Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The worst TV show ever

Back from another day of picketing. No TV cameras, no Jay Leno handing out Krispy Kremes. Just us “Schmucks with Underwoods” (although to be more accurate – “Schmucks with PowerBooks”.) Even if you’re not in the guild, feel free to join us on line. And if anyone asks what you’re working on just say a pilot for Faye Dunaway (frighteningly pictured).

Which brings me to another topic:

A question I was asked at my writing seminar was, "What do you think is the worst TV show ever?” Good question but tough to answer. No matter what I come up with I’m sure I’m overlooking even worse candidates. So please feel free to chime in with your suggestions. And if you nominate AfterMASH I won’t be offended.

Some of the turkeys I might consider are…

COP ROCK – Imagine the cops from THE SHIELD breaking into song.

VIVA LAUGHLIN – Imagine a parody of COP ROCK.

SATURDAY NIGHT WITH HOWARD COSELL – Howard Cosell hosted a variety show in 1975.

BLESS THIS HOUSE – a CBS sitcom starring Andrew Dice Clay as a dad. I would have given anything to see the test results on that pilot.

THE FAYE DUNAWAY SHOW – Maybe the scariest actress in Hollywood once starred in her own sitcom for CBS. “I’m ready for my four cameras, Mr. DeMille.

PINK LADY AND JEFF – A variety show featuring comic Jeff Altman and a Japanese girl group who had trouble speaking English. People felt sorry for Jeff. I felt sorry for the writers. And NBC passed on our pilot to put this series on the air. Not that our pilot was great but you could understand every word.

PUBLIC MORALS – Since Steven Bochco couldn’t make a cop show/musical he tried a cop show/comedy. Lasted one week. First network show to use the word “pussy”. Those two last sentences are not unrelated.

WHO’S YOUR DADDY? -- Adopted kids have to guess their real fathers in this worst reality show ever until we see what great new fare the networks put on during the strike.

DAVID CASSIDY – MAN UNDERCOVER -- Teen heartthrob David Cassidy as a cop who goes undercover in a maximum security prison. And he manages to keep his pants on the entire series.

LIFE WITH LUCY – It worked when she was 40. It even worked when she was 50. But it didn’t work when she was 106. Lucille Ball in her last sitcom, still trying to be zany, but instead of laughing you were just praying she wouldn’t break a hip.

CELEBRITY BOXING – If only the celebrities were Andrew Dice Clay and Faye Dunaway and there were no referees…

MANIMAL – A crimefighter who could turn into any animal. Imagine being read your rights by a chicken.

SUPERTRAIN – A nuclear powered bullet train that was so big it had a shopping center and swimming pool on board. Could send a cow on the tracks flying eight miles into the air. Was supposed to be like LOVE BOAT. Was more like THE HINDERBURG.


Anonymous said...

Back when I was a kid during the Jurassic period, networks used to burn off unsold pilots by showing them during summer rerun season. That was when you got to see shows that weren't good enough to become candidates for worst series of all time. For some reason, I still remember one that starred Fred "Herman Munster" Gwynne as a henpecked inventor who created a formula that turned his nasty mother-in-law (Rita Shaw, of course) into a glass statue. Don't panic, he managed to restore her before the final credits.

This gives rise to two burning questions: Why is this still in my brain? And would electro-shock treatments help remove it?

Todd Mueller said...

Small Wonder. Which actually ran for a number of seasons back in the 80s. What a stinker. You could smell the jokes coming a mile away. It was the first bad show I loved to watch. My brothers and I tried to predict the punchlines based on the clunker setups. Our jokes were invariably better. And dirtier. Small Wonder.

Anonymous said...

Here's one:

SHE'S THE SHERIFF - Suzanne Somers as a small-town cop and single mom. It was so bad, you could say "Step by Step" was a step up for her.

Anonymous said...

Oh god, how could I forget!?

Four words: MY. MOTHER. THE. CAR.

estiv said...

Four words: MY. MOTHER. THE. CAR.

Back in the mid-nineties, when it seemed like every mediocre (or worse) sitcom from the sixties was being made into a big-budget film, I would sometimes try to convince people that my financial future was secure because I was sole owner of the film rights to My Mother The Car.

No one ever laughed. Maybe it was my delivery. Maybe not.

Anonymous said...

SHE'S THE SHERIFF was much much better than STEP BY STEP. And Suzanne Somers in an unbelievably tight sheriff's outfit puts that blonde on RENO 911 to shame. BTW, I saw Jay Leno with more donuts at the NBC lines on Tuesday. Hope he brings some bran muffins to the Producers Wedmesday. They need it.

Anonymous said...

estiv, a development guy I knew actually had a pitch for a "My Mother the Car" feature. He saw it as an Adam Sandler vehicle (no pun intended). Hey, why not? I'd rather see him try to make a silk purse out of that sow's ear than rape the memory of Capra's Mr. Deeds.

VP81955 said...

"Small Wonder" was terrible (it should not be confused with another syndicated fantasy show of that era, the amusing and charming "Out Of This World") and "My Mother The Car" ridiculous, but for sheer awfulness, nothing touches "It's About Time" from 1966-67. Among the juvenile sitcoms of the James Aubrey era on CBS, this show about astronauts going back in time to the Stone Age, then taking some cavepeople back with them to modern times in a desperate midseason retooling, was clearly the worst.

