The Chris Isaak Show

Showtime (ended 2004)


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The Chris Isaak Show

Show Summary

The Chris Isaak Show takes an irreverent look at the sexy, outrageous backstage world of rock music. Featuring Chris, his real life band members and an ensemble of oddball characters, the stories offer a fanciful mix of fact and fiction and follow Chris on the road, into the studio and even onto his surfboard as he tries to live an ordinary life - in spite of - his chosen profession.

Season Three episodes of The Chris Isaak Show air on Canada's MuchMoreMusic. Check their schedule at:

Australia's The Comedy Channel has aired episodes in the past. Check their schedule at:

UK fans can catch the show on Channel 4. Though airings don't appear to follow any regular schedule, you can check their current lineup at:

Series Notes:

There are a lot of quirky bits and dabs in the series that some fans of the show may not necessarily connect with Chris, personally. For example, Chris really does drink Tang, he really does surf, and he really does drive a 1964 Chevy Nova. (It's not red and it's not a convertible, but his own car is very similar to what he drives on the show.) Additionally, his home is in San Francisco, it is modest, and, by his own admission, it's furnished with thrift store bargains. Sharp-eyed viewers will also notice that Chris will occasionally wear multiple tiepins on his neckties, something he was known for doing in the late 1980's and early 1990's, though in those days, he frequently wore them on his jacket lapels. The message on his white Gibson electric guitar "I [heart] Carole L." refers to his first girlfriend, Carole Lowe, who died of cancer in late 1999 or early 2000. (Please follow the link to the Baja Beach Club to read the Sacramento Bee article about Carole and her special message in the Files folder.)

The character of Mona was also based on a real woman at the real Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, though in actual fact, she's known as "Dolphina." In the 1930's, several different acts played the venue, and one of them was a magician. He had rigged up a series of mirrors that would project an image of anyone who was lying on a rotating table in the basement up into the fish tank located behind the bar. People would come from all over the world to see "the mermaid in the fishbowl" there. As it's a very well known feature (even to this day) at Bimbo's, the writers (and more than likely, Chris himself,) decided that she should be incorporated into the show. So, the character of "Mona," was born. Her purpose is to keep Chris grounded in the wacky world of rock stardom that he lives in. She's his "conscious," his advisor, his therapist, and the one friend he has on the show who has nothing to do with his profession.

On an interesting note... Chris, himself, has taken a turn on the table in the real Bimbo's. Back in the mid-1990's, he donned a pair of swim trunks, jumped on the spinning table, and went for a "virtual swim" in the fishbowl.

Season One Notes:

A considerable amount of time in season one was spent experimenting with relationships between the various characters as the writers tried to figure out where non-band characters might fit with the pre-established unit that is Chris Isaak and Silvertone. Early on, and all throughout season one, the Chris and Yola connection was obvious, and a clear fan favorite. Though the writers were careful never to cross that personal/professional line with the pair, they established a strong sense of mutual respect and playfulness between them that was irresistible to watch. Additionally, Anson seemed to rely on Chris' counsel more often in the earlier episodes, and would frequently be seen alone with Chris at his home, discussing life's various challenges. After episode #12 "Smackdown" however, the Kenney and Anson chemistry began to evolve, and it hit its stride with episode #15 "Storytime." Kenney was something of an older, wiser version of Anson, and that pseudo father/son relationship gradually began to usurp the mentor/pupil relationship that had been established earlier between Chris and Anson. Anson still relied on Chris throughout the series for words of wisdom, so that relationship never ended, but Anson and Kenney connected on a very different level. Fans seemed to really enjoy this shift, and there's no doubt that some of the best moments in season two capitalized on the rather unique relationship between Kenney and Anson.

Per the Northern California Movies Website at:

Chris Isaak and Silvertone performed at The Fillmore Theater (1805 Geary Boulevard) in San Francisco on July 12, 2000 in order to obtain actual live concert footage to use in many of the first season episodes. Wherever possible, I've noted where that footage was used throughout the Season One guide. Some of that Fillmore concert was used for Bimbo's concert footage, as well as for many of the tour stops the band made in episode #9, "Tomorrowland."

Additionally, the establishing exterior shots of Bimbo's 365 Club are actual shots of the real club at 1025 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. All the interior scenes at Bimbo's were filmed on the Vancouver set.

This Fillmore footage was only used for Season One episodes.

Season Two Notes:

Where season one established the Chris/Yola connection, season two took a decidedly different direction where the couple was concerned. The writers, almost purposefully, chose "not to go there," with the romance, and opted instead to pair them both up with partners who could offer interesting script challenges. While some fans found that distressing, I, personally thought it was a good decision. Believable sexual and romantic tension is difficult to achieve in episodic Television, and when it's there (seemingly effortlessly) between two very likable characters, it's really best just to leave it alone and let it work its magic. There would have been nowhere else to go once Chris and Yola got together, so keeping them apart throughout season two was the right thing to do.

