August 14, 2014 3:09 PM EDT

This lustily misanthropic comedy was HBO back when HBO was just a movie channel: it took Dabney Coleman, the movie’s comic villain of choice (Tootsie, Nine to Five), and made him into Bill Bittinger, the preening, conniving host of a local-TV talk show. A man whose only moral dilemma was whether it is better to lie to get a job or to get into someone’s pants, Bill bulldozed over rivals and meek producers on the strength of Coleman’s swaggering, damn-the-likeability performance. This sitcom was smart and ahead of its time, and that plus 50 cents will still get you canceled after two seasons, but it’s hard to imagine Larry Sanders—or Larry David—or David Brent—without Buffalo Bill.

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