"In Beverly Hills... they don't throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows."Sometimes, you just wonder what television executives were thinking when they greenlight shows like these and kick others out the door before giving them a shot at stardom. These particular programs give new meaning to the term "idiot box". For game shows and reality shows that nobody can stand, click here. Important Notes:
- Merely being offensive in its subject matter isn't enough to justify a work as Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there's a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this. If it has a fandom of any sort, it doesn't belong on this list.
- It is not a Horrible TV series just because TV Trash, anyone from That Guy with the Glasses, or any other Caustic Critic reviewed it. There needs to be independent evidence, such as actual critics (emphasis on plural) for example, to list it. (Though once it is listed, they can provide their detailed reviews.)
- This page is not for horrible episodes (or even seasons) of otherwise good shows. For those, see DethroningMoment.LiveActionTV and SeasonalRot.LiveActionTV.
Examples (more-or-less in alphabetical order by network, then TV show name):
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ABC (United States)
- 2007's Cavemen stands out as quite possibly the worst concept for a TV show of all time — a sitcom based off characters in a TV commercial, in this case the cavemen from a series of GEICO commercials. This concept already failed when CBS attempted to make a show based off the Freei Baby commercials (Baby Bob; the character was revived for a short while by Quizno's), and fans of The George Lopez Show already had a grudge against it for replacing its timeslot, but those who tuned in discovered it to somehow be even worse than it sounded on paper. The show had already run into trouble after the pilot was screened for critics; those who saw it claimed it was offensive and racist (the cavemen were an obvious stand in for African-Americans, with the word "magger" seeing frequent use), leading to the show undergoing a significant Re Tool into a slacker-comedy with the original pilot episode never seeing the light of day on TV. This helped precisely nothing, as the program was critically savaged right from the beginning due to its weak characters (who have awful, fake Southern accents despite the series being set in Californianote ), bottom-of-the-barrel "humor" (the "highlight" is when a caveman is told to "keep your penis in your genus"), unnecessary sex scenes with plenty of Fan Disservice, and lame plots. To top it off, some of the offensive material from the original pilot made it into the re-shot version! The bad reviews combined with dismal ratings led to only six of the 13 episodes being aired before ABC put it out of its misery. The Chicago Tribune called it one of the 25 worst TV shows of all time, and TV Guide listed it in their 25 "biggest TV blunders", noting that making a sitcom based off a commercial was a terrible idea to begin with. Here's TV Trash's take on it, and here's also Brad Jones' review of the unaired pilot for DVD-R Hell.
- The 2011 remake of Charlie's Angels cast aside the cheesy charm that made the original so iconic in favor of trying to copy the Darker and Edgier tone of modern action TV shows such as 24 and Burn Notice, even going so far as to throw some unnecessary torture scenes in there for good measure. All it did was make the show an inconsistent and confusing mess. There was no character development, and each episode was merely an excuse to show hot chicks walking against Stuff Blowing Up for an hour. Plots were a parade of action movie cliches, and the acting and dialogue were mediocre at best. Overall, it was an expensive flop for ABC, as the critics absolutely savaged it and audiences weren't much kinder; its first season was to last 13 episodes, but only 8 were ever aired, and in some countries the show didn't even last half that.
- Clerks. No, not the movie or even the animated series. Back in 1995, while Kevin Smith was working on Mallrats, Touchstone Television made a pilot to a Clerks TV show. The problem was that they made it with no creative input from Smith. He even offered to write a few episodes, but was rejected. As a result, we are given a Cliché Storm sitcom pilot that barely resembles the source material. The first problem was that the original movie, which was so profane that it nearly got an NC-17 rating, was toned down to be TV-14 at worst. The only things it had in common with the movie are that it starred Dante and Randall working at a convenience store and video store (which, by the way, aren't even called Quick Stop and RST Video). The pilot disregards continuity, as Dante and Veronica are still dating, despite having broken up by the end of the movie. Character Derailment is also a problem, as Dante, the level-headed of the two clerks, Took a Level in Dumbass so that he could learn An Aesop for the episode. Randall, played here by a pre-fame Jim Breuer, was Flanderized into a cartoonish Full House reject. Jay and Silent Bob don't appear in it. Instead, we are given a Suspiciously Similar Substitute called Ray (which may or may not have been given a Take That! in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) who regularly tries stealing beer because he's underage, even though the actor looks about the same age as Dante. Kevin Smith openly disowned the show, and both Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson auditioned for the role of Dante, but were glad they didn't get the parts.
- Emily's Reasons Why Not, a sitcom which premiered on January 9, 2006... and ended that same day, making it a part of the exclusive "cancelled after one episode" club, despite a huge amount of promotion by the network. (It had five others shot that aired overseas and released on DVD.) Though the basic premise— Heather Graham as a self-help guru who constantly finds a single overriding flaw in every man she dates —may have had some potential, in practice it was really more suited to a movie. It was also heavily criticized for the first (and only) episode relying on negative stereotypes of gay people and Christians. What really took it over the line was the execution— the supporting characters were cliched, unfunny and bordering on offensive at times, and the jokes were just flat-out dull. It appeared on #6 of Cracked's list of similar shows cancelled after one episode.
- Galactica 1980. This sequel/spinoff of the original Battlestar Galactica (1978) series eliminated half the cast (including Apollo, Cassiopeia, and Baltar) without explanation, then attempted to pander to audiences with insipid plots involving a group of space children named "The Super Scouts". Good actors made complete fools of themselves - especially Lorne Greene, who was stuck talking to a child prodigy named Dr. Zee (who was recast with an even worse child actor after the first three-part episode) for most of the run. It featured what could be one of the worst episodes of a science-fiction series ever made, "Spaceball", in which the Super Scouts have to win a baseball game. The creators were forced to write stories that could be marketed to young children and shoehorn environmental messages into each one, mainly since the show was broadcast at 7:30 PM — a dead zone that killed any chance for success even if it had been worth watching. The writers themselves hated it, as every morning they would chant "come on 13" in reference to the highest rating the show could get and still be canned. Glen Larson had to deal with ABC's Standards and Practices, including their demands for more children, which in turn caused a influx of stage moms (the entire sordid story must be read to be believed). But the show's biggest sin? It killed off the franchise for over 20 years until a reboot made it popular again. Here's TV Trash's review of the disaster.
- Life with Lucy. No, not I Love Lucy - Life with Lucy. This 1986 Lucille Ball comedy series was supposed to be a smash success, but instead became one of the biggest critical and commercial flops of the 1980s. Why? Well, ABC gave complete creative control to Ball, who was 75 years old at the time of production — a risky move because advertisers prefer viewers under 49, and the show led off the night against The Facts of Life on NBC in a timeslot that ABC had little success in. The plot, with Ball's character helping out at a California hardware store, was painfully slow and just not funny. The show finished almost dead-last in the season's rankings, and Ball was reportedly so devastated by its failure that she gave up production on any more television projects. Quite a pity, given that she died 3 years later after the show was cancelled. As pointed out by the book What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History, part of the reason for the series' failure is that it tried to recreate the physical stunts of I Love Lucy when Ball was in her seventies. Watching her try to do those stunts didn't so much inspire laughter as it did fear for her safety. Supposedly, the idea of incorporating slapstick was made by an executive that firmly believed that fans would want some of the classic gags I Love Lucy was known for. You can watch Rowdy C's from TV Trash reviewing the show here.
- McGurk: A Dog's Life, a 1979 ABC half-hour "comedy" canceled with only the pilot aired. It starred Barney Martin (a.k.a. Morty Seinfeld) as a fat old dog named McGurk. All the cast wore the finest kindergarten-play-quality dog suits while a laugh track brayed over painful quips about such '70s classics as health food, Glen Campbell, joggers, and steel-belted radials. In an attempt to widen the demographics, the dogs next door were made "sexy" in a deeply disturbing and anatomically improbable way. Representative dialog: "Your lips told me no-no, but there was yes-yes in your tail." The human characters were not seen and spoke in Peanuts-style gibberish. The climax featured dancing dogs and a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan cry.
- The Tammy Grimes Show, aired on ABC in 1966, starred Grimes as an heiress with plots focusing on how much she loved to spend money. 10 episodes were produced, but only four aired, to unanimously negative reviews and weak ratings, before it was canned and replaced by a nighttime version of The Dating Game. This quick cancellation was rather unusual at the time, where series would usually get at least a 13-episode season before being pulled for low ratings — reportedly, ABC never wanted to air the show but was forced to by sponsor Bristol-Meyers. More details can be found here. Fun fact: one of her co-stars was Richard Sargent, the original other Darrin.