In addition to this shift, the writers also made a few other modifications to the behavior of some characters and the interactions that many of them had with one another. For example, in the first season, Yola was written as a somewhat stereotypical manager; the micromanagement, the image and style consciousness themes, and the ubiquitous bottle of Pepto Bismol in her purse all contributed to the "neurotic manager" model that could have too easily made her a cartoon character. In season two however, Yola was much more confident; her micromanagement and image issues were minimized substantially, while the "on the threshold of an ulcer" tact was eliminated completely. Yola struggled more in season two with easily identifiable "human" issues (dating, conflicts with her mother, parenting issues) than she did in season one, and I think that made her more "real" to fans.

The writers also experimented with a Yola/Cody relationship that transcended the sexual encounters the pair shared in season one. Though many fans missed the Yola/Chris relationship, many others (myself included,) found the new Yola/Cody relationship too intriguing to ignore. Both characters grew a great deal in season two, and it was an evolution that they really only could have made together.

Roly, as well, seemed to have finally found a niche as a philosopher, a scholar, or a voice of reason for the other characters, often bearing a calm and thoughtful style (frequently humorous,) that served as an interesting contrast to Kenney's smart-ass, somewhat self-absorbed manner. Hershel's kinder, gentler nature was enhanced in season two, and he became surprisingly adept at finding a way to say a lot without uttering a word - conveying much of what he had to say through body language and facial expressions – tough to do when you wear glasses… As for Anson? He was just MORE Anson in season two… (As Chris said in season one's episode 5, "You're ten pounds of Anson in a five-pound sack.")

Perhaps the biggest change in season two had to do with the character of Vivian, whose exit from the show was not addressed. Chris simply no longer had anyone to look after his rather extensive costume collection. Though clearly a supporting character, Vivian was a wonderful female foil to Yola and her neurotic behavior. Viv was very much the "anti-Yola," with her calm, levelheaded demeanor and New Age style. Her departure created a larger void for fans than the producers likely anticipated.moreless
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  • Where's the DVD set ?

    Yep, Showtime has done it again, managed to cancel one of the very few reasons to even watch their network.

    This show was funny, interesting, and just enough of the 'soap' quality to keep you coming back. The characters were quirky, witty, funny .. and layed back. This was a good 45 minutes of enjoyable tv. ( Kind of had the same quality as our friends in Mayberry.)

    Now we're looking for the DVD set ....moreless
  • Truly unique!

    The Chris Isaak Show is simply unsurpassed. Not quite reality, not quite fiction. It follows the life of Chris Isaak (played by Chris Isaak) and his band, Silvertone (played by Silvertone, with the exception of actor Jed Rees playing the fictional Anson). But they have scripts, actual episodes, plotlines and story arcs...

    This series is what got me into Chris Isaak's music. The concerts in each episode are perfectly done and don't feel wedged in. It's just... something these characters do.

    I loved the wackiness of some of the plotlines. The show was rooted in reality and skewed into the bizarre, which made it extraordinarily fun to watch. I mean, take this for example: when he needed advice or guidance, Chris went and talked to a naked mermaid who may or may not have actually been real!

    Chris, Kenney Dale Johnson, Rowland Salley and Herschel Yatovitz are professional musicians and you shouldn't expect them to act very well. But since they're playing people named Chris, Kenney, Rowland and Herschel, maybe it came easier. Because you don't get the feeling these guys are musicians pretending to be actors. They ARE actors, playing these characters. When I first started watching and I wasn't a fan of Isaak's music, I thought his entire band was made up of actors. Then I got a CD and said, "Hey, that's the guy who plays Kenney!" :D

    I especially love how they weren't afraid to make fun of themselves in the series. No egos here, especially not on Chris (one episode had him celebrate a record going gold, then showed him at home rolling pennies!)

    The little quirks were what made the show much fun: The alien-head that Chris kept Tang in, for one. The wacky musician cameos (Bret Michaels, Blake Shelton, Gloria Estefan) where the artists played themselves and got to poke a little fun at themselves in the process were always fun to watch.

    The fact that so many people were playing themselves gave all the fictional events and surreality a feeling of "Wow, could this actually happen? Heaven help Chris if it did!"

    In short, it was a unique show and I mourn it's passing (although I believe it was due to Isaak's desire to spend more time touring and recording, so no harm there!). I can't wait for the DVDs!moreless

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Musicals, Sitcoms