Arliss (TV series)

Last updated

Series DVD cover
Created by Robert Wuhl
Starring Robert Wuhl
Sandra Oh
Jim Turner
Michael Boatman
Opening theme"I Can't Help Myself" by Four Tops (season 1)
"I Only Want To Be With You" by Dusty Springfield (seasons 2–7)
ComposerEd Smart
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes80 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companies Tollin/Robbins Productions (1996–1998)
Marquee/Tollin/Robbins (1998–2002)
Original network HBO
Original releaseAugust 10, 1996 (1996-08-10) 
September 8, 2002 (2002-09-08)
External links

Arliss (rendered in its logo as Arli$$) is an American sitcom about a sports agent that aired on HBO from 1996 to 2002.



Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 11August 10, 1996 (1996-08-10)October 16, 1996 (1996-10-16)
2 10June 17, 1997 (1997-06-17)August 19, 1997 (1997-08-19)
3 13June 7, 1998 (1998-06-07)August 30, 1998 (1998-08-30)
4 12June 6, 1999 (1999-06-06)August 22, 1999 (1999-08-22)
5 13June 4, 2000 (2000-06-04)September 3, 2000 (2000-09-03)
6 10June 10, 2001 (2001-06-10)August 12, 2001 (2001-08-12)
7 11June 16, 2002 (2002-06-16)September 8, 2002 (2002-09-08)

Arliss on other programs

In July 1999, Robert Wuhl appeared, in character as Arliss, on WCW Monday Nitro as a guest announcer, alongside Scott Hudson and Bobby Heenan. [1] He said that his HBO series has featured WCW wrestlers as guest stars but the Big Three networks were "scared" of doing the same. Arliss said he was scouting Dennis Rodman, who was doing his third stint with the company. Wuhl's appearance was a cross-promotion for HBO, as both it and WCW were owned by Time Warner. In the Arliss episode entitled "To Thy Own Self Be True", WCW creative head Eric Bischoff guest starred along with wrestlers Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Gorgeous George.

In The Simpsons season 13 episode "Half-Decent Proposal", Marge, Patty and Selma are watching Nookie in New York when an announcer states, "Coming up next on BHO [ sic ], it's Arliss!" Patty and Selma scream and reach for the remote control.

During the October 12, 2002 episode of Saturday Night Live , guest host Sarah Michelle Gellar delivered the following monologue in a fake television commercial sketch:

You know the feeling. Someone's about to tell a joke, and you panic. What if you start laughing? Lots of us experience slight loss of bladder control. An embarrassing accident can happen any time. Sometimes, just when laughing. That's why I watch Arliss on HBO Comedy. It's nice to know that, every weekday at midnight, I can sit down with Robert Wuhl and the gang at Arliss Michaels Sports Management, and, a half-hour later, my drawers will be as dry as a bone. And now I know I'll be able to get 100% bladder control whenever I'm feeling insecure. Because all seven seasons of Arliss are now available on DVD. That's over forty hours of keep-your-pants-dry entertainment! So, don't let slight loss of bladder control cramp your style. Watch Arliss, and take back your life. Ask your doctor if Arliss is right for you. Side effects may include nausea, depression, and slight sexual dysfunction. [2]

In the 30 Rock seventh season premiere, "The Beginning of the End", Kenneth says, in response to Tracy Jordan's marriage having lasted for over 20 years, "That's half as long as it felt Arliss was on TV!"

Former UCB New York stage show The George Lucas Talk Show organized a 7 week-long charity marathon of Arliss episodes during the Covid pandemic in 2020. The hosts watched all seven seasons of the show and interviewed many of the shows writers, producers, and cast, including Wuhl. [3] The livestreams raised over $20,000 for the New York City FoodBank.


The show, which ran for seven seasons, has been referred to as an example of how premium cable networks take a different approach to managing their programming, because viewers specifically pay for the network. Arliss was cited by a number of HBO subscribers as the sole reason that they paid for the network, and so its relatively small fan base was able to keep the show on the air for a lengthy run. [4] The show frequently used obscure sports references, further limiting its appeal to a niche audience of sports fans. Entertainment Weekly repeatedly referred to it as one of the worst shows on television, [5] and sportswriter Bill Simmons (who would eventually work for HBO itself under his digital banner The Ringer ) used Arliss as an example of what he saw as a lack of quality fictional shows about sports. [6]

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  1. "Arli$$ on Nitro: Maybe If He Had Played Alexander Knox…". December 26, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  2. Saturday Night Live. Season 28. Episode 2. October 12, 2002. NBC. Saturday Night Live Transcripts.
  3. The George Lucas Talk Show - May the AR Be LI$$ You Marathon (Talk-Show), Patrick Cotnoir, Griffin Newman, Connor Ratliff, Robert Wuhl, May 17, 2020, retrieved January 26, 2021CS1 maint: others (link)[ better source needed ]
  4. "TV 101: They're Not TV Numbers. They're HBO Numbers. - Tuned In - TV Blog - Television Reviews - James Poniewozik - TIME". TIME . Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved February 25, 2008.
  5. "EW's Ken Tucker names 2002's 5 worst TV shows – Arli$ – Television Commentary – TV – Entertainment Weekly". Archived from the original on October 12, 2006.
  6. " Page 2: Dear Sports Guy..." ESPN . Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved October 12, 2016.