On the Air (TV Series 1992– ) Poster

(1992– )

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8/10
"On The Air" is by far the most hilarious show ever aired. I've never forgotten it after 13 years.
werenotfugazi16 May 2005
When I accidentally caught the pilot episode of "On The Air" on ABC in 1992, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was 13 years old at the time and up to this point, no TV show had ever made me laugh out loud. It just wasn't something I did, even when I thought something was funny. Then came "On The Air."

Watching this show for the first time was like taking a trip to some other universe. I couldn't stop laughing, and I'm talking about that annoying, over the top, tears in the eyes laughing. It was totally and completely out of control! It felt GREAT! I had never seen anything even remotely similar to this before and I knew in the first few minutes that I had just discovered my new favorite show. I'm still kicking myself for having missed the opportunity to record it.

I waited faithfully every week for "On The Air" to come on channel 4. Then one week, after only 3 episodes, "On The Air" did not air. In it's place was some stupid game show or something. I don't remember, I was too upset. I paned and started combing the TV Guides to see if maybe the show had been moved to another day or time. Alas, it was not to be. My new favorite show had been ripped out from under without any warning. I NEVER forgot this show after that, and until I found the posts on this site today, I literally thought I could very well be the only person on Earth who remembered this show.

With any luck, the show will eventually be released on DVD in attempts to recoup the losses. I'll be the first in line to buy a set. Why would a station dump such a good show? The only thing I can figure is that, and to use a classic cliché, it was simply way ahead of it's time. If this show were new today (and probably on a network like FOX) it's pretty obvious that it would be a much bigger success. Maybe we should start a petition to re-run the show? Does anyone know how to do this?
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10/10
Rare find
Todd Lampe23 September 2006
A gem that was too good to make it, just like Twin Peaks. I happen to have all 7 episodes on tape, as they were released briefly in the early 990's to capitalize on Lynch's popularity at the time. I watch them a least once a year, they're a nice antidote to most of the so-called comedies on TV now. Such great performances from Miguel Ferrar, David L Lander, and a hilarious appearance by the old Lynch standby Freddie Jones (Mr. Bytes in "The Elephant Man") as a pompous, over soused Brit from the stage who will remind you of every self-important actor you've ever met. As it goes in the world of TV, it was not meant to be. It is one of those shows that would have been nurtured by HBO or Showtime had they produced it. What makes it so achingly funny is how serious everyone plays it. If you've ever seen "Noises Off", this is as close to a sitcom as that show can ever come.
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7/10
Oh boy, it's Blinky Vision
Rogue-3222 January 2004
I didn't get to see this show when it was on television but I have a copy of the episodes on vhs, and I can certainly understand why On The Air didn't stay on the air for very long - it's original, for one thing, David Lynch's surreal and slapstick answer to the sitcom. Seek it out if you can, you will definitely not be sorry.
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Fantastic Lynch-madness
Andreas Moss12 November 2004
What would it be like if David Lynch made a sitcom? A comedy?

On The Air explains it. Fantastic. I've seen all seven episodes and I some of it is exactly about that unique thing we like about David Lynch. This show didn't get much of a chance, because it was aired daytime in summertime(worst time for a program to be aired) because ABC according to Lynch hated it. I feel that it was a great show having seen the whole thing, but its not flawless. The main error here is that David Lynch(and Mark Frost) wasn't involved enough in it.. They were busy with Twin Peaks at the time probably. Of course, the characters and plot for the series is pure Lynch.. the first episode is amazing. The characters are crazy, stereotyped and full of absurd depth.

The following episodes are quite good in themselves too, but for some reason there's a different writer for each episode here, so the series seems to change direction from episode to episode.. Some of the later episodes I found even a bit too silly.