- Turn-On was a Totally Radical Sketch "Comedy" program on ABC in 1969. Inspired and produced by some of the same people who made the actual hit show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, it took everything in that show and turned it Up to Eleven. It was canned before the premiere had finished its half-hour run, though most of ABC at least let it finish running. note It tried to be psychedelic and just the sort of thing the young 'uns would dig (something television as a medium has never been good at) and surreal (which it perhaps succeeded at too well), along with being more openly sexual than shows normally got back then (which was the reason why TV executives and censors hated the show and wanted it to die). Here's a sampler.
- Work It, ABC's 2012 cross-dressing comedy set In a World... where only women are getting jobs, was critically savaged from the word "go". Disregarding the questionable premise, the writing was filled to the brim with bottom-of-the-barrel humor that failed to impress. Thankfully, it was canned within two episodes (six episodes were ordered overall), and its only redeeming quality is that it killed off ABC's attempts to make "mancession" comedy a genre (it had failed once already earlier on in the season with Man Up). It was so bad, it broke IGN's rating scale, "earning" a zero out of ten.
BBC (United Kingdom)
- Big Top was a hideous 2009 sitcom set in a circus. It was heavily cross-promoted by a bunch of people well aware how bad it was (in an article about sitcom writing on Radio 4, when the expert was asked to link it back to this show, she even admitted it wasn't funny) and drew criticism for being excruciatingly unfunny with lazy stock jokes (a clown… that makes children cry!) and starring a heavily Botoxed and facially immobile Amanda Holden as the main character. Its only redeeming feature was Tony Robinson somehow managing some genuine laughs with the lame material he got, and even then there are much better places to find Robinson in action. It was happily canned after one series and still frequently makes "worst sitcom" lists.
- On paper, adapting Winston Churchill's four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples into the 1974-75 miniseries Churchill's People seemed like a winning formula for a big dramatic prestige project. In practice, the books focus far more on political and military minutiae than on narrative,note forcing the writers to invent their own characters and stories to bring key moments in the history of Britain and its former colonies to life, and the quality of the scripts varied hugely (with many characters speaking almost entirely in Info Dump monologues), as did the quality of the performances despite the veritable "who's who" of acting talent across the series.note But by far the worst problem was the tiny budget (slashed as a result of the energy crisis to just £1.25 million for 26 episodes), which forced the episodes to be shot entirely on cheap studio sets, even for outdoor scenes. The result was a series that was both suffocatingly dull and embarrassingly low grade. Critics had their knives out immediately; The Sunday Telegraph described it as "a co-production disaster"note that "not only sounds like a school's radio programme, it looks like it too," while Nancy Banks-Smith in The Guardian described it as having "little to offer us but blood, horsehair, and history. Though a hell of a lot of each." Though it was originally scheduled for Mondays at 9:25pm, rapidly plummeting audience figures (down to a pathetic 1 million by Episode 9) forced the BBC to cut their losses by putting Kojak in the time slot instead and burning off the rest of Churchill's People in a graveyard slot. It has never been repeated or released on DVD.
- David Croft was the co-writer of some of the most successful sitcoms of the 1970s, including Dad's Army and It Ain't Half Hot Mum with Jimmy Perry, and Are You Being Served? with Jeremy Lloyd. How he and Lloyd managed to create the stiflingly unfunny 1978 sci-fi sitcom Come Back Mrs. Noah remains a mystery. The series starred Are You Being Served?'s Mollie Sugden as 21st century housewife Gertrude Noah, who is touring a space station after winning a magazine competition, only for the station to be launched into orbit due to a series of technical faults, with only Noah, roving reporter Clive Cunliffe (Dad's Army's Ian Lavender), mathematicians Carstairs and Fanshaw (It Ain't Half Hot Mum's Donald Hewlett and Michael Knowles), and light bulb changer Garstang (Joe Black) aboard to keep the station running until a rescue operation can be mounted; spoof news reports delivered by a pre-'Allo 'Allo! Gorden Kaye opened each episode. The jokes, such as they were, were mostly recycled from other series co-written by Croft, with many scenes revolving around "mechanical device malfunctions and/or makes rude noises" gags (as seen regularly on AYBS?), and the outrageously strange and cheaply made props and sets did little to divert attention from the thin scripts. Critics tore it to shreds, and it was axed after a single series of six episodes. Come Back Mrs. Noah holds the dishonour of being the only BBC sitcom named to the "20 worst British sitcoms" list in Mark Lewisohn's 2003 edition of The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy, landing at #13,note and was also one of two Mollie Sugden vehicles to be thus slated (along with the 1987-88 Yorkshire Television series My Husband and I, which Lewisohn ranked #16). It remains a fixture of assorted newspaper, magazine, and website "worst sitcom" lists.
- In 2009, James Corden and Mathew Horne were riding high as the stars (and in Corden's case co-writer) of the critically acclaimed sitcom Gavin and Stacey. What could have gone wrong by giving them their own sketch comedy show, Horne & Corden? Just about everything. Sketch after sketch relied on the fact that Corden was fat and had a wobbly stomach (that was the joke), with other sketches featuring Mathew Horne as a gay war reporter who was frightened of war (that was the joke) or the pair teaching school children how to draw a penis on a blackboard (that was the joke). There was absolutely no attempt to develop any situations beyond the basic premise, which left just a load of puerile references to body parts and Corden's flab. The critical hostility was overwhelming, and declining audience figures led to the second series being cancelled. Corden himself stated in retrospect that he didn't know how to write a sketch show and was not good enough to pull it off.
- Mad About Alice, a 2004 sitcom about a divorced couple forced to work together for the sake of their young son. The show was flat, tedious and predictable, with its thoroughly obvious plot (the characters beginning to wonder whether they still had feelings for each other) being treated as something shocking and original. What pushed it over the line was the publicity hype given to the show before it aired and the decision to cast Amanda Holden (making her second appearance on this page) and Jamie Theakston, better known for their controversial private lives than their chops as comedy actors, in the lead roles; both demonstrated no sense of comic timing or delivery. This led to widespread mockery from both viewers and the public, with all critical reviews negative, and many commentators stating that the show's only redeeming quality was the Fanservice scenes involving Holden and another actress. It was cancelled after its first season (thankfully consisting of just six episodes) and continues to make "worst TV" or "worst sitcom" lists in the UK.
- The Melting Pot was a sitcom that aired on BBC1 in 1975... and ended the same night it premiered, joining the long list of shows canceled after one episode. The show was written by Spike Milligan, and starred him as a Pakistani illegal immigrant who tries to adjust to life in the titular district in London. Upon its premiere, the show was met with universal outrage for its Unfortunate Implications and at times, outright racism- however just as many people complained that the show was just plain not funny. The show is so bad that even the executives at the BBC like to pretend it didn't exist, and it also effectively ended Milligan's career.
- The Royal Bodyguard was a vehicle for David Jason, beloved as a star of Only Fools and Horses and Open All Hours. He played the incompetent head of security at a car park in Buckingham Palace, who saves the Queen from an assassination attempt and is promoted to royal bodyguard. The production team apparently thought that having a famous name in the lead guaranteed a hit, so didn't bother to put any effort into the script, and ended up with an excruciatingly unfunny parade of slapstick cliches. Having Jason as the lead actually backfired, since fans of his earlier work felt that he deserved a far better show. Jason being 71 years old made it a difficult suspension of belief that he'd be hired as a bodyguard, and caused a similar problem as Life With Lucy: the wacky stunts he'd done in past roles suddenly became a lot less funny when an older person tried to do them. Jason himself described the show's comedy as "safe", but critics and the public were nowhere near so polite. (One critic suggested that the reason the BBC had chosen to broadcast the first episode on Boxing Day was because they knew that many viewers would be drunk.) Viewing figures dropped sharply and the show was axed after six episodes.
- Triangle was a 1980s soap opera set on board a ferry that sailed a "triangular" route between Felixstowe, Gothenburg and Amsterdam. It was known for horrible sets, cliche storylines and stilted dialogue that made it a subject of regular public mockery, including on The Young Ones and by Terry Wogan on his radio show. The final nail in the show's coffin was the production problems associated with filming on location at sea, such as lighting, power supply, and rough seas playing havoc with the then-new Electronic Field Production technique. note All of these technical flaws were very apparent in the finished product; and the grim North Seas weather put paid to any hopes of glamor, instead making the ferry and surroundings look exactly as shabby as they were. The show dragged on for three years before being cancelled and was an expensive flop for the BBC, also taking down the careers of some of the cast. Triangle regularly appears in shows and articles about embarrassingly bad TV, and in 2010 was voted third worst in a poll of the worst British television ever; making the show infamous for a scene in the first episode where Kate O'Mara sunbathes topless on the deck of the ferry, even though she's clearly freezing cold. When even The Young Ones makes jokes about how cheap your sets' furnishings are, you know your show's in trouble.
