In the 1950s, a group of television performers attempt to put together a live variety program and often find disastrous results.








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Series cast summary:
Nancye Ferguson ...
 Ruth Trueworthy 7 episodes, 1992
 Bert Schein 7 episodes, 1992
 Dwight McGonigle 7 episodes, 1992
 Valdja Gochktch 7 episodes, 1992
 Nicole Thorne 7 episodes, 1992
 Betty Hudson 7 episodes, 1992
 'Blinky' Watts 7 episodes, 1992
Raleigh Friend ...
 Hurry Up Twin 7 episodes, 1992
Buddy Douglas ...
 Buddy Morris / ... 7 episodes, 1992
Raymond Friend ...
 Hurry Up Twin 7 episodes, 1992
 Shorty the Stagehand 7 episodes, 1992
Everett Greenbaum ...
 ZBC Announcer / ... 7 episodes, 1992
 Ethel Thissle 2 episodes, 1992
 Mr. Zoblotnick 2 episodes, 1992
 Dr. Winky 2 episodes, 1992
 Professor R. Answer 2 episodes, 1992
 Executive 2 episodes, 1992


The year is 1957. The cast and crew of the Lester Guy Show are extremely apprehensive about their upcoming live television broadcast on the Zoblotnick Broadcasting Co. network. Lester Guy despises fellow cast member Betty Hudson for unknowingly becoming more popular than him and schemes to destroy her career. Only two of the seven episodes were written by David Lynch. Written by Jennifer Harrison

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

20 June 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Na antenie  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


(7 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This series was a mid-season replacement in 1992. Seven episodes were made, but only 2 episodes were shown as scheduled, the 3rd episode was pre-empted in most of the US. See more »


Lester Guy: Yes, well, what do they know in South Dakota?
Buddy Budwaller: They know what they like.
Lester Guy: If they knew what they liked, they wouldn't be in South Dakota.
See more »

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User Reviews

The first episode is brilliant, the rest is a mixed bag
1 November 2009 | by See all my reviews

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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