This may not be New York or Los Angeles or even Boston, but if Portland can have its own sitcom, so can Denver, damn it. The Hollywood Reporter and other entertainment-themed news outlets reported last week that NBC had given the green light — a very green light — to a new Denver-based sitcom that would revolve around life at a marijuana dispensary. Buds, as it would be called, was conceived by Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott and his wife, Naomi; it will be written by Joe Mande of Saturday Night Live.
Which is cool. But Unlike Portlandia, which is shot primarily in and around Portland, Buds probably won’t be filmed in the Mile High City. In fact, almost none of the TV shows that supposedly take place in Colorado were made here — but that doesn’t mean we can’t claim them. And then there are the shows that were filmed here, with Denver standing in for other cities. In honor of Buds and the brand-spanking-new SeriesFest celebration of television set for this summer in Denver (see story below), here are our Top Ten TV Shows With Colorado Connections.
10. Perry Mason: Local film and TV crews still fondly remember the halcyon days of the late ’80s and early ’90s, when the Perry Mason franchise was resurrected for a series of TV movies filmed in Denver. The production company even remodeled a few Colorado courtrooms as sets, and officially set a couple of the plots in Denver. But we’re not sure anyone ever bought the explanation that mountain man Mason happened to pick up a few cases while he was in Colorado for the skiing — though local restaurants certainly enjoyed Raymond Burr’s patronage.
9. Father Dowling Mysteries: The Viacom crew took advantage of its Colorado connections to film the short-lived mystery series featuring Tom Bosley here — though it was supposedly set in Chicago.
8. Sergeant Preston of the Yukon: This late-’50-era show was set in the Yukon, but many episodes were shot around the Colorado ghost town of Ashcroft, up near Aspen.
7. Good Luck Charlie: The popular Disney Channel show, which ended last year, centers on a family in Denver — but was shot in Los Angeles.
6. Dynasty: The ’80s-era evening soap opera starring John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Joan Collins and a host of Hollywood has-beens was supposedly set in Denver and used shots of Colorado in its opening credits, but little of the series was filmed here. Still, the stars did show up for the Carousel Ball when Marvin Davis still lived here, and visitors to Denver during that era were always surprised that the city didn’t have the palm trees you’d find on Blake Carrington’s estate.
5. Diagnosis: Murder: This mystery series spun off a trio of TV movies shot in Vancouver. The first three episodes of the show starring Dick Van Dyke as a crime-fighting doc were set and shot in Denver (where a local got a good gig as Van Dyke’s stand-in), but after that the show moved to Los Angeles, where Dr. Mark Sloan and his cop son shared a swell beach house.
4. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Glamorous Jane Seymour as a frontier doc? Why not? This series was set in the early days of what was supposed to be Colorado Springs (but was not filmed there), and put Dr. Quinn in the middle of some Wild West action, including a variation on the Sand Creek Massacre. The show ran from 1993 to 2001 and earned Seymour a Golden Globe.
3. South Park: Dreamed up by two Colorado kids, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, this long-running Comedy Central series is set in the fictional town of South Park. Since it’s animated, it’s definitely not filmed here — but it has immortalized some true Colorado landmarks, including Casa Bonita.
2. Community: The trendy sitcom starring Joel McHale and Ken Jeong begins its sixth season next month. It takes place in the fictional town of Greendale, Colorado, though that connection is almost never mentioned. And it’s filmed nowhere near here.
1. Mork & Mindy: Robin Williams first gained fame as Mork from Ork, the space alien who came down to Earth and landed in Boulder. Some of the scenes were even shot in the town — and when Williams passed away last year, Congressman Jared Polis, whose district includes Boulder, posed as a dorky Mork outside the house that had supposedly been his home.
While the existence of Buds may not please Denver-area boosters who’d like to downplay the cannabis connection, plenty of other people would eagerly welcome the cast and crew. And just think of all the spots that would make for perfect sets: South Broadway’s Green Mile (formerly Antique Row), which counts more than a dozen pot shops; Civic Center Park, home to our annual 420 rally; the chairlifts at Vail; the well-appointed halls of the State Capitol; and Sexy Pizza and DIA.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.