Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The hectic early days of live television are spoofed in this irreverent made-for-cable movie. The story is told from the viewpoint of Audrey Drummond (Christina Hendricks), a naïve young script girl hired by the newly formed Empire Television Network in 1948. Among Audrey's colleagues are the network's owner, eccentric scientist Doc Powers (Christopher Lloyd); Doc's blonde, pneumatic young "trophy wife" Marion (Molly Ringwald); the Colonel (Dylan Baker), Empire's visionary programming chief; and Walt Kaplan (Michael B. Silver), a studio floor manager who aspires to be a director. The story revolves around Empire's efforts to stage the first live TV production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, while trying desperately to adhere to Doc Powers' cast-in-stone broadcast edicts: "No profanity, no suicide, no cleavage." Amidst a flurry of missed cues, fainting actors, collapsing scenery, and malfunctioning equipment, the network also manages to outrage its sponsors by allowing a black musician (Sharif Atkins) to actually (gasp! egad!) speak directly into the camera. Co-executive produced by The West Wing's John Wells and ER's Carol Flint (who also wrote the script), The Big Time debuted October 21, 2002 on the TNT network.