But David Lynch came back on the last episode and wrote it, and EVERYTHING is right again. Lynch manages to throw some mystery into it again and its so amazing! All the episodes has its charm though.. Its a lovely show.. and if you like David Lynch and you like funny and absurd stuff, this is a safe shot. 8 out of 10 overall. The first two and number seven where Lynch is more directly involved

deserves a 9 out of 10.
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Wish there was more
ChristopherTracy16 March 2005
I have a fading copy of all three episodes of On the Air. I watch them about every 2 years. I love them all and was upset when the show was canceled so soon. I was a great blend of David's strangeness and some wonderful attempt at hummer that ABC just didn't get. I don't know if there are other copies out there. If any one has it on DVD I would love a better copy. I can never see Ian Buckanen with out thinking of Lester Guy. I can never watch Lavern and Sherrly with out thinking of the Director. I quote lines from the show like it was a movie and no one knows what I am talking about other than my wife and kids. This is a must see for any David Lynch fan. Good Luck finding a copy of your own.
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One of the all time funniest shows!!
cybergata17 August 2002
It has been ten years since I first show this show, and I still have "Blinky Vision" on my mind. As with all David Lynch productions, this show wasn't for everyone, bt those of us who fell in love with it will always crave more of it. In the U.S., only four episodes were aired, and I am still want to see the episodes left unaired. The cast was delightful, the stories quirky and hilarious, and I always felt tickled with glee over the insanity of it all.
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Too great for anyone to have seen.
roarshock21 July 2000
I knew it wouldn't last, I loved it just too much. Television does that to me all the time. This was such a wonderful bizarre comedy. What there was of it. Miguel Ferrer performed with such serious, straight-faced intensity. Will I ever get to see all seven episodes?
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Polarity
hung_fao_tweeze30 July 2004
I loved the show - my wife did not. But then again, I like Lynch and she does not.

This seems to be an original show but is actually a cross between the old 'Dick Van Dyke Show' and the movie 'My Favorite Year'. Well, at least to me. Despite that I still found a haven in this show. It was nice to know someone else besides myself appreciates this bizarre and surreal humor. And then I was upset it was canceled, but I can certainly see why. I don't think the characters got a chance to really develop except for Blinky. If you missed the first absolutely hilarious show, you may have been destined to be lost. Kind of reminds me of 'Twin Peaks' - you either started with it and became intrigues and hypnotized - or you were lost big-time, babe.

Anyway, as noted, the first show hooked me. I laughed hysterically, and still do to this day, at the amazing last minutes. I wish I could describe it, but that may spoil it. It might be indescribable anyway relying on many situational visual laughs (some good audio ones as well - it IS Lynch, afterall). I could see real potential to revolutionize something in comedy here - but alas. It didn't catch.

Yes, I would love to see the remaining unseen shows if the first few are any indication.
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7/10
The first episode is brilliant, the rest is a mixed bag
Charles Herold (cherold)1 November 2009
Last time I watched On the Air I found the first two episodes hilarious and the rest worthless, but years later my perspective is slightly different. The first episode is genius, the rest is mixed, and the last is pleasantly weird.

The series is about a TV series from the 50s called The Lester Guy Show. Lester is a faded film star whose plans for a TV comeback are spoiled by his co-star Betty, whose sweet innocence wins over audiences even as her complete idiocy leaves her bumbling and fumbling through life. Lester plots to destroy Betty, Betty drifts along in a haze, and the rest of the characters take pratfalls and yell a lot.

The first episode, directed by David Lynch and written by Lynch and Mark Frost, is utterly brilliant; a crazy, hilarious screwball comedy that mocks and embraces 50s TV. This is must-see for any Lynch fan, or, really, anyone.

Lynch then disappears. You've still got a fine cast and some weird humor, but nothing attains the heights of that initial episode. Although the other episodes aren't as bad as I recall.

Lynch co-wrote the final episode, and it's utterly insane. Not super funny, but really bizarre.

It's clear that what the series needed was Lynch. Without him, the craziness waned and the series lost that weird edge.

Here's what I wrote 8 years ago:

Title: Watch the First Two Episodes, then Stop

For years I was unhappy with the cancellation of On the Air. True, the last of the 3 episodes shown was abysmal, but the first two were hysterically funny, brilliant and original. I didn't think it could have just collapsed altogether after such a great start.

Years later, I saw the rest of the series, and yes, it could all collapse, because after those first two brilliant episodes, the show became dreadful. It really went from being a weird take-off of dumb sitcoms to just being a dumb sitcom with some weirdness in it. It just wasn't funny. A couple of episodes were decent, many were just pure tedium, and none matched those first two.