- In 1971, Peter Cook was riding high with his comedy show Not Only... But Also when he was offered his own vehicle with full creative control. Foolishly, he decided to do a combination chat show, sketch comedy, and music show, entitled Where Do I Sit?. The premiere had Peter interviewing S. J. Perelman, who just sat in his seat yawning while Peter couldn't think of anything to ask. An interview with Kirk Douglas featured an inebriated Peter asking Kirk "Who are you?" followed by a long, awful silence. The show also featured the unedifying sight of Peter ripping into an audience member who had complained about a sketch he had performed and phoning up a viewer at home who had pondered whether Peter was on drugs (the call took over five minutes as the person was in the bath). Peter also insisted on performing a song in each show, and he was a notoriously bad singer. The show managed to last three episodes, after which it was canned and the tapes wiped.
- The Wright Way, a 2013 sitcom by Ben Elton that was lambasted on Twitter and widely panned by critics. The main character and much of the "comedy" were recycled from The Thin Blue Line, ignoring the fact that it was 20 years old and hadn't been well-received in itself. The premise (an uptight health and safety inspector who dictates the lives of his family and colleagues) somehow managed to both reinforce Elton's unpopular public image as a humorless, overly politically correct left-winger, and come across as a desperate attempt to pander to right-wingers who are opposed to anything more than the most basic health and safety laws. The show lurched between jokes that would have been hackneyed in Elton's 80s heyday, and cringe-making attempts to be modern (a character whose catchphrase was "OMG, that is SO a YouTube moment!"), the same "hilarious" monologue about chest/scrotum-waxing was repeated almost verbatim in every episode, and visual gags were handily pointed out for the viewer, just in case they didn't get it. In particular, the show was noted for its over-reliance on penis jokes and Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. No one was sorry when it was abruptly cancelled after one season, and it may even have proven the Genre-Killer for the classic Brit Com format, with very few new ones having been produced since.
- In 1989, Canvas (then known as BRTN TV2) broadcast the "philosophical" talk show Container, possibly the worst of its kind. It was absolutely incomprehensible if you weren't an intellectual, and despised by intellectuals themselves for encompassing every single negative stereotype about them. Both the guests and the host barely knew what they were talking about and shared their ideas right on the spot, trying to hide their cluelessness by quoting art critics, reviewing paintings and showing film clips, which only made the viewer feel dumber. Tellingly, critics compared the show to conversations in a café, while later ones called it an example of Reality TV. While there were plenty of shows panned for appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator on competitor VTM, which launched on February of the same year, this show was so bad that it caused many debates about whether or not a show like it should be allowed to air on television, with even those who would allow it to be shown agreeing that it was crap. An entire thesis paper was even made around it. It was ultimately cancelled after 10 episodes; only the very first episode survives today, because national art movement CoBrA insisted on preserving an episode as a purely historical curiosity. It can be viewed on their official website together with all the negative criticism the show received just below it.
Canale 5 (Italy)
- Paperissima (can be translated as "Super Goofs") is basically the Italian edition of America's Funniest Home Videos, but worse in multiple ways. First, the clips that are actually made in Italy are very few (something like 20 homemade clips in each edition, plus a bunch of blooper reels from whatever shows are airing on Mediaset channels at the moment), with most of them being recycled from American and UK editions of the show. Second, here's the actual problem: they stopped getting new clips after a few years. Yes, the show first aired in 1990, but nowadays the newest clips aired are from 1995. They went on for 20 years with the exact same clips, and eventually began to do stuff such as blurring out idents from the earlier editions of the shows to make it look like the clips were aired for the first time, or even blur out the on-screen filming date, expecting that by doing so the audience will believe that the videos blatantly filmed with early 90's home equipment were made last year. Sometimes they cut the sides of a clip to make it look like it was filmed with a smartphone (then again, which 2015+ smartphone has a camera with such grainy quality?). Another difference with the foreign version is that funny noises are added to videos where people get severely hurt, and they don't even spare videos with animals, adding the most ear-grating and annoying voices, totally ruining the fun factor that made those shorts funny. The show came in two formats, the regular one that aired weekly till 2013 (usually lasting for no more than 2 months) and the "Sprint" edition which is still aired as of 2017 (which is a 20-minute version that airs during weekends for most of the year and every single day during summer), and both are framed with the hosts doing unfunny sketches (the weekly edition was filmed before a live audience: we can only imagine the experience of watching any opening sketch from the show without the Conspicuous CG used to torture the male host).
Cartoon Network (United States)
- Out of all the shoddy live-action series made for Cartoon Network's infamous CN Real block (created to try to compete with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel), many agree that its absolute low point was Dude, What Would Happen?. The premise is that its three in-your-face Totally Radical hosts are asked a question and attempt to answer it through an experiment à la MythBusters... but minus that whole "scientific process" thing. Instead of old wives' tales or questions kids might actually ask, they ponder things such as what sticks to peanut butter on an inclined surface longer (one of the tested substances was more peanut butter), if covering a piano in deflated basketballs would make it bounce, or what would happen if you popped the world's biggest zit. Instead of answering anything, they would just use the question as an excuse to do something stupid for the sake of doing something stupidnote in the vein of MTV's Jackass, only with everything played without the slightest hint of irony or self-awareness. Despite terrible ratings and an overwhelming negative response from the viewers, Cartoon Network apparently thought that the show had potential and promoted it to the extreme—not only using the guys from the show for their Stop Bullying, Speak Out commercials and frequently having them host special network events long after the death of CN Real, but keeping Dude on the air with the same treatment for 2 years. It went over as well as you would expect.
- Out of Jimmy's Head has gone down in history as one of Cartoon Network's most hated original programs, and is considered the start of the network's Network Decay. The series, based off a CN original movie entitled Re-Animated, revolves around a teen named Jimmy Roberts, who is an Extreme Doormat constantly exploited by his friends and others at school. One day, after he somehow gets hit by a train in a public location in a Walt Disney World Expy, he has to have a Brain Transplant and it just so happens he receives the brain of the park's founder Mitt Appleday—which inexplicably gives him the power to see the cartoons Appleday created, who help him through his everyday junior high life. It's an Idiot Plot, but it wasn't completely without potential... but sadly, they didn't even see the good that could come out of it. The acting is wooden, most of the characters are unlikable, the animated characters are cheaply superimposed over the scenes, and the Laugh Track is especially overused and out-of-place since the series is mostly an attempt to emulate KidComs like Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. The series was canned after only 20 episodes as the network used the 2007 TV Strike to end it without much fan anguish, and gained a Periphery Hatedom the size of the Empire State Building, "earning" a 2.1 IMDb rating. Cartoon Network seem ashamed of it as well, as they never put it out on DVD outside of Re-Animated and never aired it again. Sadly, they didn't learn from their mistakes and this show is probably what paved the way for other later live-action CN shows like the aforementioned Dude, What Would Happen?. It doesn't help that it was directed by the same person who made Son of the Mask. Watch what The Mysterious Mr. Enter had to say about Re-Animated.
- Delilah was CBC's first primetime sitcom, airing from 1973 to 1974. By all accounts, it was also their worst. The plot revolved around a young woman named Delilah, played by Terry Tweed, who moves into a small town from a major Canadian city and becomes the owner of a barbershop, in the process becoming the town's first female barber. The series was slammed by many in the Canadian press for being poorly-written and unfunny, most notably by Toronto Star critic Jim Bawden, who reported a total absence of laughter from the studio audience during filming of one episode. In fact, the show was one of several flops produced by CBC during the early 1970s, when the network was experiencing something of a Dork Age due to a lack of quality control among its creative staff. In the end, Delilah was cancelled after only a single season, a rarity in those days due to Canadian content regulations.
- Not My Department was a short-lived sitcom from 1987 that starred Harry Ditson and Shelley Peterson. The show was Canada's attempt at having their own Yes, Minister, and focused on a fictional department of the Canadian government named Department of Regional Incentive Targets, a department that inherits files that other departments can't be bothered to deal with. The show was criticized for being flat, excruciatingly slow-paced and unfunny, and also being rife with several Unfortunate Implications—one in particular being a character who claims he learned French from a Quebec TV programme and attempts to use it in political meetings, instead accidentally hitting on people from across the room. There was more than just that, though; it was also known for its misogynistic treatment of female politicians, cheap shots taken at people in the government, overuse of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and also, despite its misogynistic and cheaply hateful content, simultaneously furthering Canada's already unpopular image at the time of being overly politically correct. The show was axed after six episodes—something that was rare for the time, as back then, shows in Canada usually were to run their full seasons. The ratings started off abysmal and only got worse over time, and private affiliates were so embarrassed by it that they either threw it on in the dead of night or just couldn't even be bothered to air it.
