Greg Evigan starred in the role of Billie Joe (B.J.) McCay, and drive a red and white 1977 Kenworth K-100 cab-over-semitrailer truck. Although no home base was ever specifically specified, he was presumably based in Orly County, Georgia, as at least during the first season there were many crossover episodes with a sister series, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, starring Claude Akins as a corrupt sheriff who wanted to put B.J. out of business.
Bear (as it was explained in many episodes) was named for Paul "Bear" Bryant, head football coach at the University of Alabama from 195882. Bear's houndstooth cap was inspired by Bryant's choice of headwear.
A mid-season replacement on NBC during the 197879 season, B.J. and the Bear was a modest success during one of the network's darkest eras, and was renewed for the 197980 season. Plots during this era generally involved B.J. meeting a beautiful young lady, who was in some way affected by (or involved with) criminal activity, and B.J. eventually gathering enough evidence to defeat the bad guys. Other episodes involved Lobo's latest scheme to run B.J. out of business, but failing.
After a hiatus, the series returned in January 1981. Here, B.J. decides to settle down and take over a friend's trucking company in California, renaming it Bear Enterprises. While Bear still figured heavily into the plots, seven beautiful young women whom B.J. had hired to help run his company take the spotlight. The reason is because of one Rutherford T. Grant, the corrupt head of the Special Crimes Action Team and a silent partner in a competing trucking firm. Plots revolved around Grant's latest schemes and B.J.'s efforts to defeat him.
This show provides examples of:
- Dirty Cop: B.J.'s main antagonists were corrupt police officers Sheriff Lobo during the first year or so, and Captain Grant during the 1981 episodes.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Greg Evigan sang the title song.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In one Season 3 episode where Captain Grant is involved with a drug dealer, he insists but does not get assurance that no children are to be involved.
- Girl of the Week: Most episodes during the first two seasons, all of them hot, hot, sizzling HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!! All had a deep, dark secret, but they all played off Greg Evigan's good looks.
- Name and Name
- Police Are Useless: In fact, two law officers Sheriff Elroy T. Lobo (who got his own show) and Captain Rutherford T. Grant (in Season 3 episodes) were his adversaries. Other officers were portrayed as uncaring or outright suspicious of B.J. and typically refused to assist him.
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot / Shared Universe: With Sheriff Lobo and his own series, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. Additionally, two B.J. and the Bear episodes were pilots for a proposed series about a pair of foxy private detectives called Eyes Of Texas; the second such episode, "The Girls Of Hollywood High," took the lasses to the L.A. County Coroner's Office, home of Quincy, M.E. (another Glen A. Larson show). His boss Asten and assistant Sam appeared, but the main man didn't (understandably).