B.L. Stryker

Created by Christopher Crowe

Smirk Alert!

Burt Reynolds played B.L. (BUDDY LEE) STRYKER, a retired New Orleans cop turned slacker Miami P.I. living on his beat-up old houseboat and tooling around town in his equally beat-up Caddy, operating on the fringes of Florida’s hoity-toity Palm Beach, sniffing out work, in a series of made-for-TV movies in the late eighties and early nineties.

Helping him out was his best friend, Oz Jackson (Ossie Davis), an ex-boxer. B.L. and Oz were constant thorns in the side of long-suffering, uptight Chief McGee of the even more uptight Palm Beach Police, but B.L. had several of his own thorns to deal with, most notably his dipsy secretary (and would-be actress) Lynnda, his annoying next-door neighbour Oliver and his social-climbing ex-wife, Kimberly (played with pizazz by Rita Moreno).

This one was presented as part of ABC’s short-lived , which originally aired under the umbrella of The ABC Mystery Movie, which rotated with Lou Gossett as Gideon Oliver and yet another revival of Columbo, and it was pretty much hit or miss, with the show vacillating from smug, good ol’ boy comedy schtick to grim, surprisingly brutal action from show to show, or occasionally within the same show.

But when it was good, it could be quite good. Reynolds’ smarmy good ol’ boy/slacker persona is an acquired taste, to be sure, and was certainly getting pretty long in the tooth by yhen, but when he was on, he could be quite entertaining. And he and co-executive producer Tom Selleck (of Magnum P.I. fame) had enough clout (and smarts) to get some very good talent involved. Writers included Joe Gores and Joan and Robert B. Parker, directors included Hal Needham and Stuart Margolin, and guest stars included not just the usual BurtBuds, such as Ned Beatty, Dom DeLuise and Jerry Reed, but also Cicely Tyson, Dana Ivey, Julianne Moore, Helen Shaver, Maureen Stapleton, Elizabeth Ashley and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.


  • Actor Neil Patrick Harris, who appeared as a guest star in B.L. Stryker at the age of fifteen, claims that a friendly kiss from Burt Reynolds on the set was his A-HA! moment, when he realized he was gay. In his memoir, Choose Your Own Autobiography, he wrote “As a joke at the end of one take, Burt leans over and kisses you square on the mouth… The crew thinks this is very funny, but it makes you uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and, it will ultimately turn out, gay. Burt Reynolds’ kiss makes you gay.”


  • B.L. STRYKER | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (1989-90, ABC)
    12 2-hourmovies
    Writers: Leon Piedmont, Walter Klenhard, Chris Abbott, Tommy Thompson, Joan H. Parker & Robert B. Parker, Joe Gores, Norma Jean Wood, Tim Burns, Neil Cohen, Jack B. Sowards, Hall Powell & Jay Huguely
    Directors: Alan J. Levi, Hal Needham, Burt Reynolds, Tony Wharmby, Nick McLean, Stuart Margolin, William A. Fraker, Jerry Jameson
    Executive producers: burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck
    Starring Burt Reynolds as B.L. STRYKER
    with Ossie Davis as Oz Jackson
    Michael O. Smith as Chief McGee
    Alfie Wise as Oliver Wardell
    Dana Kaminski as Lyynda Lynnox
    and Rita Moreno as Kimberley Baskin
    Guest stars: Cicely Tyson, Eric LaSalle, Ned Beatty, Doug McClure, Jo Ann Pflug, Dom DeLuise, Ted McGinley, Dana Ivey, Loni Anderson, Charles Nelson Reilly, Julianne Moore, Ricardo Montalban, Carol Alt, Jerry Reed, Helen Shaver, David Hunt, Kristy Swanson, Maureen Stapleton, Jack Gilford, Harry Carey Jr, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Avery Sommers, Elizabeth Ashley, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Chiklis.

    • SEASON ONE | Buy this season on DVD
    • “The Dancer’s Touch” (February 13, 1989)
    • “Carolann” (March 6, 1989; AKA “Royal Gambit”)
    • “Blind Chess” (March 27, 1989)
    • “Auntie Sue” (April 17, 1989)
    • “Blues For Buder” (May 15, 1989)
    • SEASON TWO | Buy this season on DVD
    • “The King of Jazz” (November 18, 1989)
    • “Die Laughing” (December 16, 1989)
    • “Winner Takes All” (January 13, 1990)
    • “Grand Theft Hotel” (February 24, 1990)
    • “High Rise” (March 10, 1990)
    • “Plates” (April 14, 1990)
    • “Night Train” (May 5, 1990)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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