CBS (United States)
- Co-Ed Fever: a sitcom set at a women's college which had just begun admitting men. One of several college-themed shows rushed out in 1978-79 to cash in on Animal House. You can watch a recording of part of its only broadcast, the opening credits and first act, here. It features a cringe-inducing Expository Theme Tune, flat characterization and terminally un-funny writing.
Comedy Network (Canada)
- House Party, not to be confused with the 1990 film of the same name starring Kid 'n' Play, was a 2008 Canadian comedy series that was mercifully short-lived and ran only for 6 episodes. The premise consisted of an already run-into-the-ground premise (some kid's parents go away for the weekend, so he holds a house party and trouble ensues), which was run into the ground even further. The acting was painful and elementary-level at best, the lighting was extremely poor (at times the bottom half of the frame would be much higher lit than the top), the camera work was boring, and the jokes were so painfully unfunny that at times the show was emotionally draining to watch. To give you a taste, one excruciatingly unfunny joke that happened in all 6 episodes was a girl going around asking everyone at the party if they wanted to try her potato chip dip. Another joke had jocks convincing the protagonist that his cat could talk. The show has been re-aired very few times since, and those re-airings were limited to dead of night airings.
- The Trouble with Tracy is thought to have been made just to fulfill a then-financially-unsteady CTV's quota for Canadian content. There's certainly no other justification for this 130-episode 1970s sitcom, which went on for six months due to a desperate attempt by CTV to recoup their investments. Due to a severe lack of time and money, they could not shoot on-location, build convincing sets, or even retake scenes. The scripts were, for the most part, recycled from the 1930-45 radio series Easy Aces, with a few topical references (such as Tracy's deadbeat hippie brother) shoehorned in. The show currently has a 3.8 rating on IMDb, and this clip of the show rightfully labels it as the "Worst Sitcom Ever".
FOX (United States)
- Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, a live-action version of the cartoon series of the same name. It spent a year in Development Hell during which Alex Winter (the original Bill) went on The Arsenio Hall Show and said it was horrible. It featured wooden acting, very poor scripts, and Teen Drama plots that were completely unnecessary. Fox pulled it after 6 episodes. Chris Moore of TV Trash stated it was "totally bogus!"
- The Chevy Chase Show, which lasted for five fabulous weeks in 1993, is one of the most notorious failures in late night talk show history. The show's material was criticized for being derivative of Chevy's old shtick, and the interviews were excruciatingly awkward. The show's pretty much killed Fox's attempts to get in on the late night talk show game, and alongside Vegas Vacation also pretty much killed Chevy's career until Community.
- dads. Despite the popularity of Seth Green and Brenda Song, this 2013 series filmed before a Studio Audience was a huge flop. Everyone in the series overacts horribly (leaving space between shouted lines for the canned laughter). Jokes were impressively weak, and multiple characters are nothing more than one-note stereotypes (Eli is a short guy, his father's a crotchety miserly Jew, Edna's Hispanic, etc). IMDb users rated the series a middling 5.5, but the Metacritic audience response was much harsher (15 out of 100 from critics, and 3.7 out of 10 from users). The series was cancelled before the first season finished, and while later episodes were eventually aired online, fan response was so nonexistent that news of such things weren't posted on the episode listing on The Other Wiki or IMDb for weeks.
- In an attempt to bring the ratings gold of MTV's The Osbournes to network TV, FOX created Osbournes: Reloaded, a Variety Show starring the first family of metal. The premiere consisted of a guy being tricked into kissing an elderly woman blindfolded, a "randomly-selected" audience member given the prize of marriage to his long-time girlfriend (they were married on-air), painfully long and unfunny sketches with little kids dressed as Ozzy & Sharon (the joke is that they swear) and Ozzy & Kelly working in fast food. The show was canned after one episode, although multiple affiliates either refused to air it or threw it on in the dead of night.
- That '80s Show, a spin-off to the hugely popular That '70s Show that was cancelled after only one season. The show's main problem was that it had no link whatsoever to That '70s Show; none of the characters or actors were involved. The daring stuff that made That '70s Show so notable was totally absent, as were likable and identifiable characters. It was basically a bland middle-of-the-road sitcom where the one-dimensional protagonists mostly made cheap and random references to 1980s pop culture. After a few episodes, Fox started changing the originally intended chronological order of the episodes, but it was already too late. None of the fans of That '70s Show liked it and newcomers weren't particularly interested either. The only remotely interesting thing about this show is that three actors on it would later be seen on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Glenn Howertonnote , Charlie Daynote , and Brittany Danielnote ). Here's Brad Jones putting himself through it.
Fox News Channel (United States)
- The ½ Hour News Hour, a satirical news show created and produced by Joel Surnow for Fox News Channel in mid-2007. The show was intended as the conservative answer to The Daily Show; unfortunately, though, while Daily was relatively even-handed in its mockery of politicians, network news, and the general public, ½ Hour dedicated itself entirely to taking weak, half-hearted potshots at popular targets for conservatives, including Barack Obama, the ACLU, and the Democratic Party. When their jokes weren't eye-rollingly obvious, they were relentlessly mean-spirited and bitter. The show was universally panned by critics and canned after 17 episodes.
Galaxy (United Kingdom)
- Heil Honey, I'm Home!: A sitcom, (yes, a sitcom), about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living next door to a Jewish family. They apparently tried to kill the Jewish family every week, but the Jewish family remained blissfully unaware of Hitler's treachery. Ironically, this was conceived as a parody of terrible sitcoms — the premiere tries to spoof the old "my boss is coming to dinner" plot with Neville Chamberlain — but unfortunately it ended up becoming the thing it tried to parody. Humor is almost nonexistent, the main concept's played straight, Hitler's no different than any other sitcom husband, and his attempt at a catchphrase is the incredibly stupid "I'm a very, very bad Hitler!" One of the strangest things ever seen on TV, it appealed to nobody and hasn't been aired in its entirety on network television since, although the pilot episode is readily available online. Six episodes were filmed, but only one aired. Brad Jones' DVD-R Hell review of the pilot is here, TV Trash ripped it right here, and Shark Jumping took it on here.
- Train 48 was a horrific soap opera that ran for 318 sorry episodes from 2003 to 2005. A very loosely-based remake of the Australian TV series Going Home (which itself was short-lived, but at least well-received), the show depicted the lives of 12 commuters from Burlington, Ontario on their way home from work in Toronto via GO Train (the main method of transport for people from small boroughs going to the city in Ontario). The show's gimmick was that it was (sort of) written, filmed, edited, and aired in the same day, like the show it's based upon. However, whereas Going Home was aired late at night, the big problem was that Train 48 was to be aired in the evening, and was also filmed on a replica GO Train. This meant that the writers could only write small portions of the episodes and had to leave the rest to the actors to improvise. This wouldn't have been a problem if it wasn't so amateurishly done and, quite frankly, painfully dull. The improvisation (if that's what it was supposed to be) was painfully obvious, and the actors completely lacked what it took to even remotely make the improv work. The show's filming on an actual train caused numerous problems, as Jittercam caused the show to be impossible to watch at times, and the actors' dialogue often got drowned out by the excruciatingly loud engines. As the show went on, it would increasingly rely on cheap Dude, Not Funny! gags and unsual plots such as a shooting and snake getting released on the train. As if that wasn't enough, it even had a Product Placement for Canadian jeanswear brand Warehouse One. By far the biggest complaint among viewers was that it was never established where the train was going, which resulted in the final scene of the series showing the passengers stepping off the train in Burlington.
The show limply dragged on for two years before abruptly being put out of its misery, and proved to be an immensely expensive flop for Global, as each episode cost $40,000—certainly not a cheap feat for a show where each episode lasted a mere half-hour. It was mercilessly lambasted by both critics and audiences for being painfully dull, poorly written, and frequently featuring plots that went off the rails. It also found itself on the receiving end of public mockery from far superior shows such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Rick Mercer Report. The show consistently makes it onto "Worst Canadian Shows" lists and also did irreversible damage to the Canadian soap opera. Watch an episode here, if you dare. You could say it was a trainwreck.