Bitter Animator said...

I was with you until you got to 'Manimal'. I bet that show is next on the gritty 24-a-like remake list.

Rob said...

What a frightening period for NBC, Pink Lady, Manimal, Supertrain. Was there anything besides Diffrent Strokes and Facts of Life that didn't tank for them? The sad thing is that I remember watching each of those shows. I even watched AfterMASH (Which is in TV Guide's Top 10 Worst Shows). It seems unfair to call AfterMASH bad, especially considering it was a spin off of a much beloved show that nobody thought could anyone come close to. It's like taking a minor character from Cheers, moving him to another city, and trying to make a go of a series with him. My personal nomination that isn't on your list (or TV Guide's) is The Bradys, yet another attempt to turn a sitcom into a drama.

How about a slightly different topic. What's the worst scripted NETWORK show ever to last three or more seasons? (And that awfulness must have been throughout the run, not just a bad final season).

Now that I've mentioned the topic, I have no idea my nomination would be.

Anonymous said...

There was a comedic detective show back in the 90s where the main character had a bulldog who was able to speak. Even worse, the dog spoke in constant ghetto slang in an African-American voice. Horribly racist and disturbing.
You can talk about shows with ridiculous premises as being bad but I would put an otherwise respected show on there: HBO's Six Feet Under. Practically every line was a cliche and every character rang false.

David J. Loehr said...

I think I'd have to agree on "Six Feet Under," especially the finale. After the hype and several hyperventilating "best finale ever" reviews, I tuned back in to check it out. I'm still waiting for the part that made it so brilliant.

One scary show that had good people behind it was "Mr. Smith" about the talking orangutang who worked as a special consultant in DC. Created by Stan Daniels and Ed Weinberger, I kid you not.

Thanks to the wonder of Google, I found an article from a 1983 issue of TV Guide talking about the show and interviewing them, which had the following quote:

"Let me try to explain his potential, his importance," said the producer Ed Weinberger. "He is the key-stone of this show, the nucleus. He is the center in a way that Judd Hirsch was the center of Taxi, the way Hal Lindon was the center of Barney Miller, the way...let me put it better. If this were The Mary Tyler Moore Show, that guy there would be Mary."

In hindsight, that's funnier than it was in 1983. (But the show still isn't.)

Anonymous said...

"It's About Time" must have seemed like a natural cohort with Gilligan, but it did leave those of us who were in elementary school with one memory: the schoolyard variation of its theme song:

It's about time...
It's about space...
It's about time...

This is high hilarity for a 4th-grader...

Anonymous said...

If you need another nominee in the "Man and monkey" category, just to make this a competition, how about Ted Bessell's Me and the Chimp.

Which leads to the bigger question: What is this fascination producers/networks have with monkeys, chimps, talking animals, etc? With all due respect to Janos Prohaska, they're all pretty damn stupid.

Unkystan said...

Is anything worse than spin-offs? "The Ropers", "Joey", "Joanie Loves Chachi", "AfterMASH", "Ozzie's Girls", "Flo", " and for the absolute worst spin-off prize: "The Brady Bunch Hour"! For every great "Frasier" there's a "Three's a Crowd" in the pile.

Anonymous said...

I think that "The Beverly Hillbillies" should win the "Worst In All Categories" award.

Anonymous said...

I loved "Cop Rock." That's okay, I'll show myself out.

Actually, before that, I'll nominate "The Dr. Phil Show" as the worst TV show ever.

Anonymous said...

Oh, no! I LOVED "The Beverly Hillbillies." I wish TVLAND would put it back on its schedule.

John Leader said...

Shouldn't that be "schnooks with PowerBooks?"

I'd nominate "Baby Bob" or whatever the Jolie Fisher/talking-baby-sitcom was called. Also an example of a commercial concept turning into a bad TV show.

Anonymous said...

Although I don't think "Supertrain" was as bad a show as it was a premise (it was essentially just a knockoff of "Love Boat"), I DO have to agree about "Life with Lucy". That was so painful to watch. It was one step too far for the brilliant comic actress. "The Lucy Show" and "Here's Lucy" weren't so hot, either, succeeding mainly on the goodwill and joy she brought to so many people on "I Love Lucy". But "Life with Lucy"? I watched all what, 2? 3? episodes aired, and it was seriously painful to watch.

Christina said...

I'm with dodgergirl - I'd sit through a Viva Laughlin or She's the Sheriff or Cop Rock over Dr. Phil. Since when do they put that crap on a night?

Anonymous said...

Misfits of Science or The Single Guy. Pain-ful.

There seems to be a monkey theme at play here. My question would be, "What is the best TV show featuring a monkey?"

Nat G said...

"Baby Bob" was fascinating. A respectable cast (hey, I always like Holland Taylor!) chasing an awkward '60s sitcom concept for two (short) seasons. And what do you do for season five? "Hey, it's a talking five year old! Wow!"

