GenreSitcom, Soap opera parody
Created byRob LaZebnik
Directed byGary Halvorson
Theme music composerMark Mothersbaugh
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13
Executive producers
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkThe WB
ReleaseJanuary 11 (1995-01-11) –
May 24, 1995 (1995-05-24)

Muscle is an American sitcom television series that aired on The WB from January 11 to May 24, 1995.[1] It was set inside the fictional Survival Gym in New York City, and was a parody of prime time soap operas of the 1990s (with Fox's Melrose Place being the most noticeable inspiration). The series was created by Rob LaZebnik, and was executive produced by Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas and Gary S. Levine.

Muscle was one of the four sitcoms that aired as part of the original Wednesday night two-hour WB lineup, at 9:30/8:30c (with The Wayans Bros., The Parent 'Hood, and Unhappily Ever After being scheduled before it).[2] It was the only one of the four that did not make it past the first season, and was also the first series to get canceled on the brand new WB.[3] It ended with all the show's characters being shot & killed off, after being canceled due to low ratings.


The central plot concerned the murder of "Big" Jim Atkinson (Adam West), the president and founder of the chain of gyms, by poisoning in the first episode. His son Kent, a former alcoholic and drug addict, was determined to figure out who the killer was and bring him or her to justice. His original suspect was his stepmother and the new president of the company, Jane Atkinson.



In an ultimate act of rebellion he would sleep with his father's trophy wife, Jane, inside the gym's sauna. When Big Jim caught them in the act he apparently died of a heart attack, but an autopsy would reveal that he was in fact poisoned. Kent would then spend the rest of the series trying to bring his father's murderer to justice, by doing his own amateur investigation. His initial suspect was his step mother Jane, but he would also come to suspect his best friend, and gym manager, Victor.
After the death of her husband she tried to take over running the Survival Gym. However her stepson, Kent, remained a constant rival for the job. In order to win him over she set about seducing him and making him her second husband. Kent, however, believed she had murdered his father and was initially reluctant. After Big Jim's secretary confessed to the murder, it appeared that Jane and Kent would begin to have a relationship. Unbeknownst to Kent, Jane paid the secretary to confess.
Another scheme she had to secure the Survival Gym franchise was to become pregnant with Big Jim's child, using his previously frozen sperm. However, Jane discovered that she was in fact barren, and had to ask Cleo, to be a surrogate.
It was later revealed that the mysterious woman was in fact her mother. Her mother was a madam at a brothel. She did not know who her real father was, only that she was conceived around the time the circus was in town. Cleo/Lorna Louise believed that her father was a clown, she never met him during the show.
The staff and clientele at Survival Gym never knew this and Cleo was often used as a pawn in the power struggles between Jane and Kent Atkinson. For example, Jane asked her to be a surrogate mother for Big Jim's baby, in an attempt to control Survival Gym. When Kent found out, he seduced Cleo, and then asked her not to agree to be the surrogate. What he did not know, was Cleo had already had the procedure. When Cleo actually ended up being pregnant she did not know who her baby's father was, Kent, or Big Jim, but believed whoever it was she would end up inheriting a huge fortune from the Atkinson family. However, she had also had sex with a director to get in his play, so there was a possibility that he was the father of her baby. The series ended without the father being revealed.
Garnet Hines's most infamous client was Guy Davore, the Carnivore. Guy was accused of being a serial killer and a cannibal. Garnet with the help of Dr. Gold would get Guy acquitted, however both men would come to regret this action.
Gianni's other love interest was a trainer, named Angela, who had a crush on him. Although there was some chemistry between them, her lack of monetary success, initially led him to reject her. However, he would eventually dump the financially secure Dottie, for a romantic relationship with Angela. Ironically, shortly after choosing Angela, Gianni suffered a back injury that temporarily paralyzed him and caused him to be supported by Angela's limited finances.
Robert had initially hired Sam to be his trainer. Robert soon came up with a plan to have Sam star in a series of exercise videos. Robert would do anything to help Sam, from blackmailing Bronwyn to date Sam, to providing him with steroids to help him win a bodybuilding contest. Despite doing these unscrupulous acts, he also showed genuine compassion towards Sam, like talking him out of committing suicide even though it violated Robert's parole (Sam tried to kill himself outside of Robert's ankle bracelet's range). Given that he had a good reason, Robert's parole was not violated.
Because he tried to blackmail her, Bronwyn had a strong dislike for Robert. This was initially mutual due to the fact he found her to be arrogant. However in a strange twist, he developed a crush on her. Since she was a lesbian, he decided to dress in drag as Roberta to Angela and Gianni's wedding to win her over. Bronwyn apparently was attracted to "Roberta", however the series was not renewed and this plot element was never fully developed.
Marshall was also the expert witness in the Guy Davore case. It was his testimony that Guy was sane that led, in part, to Guy's acquittal. Dr. Gold would later come to regret this.
Gianni, being a gigolo, initially resisted being with her because of her lack of money, however, he realized he did in fact love her. After a brief courtship he would propose marriage. The final episode of the series was Angela and Gianni's wedding at the gym, the place where they met.

Notable guest stars


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
1"Episode 1"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikJanuary 11, 1995 (1995-01-11)2.4[4]
2"Episode 2"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikJanuary 11, 1995 (1995-01-11)2.4[4]
3"Episode 3"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikJanuary 18, 1995 (1995-01-18)2.4[5]
4"Episode 4"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikJanuary 25, 1995 (1995-01-25)2.3[6]
5"Episode 5"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikFebruary 1, 1995 (1995-02-01)2.4[7]
6"Episode 6"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikFebruary 8, 1995 (1995-02-08)2.2[8]
7"Episode 7"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikFebruary 15, 1995 (1995-02-15)2.3[9]
8"Episode 8"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikFebruary 22, 1995 (1995-02-22)2.5[10]
9"Episode 9"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikMarch 1, 1995 (1995-03-01)1.9[11]
10"Episode 10"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikApril 26, 1995 (1995-04-26)1.7[12]
11"Episode 11"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikMay 10, 1995 (1995-05-10)1.5[13]
12"Episode 12"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikMay 17, 1995 (1995-05-17)2.0[14]
13"Episode 13"Gary HalvorsonRob LaZebnikMay 24, 1995 (1995-05-24)2.1[15]


  1. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. Penguin Books. p. 576. ISBN 9780140249163.
  2. ^ Owen, Rob (1999). Gen X TV: The Brady Bunch to Melrose Place. Syracuse University Press. p. 67. ISBN 9780815605850.
  3. ^ "The Five: WB shows that we forgot". AOL TV. Archived from the original on 2013-02-04.
  4. ^ a b DeRosa, Robin (January 18, 1995). "'ER' rolls into the No. 1 spot". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  5. ^ DeRosa, Robin (January 25, 1995). "'ER' helps NBC to No. 1". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  6. ^ DeRosa, Robin (January 25, 1995). "'ER' helps NBC to No. 1". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  7. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. February 8, 1995. p. 3D.
  8. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. February 15, 1995. p. 3D.
  9. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. February 22, 1995. p. 3D.
  10. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. March 1, 1995. p. 3D.
  11. ^ DeRosa, Robin (March 8, 1995). "'Murphy,' 'Dust' help push CBS to No. 1 tie". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  12. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 3, 1995. p. 3D.
  13. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 17, 1995. p. 3D.
  14. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 24, 1995. p. 3D.
  15. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 31, 1995. p. 3D.