On the Air (TV series)

On the Air (TV series)
On the Air
Format Comedy
Created by David Lynch & Mark Frost
Starring Ian Buchanan
Marla Rubinoff
Nancye Ferguson
Miguel Ferrer
Gary Grossman
Marvin Kaplan
David L. Lander
Tracey Walter
Country of origin USA
No. of episodes 7
Running time 0:25
Original channel ABC
Original run June 20, 1992 – July 4, 1992

On the Air (1992) is an American sitcom created by David Lynch and Mark Frost and broadcast by ABC. In the United States, only three episodes were aired although seven were filmed.[1] The program followed the antics of the staff of a fictional 1950s television network (Zoblotnick Broadcasting Company or ZBC), as they tried to put on a live variety program called "The Lester Guy Show" with disastrous results.

It starred Ian Buchanan, Marla Rubinoff, Nancye Ferguson, Miguel Ferrer, Gary Grossman, and Mel Johnson, Jr. Directors included David Lynch, Mark Frost, Jack Fisk, Jonathan Sanger, Lesli Linka Glatter, and Betty Thomas.



  • Lester Guy (Ian Buchanan) - a washed up movie star, he got his show because of the fondness of network owner Mr. Zoblotnick for his work in the musical "Piccadilly Circus". Mr. Zoblotnik is to Mr. Guy's surprise, totally unfamiliar with his work in film. He expects to be the star and is chagrined when Betty Hudson's popularity soars.
  • Betty Hudson (Marla Rubinoff) - the ingenue. Although not terribly bright, she is unfailingly sweet and earnest and quickly wins a tremendous fan base.
  • Bud Budwaller (Miguel Ferrer) - network liaison who develops a loathing for Betty.
  • Nicole Thorne (Kim McGuire) - Budwaller's assistant. She is sycophantically devoted to Lester.
  • Dwight McGonigle (Marvin Kaplan)
  • Vadja Gochktch (David L. Lander) - Mr. Zoblotnick's nephew and director of the "The Lester Guy Show." He speaks English with a near-incomprehensible accent.
  • Ruth Trueworthy (Nancye Ferguson) - Mr. Gochktch's assistant and the only person who can understand him.
  • Bert Schein (Gary Grossman) - another "Lester Guy Show" cast member.
  • Blinky Watts (Tracey Walter) - sound board operator for the show. He suffers from "Bozeman's Simplex," a disease that causes him to see 25.62 times more than everyone else (usually such things as floating Santas and gardening tools).
  • Mickey (Mel Johnson, Jr.) - The assistant sound board operator.
  • Shorty (Irwin Keyes) - A stagehand.
  • The Hurry Up Twins (Raleigh Friend and Raymond Friend) - Two men wearing one two-necked sweater; before the show, they walk by the cast while saying "Hurry up" over and over.
  • Snaps the Dog - reluctant spokesdog for show sponsor Welby Snaps brand dog food.


No. Title Director Writer(s) Producer(s) U.S. airdate
1 "Episode 1" David Lynch Mark Frost,
David Lynch
Gregg Fienberg June 20, 1992 (1992-06-20)

"The Lester Guy Show" is about to premiere live, with a dramatic Kitchen Scene planned as the show's climactic moment. A mishap with the sound effects board and a comical head injury reduces the Kitchen Scene to farce, redeemed by starlet Betty Hudson's tender rendition of the song "The Birds in the Trees".

Note- In 1997 TV Guide ranked this episode number 57 on its '100 Greatest Episodes of All Time' list.[2] 
2 "Episode 3" Lesli Linka Glatter Mark Frost Deepak Nayar,
Robert Engels
Betty's popularity soars and she's invited to dinner by network owner Mister Zoblotnick. Bud, Guy and Nicole plot to ruin her dinner and humiliate her but their plan backfires. 
3 "Episode 5" Jack Fisk Robert Engels Deepak Nayar,
Robert Engels
June 27, 1992 (1992-06-27)
Lester plots to destroy Betty by hosting a rigged quiz show, pitting her and her 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Thissle, against Professor Answer, the man with the highest I.Q. ever measured. Betty and Mrs. Thissle are prevailing until Mrs. Thissle has a panic attack after realizing she's on live TV. Mr. McGonigle, dazed on allergy medicine, substitutes and they manage to coincidentally answer the final question to win the game. 
4 "Episode 2" Jonathan Sanger Scott Frost Deepak Nayar,
Robert Engels
Guest stars this week are Doodles the Duck and stage actor Stan Tailings. Lester hopes that his and Tailings' superior acting will help him derail Betty's ever-growing popularity. Tragically, Doodles is accidentally fried by technicians. Tailings' continual voice problems and Lester's run-in with a prop electric chair once again dash Lester's plans and reduce the dramatic show to farce. 
5 "Episode 4" Lesli Linka Glatter Mark Frost Deepak Nayar,
Robert Engels
July 4, 1992 (1992-07-04)
Betty is nervous over the appearance on the show of her famous movie star sister Sylvia Hudson. Also on the show is the popular children's show puppet host Mr. Peanuts. After Sylvia humiliates Mr. Peanuts on the air, Betty and the cast cheer him by singing "The Mr. Peanuts Song." Even the hard-hearted Bud Budwaller is moved. 
6 "Episode 6" Betty Thomas Robert Engels Deepak Nayar,
Robert Engels
This week's guest is Mr. Zoblotnick's favorite gypsy magician, The Great Presidio, who is scheduled to perform his most famous trick, The Gypsy Traveller. Presidio, however, is unable to perform until, he says, he sees "the dog of transformation." Lester and Nicole plot to steal the show by sabotaging Betty and by having Lester learn and perform his own magic tricks. On the air, while Lester is trying to perform a trick and Nicole is trapped in a magic box, Presidio spies Snaps the Dog dressed as "the dog of transformation." He regains his powers, transforming Nicole into a lizard and teleporting Lester to Akron, Ohio
7 "Episode 7" Jack Fisk David Lynch,
Robert Engels
Deepak Nayar,
Robert Engels
Lester is enamored of The Woman With No Name, a beatnik he's seen perform "downtown." He demands that she be on the show. Meanwhile, Betty is distraught because she can't remember her mother's name. Lester and Nicole again plot to destroy Betty, this time using a "voice disintegrator." During the show, however, the device ends up disintegrating Lester's voice instead. As The Woman With No Name performs an avante-garde dance, Betty joyously remembers her mother's name, Mary. Mr. Zoblotnick and Vadja, because "beatnik" means "bootmaker" in their language, present The Woman With No Name with many pairs of boots and shoes. 

International broadcasts

All seven episodes were aired in the United Kingdom by BBC2, in the Netherlands by VPRO, in Sweden by SVT, in Finland by MTV3 and in France by Canal Jimmy. At least four episodes were aired in Canada. The entire run was aired in Australia on The Comedy Channel through the Foxtel cable TV provider. Some episodes have been aired by the Bulgarian Nova Television.


  1. ^ [1] BBC homepage retrieved 10 June 2006
  2. ^ TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. pp. 186. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9. 

External links

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