“I reckon a diamond is just a hunk of coal that
stuck to the job… If you want something done, find the busiest person to do it…
You look happier than a termite in a sawmill…” Mumbling a constant stream of
such homey aphorisms, eccentric Texas billionaire, J.J. Starbuck set out to
solve crimes using his natural charm, down-home manner, and, when necessary, his
vast wealth and connections.
J.J. was one of TV’s outrageous characters.
Apparently Marklee Industries, the San Antonio-based corporation that was the
source of his wealth, ran itself, freeing J.J. to drive around the country alone
in his 1961 Lincoln convertible, complete with steer horns on the hood and a
horn that blared "The Eyes of Texas." Old J.J. never charged a fee, and usually
helped those who had been framed or abandoned by the system. Local law officials
were not sure what to make of this super-rich meddler, but J.J. just charmed
their badges off. After all, if they told him to move on, he’d just chew a bit
and observe, “Well sir, the Lord never closes one door without openin’ another.”
Early in 1988, J.J. picked up a sidekick in the
person of “Tenspeed" Turner, a con man whose tricks and disguises came in handy
at times (Ben Vereen had played the same character in the failed 1980 series
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, making one of TV’s more unusual character
revivals). Jill was J.J.'s infrequently seen niece.