Deader Than Disco / Live-Action TV

Pulling the plug isn't easy on these once acclaimed and/or successful shows. In their heyday, they dominated the ratings and the award shows; now, they're lucky to be featured in a nostalgia article.

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  • The Jiggle Show. During the Seventies and Eighties, shows like Three's Company, Charlie's Angels, and, to a lesser extent, the Wonder Woman series and The Dukes of Hazzard, which were long on beautiful actresses but (perceived as) a little short on plot, were incredibly popular. The joke was that they were especially popular amongst sexually frustrated men, who would be willing to sit through thirty minutes of flimsy dialogue for the chance to see Suzanne Somers in a bikini or Farrah Fawcett run after a bad guy in a tight sweater. The genre peaked with Baywatch, but with the rise of easily accessible pornography on the internet and more liberal views towards sexual matters, shows that are expecting to coast solely on the beauty of their casts are finding themselves disappointed. This was best demonstrated in 2011, when The Playboy Club and a revival of Charlie's Angels both got canned after only a few poorly-rated episodes and scathing reviews.

    Series 

The BBC

  • Little Britain was a hit at the Turn of the Millennium for its of-the-moment satire of British life, colorful catchphrase-driven characters, and lowbrow, shock-driven humor. It was popular enough that a live tour combining reenacted sketches and new pieces was a success as well. However, keeping up its momentum was tough. By Series 3, the established characters and running gags had worn themselves into the ground, the new characters seemed to have no purpose except shock value, and the show and its actors were now so overexposed and overmarketed that audiences were sick of them. Combine that with a critical backlash against the traditional Brit Com format with the success of The Office (UK) and Ricky Gervais, and its days were numbered. The total flop of the retooled Series 4 (Little Britain USA, co-produced with HBO) was the last nail in the coffin. In addition, it didn't age well; its constant pokes at minority groups were controversial enough even at the time, and are now seen as outright cringeworthy. If you ask any teenager who didn't watch it when they were younger, chances are they don't know about it, and if you ask someone who did grow up with it, chances are they regret it. While its leads/creators David Walliams and Matt Lucas have gone on to other successes (the former as a children's author, the latter as an actor in a variety of productions), Little Britain is just a relic of its time.

CBS

  • During its network run, Murphy Brown was one of the most talked about, critically acclaimed shows on the air. Today, its only syndicated presence is on an Encore pay channel which requires a premium channel price to watch, and first season DVD sales were so poor that the second season was never even released. The show's reliance on topical humor is almost certainly a factor; jokes about Dan Quayle aren't nearly as funny 20 years later. It definitely doesn't help that its defining moment, Murphy's pregnancy and the subsequent feud with Dan Quayle, not only happened relatively early (the show ran for another six seasons after that), but has aged poorly — it seems quaint by today's standards for Dan Quayle to have made such a big deal about a single mother on television. From The Onion: "Nation's Weirdest Teenager Buys Season One DVD Of 'Murphy Brown'"
  • In The '90s, older viewers (some Boomer Christians and earlier) might explain why Touched by an Angel was a Top 10 show at the height of its run. It often outdrew The Simpsons in its Sunday nighttime slot (despite never being a critical favorite and regarded as glurge at its worst), it launched a Spin-Off in Promised Land (which lasted three seasons), and reruns of the show were central to the young PAX network's lineup. When its time slot was switched to Saturday nights for its final two seasons, ratings plunged, and while it's still in cable reruns, it's mostly seen as an overly sentimental, Glurge-friendly joke now.
  • Northern Exposure received a total of 57 award nominations during its five-year run and won 27, including the 1992 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, two additional Primetime Emmy Awards, four Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globes. It also ranked among the top 10 viewed by 18- to 49-year-olds when it was part of the CBS' 19921993, and 19931994 schedules. Despite all of this, nowadays, Northern Exposure is hardly seen (to digitally stream or purchase) or referenced anywhere. While all six seasons have been officially released to DVD, they have caused controversy among the show's fans due to their high prices and the changes to the soundtrack introduced in order to lower their costs. To be more specific, the release of Season 1 did contain the original music, but retailed for $60 due to the cost of music licensing. Subsequent seasons replaced most of the music with generic elevator-style music, resulting in a lower-cost release. With that being said, Northern Exposure was never (in hindsight) a really influential show in the sense that present-day shows owe their vibe in part to it (for fans of The Critic- gotta see moose, gotta see moose). In essence, quirky fish-out-of-water dramedies like Northern Exposure are not currently a mainstay on network television (Hart Of Dixie withstanding). It isn't like the show's creators went on to create other similar shows like, say, David E. Kelley. The most famous or notable writer alum is David Chase, who is usually cited as being "the creator of The Sopranos before being cited as "a producer of Northern Exposure." Also the show's leads didn't exactly enjoy much success on other major shows (the closest probably being John Corbett via his role on Sex and the City) since. Northern Exposure towards the end was arguably suffering from a serious case of Seasonal Rot partially due to the producers simply running out of ideas as well as the abrupt departure of series star, Rob Morrow. It was recently voted to be one the worst shows of all time according to Rolling Stone [1].