I have to say it: On the Air deserved to be canceled. But the first two episodes are as funny as anything that has ever been on television.
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A Real Mixed-Bag
Sturgeon5424 June 2005
I have long been a fan of David Lynch's work on film and his "Twin Peaks" television series. This very short-lived 6-episode series now qualifies as simply a curiosity - something any true David Lynch fan should probably see once, but that anyone else could probably take or leave. As I read from another reviewer, the only thing similar in tone to this is Steven Spielberg's 1979 semi-flop "1941." I do not dislike either that film or this series, but they won't appeal to a sophisticated comedy connosseur. Both are loud, sometimes obnoxious slapstick pieces with a great eye for historical detail, and plenty of gags involving slipping on banana peels, things falling down, mistaken identity, and other cartoonish props. The highlights of the episodes are the dazzling set design and, not surprisingly, Lynch's injections of bona fide weirdness, such as a mostly-absent narrator who makes the same character introductions each and every episode, and more of Lynch's fetish for red curtains (he seems to put them in virtually everything he makes; there was even a character in "Twin Peaks" whose only known characteristic was an obsession with the curtains in her trailer). But the true sign that this was a Lynch production is a set of conjoined twins that show up almost randomly each episode (like Kenny's deaths in the "South Park" series) and walk around the set saying nothing but "Hurry Up!" over and over again. Other characters even refer to them as the Hurry-Up Twins!! Man, Lynch is one twisted genius.
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10/10
one of the craziest guilty pleasures you haven't seen on TV
MisterWhiplash6 May 2007
Thanks to online video sites, On the Air, one of David Lynch's most obscure projects, can be seen in all its unedited, short-lived glory. Needless to say, it's like the big gag-reel Trojan horse of Lynch's career. Meaning that he somehow slipped this in, let it loose, and while it didn't really make a gigantic impact, for those who've seen it there's simply nothing else like it. Well, actually, that comment pertains mostly if you've yet to see something even MORE off-kilter that Lynch has done that hasn't been one of his more popular pieces. At the same time, he and Mark Frost accomplish so much in the realm of just sheer giddy slapstick/random/7th grade meets art school satire, to make one big brilliant heap of stupidity. It's not too much of a wonder the show lasted as short as it did; if it had gone on longer, there remains the distinct possibility it could've run its course very fast as a "replacement" show in a mid-season.

Where else but On the Air will you see an infidelity drama made askew by the actor getting propelled out the set window and the woman singing a children's song with a tiny music watch as cavemen walk randomly across with the one actor still reading his lines the faithful husband, not to mention with all viewers turning their sets on the sides with viewers everywhere from little old ladies to a guy with a horse in his living room? Maybe that sounds like a stretch, but really that's just five minutes of the show. It's really a random mess in some ways, but it's clear that Lynch intends it to be nothing more than sheer abstraction lollapalooza in the guise of an absurd mind-f***er. It should also be of note that it might put off some who aren't really ready for the onslaught of total adherence to mindless (yet somehow very smart) assortments of comedy; random cut-aways to statistical facts about bozeman's simplex (funniest scene of the show); the follies of getting the electric chair (thanks to cute little Snaps the dog); siamese twins!; a director who sounds like the backwards guy from Twin Peaks talking, uh, sideways.

So get ready to hear a Mr. Peanuts song, and a good (or of course bad) zinger a second, and if you're open for it to laugh until you cry on the floor. This doesn't make it necessarily anything "great", but if it somehow ever gets a DVD release, it has the makings for being even more of a cult show than Twin Peaks.
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10/10
A Blast of High Velocity Weirdness
cenobitetx1 July 2006
I adored this show when it aired and have had the good fortune to have all seven episodes. Ian Buchanan is comic gold as Lester Guy, the second rate star of the Lester Guy show, constantly upstaged by his angelic, kind, beautiful, yet rather simple minded, co-star Betty Hudson. Miguel Ferrer is electric as the ass-kicking, frothing studio executive, Buddy Buddwaller - delivering genius lines like, "McGonnegal, I bear nothing but scorn and calculated retribution in response to shabby treatment from those so far down the food chain." A surreal combination of gypsy magicians, ducks, the hurry-up twins, a sound engineer with Bozman's Simplex, and beatniks make this a hilarious joy ride. Lynch and Frost will astonish and amaze!
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7/10
a must for DVD release
Budgiez29 April 2006
On the air and Hotel room are a must for a new release. They would make a perfect fit on the new DVD formats to be played endlessly back to back. David Lynch always evokes an ethereal feeling and mood to his production. And this show reminds me of underground local theater in its flow and pace. It is funny and the element of surprise is always there. You never know what is going to go wrong next. A classic and inspiring piece of work. It should be watched by theater actors and producers to gain incite on how loose yet effective such work can be. Maybe Lynch's work is not well received by TV, but it will be most welcome to his fans to be played at home.
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Lynch at his most f-ed up, that's for sure....
iblis_kukl14 September 2004
I caught at least 2 episodes of this one back in 1992 when it originally aired, then it was gone. Maybe it was just that I was coming down from some of the good stuff when I saw the pilot, but at the time I thought it made Twin Peaks look like Petticoat Junction. (The Hurry-up Twins are worth tuning in for all by themselves.)

