J.J. Starbuck

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J.J. Starbuck
GenreCrime drama
Created byStephen J. Cannell
Developed byNBC
StarringDale Robertson
Jimmy Dean
Shawn Weatherly
and Ben Vereen
Theme music composerMike Post
Opening theme'Gone Again' Music by Mike Post, Lyrics by Stephen Geyer, Performed by Ronnie Milsap
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes16 (list of episodes)
Executive producerStephen J. Cannell
ProducerJ. Rickley Dumm
Running time44 minutes
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 26, 1987 (1987-09-26) –
June 28, 1988 (1988-06-28)
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe

J.J. Starbuck is an American crime drama television series that aired on NBC from September 26, 1987, to June 28, 1988. The series follows cornpone-spouting Jerome Jeremiah "J.J." Starbuck, a billionaire Texan who wears ten-gallon hats, cowboy boots and fancy western shirts. He drives a flashy limousine with steer horns on the hood and a horn that plays "The Eyes of Texas", and spouts a steady stream of folksy homilies.


J.J. Starbuck was an ostentatious self-made Texas billionaire who earned his fortune in oil and a variety of other investment ventures. Unfortunately, J.J.'s work had become his life, at the expense of his family. Then, one day his wife Lee and son Mark decided to pay J.J. a surprise visit aboard an off-shore oil rig he was working when their plane crashed en route and both were killed. Only then did J.J. realize that the two most valuable assets in his life were lost and no amount of money could ever buy them back. From that day on, J.J. Starbuck became a changed man. He turned day-to-day control of his company, Marklee Enterprises, over to his trusted second, Charlie Bullets (played by character actor David Huddleston in the pilot, and singer Jimmy Dean thereafter), and hit the open road in his 1961 Lincoln Convertible to see to it that others didn't make the same mistakes he did. He traveled the country helping out "good folks" in trouble using his considerable influence and contacts, and more than a little detective work.

For most of the program's one-season run, J.J. was basically a loner. Then, during a break in production late in the fall of 1987, star Dale Robertson was at home on his ranch in Oklahoma when he took a tumble from a horse and injured his hip and leg. The injury was written into the series and J.J. picked up a new driver and traveling companion in the process. Actor/entertainer Ben Vereen reprised his character E.L. "Tenspeed" Turner from the 1980 short-lived ABC detective series Tenspeed and Brown Shoe to fill the role.[1] Straight-arrow J.J. and con-artist E.L. were a mismatched pair, but they were beginning to grow on each other. NBC bounced the series between Tuesday and Saturday nights before cancelling it after 16 episodes. The show ranked 48th for the season with an average 13.3 rating.[2]



No.TitleOriginal air date
1"Pilot"September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26)
JJ travels to Beverly Hills, where he encounters a wealthy businessman, who is suddenly cleared of his wife's murder by a bodybuilder. The bodybuilder claims the woman's death was the accidental result of a lovers' quarrel.
2"A Killing in the Market"September 29, 1987 (1987-09-29)

A Wall Street wizard makes overtures to J.J. about a shady business deal, but J.J. then challenges him about the apparent suicide of his assistant.

Guest star: Robert Conrad as Corbett Cook.
3"Murder in E Minor"October 20, 1987 (1987-10-20)

Starbuck suspects foul play in connection with the suicide of an international piano competition's judge.

Guest star: Kelsey Grammer as Pierce Morgan.
4"The Blimpy Who Yelled Blue"October 27, 1987 (1987-10-27)
A children's book author kills his ghost writer when the latter threatens to publicize an embarrassing fact.
5"First You've Got to Go to the Picnic"November 3, 1987 (1987-11-03)
Starbuck installs an ex-convict/football star as head coach of a college team entrenched in a 265-game losing streak.
6"Incident at Sam September"November 10, 1987 (1987-11-10)
The U.S. government is rendered helpless when a group of American businessmen are held hostage aboard a Persian Gulf oil rig.
7"Gold from the Rainbow"December 5, 1987 (1987-12-05)

Starbuck intervenes in a feud dividing the family of the owner of a Greek roadside inn.

Guest star: Telly Savalas as The Greek.
8"Graveyard Shift"December 15, 1987 (1987-12-15)

Starbuck encounters the sinister administrator of a mortuary.

Guest star: John Schuck as Powell Umber.
9"The 6% Solution"December 26, 1987 (1987-12-26)
J.J. arrives at the funeral of an old friend, and learns that a sinister realtor may have been responsible for the friend's death.
10"The Circle Broken"January 16, 1988 (1988-01-16)

The leader of a religious cult tries to frame a senator's daughter for her father's murder.

Guest star: Alan Rachins as Pasban Bapu.
11"Murder by Design"January 23, 1988 (1988-01-23)

Starbuck investigates a scheming interior design editor who seems to have committed the perfect murder.

Guest star: Jessica Walter as Brin Coltan.
12"Cactus Jack's Last Call"February 13, 1988 (1988-02-13)
J.J. is injured and his associate is killed, in a hit-and-run car attack. J.J. teams up with an old friend, E.L. "Tenspeed" Turner, to find out what happened.
13"A Song from the Sequel"February 20, 1988 (1988-02-20)

J.J.'s in L.A. to finalize a charitable project. He then meets and befriends a homeless young man. The young man says he fears his stepmother, Rachel.

Guest star: Jill St. John as Rachel Capstone.
14"Permanent Hiatus"February 27, 1988 (1988-02-27)

Starbuck and Tenspeed investigate a TV personality's murder, thought to be part of an all-out ratings war.

Guest star: Ed Nelson as Ted Fuller.
15"Rag Doll"April 19, 1988 (1988-04-19)
J.J.'s niece goes undercover in Los Angeles to investigate the mysterious death of one of her high school friends.
16"The Rise and Fall of Joe Piermont"June 28, 1988 (1988-06-28)

An old business colleague wants J.J. to join the campaign for his politician son. But although J.J. finds the son appears to be trustworthy, he grows suspicious of his father.

Guest star: Barry Nelson as Joe Piermont.


  1. ^ J.J. Starbuck creator/producer Stephen J. Cannell was also the man behind Tenspeed and Brown Shoe
  2. ^ http://www.thetvratingsguide.com/1991/08/1987-88-ratings-history.html?m=1

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