I recently watched some episodes of an old Sherwood Schwartz series. You know the one. Bob Denver plays the title character. And the rest of the cast is people he got lost with - the big, chummy leader of his voyage, the wealthy guy and his wife, the showgirl, the sexy dark haired normal gal, and the brainy guy.
I’m speaking of course of "Dusty’s Trail", a show which ran just for the 1973-1974 season... a blatant (and failed) attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle.

Anonymous said...

Are we forgetting "Madame's Place?"

Anonymous said...

Will the strike cause CAVEMEN to rerun its "best" episodes?

Will that qualify as cruel and unusual punishment?

Will the lack of new episodes keep CAVEMEN off "TV's Worst" list?


Anonymous said...

I liked The Single Guy.

Anonymous said...

I nominate "CSI: Miami". Or as it should be called, "Ridiculous Posing With Sunglasses: Against Colorful Backlighting."


Anonymous said...

BET's Comic View. Talk about setting back the cause. If MLK could see it he'd go back in time and decide to stay home instead of marching...And whoever mentioned SIX FEET UNDER is high on drugs. I can see someone not liking the show, but saying it's the worst show ever is just trolling. I hated The O.C., but I wouldn't lump it with the worst of the worst.

Howard Hoffman said...

I have a confession to make. I was the person who watched the nightmarish LAUGH-IN spinoff, TURN ON - which ABC cancelled before it even played in the Pacific time zone. I was a kid, and I found it immature.

So you can understand why I can't wait for the CAVEMAN SEASON ONE DVD set next week.

estiv said...

For sheer awfulness, nothing touches "It's About Time" from 1966-67.

Yes! And its theme song, as randy miller suggests, is one of those earworms that will not die. DVD! DVD!

Anonymous said...

re: "It's About Time"

As I recall, halfway through the season, one of the astronaut's hair turned blond. Better to i.d. him from the other guy, I guess. It also had Joe E. Ross doing "Car 54" shtick reconfigured for the stone age.

Anonymous said...

I think I could drop my finger blindly onto any page of the current TV Guide and find a worthy nomination for worst TV show of all time. Today's programming is utterly worthless. I was at a conference recently and watched an episode of Private Practice... what drivel! Give me It's About Time any day over this crap!

Anonymous said...

I liked "The Single Guy" too, mainly because I was in one episode (note to mention the season before I handled seating the audience for the Friday night filming of the show).

As for worst shows:

SOUTH OF SUNSET -- Glen Frey as an LA detective in a show that wasn't even broadcast to half the country and was STILL cancelled after one episode. Tragically, Frey never was in another TV show and had to revert back to making mega-millions of dollars recording and performing with The Eagles again...

CAVEMEN -- I'm surpised that this is still on the air. Both the actors and the scripts could use a good trim, groom and flea-picking session. I imagine when they run out of shooting scripts, it'll be as good as cancelled.

THE SECRET LIFE OF DESMOND PFEIFFER -- I never saw this show, but from what I understand, even the UPN network censors were nervous about this one, a sitcom about Abraham Lincoln's black butler. Lasted about 5 episodes, I think.


Anonymous said...

The worst show I ever saw was "Out of this World" which starred Donna Pescow as the mother of a half-alien daughter with "special powers". Lord, it was bad.

To the two guys here who dared to name "Six Feet Under" as one of the worst shows-I love you. A "worst" show doesn't neccessarily have to be bad all the way through it's run. I did think it had potential during the first couple of seasons, but then they proceeded to assasinate Nate Fisher's wonderful, existential character while redeeming the despicable, nihilistic Brenda. Ridiculous. And that ending which left the other fans verklempt? It wasn't done THAT well-having Claire live to be really, really old was so clunky and pretentious. Ok, we get it. She lived longer than her brothers!

Anonymous said...

I know it's cliche as all hell, but According to Jim really is that bad. I can't believe it escaped mention so far.

PS - Best of luck with the picketing. If there were any networks based in Atlanta, I'd join in.

Anonymous said...

How about "Baywatch Nights" with "The Hoff" and Angie Harmon (plus Lou Rawls, I'm sorry to say). It started out as a detective show, but turned into a show about Hasselhoff and Harmon battling vampires and other occult members. What would make a beach lifeguard a good detective is beyond me. It made Baywatch look like Shakespeare.

AnimeJune said...

How about "Blind Justice"?

Yeah, let's have cop, and let's make him blind, yeah! And let's put him on the field with a partner, on homicide! Awesome! And let's make him sue the department, and WIN, for the department to carry a LOADED GUN! Inspirational!

Oh, and let's have him cheat on his wife, ignore his court-mandated therapy and ignore the human rights of suspects, because we all know he can get away with everything now that he's BLIND, right?

How can this idea fail?

For shows that have NOW become the worst - I'll say Grey's Anatomy. It started out fluffy and witty, but now it's "dark and twisty" as the heroine.

Lisa Hunter said...

I hate to pile on shows that were cancelled fast. But if you ever want to open the floor to nominations for Worst Ever Show that Was Actually a Hit, well, I can think of a few...

VP81955 said...

The worst show I ever saw was "Out of this World" which starred Donna Pescow as the mother of a half-alien daughter with "special powers." Lord, it was bad.