Thankfully there are still some copies of this available online, and it's absolutely the next thing on my pickup list (along with the Slacker DVD, which took way too damn long to come out). As it is, it's yet another one of those short-lived but cool shows that quickly fell through the cracks, and a forgotten curio in the David Lynch oeuvre.
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one of the greatest shows I've ever seen
puffy21127 August 2001
The first episode of this show is the funniest thing I've ever seen

on television. From the opening moment I was literally rolling on the floor with laughter. At the end of the half hour my sides hurt and my face was wet with tears from laughing so hard. I don' think I've ever been so disappointed when they canceled it after only three shows. Anybody know where I can get the other four?
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Strange and very funny comedy..
nostromoid18 April 2001
After Twin Peaks, I heard that there was one more TV series out there that David Lynch and Mark Frost had made. I was lucky do find the "On The Air" series on a used VHS cassette and was really happy to have picked this one up. It includes strange directing and humor(!?) Angelo Badalamenti is making the music to On The Air as well. You can directly recognize it! If you have the luck of finding the series on VHS or Laserdisk, don't hesitate to pick it up! Recommended!!
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first it was "star trek" then "on the air"...
jerkface27 September 2000
"On the air" was the funniest t.v. Show I think I have ever seen even to this date. An amazing t.v. Show where a cast and crew have to re-create a series of catastrophes every night on live t.v. "Squiqqy" as the crazy director made it work for me. I have seen two of the seven and then it was cancelled. First "star trek", then "on the air" damn! Where can I find those old episodes?
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Incomplete dreamlike machine
chaos-rampant23 April 2016
There is a kind of transcendent brilliance here, enhanced all the more by the project never having been finished so it's an open thread that vanishes. It's one of several ideas Lynch pitched for TV while Twin Peaks was hot, for whatever reason this one was given the go ahead.

We have only a small portion, 5 episodes plus 2 with Lynch's involvement for a total of 7. Only a handful of these aired before it was pulled. It's such a weird thing we're lucky we even got this small bit. Unsuspecting viewers would have stumbled upon it for two weeks one summer and then it vanished into air as strangely as it had appeared, and was it a prank of some kind? A glitch in programming? Was it a bit of latenight mischief that some odd soul managed to sneak into the airwaves while no one was looking?

And this is what the actual show is about. A TV show about a TV show being made that should have been harmless entertainment but mischievous forces conspire to throw a crank in the gears. The show goes awry every night - staging gear intrude upon the scene, the diva's entrance is foiled by doors, the suave protagonist of the show made a fool of, producers are flummoxed.

In the episodes without Lynch's involvement, you can see it devolve into farce and slapstick. The result is still the same as in the episodes with Lynch on board - the machinery of narrative collapse on the stage in a pile of magical chance and human buffoonery - but it's writers taking these characters and bumping them around without agency in the collapse.

It's Lynch's portion that you have to see; preferably you'll see it all, how Lynch envisions agency in the pilot, then go through the next few to see how it's harmless fun without his input. He returns again for the last one as writer only but you'll know he's there in spirit.

The protagonist of the show-within is Lester Guy, a sly charmer past his heyday. The real protagonist in Lynch's conception is his blonde simpleton costar, Betty.

Something else is taking place in his episodes. Anxieties of this innocently goofy soul - opening day anxieties in the pilot, not being able to remember the name of her mother in the last - create the dreamlike machine that collapses, spontaneously erupting with visions of that anxiety?