HBO

  • 1st and Ten was one of cable television's (in general) first attempts to lure the lucrative sitcom audience away from the "Big Three" (ABC, CBS, and NBC), by taking advantage of their freedom to include occasional cursing and nudity. It ran for six seasons on HBO for a total of 80 episodes. While the complete series was released on DVD in 2006, the majority of episodes on the "Complete Collection" DVD are the bowdlerized syndicated versions. To add insult to injury, it's been excluded from the streaming video platform HBO Go. Besides having some dialog and scenes edited for content, syndication versions ran for 22 minutes (as opposed to 30 minutes on HBO), and included a laugh track. While 1st and Ten was novel for its time (while language could nonetheless still be considered 'HBO'ish', it wasn't excessively vulgar) when compared to sitcoms on broadcast network television, it seems rather cheesy (with its pretty awful acting, cliched dialogue, continuity catastrophes, editing errors, and an off-and-on laugh track) in a modern context. The participation of O.J. Simpson most certainly didn't help its long-term legacy.

MTV

  • Jersey Shore was a monster hit in the early '10s. Everyone, Love It or Hate It, talked about it when it was around, and a number of terms it popularized (such as "grenade", "fist pumping", and "GTL") entered the lexicon. Enough controversy and criticism (particularly from New Jerseyans and Italian Americans) swirled around it to get a whole page on Wikipedia almost as long as the page for the show itself. A host of ripoffs emerged, such as Buckwild (Jersey Shore with rednecks!) and The Only Way Is Essex (Jersey Shore with British kids!). But not even a few years after it was canceled, it was all but forgotten. Now, when people make Jersey Shore jokes, everyone laughs at them for being so out-of-date.

NBC

  • The Cosby Show was a hugely popular sitcom that ran from 1984 to 1992, which revived the sitcom genre and was the #1 show on TV from 1985 to 1990. However, the show's reputation was permanently stained after star Bill Cosby was charged with serial rape. Most TV stations pulled Cosby from their reruns following the scandals.

PBS

  • Barney & Friends was a gigantic phenomenon across The '90s among young children worldwide, but it quickly built what is possibly the biggest Periphery Hatedom among most older children and adults. However, the series lost its steam during the Turn of the Millennium due to the creation and popularity of other preschool cartoons and series made by, among others, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, as well as Seasonal Rot marked by the addition of a new character (Riff) and it was put on an indefinite hiatus at the end of the decade without any fanfare or any signs of it coming back into production. Most PBS stations and other channels worldwide no longer air the series, and many younger children nowadays probably aren't even aware of its existence. Barney is set to be rebooted in 2017, but there has been no hype for the reboot at all. Flash forward to the present, and the series is barely a footnote in launching the careers of Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez (and a bunch of other lesser-known stars like Michaela Dietz, Kyla Pratt and Madison Pettis), and if Barney or the song "I Love You" is brought up today, it's begging to be made fun of.


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