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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)
Composer(s) Ed Smart
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 80 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Tollin/Robbins Productions
Marquee/Tollin/Robbins (1998-2002)
Distributor CBS Television Distribution (2008-present, non-USA)
Original network Home Box Office
Original release August 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 and his group of associates. The series premiered on HBO in 1996 and ended in 2002.


  • 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 as best 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[edit]

Nearly every episode includes one or more notable personalities, primarily from the sports industry (such as athletes, coaches, 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.

Three-plus appearances[edit]

Two appearances[edit]

One appearance[edit]

Series overview[edit]

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

Arliss on other programs[edit]

In July 1999, Wuhl also appeared on World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro as a guest announcer.[2] 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. Wuhl appeared for cross-promotion as WCW was owned by Time Warner (and Nitro aired on TNT), as was HBO. 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.

On the 10th of February 2002. The 10th episode of the 13th Season of The Simpsons titled Half-Decent Proposal Marge, Patty and Selma are watching TV When the TV announcer says "Coming up next on BHO, it's ARLI$$!" and They all scream "AAAH!" in unison and all reach for remote.

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:

In the October 4, 2012, episode of 30 Rock, "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!"


The show, which ran for seven seasons, 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.[4] Entertainment Weekly consistently referred to it as one of the worst shows on television.[5] The show frequently used obscure sports references, making the humor something only die-hard sports fans could appreciate. Bill Simmons, then of repeatedly wrote about how awful he felt the show was, often holding it up as an "Exhibit A" in what he saw as the terrible state of sports-based fictional television shows. Simmons also noted that HBO was forced to reschedule the show because it wasn't able to hold enough viewers before Six Feet Under. [6] Simmons' viewpoint notwithstanding, ESPN later acquired the rights to air content-edited reruns of Arli$$ for several years on ESPN Classic.


  1. ^ "Mike Armstrong (Character) - Filmography by TV series". Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Arli$$ on Nitro: Maybe If He Had Played Alexander Knox…". Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Saturday Night Live. Season 28. Episode 2. Saturday Night Live Transcripts. 12 October 2002. NBC. 
  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 14 October 2007. Retrieved 25 February 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. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 

External links[edit]