Arliss (rendered in its logo as Arli$$) is an American situation comedy on HBO about a sports agent and his group of associates. The series premiered in 1996 and ended in 2002. Reruns of the show air on ESPN Classic.
- Arliss starred Robert Wuhl, who also produced the show, as Arliss Michaels, the president of a sports agency who tries to cater to his clients' every need the best as he can.
- Sandra Oh plays Rita Wu, Arliss's personal assistant.
- Jim Turner plays Kirby Carlisle, a middle-aged, ex-football star.
- Michael Boatman plays Stanley Babson, a conservative financial advisor.
Notable guest stars
Nearly every episode included one or more notable personalities, primarily from the sports industry (such as athletes
, and broadcasters
), appearing as themselves. Oscar
-winning actor James Coburn's 2002
appearance in the episode "The Immortal" was his last television performance before his fatal heart attack in 2002
Arliss on other programs
In July 1999
, Wuhl also appeared on World Championship Wrestling
's Monday Nitro
in the company's dying days as a guest announcer. Joining Scott Hudson
and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
, Robert did not appear as himself but was named as Arliss and acted in character. He announced that "the WCW" (sic) would appear on Arliss
because none of the Big Three networks
would have WCW. Arliss stayed in character on color commentary as Randy Savage
, Gorgeous George
, and Miss Madness
walked to the ring. Arliss said he was scouting Dennis Rodman
, who was doing his third stint with the company. The Arliss appearance was panned by fans and wrestling critics, especially because most people didn't know what an "Arli$$" was. Wuhl appeared for cross-promotion as WCW was owned by Time Warner
aired on TNT
), as was HBO. At the time both shows had low ratings
, it was apparently hoped that Arliss fans would watch wrestling
and vice versa. Wuhl never appeared or mentioned on WCW TV again and the stunt did nothing notable to improve the ratings
of either program. In the Arliss
episode entitled "To Thy Own Self Be True", WCW creative head Eric Bischoff
guest stars along with wrestlers Lex Luger
, Randy Savage
and Gorgeous George.
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.
never caught on with viewers and was criticized by many critics. However, the show is a prime example of how HBO differs from traditional networks due to its nature as a network its viewers specifically pay to be able to watch. Arliss
was cited by so many viewers as the sole reason that they paid for the network that its relatively small fan base was able to keep the show on the air for a lengthy run. Entertainment Weekly
consistently referred to it as one of the worst shows on television. Many felt that the show was subpar and that the show's frequent use of obscure sports references made the humor something only die-hard sports fans would understand. ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons
repeatedly wrote about how awful he felt the show was, often holding it up as Exhibit A in what the Sports Guy saw as the terrible state of sports shows on TV. Simmons also noted that HBO was forced to reschedule the show because it wasn't able to hold enough viewers before Six Feet Under