Was "Out Of This World" a great series? No, but it was likable and never took itself all that seriously, sort of an '80s precursor to "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." (Also of note: Burt Reynolds produced the series and was the voice of the alien, who transmitted messages through a special box in the family's home.)

floretbroccoli said...

Minor point, but Howard Cosell's show was called Saturday Night Live. For the first year, the familiar SNL was called NBC's Saturday Night. Hence "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night."

It wasn't until after Cosell tanked that SNL claimed its rightful title.

Todd Mueller said...

Oh, here's another one from the early 80s: WE GOT IT MADE. I'm sure the pitch was THE ODD COUPLE meets THREE'S COMPANY. But the real appeal was Teri Copley before she found God...and her clothes. For a pre-teen from a depressing, northern mining town, this was actually an entertaining show...once you turned off the volume. I still love the episode where Daisy Duke and Chrissy show up to help Teri with her maidly duties and they all get filthy in the process and have to take a shower together. Too bad they never filmed that one. I guess it was too hard to get the cameras into my head.

(my word verification is WAKES...which should mean something, right?)

Moonlight said...

I had forgotten about Manimal! Thanks for bringing back a traumatic childhood memory that I had managed to suppress, Ken. I'll be sending you the bill for my therapy ~ ha!


Anonymous said...

Unrelated, yet your post got me thinking about the...

Most underrated Shows Ever:

1. Sledgehammer
2. Herman's Head

-Tuton from Seattle

MrCarlson said...

Anything produced by Aaron Spelling, I'm sorry to say. If an Alien fell on earth and had to watch those "sweet" shows, he'd think that america was all on the happy pill. If the sopranos were produced by Aaron Spelling, Uncle Pussy would be called "uncle "Special place".

Anonymous said...

If you wanna see the picture of the Sitcom room reaction to a Webster writer saying that Webster was the worst show ever,
go here.

Anonymous said...

I'm way, way behind on my crappy TV show watching, so I'm hardly a good judge of what's the worst out there. But I have to agree with Great Big Radio Guy that Laugh-In wannabe Turn On (Tim Conway, right?) was truly awful. I believe this show was solely responsible for a resurgence of the phrase "What the hell?" in the American vernacular.

Anonymous said...

Being from Texas, I was embarrassed to watch that Jessica Simpson show. Same episode night-after-night-after-night-after night. After a couple of weeks I finally realized it was a Proactiv Skin Care infomercial. But it held my viewer loyalty for awhile. And I understand, still outdrew NBC on Thursday nights.

Ken Levine said
PINK LADY AND JEFF – A variety show featuring comic Jeff Altman

C’mon, it’s always been easy to hit Jeff Altman below the belt.

David J. Loehr said
One scary show that had good people behind it was "Mr. Smith" about the talking orangutan who worked as a special consultant in DC.

Who says a simian can’t make
it in Washington?


Ah say, who says a simian can’t make it in Washington?


Courtney said...
What would make a beach lifeguard a good detective is beyond me.
Being able to see below the surface?

Workman said...

I'm going with "House Rules." It was a short lived Friends clone on NBC. It was like Friends, but with bad actors, no chemistry, and liberal doses of slapstick comedy.

I had a temp job with the network where I had to watch the pilot, then write a fake positve review. Perhaps the most difficut writing job of my life. I eventually wrote a negative review, then went back and changed all the negative words to positive.

I still feel dirty from it.

Anonymous said...

OK, not that it was worth the effort, but see if that second link works this time -- hightailing it clear off the right side of the column as it were:


Tom said...

"Hogan's Heroes."

Buffoonish Nazis. Whacky POWs. Sexy Inga. A pornhound star. (Okay, the last part is hindsight, but it still colors your perception of the show.)

Has Hollywood ever shat out anything that was as morally and aesthetically bad? It's like "Springtime for Hitler," only straight.

Best of all, it was a hit!

(p.s.: I'm not so sure this is a prudent thread to start during a TV writers' strike, not if you're trying to drum up respect for the profession and all that.)

Anonymous said...

Burt Reynolds produced "Out of This World"? Wow, didn't remember that. All I recall is being 14 years old, not having cable, and being forced to watch "Out of this World" on weekend nights because there wasn't anything else on.

Do soap operas count? Then I would nominate "Loving". It wasn't even "bad enough to be good". How it lasted as long as it did I don't know. The major stain on Agnes Nixon's stellar career. And the major irony is that its mere existence led to the cancellation of "Ryan's Hope", possibly the BEST soap ever.

Anonymous said...

"The Beverly Hillbillies" was actually pretty funny most of the time. I think there are two kinds of people who hate it (besides Jim Aubrey): self-loathing hillbillies and snobby city folk. My Kentucky kinfolk and I all loved it (and no, we didn't think it was a documentary).

I actually rented a few episodes of "It's About Time" from Eddie Brandt's video store a couple of years ago, just to see how it held up. It was fun hearing the theme song again, but I didn't make it past the pilot.