ITV (United Kingdom)
- Albion Market was a soap opera based around a marketplace in the north west of England. It was created as a "sister show" to Coronation Street and rival to EastEnders, but the channel insisted it be referred to an "ongoing drama series" as they felt it was too good to be "just" another soap. However, viewers and critics found it to be pretentious and lazy, with horrible acting and infamously cheap-looking sets. The show was criticised for casting popular actors to pull in viewers; its obvious focus on beating out EastEnders above being a good show in its own right; and having a production team who thought their past successes guaranteed a hit and thus didn't put any effort in. On top of everything else, it had the problem that one of its two weekly episodes was broadcast in a so-called "graveyard slot", while the other aired opposite the hugely successful Open All Hours. It launched at the time of Coronation Street's 25th anniversary, and the chairman of the channel (then Granada, prior to merging with ITV) predicted that Albion Market would still be running a further 25 years later. In fact it haemorrhaged viewers, was savaged by critics, and ended just a year later.
- London Weekend Television's Bottle Boys is one of the most universally reviled sitcoms in British TV history, landing squarely at the bottom of the list of the 20 worst ever British sitcoms in The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy by Mark Lewisohn, who wrote, "ITV sitcoms had often plumbed the depths, but this was the limit." It starred Robin Askwith as football-and-sex-mad milkman Dave Deacon (a role originally intended for Jim Davidson at a time when he was already appearing in the equally dire Up the Elephant and Round the Castle); though Askwith was no stranger to the Awful British Sex Comedy after playing the lead role in the genre's signature series, the Confessions of a... films, he still looked thoroughly embarrassed to be saddled with dialogue that revolved around dated and unfunny racial, ethnic, and especially gender stereotypes and Double Entendres so obvious they could be seen approaching from whole episodes away, while Richard Davies as his Welsh stereotype boss often looked downright furious at his lines. One episode involved Deacon meeting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (played by an impersonator), and even the most left-wing TV critics said it almost made them feel sorry for Thatcher. Critics, audiences, and even ITV comedy executives despised it, while series creator Vince Powell - whose most famous works include 1970s controversy magnets Love Thy Neighbour and Mind Your Language - pointedly omitted all mention of Bottle Boys in his autobiography. It plodded along for 13 episodes across two series in 1984-85, and has never been released on DVD.
- Britain is typically known for creating good shows that received inferior remakes in the U.S., but it's also been known to happen the other way around. Case in point: Days Like These, an inexcusable remake of That '70s Show. Every episode had the exact same plot and situations as the episode of its US counterpart before it, but rewritten so that it fits the British setting and characters, and they just couldn't nail it. The jokes very seldom made sense and at times were downright awkward, the pacing was hideous, the staging and blocking were depressing to watch, and the whole thing just ended up being one giant trainwreck. The show had a total of 13 episodes, but only 10 were ever aired in the initial run (all 13 were eventually shown), and a good lesson was learned with regards to the difference between American and British senses of humor, ending the idea of British remakes of American works as a whole. The Golden Girls, Married... with Children, Mad About You, Good Times and Who's the Boss?, among others, were also translated as Brighton Belles, Married For Life, Loved By You, The Fosters and The Upper Hand. With the exception of the last-named, none of them worked.
- Though it was one of the more divisive sitcoms of the 1970s, there's no denying that London Weekend Television's On the Buses has a considerable fanbase to this day. The same cannot be said of its ill-conceived and ill-received spinoff, Don't Drink the Water, which ran for two series and 13 episodes in 1974-75. The premise for the series was that bus inspector Cyril "Blakey" Blake (Stephen Lewis) had taken early retirement and moved to the Costa del Sol with his sister Dorothy (Pat Coombs), only to find that their tower block is badly constructed and is losing its sea view to another block of flats currently under development. The flimsy set was matched only by the flimsy scripts, which served to highlight that the stiff-backed Blakey only worked as a character when he had "Loveable Rogues" like On the Buses' Stan Butler and Jack Harper to play off. The "jokes" mostly revolved around Blakey's fractious and often xenophobic confrontations with the locals (most of whom were one-dimensional stereotypes) and the other tenants in his block, while Dorothy complained endlessly about how she wished she'd never left England. Derek Griffiths as building superintendent Carlos looked especially embarrassed throughout. Contemporary TV critics, many of whom already detested On the Buses, were even more unkind to Don't Drink the Water, and this time critical disdain was matched by audience apathy. Mark Lewisohn described it as "one of the most excruciatingly poor ITV sitcoms of them all" and "honoured" the series at #6 on the list of the 20 worst British sitcoms in The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy. It only managed to get a DVD release by piggybacking on box sets of On the Buses.
- Hardwicke House, a 1987 sitcom set in an anarchic comprehensive school, received so many viewer complaints that it was pulled after just two episodes. It was designed to compete with The Young Ones and received a lot of hype before it aired, with a second series commissioned before the first had even been broadcast. (An episode guest-starring Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall, who at that time were at the height of their fame with The Young Ones, and might actually have brought in more viewers never saw the light of day.) Some of the viewer backlash was due to Values Dissonance; people were outraged at the portrayal of schoolkids swearing and attacking teachers, while today swearing is a common problem in schools and news reports of violence against teachers are not rare. However, just as many people complained that the show simply wasn't funny, and particular anger was directed at its jokes about pedophilia and Teacher/Student Romance. To avoid potential controversy over racism, the writers had already changed one planned character (an incompetent teacher on a foreign exchange, whose original school will not take him back) to make him Icelandic instead of from an African country. The channel promised to screen the remaining episodes in a later viewing slot, but never did, and then had to pay the cast for the second series even though it would never be made. Media watchdog the Independent Broadcasting Authority later ordered the tapes to be wiped so that the show couldn't resurface or be sold abroad, although it was later revealed that the channel did not comply and were still offering Hardwicke House for sale.
- Jimmy Perry proved several times over that he was never as successful writing sitcoms without David Croft as he was writing them with Croft, and perhaps the nadir of his "solo career" was the ill-fated 1989 London Weekend Television sitcom High Street Blues, the premise for which sees a hypermarket chain trying to force a buyout of four High Street shops (a cobbler, a florist, a wool seller, and a junk merchant) currently occupying the land on which they want to build a new branch. Critics and audiences found it completely devoid of humour or entertainment - what few jokes there were in the scripts fell flatter than a pancake - and Perry later admitted that he only pitched the series to LWT because he badly needed the money, and felt it was one of the worst attempts at a sitcom ever devised. It lasted for a single series of six episodes, after which Perry re-teamed with Croft for the far more popular You Rang, M'Lord?; High Street Blues, meanwhile, ranks at #11 on the "20 worst British sitcoms" list in the 2003 edition of The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy by Mark Lewisohn, who described the series as "pitiful" and the laughs as "woefully thin on the ground."
- The 1972 London Weekend Television sitcom In for a Penny was, improbably, written by Upstairs Downstairs creators John Hawkesworth and John Whitney and starred Benny Hill Show straight man Bob Todd as long-serving gentleman's lavatory attendant Dan (as in "Dan, Dan, the lavatory man"), whose place of employ was in the basement of the local Town Hall. The scripts were crass and retrograde even by the standards of the day, with a seemingly endless supply of Toilet Humour and racist jokes at the expense of Dan's Pakistani co-worker Ali (Greco-Armenian actor Kevork Malikyan). It ran for a single series of six episodes and has never been re-run or released on home video. Mark Lewisohn flushed it down to the #4 spot on his "20 worst British sitcoms" list in The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy, in which he described it as "one of the worst sitcoms ever" and "real bog-standard stuff".
- The Nineteenth Hole was a 1989 Sitcom based at a golf club. On paper the combination of writer Johnny Speight (Till Death Us do Part) and star Eric Sykes was a winner, but in practice it looked as if Speight had forgotten how to write jokes and Sykes had forgotten how to perform. The series was dismally unfunny and cancelled after only seven episodes, and some stations buried the last few in a graveyard slot.
