Stay Tuned (film)

Stay Tuned is a 1992 American fantasy comedy film directed by Peter Hyams, written by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker, and starring John Ritter, Pam Dawber, Jeffrey Jones, and Eugene Levy.

Stay Tuned
Stay Tuned Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Hyams
Produced byJames G. Robinson
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Jim Jennewain
  • Tom S. Parker
  • Richard Siegel
Music byBruce Broughton
CinematographyPeter Hyams
Edited byPeter E. Berger
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • August 14, 1992 (1992-08-14)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$10.7 million (US)[2]

Tim Burton was originally chosen to be the director on account of his art and style, but left to direct Batman Returns.[3]


Roy Knable (John Ritter) is a struggling Seattle plumbing salesman, former fencing athlete, and couch potato who lives with his neglected wife Helen (Pam Dawber), a vitamin product senior manager. After a fight (which involved Helen smashing the family television screen with one of Roy's fencing trophies as a wake-up call to reality), Mr. Spike (Jeffrey Jones) appears at the couples' door, offering them a new high-tech satellite dish system filled with 666 channels of programs one cannot view on the four big networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox). What Roy does not know is that Spike (later referred to as "Mephistopheles of the Cathode Ray") is an emissary from hell who wants to boost the influx of souls by arranging for TV junkies to be killed in the most gruesome and ironic situations imaginable. The 'candidates' are sucked into a hellish television world, called Hellevision, and put through a gauntlet where they must survive a number of satirical versions of sitcoms and movies. If they can survive for 24 hours, they are free to go, but if they get killed, then their souls will become the property of Satan (the latter usually happens).

The dish eventually sucks Roy and Helen into this warped world. They are pursued by Spike, who enters some shows, along with the Knables, to halt their advance. Roy and Spike continue to fight throughout several shows, even in a cloak-and-dagger scenario where Roy displays his long-buried talent as a fencer. Through tenacity and sheer luck, the Knables keep surviving, and their young son Darryl (David Tom) recognizes his parents fighting for their lives on the TV set. He and his older sister Diane (Heather McComb) are able to provide important assistance from the real world. This infuriates Spike to the point that he makes good on Roy's contract, releasing him, but not Helen, as she was not in the system under contract.

Roy re-enters the system to save Helen, bringing his own remote control with him, allowing them to control their journey. After being pursued by Spike through several more channels, Roy finally confronts his enemy in a Salt-N-Pepa music video, manages to get hold of Spike's remote, and uses it to save Helen from being run over by a train in a Western movie. By pressing the "off" button on the remote, they are evicted from the TV set moments before it sucks their neighbor's abusive Rottweiler into the TV and it destroys itself, leaving the Rottweiler trapped in the TV world forever. In the end, Spike gets eliminated by the Rottweiler on the command of Crowley (Eugene Levy), a vengeful employee he banished to the system earlier, and is then succeeded in his executive position by Pierce (Erik King), a younger upstart employee. Roy, who has learned a valuable lesson after his adventure, has dramatically cut back on his TV viewing, quit his job as a plumbing salesman, and opened his own fencing school and advised one of his students that watching too much TV can get you into trouble.



The film was not screened for film critics.[4] The film holds a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 16 reviews.[5]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times called the film a "cleverly plotted movie" based on a "nifty satiric concept" but said that "most of its takeoffs ... show no feel for genre and no genuine wit."[6] Rita Kempley of the Washington Post called the film "wonderfully silly" and a "zippy action spoof."[7] Variety reported the film was "not diabolical enough for true black comedy, too scary and violent for kids lured by its PG rating and witless in its sendup of obsessive TV viewing...a picture with nothing for everybody"; it noted that the "six-minute cartoon interlude by the masterful Chuck Jones, with Ritter and Dawber portrayed as mice menaced by a robot cat...has a grace and depth sorely lacking in the rest of the movie."[4] Time Out called it "pointless 'satire'" with the "emotional depth of a 30-second soap commercial."[8]

Box officeEdit

Stay Tuned opened at #6 in the US, which the Los Angeles Times called a "fuzzy reception".[9] The film grossed $10.7 million in the US.[2]


Some film and television series parodies include:


Stay Tuned
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedAugust 29, 1992
GenreHip hop
LabelMorgan Creek
ProducerHurby Luv Bug, Full Force, Black Sheep, Jason Hunter, Ced Gee, LaVaba Mallison

The soundtrack to the film is made up entirely of hip hop songs with the exception of the last two tracks, which were themes composed by Bruce Broughton. Tracks in bold are used in the movie.

Track listingEdit

  1. Start Me Up - Salt-n-Pepa (4:45)
  2. The Choice Is Yours - Black Sheep (3:22)
  3. Taste - Cherokee & Auto (4:07)
  4. Xodus - X-Clan (4:22)
  5. Strobelite Honey - Black Sheep (3:07)
  6. Message From the Boss - Ultramagnetic MC's (4:47)
  7. The Mic Stalker - Doctor Ice (2:57)
  8. Bad, Bad, Bad - Kool Moe Dee (4:48)
  9. Darryl's Dad - Bruce Broughton (1:17)
  10. Stay Tuned (Main Theme) - Bruce Broughton (2:07)

Score albumEdit

Broughton's score was released in 2011 by Intrada.

  1. Main Title 2:57
  2. Meet Darryl 1:03
  3. The Dish 2:56
  4. A Bumpy Ride 2:12
  5. Sayonara, Mrs. Seidenbaum 0:33
  6. Field Work 0:55
  7. Gordon Bashing 2:04
  8. It Ate My BMX 2:01
  9. Wolf Attack 0:45
  10. That's My Bike! 2:53
  11. Offering to Help 1:47
  12. You Have Tits 1:35
  13. Aim The Dish 0:30
  14. Off With Your Wig 3:34
  15. Darryl Breaks Through 0:52
  16. Redemption 1:31
  17. Roy Goes Back 1:10
  18. The 3:10 to Yuma 1:55
  19. Roy Gets Shot 0:53
  20. Crashing In 0:32
  21. The Big Sword Fight 1:19
  22. Turn It Off! 1:50
  23. So What Can I Tell You... 0:53
  24. The Game Show 1:29
  25. TV Theme Medley 3:32
  26. Roy Knable, Private Dick 3:26
  27. We’re Cartoons 6:42


  1. ^ "Stay Tuned (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. October 1, 1992. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Stay Tuned". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  3. ^ Childs, Paul (July 18, 2018). "Looking back at Stay Tuned". denofgeek. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Review of Stay Tuned from Variety
  5. ^ Stay Tuned at Rotten Tomatoes Accessed 15 June 2012
  6. ^ a b c d Bedeviled Suburbanites With a 24-Hour Deadline, an August 15, 1992 review from The New York Times
  7. ^ a b c Review of Stay Tuned, an August 18, 1992 review from the Washington Post
  8. ^ Review of Stay Tuned Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine from the Time Out Film Guide
  9. ^ "Weekend Box Office : Eastwood Still Tall in the Saddle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 5, 2012.

External linksEdit