One entertainingly bad show was CBS' version of the movie "Fame." It was achingly earnest and sometimes downright bizarre. Their "homage" to "Rashomon" was funnier than a parody, and one of the kids once received career guidance from the ghost of Elvis.

Anonymous said...

"Herman's Head" is in a unique category: potentially very nice cast and writing team trapped in horrible premise that can't be abandoned because that's the whole show.

Also in that category: "Bosom Buddies." Maybe "The Duck Factory." I'll try to think of some others.

Anonymous said...

Have to say "Life with Lucy" and "Joey". Painfully bad. "According To Jim" is right there with 'em.

Anonymous said...

COP ROCK-definatly the worst!
followed by, MEN IN TREES! What a tired retread of Northern Exposure (which was a wonderful show the first couple of seasons).

A couple of other underappreciated gems: GRAND (wonderful cast, great writing!)

THE POWERS THAT BE, a great political comedy with John Forsyth, Holland Taylor and David Hyde Pierce

Anonymous said...

>>My question would be, "What is the best TV show featuring a monkey?"

Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp

Anonymous said...

Where to start:



Any LAWRENCE WELK production number

The one with Lincoln and his valet

The previously mentioned TURN ON. it was 40 years ago but I still remember one of the jokes: a regular vending machine that sold condoms instead of cigarettes. It didn't work so the buyer kept pulling on the knob again and again and again


Anonymous said...

I still have a wall clock given to critics in the network promo swag for "The Chevy Chase Show." Funny, the clock (so far) has run 14 years longer than the show.

Other worsts: "Sha-Na-Na," "The Mike O'Malley Show," "Yes, Dear" (which had Mike O'Malley in it), "George & Leo" (Odd Couple rip-off starring Bob Newhart and Judd Hirsch), "The Baileys of Balboa."

Mef said...

I remember a show called Broken Badges?

I think it was the worst. Second worst, Fantasy Island.

Anonymous said...

What about the show David Letterman got his start on, the one with the "Afternoon Delight" band? Starlight Express or something?

Anonymous said...

Saw BET's "Comic View" on the comments- wasn't there a boycott of that show for awhile about 8 years ago because they were literally paying comics in the range of $50-75 per appearance with no residuals?

Saw the John Ritter "Three's A Crowd"- I always think of the late 70's game show of the same title that was basically the "Newlywed Game" with the guy's secretary added to the Q & A

MrCarlson said...

Well, we are forgetting the quasi-Cheers spin off "The Tortellis", starring Nick, Loretta and the kids. That must be one for the books too.

Cap'n Bob said...

Just a few of the worst shows on my list:



THE HATHAWAYS (A couple adopt chimps)





Anonymous said...

Carson Daly Show. Not good enough for two in the morning. As I may have mentioned once in a post, he should rename himself Sajak Daly. Never mind, that is all too insulting to Pat Sajak.

Jack Ruttan said...

Cleopatra 2525?

Raizor's Edge said...

I'm genuinely surprised My Mother the Car wasn't the first thing you mentioned. Then again, that may be a good thing: you have been able to put up a mental block to forget that woeful piece of trash.

Anonymous said...

In the wake of the success of "National Lampoon's Animal House", all three networks rushed college frat house sitcoms onto their schedules in early 1979. ABC actually had the rights to the original show, and virtually none of the cast, but CBS won the prize for the absolute most gawdawful piece of dreck ever captured on videotape "Co-Ed Fever" in which the frat house was made even more madcap and wackier by the presence of a feisty grandmother to comment on all the shenanigans going on.

What makes this one ever-so-special is not only was it a bomb, but CBS put it on right after the 1979 Super Bowl between the Cowboys and Steelers, and even hundreds of millions of drunk football fans couldn't stumble to their remotes fast enough to change the channel. Like "Turn On" it lasted one episode. Unlike it, "Co-ed Fever" managed to be stillborn despite having a lead-in audience any studio would die for.

VP81955 said...

Where to start:


Not much of a series, to be sure, but did you know Mitchell Leisen's last directing assignments came on that show?

Several years earlier, Leisen directed a few "Twilight Zone" episodes, including "The 16mm Shrine" with Ida Lupino; he wanted to direct some "My Three Sons" episodes, but star Fred MacMurray, who had frequently worked with him at Paramount, vetoed it because Leisen was bisexual and he was worried about him working with juveniles. (In those days, homosexuality was erroneously perceived as synonymous with pedophilia.)

Jeff said...

It's About Time can be found (unsurprisingly) here:
Also, I may be the only person on the planet to proudly own a copy of the pilot episode of "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer". Very proud, in fact. FYI: for some reason (because it sounds funnier? maybe?), his last name was pronounced PUH-fye-fur. And Mary Todd Lincoln was not only crazy but also sex-starved. As you can imagine, the jokes wrote themselves.

Anonymous said...

FAMILY- 70’s ABC melodrama starring Meredith Baxter Birney, Matthew Broderick’s dad, and Sade Thompson; who resembled Lou Dobbs in a brown wig and house dress. It followed the lives of this rich suburban Connecticut family and their so-called problems. YUK.....the sap practically dripped through the TV.