- Odd Man Out showed that it wasn't just Mollie Sugden who foundered in projects taken up to pass the time between series of Are You Being Served?; this 1977 sitcom from Thames Television starred John Inman as Neville Sutcliffe, a Blackpool chip shop owner who inherits half a share in a Littlehampton rock factory from his long-lost father (the other half going to his half-sister Dorothy, played by Josephine Tewson). The series relied even more heavily than AYBS? on exchanges that implied (without ever actually saying) that Inman's character was gay, exemplified by the unmemorable Catch-Phrase "How's your rock, cock?". Critics were outraged by the lowbrow "seaside postcard" humour (starting with the titles, which opened with a stylised seaside postcard drawing of Inman astride a large pink stick of rock), leading Odd Man Out to be axed after a single seven-episode series; today, the innuendo seems rather tame, if badly dated, and the series' main crime is being painfully laugh-free. Odd Man Out is one of two John Inman vehicles to land with a thud on the "20 worst British sitcoms" list in the 2003 edition of Mark Lewisohn's The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy, at #5 (the other, 1981's Take a Letter, Mr Jones, fared slightly better at #17); the accompanying review said, "In the form of seaside rock ... this series had 'appalling' running all the way through it."note
- Most of the more successful sitcoms co-written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft were based on their personal experiences - serving in the Home Guard (Dad's Army), performing in a wartime Concert Party (It Ain't Half Hot Mum), working at Butlins Holiday Camp (Hi-de-Hi!)... but Perry admitted that he knew nothing about the subject of one of his solo writing efforts, the horrendous 1979 Thames Television sitcom Room Service, which follows the misadventures of Charles Spooner (Bryan Pringle), the tyrannical head of room service at a five-star hotel, and his thoroughly incompetent staff. Unfavourable comparisons to Fawlty Towers inevitably followed (not helped by Series 2 of Fawlty Towers airing in the same year), with Spooner described as Basil Fawlty but without the likeability (and Basil was hardly cuddly to begin with), while one of his underlings was an attempt at a Manuel-like Funny Foreigner also divested of likeability. "What did I know about hotels? I'd no interest in the subject whatsoever, so I deserved everything I got," Perry later lamented. Critics and audiences agreed, savaging it in the press and tuning out in droves, respectively, so that the plug was pulled after a single seven-episode series. Mark Lewisohn ranked it #10 on the list of the 20 worst British sitcoms in The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy.
- Sam's Game, a vehicle for TV presenter Davina McCall. Reviews included "It's like a British Friends, only without Jennifer Aniston or any laughs" and "It says a lot about the state of TV comedy today when a joke about someone being sick in the cutlery drawer is considered so hilarious it is thrown up a number of times". The show was basically a parade of trite cliches about young single people - playing on McCall's success as the presenter of a popular dating show called Streetmate. Unlike Streetmate, Sam's Game flopped with both critics and the public and was swiftly canned after one series. Although McCall did receive some praise for her acting, the show's failure pretty much killed her chances of making the move from presenting to acting and with the exception of an appearance in Dead Set, she hasn't tried again since.
- The 1973 Yorkshire Television sitcom Sir Yellow finished at #20 on the list of the 20 worst British sitcoms of all time in Mark Lewisohn's The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy, in which, "emulating the level of wit to which this series climbed," it was described as "joust awful". It starred Jimmy Edwards as the title character, a lazy, cowardly mediaeval knight more interested in wine, women,note and song than in the traditional heroics of a knight, in which pursuits he was "assisted" by a pre-It Ain't Half Hot Mum Melvyn Hayes as his squire, Gregory. Contemporary critics were merciless; the plots were deemed hackneyed, the jokes unfunny (particularly its ham-fisted attempts at blending modern references into the historical setting), and the actors - Edwards most of all - utterly miscast. Originally scheduled for Friday at 7pm, by the third episode (of six) it was buried in a graveyard slot at 12:05am on Sunday. The series has never been re-run or released on DVD.note
- London Weekend Television's 1991 sitcom Trouble in Mind starred Richard O'Sullivan as Adam Charlesworth, a psychiatrist whose wife Julia (Susan Penhaligon), after their two children have grown up and moved out, has started a landscape gardening business and has been forced to stop taking birth control pills, leaving Adam facing the prospect of a vasectomy. If that doesn't sound like an interesting premise for a sitcom, its execution was even worse, with the scripts so flat and laugh-free that audiences largely ignored it, leading it to be shunted from its initial time slot of 7:15pm on Sunday to later in the evening and then, in what was then a rare move for British television, having the plug pulled after six of its nine episodes and having the remaining episodes burned off in a graveyard slot several months later. O'Sullivan retired from acting not long after, giving the series the unfortunate distinction of being his last starring role. Mark Lewisohn described Trouble in Mind as "profoundly weak and lifeless" and "relentlessly middle-class and middle of the road", putting it at #18 on the "20 worst British sitcoms" list in The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy.
- Up the Elephant and Round the Castle, a 1983-85 Thames Television sitcom starring Jim Davidson as an alcoholic loser who has to deal with a host of problems after he inherits a house, is another dishonourable mention (ranked #19) on Mark Lewisohn's "20 worst British sitcoms" list from The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy. It was criticised as dated, insensitive (one recurring element involved squatters moving in; a contentious political issue at the time due to the then-current housing crisis) and unfunny - much of the "humour" was based around its excruciatingly poor attempts to emulate the Awful British Sex Comedy. It lasted a painful three years before being cancelled and although it got a later sequel in Home James, that show took a completely new premise (the character getting a job as an aristocrat's chauffeur) and had little connection to its predecessor. Although thankfully largely forgotten, Up the Elephant ... is still remembered with little enough fondness that several efforts at DVD release have floundered due to a lack of demand. Its only virtue was its catchy credits theme, a honky-tonk piano instrumental composed by Keith Emerson.
- The 1972-75 London Weekend Television sitcom Romany Jones, which starred Dad's Army's James Beck as a professional layabout named Bert Jones who indulges his inner gypsy by moving with his wife to a caravan site in a field,note was never a critical darling, but the LWT brass somehow got the notion the Joneses' neighbours, Wally and Lil Briggs (Arthur Mullard and Queenie Watts), could hold their own in a spinoff. The result was Yus, My Dear, which ran for 19 episodes across two series in 1976 and was even more critically reviled than its parent series; Mark Lewisohn branded it "one of the most excruciating sitcoms of all time, a real black spot on [writers Ronald] Wolfe and [Ronald] Chesney's CV" and ranked it #2 on the "20 worst British sitcoms" list in The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy (while Romany Jones, described by Lewisohn as "appalling", landed at #9). The new series found Wally and Lil living in a council house, and the hackneyed, laugh-free plots revolved around Wally's ne'er-do-well brother Benny (a pre-EastEnders Mike Reid) - never mentioned in the previous series - moving in and repeatedly conning the dim-witted Wally out of the wages from his bricklaying job, inevitably leading to Lil finding out and unleashing hell on both of them, while the crass behaviour that had nauseated critics in Romany Jones returned in abundance in Yus, My Dear, typified by a scene in which Wally eats a sandwich while taking a bath. Most Britons born after 1975 (and some born before then) already struggle to understand how Arthur Mullard became a TV fixture, but even his fans find little to defend in Yus, My Dear.
- The Totally Untrue History of... was a 2007 short-lived "comedy" show that mocked celebrities and, as the title suggested, told a completely fake history story of them. The show even managed to fail in that regard; the jokes were horribly unfunny and often mean-spirited (even more so than Video on Trial ever did); the editing of archive footage of celebrities was painfully obvious and the sketches in the middle of the episodes were only worse. The show was mercifully buried after 6 episodes, and nobody was sorry when it was finally put out of its misery.
NBC (United States)
- Bad Judge, a show starring Kate Walsh as Rebecca Wright, a judge who is bad at her job. The pilot did show a bad judge, but the first season was reworked to lessen or justify her mediocrity. From there on out, the show went from having an unlikable protagonist to a bland one, complete with terrible jokes and forgettable side characters. It appeared on pretty much every reviewer's worst shows of 2014 list and was swiftly cancelled after only a few episodes.
- Chip and Pepper's Cartoon Madness. Not to be confused with Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Cartoon Madness was an affront to animation with its badly-animated surfer bulldogs pasted against the kind of computer-rendered animation you'd expect from the early 1990s. It was like a bloody collision between a bad Flash cartoon and a computer science student's D- project, with no survivors. Then the two dogs enter reality, and somehow this transforms them into two aggressively Totally Radical Surfer Dudes With Attitude. The live-action segments take place in "The Chillin' Shack", a set basically ripped off from Pee-Wee's Playhouse except with a crowd full of cheering kids in sunglasses who clearly don't want to be there, a butler(?) with a crappy Russian(?) accent, and hands sticking out of the walls which they high-five with whenever they pass them, but pay no attention to for the rest of the show. And then there's the editing, which makes it look almost like something from Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!... except for real. The guy in the editing room was either on LSD, had ADHD, or both. At times, it resembled a YouTube Poop. Of course, this is probably to be expected when you make a show starring a pair of jeans designers.
- The American remake of Coupling, which lasted only four episodes in 2003. Every episode was a rewritten version of the original UK source material; the actors were bland and forgettable, and the fact that Coupling itself was just a British tweaking of Friends didn't help. Entertainment Weekly named it one of the 25 biggest bombs; People gave it 1 star out of 4; and its TV.com and IMDb ratings are in the 4 or below range. According to The Other Wiki, then-NBC head Jeff Zucker would later say that the show "just sucked". Watch TV Trash tear it apart here.
