted two truncated seasons, and 37 total episodes. It was not a ratings hit. These two factors generally make a show, especially a pre-DVD and YouTube era one, disappear into obscurity.But because of the enduring popularity and likability of Movie Star Tom Hanks, and his fantastic chemistry with future Newhart star Peter Scolari, reruns of Bosom Buddies have been syndicated for the past 30-odd years. Along with the 39-episode run of The Honeymooners, Bosom Buddies is the most widely syndicated short-lived show ever.
While its two seasons on ABC brought in middling ratings, it became a modest hit in the summer of 1984. NBC bought the rights to air reruns, wanting to capitalize on the success of newly minted movie star Tom Hanks of Splash. The old Bosom Buddies on a new network did so well that NBC reportedly tried to revive the show, but Scolari was committed to Newhart, a top 30 hit, and Hanks was committed to his incredibly successful movie career.
If you remember the show, you remember two things: Tom Hanks in a dress and the opening sequence set to Billy Joel’s “My Life.” But you’re misremembering?the drag element was dropped in season 2. And while “My Life” was the theme song, it was only the opening theme song, and it wasn’t the theme song in the syndicated reruns, and it was never sung by Billy Joel. In the original network run, a version of “My Life” sung by a studio musician named Gary Bennett was the one used. (It was not, as an urban legend suggests, the vocal stylings of Tom Hanks.) The rights were too expensive for subsequent rerun airings, so “My Life” was replaced with “Shake Me Loose,” as performed by R&B singer Stephanie Mills. An instrumental version of that song was always Bosom Buddies’ end credits theme.
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