PERFECT STRANGERS- Belky was a lovable but dopey foreigner living with his wise American friend. The gullible Belky would get talked into doing silly things only to have the friend bail him out in the third act. Think Bush and Cheney.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH- Once was enough. It was the Brady Bunch plus two with more drama, worse acting, and hotter sisters. Not surprisingly, this cast was never heard from again

ALICE- The divorced New Yorker; Alice drives cross country to Arizona with her son to escape the rat race that is late 70’s NYC. You would think to truly distance herself from the Big Apple, she would take a job in a sun-drenched resort as spa manager, or perhaps work on an Indian reservation. But no, she takes a job in a diner; the owner is a guy from NY who makes her life a living hell! She couldn't find a waitress gig in one of the five boroughs?

MAUDE- I remember the hot daughter; Adrienne Barbeau-- who had huge natural fun bags a good fifteen years before implant were readily available. The story centered around two guys who were married and were very politically active. Sorry, not two guys, I meant a man and a woman, it was Bea Arthur and some chick I can’t remember.

Anonymous said...

Smelvis said...

“There seems to be a monkey theme at play here. My question would be, ‘What is the best TV show featuring a monkey?’"

I’m going with J. Fred Muggs, the regular guest on the original TODAY show with Dave Garroway. Because unlike the others, Fred was not afraid to appear on LIVE TV. No retakes, which actually wouldn’t have been a bad idea because that monkey had…wait for it…ANTICS. In fact there wasn’t another hairy primate on the tube with so many antics until Robin Williams. (Yes, realize that’s one of the easy cliches of the form where you just predictably plug in Angela Lansbury, Dolly Parton, Sly Stallone, Keith Richard). But as far as I am concerned, Pat Weaver or no, the TODAY show was never the same after they replaced Fred with Willard Scott.

My second simian choice only appeared on the NEWS a couple of years ago. It was the chimp who attacked his former owner who had arrived with his wife to visit the critter at the “sanctuary” to which he’d been recently relocated. As I remember it, the monkey tore off the guy’s testicles. I saw that and thought, “Definitely, network executive material. Both of them.”

In terms of worst TV program -- for the past 5 minutes I’ve been watching a show called “TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.” Seems to be stuck on the opening title. If this doesn’t pick up soon, I’m going to change the channel.

PS: Could be wrong, but it is also my understanding that Muggs is still alive in his mid to late 50s and from all appearances has aged a lot better then either Keith Richard OR Angela Lansbury. (Who very well might NOW both be the ones wearing a diaper?)

maven said...

Anonymous said...
>My question would be, "What is the best TV show featuring a monkey?"
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp
11/7/07 1:56 PM

Thanks, anonymous! My dad, Stan Burns, created that show!

With all the great suggestions for "Worst TV Show Ever", there sure were an awful lot of bad shows on the air over the years!

Rob said...

Best show with a chimp????

Any George W. Bush press conference.

Thanks to those who said Six Feet Under sucked. I spent its entire run trying to figure out why it was so highly praised. The dialogue and situations were incredibly contrived.

I'd also have to go with Sex In The City, which followed the adventures of three fugly women and one cute one as they recited stale one liners in a way that screamed, "HERE'S THE JOKE, LAUGH NOW!" That's another show that I wound up watching far too much of and never laughing at.

Here's one.... how about Alf? The funniest thing about that show was watching his costar's drug tape.

Rob said...

And finally..... how about Oprah. Has ever a woman with such modest talents ever turned them into such a tremendous fortune? If stupid were steel, Oprah's be a skyscraper.

Anonymous said...

How could you forget "My Mother the Car"?

Anonymous said...

^ Crutnacker! You get post of the day. Truer words were never spoken regarding Oprah.

Anonymous said...

I just recently saw "Small Wonder" the other day because it's a re-run, at least on those type of channels you get on satellite in non-European regions - like the "Paramount" channel and so on. And sure enough, I was hooked by its complete weirdness. Cheesy effects made with what looks like a Commodore computer. And the concept - if I am not mistaken, in this episode, the girl is talking to her father, who is represented in that glowing box... yeah...

As for Beverly Hillbillies: what?? Let's get a level before you throw that in. Then Hooterville - themed shows go first. Casting was top notch across the board. Production qualities excellent. Script was much more up to speed than alot of the sitcoms named.

"It's About Time" wasn't outside of what was enjoyable at the time on TV back then. I recall watching it as a kid. It belongs to the kind of cast one would always see popping up in smaller roles on other shows, including Imogene Coco. Meh.

Not so bad as same time period, "Mr. Terrific" with Red Buttons.

Anonymous said...

Ah, just remembered the absolute worst pile of crap I've ever seen, but of the "so bad it's good" variety.

Renegade, starring LORENZO LAMAS!

And it ran for FIVE years! (and still shows reruns)

Anonymous said...

Actually, van, they only made one episode of "Renegade." They just kept running it every week, since (they figured rightly) no one would notice.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Nobody has mentioned "Encore! Encore!" because you actually have to know something about opera (unlike the writers) to appreciate its utter imbecility. For the rest, it's enough to say that Nathan Lane, Glenn Headly and Joan Plowright were apparently someone's idea of an Italian-American family.