- Emeril. No, not Emeril Live—the sitcom. The show basically revolved around Emeril Lagasse doing his cooking show, only far less entertaining than the real-life ones on Food Network that he was known for. Emeril went home to his generic sitcom family, had generic sitcom problems with said family, and uttered very unfunny jokes for 30 minutes every episode. All of this wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for two things. First off, the writers had a habit of shoving completely unrelated political views into episodes. For instance, the pilot episode goes on a tangent involving women's body image and the way they're portrayed in the media. Second off, and most annoyingly, everybody adores Emeril in the show. People constantly compliment his "genius", fans are always lining up for autographs, and he's always shown standing up to those evil television execs. The series only made it through 8 episodes before being cancelled due to low viewer counts and terrible critical reception. This was the first of several missteps in Emeril's now troubled career. Sadly, it was also the last starring role for costar Robert Urich who would die of cancer in 2002. Not to mention, this show was originally slated to premiere on September 11, 2001. However, it was pushed back in favor of the more important news coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that same day. Hence, if one has knowledge of this atrocity of a TV program, two common 9/11 jokes are that A) the news coverage was much better to watch, and B) Osama Bin Laden was just trying to save us from having to see it. Bojack Horseman subtly referenced it, with Wanda hearing about Emeril for the first time (in 2015, after a 30 year coma) and considering giving him a sitcom - fitting the Running Gag being that her ideas tend to be cliché or already proven failures.
- Pink Lady and Jeff, perhaps the worst TV Variety Show ever produced, was the brainchild of NBC exec Fred Silverman, and was helmed by legendary TV producers Sid and Marty Krofft (who had also given us The Brady Bunch Hour, in addition to all those trippy kids' shows). The show was intended to be a star vehicle for the Japanese singing duo Pink Lady, consisting of singers Mitsuyo "Mie" Nemoto and Keiko "Kei" Masuda who were paired with comedian Jeff Altman. The only problem? Neither member of Pink Lady could speak a word of English, and they had to learn all their lines phonetically. This led to one of the biggest trainwrecks in the history of television, and is often named as the exact moment when the Variety Show stopped being relevant in American television.
Despite the singing talent of the ladies, who sang a few tunes in their native tongue (without subtitles), the show only lasted 6 episodes — the last of which didn't even air. Pink Lady was continuing its tour during filming, so between that and the language barrier we saw much more of Jeff... whose material wasn't good enough to hold things together. This show was so bad that The Agony Booth did a detailed run-down of the entire series with tons of screencaps from the official DVD — including the unaired sixth episode, which manages to make the first five look tame and actually serves as a fitting closer.
- Supertrain tried to be the new Love Boat, aiming to combine the best of City of Adventure and Walking the Earth and featuring a large staff full of major characters as well as plenty of minor roles for big-name guests. Its most notorious feature was the setting, a gigantic nuclear-powered train, designed perhaps only to be ridiculed by trainspotters.note It was mired with production issues (including a model which cost a million USD and promptly malfunctioned, shattering right there in the studio) and the plots were predictable at best. Not helping anything was the fact that Three Mile Island had a partial meltdown a month into the show's runtime. Its failure put NBC in jeopardy—between this and several other missteps (including the aforementioned Pink Lady and Jeff, the disastrous sixth season of Saturday Night Live, and the apathetic response to the US-boycotted 1980 Olympics), they nearly went bankrupt. Here's Rowdy C tearing the pilot a new one.
Nickelodeon (United States)
- Awesomeness TV was Nickelodeon's attempt at creating their own version of Incredible Crew (already critically contentious in its own right and lasting only a single season.), except Awesomeness TV had its own major issues, especially as the "unskippable-YouTube-playlist-in-22-minutes" format it had meant a lot more skits that clunked than hit. The hosts weren't remotely engaging (Daniella Monet from Victorious seemed to only be there to fulfill her contract to the network and couldn't do much with the material), and had a cheery "putting on a show" mentality which seemed cloying to the audience. Smosh hosted an episode, but didn't feel like their regular selves, for instance. The amateurish quality of the skits didn't help much at all, along with jarring skits which seemed more mean-spirited than funny note and the characters have few redeeming characteristics. The jokes are poorly written note and the Laugh Track never shuts up, not even at the worst jokes. Also, the skits are often even recycled from the YouTube channel the series was based on. It was horrible enough to score a 1.0 out of 10 for a whole year on TV.com before getting brought up to a slightly less painful 3.1, and IMDb had no less hate for the show. Unfortunately for Nick (and Daniella) they signed a two-season contract where they had to fulfill the airing deal before the network could finally abandon their disastrous run of DreamWorks shows, but not before somehow getting the skit character Terry the Tomboy a 90-minute TV-film that was dumped on one of Nick's weekday holidays.
- Nickelodeon's action programming block, Nick Studio 10, was almost universally and passionately loathed. Presented as live, it had multiple instant replays and cameras of stunts which suggested otherwise. The sketches by themselves are already dreadfully unfunny and the block hosts were only able to do so much with the material given, but by far the most infamous reason that so few people like it is because they randomly interrupted other shows with "Important Public Service Announcements" note that boil down to little more than the same random sort of antics you would expect to see on a 10-year-old boy's Roblox account.
Viewers were annoyed by this practice, and the block had several different petitions calling for its cancellation; a search for it on Google will bring up its Wikipedia page and, from there, nothing but loathing for it. The network quickly gave up on having a Twitter account for the show (one alleged to be "real" was clearly a racist parody), while they gave up on their Facebook outside of one brave social media manager a few months later; it finally ended after Labor Day 2013 with a quiet cancellation after the summer break. It spawned an entire series of rants done by The Archfiend.
Nine Network (Australia)
- Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos was a 1992 one-off comedy special that featured Doug Mulray as its host. Although its content was beyond what would be shown on, say, American television, it probably wouldn't have sparked controversy had the late Kerry Packer, then-owner of its broadcaster Nine Network, not viewed bits of it at a dinner, called the network, and angrily yelled at them to "Get that shit off the air!". Within minutes, it cut to an Ad Bumper stating the rest of the program couldn't be shown for "technical reasons" and it was cancelled midway through its first episode to make way for reruns of Cheers.note On August 28, 2008, the special was rebroadcast for the very first time in 16 years alongside monologues from Bert Newton, and when Australian viewers tuned in, they could easily see why Mr. Packer flipped his lid; Mulray made unfunny quips over clips of kangaroos getting their testicles twisted by children, animals mating in public, people performing sexual activities in front of the camera, Mulray talking about "bosoms", and a naked man falling out of a shower. A truly one-joke premise, it's astounding how it ever wound up being aired at all, let alone being preempted in the middle of its broadcast, and much of the crew who were associated with the special were fired after the controversy.
Bert Newton: Anybody still watching back then in 1992 who wasn't scandalized by the smut was expecting more of the same. Instead, they got that announcement about "technical difficulties" which you heard, which was true! It's technically very difficult to keep a show on air... with Mr. Packer on the phone yelling at you.
- Ben Elton Live from Planet Earth, a live Australian stand-up/sketch-comedy/variety show starring comedian Ben Elton. It was intended as something of a comeback for Elton, who'd been absent from the comedy scene for a while and widely considered a Fallen Creator. It was also intended as a flagship for the Nine Network. Unfortunately, the material was dated, ineptly presented, and largely unfunny; it impressed almost no one. During the premiere, viewing figures dropped from 805,000 at the start (it was scheduled to start after Top Gear in primetime) to 233,000 by the end, with about 200,000 people dropping out every 15 minutes... and if the reaction on Twitter and other social networking sites was anything to go by, most of those who hung around watched solely to rip it to shreds. Critics were by and large no more generous; typical reviews took the lines "an early contender for worst show of the year" or "a screaming, embarrassing failure". It lasted three weeks, shedding even more viewers, before being cancelled. Quite possibly the worst section of the whole thing was Girl Flat, a sitcom in which Lady Gaga, Beyoncé Knowles, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse share a flat. It comes off like every line was ripped from crappy YouTube comments—apparently, the writers thought that a famous woman saying "vagina" was the funniest thing to grace our green planet.
- Monster House (2008), which combined scripted situation comedy with (supposedly) unscripted reality TV elements, was met with angry phone calls from the general public and was almost cancelled during its airing (see Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos above). It survived one more episode before being cancelled. The remaining eight episodes were shown later that year during the Olympic Games when it was a foregone conclusion that Channel 9 would lose to Channel 7 in the ratings. In the extremely unlikely event that it's ever shown again, the most notable thing about it will probably be that it featured a then relatively little-known Rebel Wilson.