I watched with marvel. Somehow in all the furiously goofy stuff, Lynch manages to evoke a fragile soul who is terribly unsure about her place on that stage where life should have been without blemish, controlled, carefree.

It even adds that we have only this small bit without the James subplots that TV demands to drag its feet through whole seasons. You can imagine that she has a home somewhere that she comes back to, dreaming is she even Betty and does she perhaps have a husband who is going behind her back?

It has rocketed among my favorite works by Lynch and in general. It's the same noir god in the machine that creates Betty's world in Mulholland Drive.
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WORTH SEEING IF ONLY FOR MIGUEL FERRER!!!
JA Randazzo28 October 2001
Although it sometimes borderlined absolute stupidity, this David Lynch/Mark Frost TV series is definitely worth seeing. It ran in 1992 for only 7 episodes (the first of which was the best), until it was cancelled because it tanked (despite the fact that it was pretty damn good).

I can go on and on about this series, but I'll leave at this....

Whether or not you like the series is irrelevant, this show is worth seeing for Miguel Ferrer's hysterical performance as Buddy Budwaller, an ignorant TV executive (where'd they get that idea?)

For those of you who want to find a video tape or dvd, I don't think its available in the U.S. although Worldvision does have the rights and its on vhs in Japan, in English with Japanese subtitles. If you can get your hands on it, pick it up, its a good way to kill two and a half hours.
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Bizarre and simply funny
peggymount12 October 2001
I missed seeing this show on it's first (and only) showing in the UK, safely tucked away as it was on BBC2. Luckily a friend had some copies and I eventually sat sat down and watched all the episodes given to me (bar one. Which I have yet to get). I must admit it took about three viewings until I was finally drawn into it. I suppose being able to watch something three times over should have hinted that there was something special here.

I will not bother going into the setup of the show or descriptions of the characters (there's websites out there that will do that for me, and much better). It probably could have been set in a variety of places, but with exactly the same overly stereotype characters.

There's everything you could ever want. Slapstick, wordplay, situation comedy, and sound effects that Hannah Barbera would envy. In fact it's a bit like a cartoon show played by live actors.

On The Air is Bizarre and quite simply, if you are in the right frame of mind, it is funny. I regularly go back to it and learn not to take things so seriously.
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Different and wonderfull!
pusterummet10 November 2000
This is the only Tv-Show that I simply had to watch! I loved every episode of it. Our hero was "Blinky Watts"..how we laughed and laughed! I think that my friend an I were the only ones in Denmark who saw it!!! Luckily Danish television had bought all 7 episodes and showed them all!!!
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ABC Made A Huge Mistake
SomebodyToListenTo21 October 2000
It is so sad that ABC took 'On The Air' off the air. Not only was this show an intelligently written comedy, that didn't rely on formulas, it was written by David Lynch and Mark Frost. It was funny and offbeat; not unlike the much more successful Twin Peaks.

If it wasn't the incoherent program manager, with his assistant/interpreter, it was the air-head blonde. If it wasn't Miguel Ferrier being a pain in the butt, it was the 'hurry-up twins' appearing at some strange segment in the show. All these characters made for great comedy and offbeat performances.

I can only conclude this show was a contractual obligation for ABC as Twin Peaks was cancelled prematurely and Frost and Lynch owed material. However, this show was not filler. I highly recommend if you can find it on video.
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1/10
Truly, Truly dreadful this should be off the air
afijamesy2k5 November 2011
On the Air No Stars You know David Lynch who did the great twin peaks years ago, created in 1992, one of the absolutely single worst shows ever and this is it, I Saw every single episode and I Didn't laugh one single thing on this truly, distastefully, mean-spirited piece of absolute junk that makes all of the terrible reality shows look like classic masterpieces, I Agree with that book bad TV that this show is so incredibly unfunny and idiotic that it makes me sick, 1992 was not a good year for television except for martin and this show definitely proves it, how in the hell did Ian Buchanan formally of general hospital and the bold and the beautiful get into this mess saddens me, there is not one single laugh in this thing, the teleplay is trash, the acting is horrible, everything else just falls absolutely flat on it's face, this is an absolute dead zone for television, this and the real world reality show were the beginning of the downward spiral of television as we know it (although a few TV shows were worthy).
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