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OPENING FEB. 14
One may rightly despise TV-network executives for what they put on the air. And now, thanks to the Los Angeles-based “comedy collective” Un-Cabaret, one may also despise TV-network executives for what they don’t put on the air. Un-Cab principals Beth Lapides and Greg Miller have assembled a collection of unsold television sitcoms whose mere synopses reveal more creativity than anything on the regular schedule. Dubbed The Other Network, the show reclaims never-seen must-see TV by such comic minds as Conan O’Brien, Ben Stiller, Robert (“Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”) Smigel, Merrill Markoe, Bob (Mr. Show) Odenkirk, Judd (Freaks and Geeks) Apatow, and others. By curious happenstance, I actually saw O’Brien and Smigel’s Lookwell the one time it aired, in July 1991. The concept involved the retired star of a ’70s detective show who tries to solve real crimes in the ’90s. The genius hook: That star was Adam West. How could the suits not get it? Other can’t-miss ideas that missed include Heat-Vision & Jack, directed by Ben Stiller and starring Jack Black (pictured) as a “super-intelligent ex-astronaut,” Owen Wilson as the voice of a talking motorcycle, and Ron Silver as Ron Silver, actor and villainous “NASA enforcer.” OK. Also look for Odenkirk’s sketch show Next!, which featured Ray Romano when he was funny. Miller reveals that as a result of their screenings, at least one rejected program is getting a second chance. “I’m not saying we’re making a difference,” he says, “but maybe.” We can only hope. The Other Network opens Friday, Feb. 14, at Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge, 1927 Florida Ave. NW. (202) 667-0090; see Showtimes for details. (Dave Nuttycombe)