Remember Jerry Lewis's LIVE (repeat LIVE) talk show? It was about nine hours long and made Howard Cosell look like Dick Cavett.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

The idea of some of those shows is so wincingly funny, you have to wonder if they might they have succeeded if presented in a way that allowed viewers to believe the self-parody was intentional.

Ben said...

There have been a lot of bad TV shows, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some important ones. In recent years I'd say "Inside Schwartz", the "Herman's Head" ripoff with the guy who imagines sports announcers.

Anonymous said...

Now this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I like and appreciate well written and performed television shows just like everyone else but there is something about really horrible television that captivates me in a train derailment type of way.

Submitted for your perusal, I add the following nuggets of visual napalm.

HOMEBOYZ IN OUTER SPACE - Ain't nothing like thuggin' in the deep vastness of space with two "brothers" bringing hip-hopiness to distant planets along with their sassy wise crackin' sista computer. UPN was immediately rendered useless after airing this garbage on it's network launch night.

STAND BY YOUR MAN - FOX put out incredible piles of puke during it's early start up days and this show which starred Melissa Gilbert and relatively unknown Rosie O'Donnell as two Joisy sisters whose husbands were in the clink for armed robbery was proof. Not only was the "humor" about as subtle as a chainsaw to the testicles but it unleashed Rosie O'Donnell to a public that didn't want her in the first place.

HOLMES AND YO-YO - It's the 70's and everyone loves cop shows. Everyone also loves robots. ABC decided to combine the two and create a sitcom about two hapless crime fighters. But get this, one of them is a human looking robot! This show pre-dated Robocop by a good 10 years but if you ask me, John Schuck should have been casted instead of Peter Weller. Amazing how a writer like Leonard Stern who penned scripts for Get Smart felt this cop-buddy-robot couldn't miss.

I could go on and on and on about this subject pulling shit show after shit show out of my subconscious until you begged for mercy.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to go with Coupling. A great Brit sitcom Americanized for your protection. The Office it was not.

Six Feet Under, for those that were saying that, were really good with Alan Ball was heavily involved...which is to say the first season and the last episode.

But then again, I am a Sorkin fan, and that doesn't go well around here as previous posts I've read prove.

Anonymous said...

poorly acted, written, directed and filmed:

'walker, texas ranger'

Anonymous said...

arthurf: Do you mean the "Mr. Terrific" that was about the gas station attendant who got super powers when he took a giant pill? I don't recall Red Buttons being involved in it. It starred Stephen Strimpell and John McGiver. Did Buttons have a show with the same or similar title?

Dwacon said...

My favorite unsold pilot featured Bill Daily and Farrah Fawcett in a Get Smart type show. Only Bill didn't have a funny voice.

All the shows you listed sucked -- although I was living in Europe when Pink Lady and Manimal were on, so I never got to see a single minute of either.

But the biggest disappointment was seeing Barbara Eden go from transparent genie pants to her wardrobe in Harper Valley.

Anonymous said...

how could we forget PETTICOAT JUNCTION???

Darth Weasel said...

How about "America's Got Talent" where noted stars Hasselhoff...rated a good jusdge of music because the Germans, who enjoy polka music, purchase his albums...Sharon Osbourne who can live with a stoned out loser, and some other guy who gets ripped by the crowd for actually judging the participants talent...get to sit through heinously bad acts that could not make it on the almost equally abhorrent American Idol or other "discover a star" "reality" shows...just to give us another singer/band we will never hear from again if we are lucky.

Oh, the best part? people pay money to text their votes. I think the title should be changed to "America's Got Gullible Fools Who Will Give Us Lots of Money to Not Entertain Them"

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm over a year late to the party here. But when it comes to all-time worst TV show, the world is divided into two camps:

1) Those of us who feel that THE TROUBLE WITH TRACY is the worst TV show in the entire history of broadcasting

2) Those of you who have not yet seen this show.

Before I go on, I should say that any attempt to capture the epic, jaw-dropping epitome of SUCK that was TTWT in mere prose is inevatibly doomed to failure. But to give you a taste...

The Trouble With Tracy was a daily sitcom in the early 70s. The show used scripts from an old 1940s radio show called Easy Aces (itself a tepid rip-off of the Burns and Allan style of "Kooky housewife" comedy.) Except for character names, and occasional updated references (substituing "President Nixon" for "President Roosevelt", that sort of thing) the scripts were *exactly* the same as the 30-year-old radio shows -- meaning that you had characters describing things as they did them, as they would on the radio.

The situations, the jokes, the attitudes -- everything on TTWT would have cosidered stale and second-rate circa 1940. Except the wardrobe and set design, which was Sears catalogue circa 1970.

Then the whole thing was shot on a budget of $3.47. Canadian. The cheapness was unbelievable -- they churned out 7 episodes every five days, on exactly two sets. Actors could fluff lines, the cardboard walls could shake, camera operators could miss their shots --frankly, as long as the set didn't collapse and actually kill someone mid-take, and a few magnetic particles stuck to the videotape thereby creating a broadcastable image, it was used.

I swear I'm not making this up. Seriuosly, The Trouble With Tracy makes It's About Time look like Moliere, as photgraphed by Sve Nykvist. You don't even know what bad TV is until you've seen this show....

