My Talk Show aired in the fall of 1990 in syndication.
My Talk Show was a short-lived attempt to recreate the feel of one of the most bizarre shows of the 1970's, Fernwood 2-Night. Set in fictional Derby, Wisconsin ( the hat capital of the world), the series took place in the living room of Jennifer Bass ( Cynthia Stevenson), whose local cable tv talk show had just gone into national syndication. A live " living room audience" watched from bleacher-type benches.
Jennifer's co-hosts were her best friend and next-door neighbor Angela ( Stephanie Hodge), and her obnoxious brother-in-law Marty( David Packer), who lived in a trailer parked in her driveway. Other regulars were Mrs. Battle ( Josephine Hinds), the organist whose feet were almost killing her; Bucky ( Ron James), an opinionated paramedic who often wandered in during the middle of the show; and Anne Marie ( Debra McGrath), the pretentious star and owner of the Top Hat Diner Theater. Guests included real personalities such as Morton Downey Jr., Jackie Collins, Jim Belushi, Nell Carter, Robert Goulet, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jerry Mathers, and Mr. T, along with a parade of actors portraying local citizens and eccentrics.
Low ratings prompted ongoing changes. The original practice of having members of the studio audience serve as announcers at the opening of the show was dropped. Elderly Mrs. Battle was replaced by young hip D.A. Young( as himself) and who had composed an upbeat replacement for the show's instrumental theme song, and even star Cynthia Stevenson was dumpted. In the storyline, Jennifer left the show when her estranged husband returned to Derby to take her away with him. Before leaving Jennifer sold her house, furnishings, and tv show to Anne Marie ( Debra McGrath was also the creator and writer of this show so...) who continued to broadcast My Talk Show from what was now her living room. The only surviving regular was Bucky who was joined by Valerie ( Betsy Townsend), a young tv trainee with ambitions of replacing Anne Marie. None of the changes helped the show attract more viewers, and it was out of production before the end of the year.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
My Talk Show
September 21, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT
Don’t let this sly, quirky show get lost in the new-season shuffle. My Talk Show is about a former UHF talk-show host in a small Wisconsin town who is offered her own nationally syndicated program; in this spoof of talk shows, made-up characters play host to real-life stars (Jim Belushi and RoboCop‘s Peter Weller are among the first few).
The premise of My Talk Show may remind you of Fernwood 2-Night, the 1977-78 talk-show satire currently in reruns on cable’s Nick at Nite. But where the host of Fernwood 2-Night was the snide and witty Martin Mull, this talk show is overseen by Cynthia Stevenson as Jennifer Bass, a terribly earnest, polite young woman. Stevenson is Remarkable — a resourceful actress who does a subtle, funny job of portraying someone who’s charming but awkward, a little bit flustered on-camera.
My Talk Show may be gimmicky, but it’s an amusing, well-thought-out gimmick. Jennifer broadcasts the show from her Wisconsin house, her guests sit on her living-room couch, and the guests’ ”green room” is her bedroom (Weller pokes through Jennifer’s dresser drawers while waiting to go on). Music is provided by an elderly organist — ”my old school nurse,” says Jennifer — named Mrs. Battle (Josephine Hinds). There’s no hip, David Letterman-Paul Shaffer banter here; when Jennifer asks Mrs. Battle how she’s feeling, the woman says, ”My feet are killing me.” End of conversation.
Like much TV these days, My Talk Show is about how everyone in America wants to be on television. But it makes this familiar point in a fresh way, without a trace of cooler-than-you irony or sarcasm. Stevenson’s Jennifer deserves to become the first cult TV star of the ’90s. B+
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