Anonymous said...

"quincy" by all means---- preachy to the point of suffocation, laying comdemnation on industries whose technologies made the broadcasts(& salary of perennial jerk jack klugman)possible

Anonymous said...


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Racecarlock said...

The worst show I've ever seen? #1: Survive this! A teenage rip off of survivor. #2: Dude what would happen? They do experiments to answer questions that pretty much sound like they came from people on drugs. #3: Destroy build destroy. Andrew W.K seems like he has way too much caffeine in his system as he shouts everything while kids blow stuff up, build from the remains, then whoever loses the final contest gets their machine destroyed in one of the worst junkyard wars/(show that focuses on explosions) rip offs ever.

rnrone said...

The Soup, Bad Girls Club and Giuliana and Bill are the worst shows ever. Who is Giuliana and Bill anyway???

BigMac said...

There's a new king in town and the new ruler of the "Worst-ever TV series" is HBO's "John From Cincinnati."
It was a real stinker, revolving around a spoiled surfer kid and a moron who is supposed to be some sort of angel from Dopeyville. Throw the incessant screaming from Rebecca De Mornay and there you have it: the worst show ever.

Anonymous said...

I can see why someone doesn't like "The Soup", which was mentioned a couple of posts above. Basically, the show takes clips from really bad reality and talk shows and makes very funny commentary on them. A lot of dumb people like the source material a whole lot, so naturally they HATE "The Soup".

Anonymous said...

Am so glad someone mentioned John in Cincinnati. Just because it's on a HBO, there's no laugh track and people can curse like crazy, does not mean it's a good show. However, I think Three's Company deserves this honor. It gets a pass because John Ritter was so beloved and so good at pratfalls. Factor in it's inexplicable popularity in the 70s, the nostalgia factor and Ritter's death at a somewhat young age, few will ever call it the worst show. But I will. Everything about it was unbelievably stupid, the plots, the characters. The same plot was done over and over and over and spawned awful show, The Ropers.

Anonymous said...

Am so glad someone mentioned John in Cincinnati. Just because it's on a HBO, there's no laugh track and people can curse like crazy, does not mean it's a good show. However, I think Three's Company deserves this honor. It normally gets a pass on these kinds of lists because John Ritter was so beloved and so good at pratfalls. Factor in it's inexplicable popularity in the 70s, the nostalgia factor and Ritter's death at a somewhat young age, few will ever call it the worst show. But I will. Everything about it was unbelievably stupid, the plots, the characters. The same plot was done over and over and over and spawned the awful show, The Ropers. Bugs Bunny characters had more depth and brains than these characters.

Anonymous said...

MR. SMITH - only thirteen episodes that aired Fridays on NBC from September 23-December 16, 1983. It starred a talking orangutan. Can't think of anyone between the ages of 14 and 40 who watched this. I know I didn't.

Anonymous said...

My list of 50 of the most abominable TV shows ever:
1. Petticoat Junction
2. Green Acres
3. The Beverly Hillbillies
4. The Jack Benny Program
5. The Munsters
6. The Brady Bunch
7. Gilligan's Island
8. F- Troop
9. Diffr'ent Strokes
10. Facts of Life
11. Archie Bunker's Place
12. Fantasy Island
13. The Love Boat
14. Out of This World
15. Baby Makes Five
16. My Two Dads
17. Double Touble
18. Silver Spoons
19 The Paull Lynde Show
20. The Mother's Inlaw
21. Lost in Space
22. The Mary Tyler Moore Hour ( Variety Show )
23. The Hogan Family
24. Hogan's Hereos
25. Here Comes The Brides
26. Growing Pains
27. Mr. Belvedere
28. The Golden Palace
29. Sanford Arms
30. The New Odd Couple
31. Mary (1986)
32. Foley Square
33. Full House
34. How I Met Your Mother
35. Hearts Affire
36. Making It
37. Bosom Buddies
38. The Goodtime Girls
39. Jennifer Slept Here
40. BJ and the Bear
41. The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
42. The Dukes of Hazzard
43. Enos
44. Galactica
45. V the series
46. Soap
47. Aka Pablo
48. Hello Larry
49. Ladies' Man
50. Condo

John Lupo said...

Actually, South Of Sunset was cancelled, but not entirely. VH1 showed the 5 remaining episodes and 2 more were made, but never produced. There's many reasons why the show failed, but from reading up on it, most of them weren't the actual show's fault.

Mlapiner@gmail.com said...

Hogan's Heroes and Green Acres were both wonderful; ask anyone 50 plus from NYC

Mlapiner@gmail.com said...

I agree with all with the exception of Hogan's Heroes and Green Acres. These are beloved shows ofmy generation; but maybe it was just a NYC thing?

JessyS said...

The worst show ever has to be The Simpsons once Al Jean took the reins from Mike Scully in the mid aughts. From there the writing pretty much fell off the cliff with the movie being the show's swan song. How Disney allows this dreck to survive is beyond me. Of course FOX is part of the problem by renewing this dreck as well as the now painfully unfunny Family Guy.