- In 2015, Sorci Verdi ("Green Mice") graced the Italian screens for 5 episodes between October and November. Its premise was a late night show starring rapper J-Ax, but it did what every late night show shouldn't do: the satirical skits were very cheap and predictable shots at politics and television, intermixed with bad musical numbers and awkward interviews with VIPs and various showmen. It ultimately felt like a 90-minute advertisement for other rappers and friends of J-Ax. Today, it's remembered as a television failure that drew very little attention.
- De Oro Puro ("Of Pure Gold"), a Venezuelan Soap Opera which, despite its high production values, was unspeakably awful. The plot seemed to be a Love Triangle between a girl with Psychic Powers and Easy Amnesia, a man with a Mysterious Past, and the Wandering Jew, who's female and apparently mother of the heroine (Jesus damned her from the cross and all). There was also a Mad Scientist with a lab with jar people growing up, and numerous supernatural elements. At least, that's about as much sense as could be made. RCTV, the network that made it, placed it in the timeslot previously occupied by the long-lasting, successful, social-themed soap Por Estas Calles, causing a cultural shock that obviously didn't help it at all. When the ratings sank, they tried to attract people by airing segments in which the whole cast and a respected character actress who wasn't even in the production recapped and explained the convoluted plot and backstory; this backfired when people realized that, if the creators had to explain the story, the viewers won't get much from watching it. When it was obvious that the show couldn't be saved, they edited the final chapters to compress them so they could finish the emission sooner, hacking off the resolution of its plot points and alienating the few souls who did invest their time watching it. The parody by Radio Rochelanote was arguably better. This show's failure ruined the reputation of its writer, the late Julio César Mármol (an usually competent play and scriptwriter, who had written huge successes like Estefanía, La Dueña, and El Desprecio), contributed to the ratings downfall of RCTV during a good chunk of The '90s, and killed the then-budding practice of fully filming a soap before broadcasting (usually, Latin soaps first film a 20-episode buffer and then film day-to-day so they can adjust the plot according to ratings and character reception). This soap had been completed before the premiere, meaning that nobody could step in and set the show right once it was clear how bad it was. All of the above measures were meant to try to recoup any losses, and because RCTV produced it they were obligated to broadcast the full run. If you see the Telenovelas section on RCTV International's website, you'll notice that the description of this soap is deliberately more obtuse and poetic than the rest of their shows.
Rete 4 (Italy)
- Dalla Vostra Parte ("On Your Side") is a political talk show that, like the title suggests, promises to side on the part of the citizens, with live reports and interviews. However, after a few episodes the show's host, Maurizio Delpietro, figured out that pandering to far-right ideologies and silencing whatever competent guest they interview is a better idea than mediating between the two opposing parts: in fact, every single episode is a string of loud-voiced and slanderous insults geared towards left wing politicians, communists, immigrants, homosexuals, Muslims, black people, and pretty much every single person that disagrees with the hosts. The ones that aren't silenced are those who blame everything from killings to rapes, theft or going to a public place on the above categories, or think that social progress is "destroying" Italy. The editors of the show don't even bother checking their news sources, instead cherry-picking off statistics that confirm their racist beliefs, and spreading fake news taken from unreliable websites. Over time, the program has been lambasted for its brazenly racist, possibly even fascist contents, and for encouraging violence against their designated strawmen.
- Radio Belva ("Radio Beast") was the first TV product made by Giuseppe Cruciani and David Parenzo, already famous for their grating, gratuitous, freakshow-like radio talk show La Zanzara ("The Mosquito"), which carries on almost exclusively on Bile Fascination. It stands out as a glorious example of Laser-Guided Karma. To elaborate: the hosts had invited Vittorio Sgarbi, an art critic infamous for his volatile personality and obscene language, to the premiere, clearly hoping for a fight to ensue in order to boost ratings. It backfired immediately when Sgarbi started ranting, since he went much beyond his already high standards of profanity. The quarrel went out of control and even involved Paolo Villaggio (creator of the Fantozzi saga) who, at the time, was already very old and frail, not to mention that this would be one of his last appearances on TV before his death in 2017. At some point, the camera was pointed on nothing but a telephone to avoid catching the ongoing fight. Sgarbi wanted to make the program close and he succeeded: the network immediately cancelled the show. Oh, and the ratings? They didn't even reach 3%.
- The Big Bow Wow, based around a group of 20-something friends who hang out at the titular club, was an attempt to create a drama somewhere between Friends, Skins and This Life. It came across more like a tourism ad for Dublin, trying to portray a lifestyle of partying around the clock in "designer pubs" as representative of the lives of ordinary young people. The show went down very poorly with viewers and critics alike, who mocked its weak storylines, horrible writing and pretentiousness. It relied on drug use to create "edgy" storylines but used a fictional drug (because the writers didn't want to be seen to condone drug abuse) - then turned the whole thing into a heavy-handed and amateurish Drugs Are Bad message. One memorable scene, portrayed in all seriousness, involved a drug dealer going into a record store where a shop assistant directs someone to the blues section for Miles Davis. A real record store employee would know Miles Davis belongs in jazz, so the dealer knows this one must be a cop! The creative team were so certain of the show being renewed that they went out to the Caribbean to begin writing the second series, yet the reception was so poor that it was canned after just six (out of a planned thirteen) episodes. The channel even condensed some episodes together (so poorly that you could still hear the opening/ending music where the credits should have played) just to get it off the air as soon as possible.
- The English Class was a sitcom that used the same premise as Mind Your Language (a group of recently-arrived immigrants take a night school class to improve their English.) The difference was that Mind Your Language was made in the 1970s, while The English Class aired in 2007 ... and still managed to be even more dated and politically insensitive than its predecessor. It received an instantly negative response from critics and the public. Viewers resented their TV license money being spent on the show (which received a high budget from the channel - most of the cash apparently pocketed by the production company, since the show itself looked so cheap), and it provoked such a backlash that RTE quickly removed all clips of it from their official YouTube site. The final nail in the show's coffin was when an episode where a student's murder was Played for Laughs, aired shortly after the real life case of a murdered foreign student in Galway, led to calls to pull The English Class from the air. RTE wisely didn't renew it for another series.
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It was supposed to be a comedy set in a newspaper office. The TV announcer introduced the first episode as "a new drama", leaving viewers confused at the show's abundance of canned laughter, some of which made it very difficult to hear the dialogue. What could be heard was painfully unfunny, and the show was plagued with bizarre, pointless moments such as the whole cast breaking out into a musical number for no apparent reason. More than one critic called it the worst Irish comedy ever, and it didn't survive past its first series.
- Gerry Ryan enjoyed a long career as a beloved radio and TV presenter, but his mid-90s variety show Ryantown certainly wasn't loved half so much. The show took place in a set designed to look like Gerry Ryan's living room, where guest stars would drop in and TV clips would be played to the audience. A running gag was Ryan having a disobedient dog, infamous for an episode where it buried its nose in the crotch of a woman singing on the show, and wouldn't let go. This was about as entertaining as the show got. It was described by critics in terms such as "dog's dinner" - and that was one of the more favourable reviews. Ryan himself called it "the worst television experience I've ever had in my entire life" and claimed in his autobiography that he'd personally asked the channel to cancel it halfway through its run. Ryantown continues to be widely derided in Ireland and is likely to be part of the reason why Ryan never found the level of success on TV that he had as a radio host.
- The Spike, a 1978 serial set in a tough high school in Dublin, received negative press and reviews from the first episode. One critic wrote that RTE had finally "found the magic formula for successful comedy" - but the show was intended to be a serious, hard-hitting drama. It became infamous for briefly showing a naked model in an art class, which caused a flood of complaints. The chairman of the League of Decency actually had a heart attack while calling the newspapers to complain about the scene. After this, the show was abruptly Cut Short halfway through its run (hours before the next episode was due to air), and the remaining episodes never saw the light of day. It still remains a subject of public mockery in discussions of Irish TV.
- Stew, a sketch show attempting to be an Irish version of The Fast Show. Unfortunately it was utterly awful to watch. The jokes were just childish and awkward. Notably, it had a recurring sketch of a Bollywood Nerd who was trying to push his daughter into a high-powered career (not even a specific one) from a very young age which was very awkward to watch. Bizarrely, in spite of multiple complaints from viewers, RTE gave it two seasons. Yet, they canned The Blizzard Of Odd at roughly the same time.
- Upwardly Mobile was a sitcom about a Lower-Class Lout couple who win the lottery, move to an exclusive area of Dublin, and clash with their neighbours; very similar in premise to The Beverly Hillbillies. It got off to a poor start when its theme song (inadvertently containing a phrase which refers to something rather rude in Cockney rhyming slang) caused a minor press scandal, and from there it was all downhill. Despite heavy promotion, Upwardly Mobile was unfunny, lazy, and poorly written; and became unpopular with both viewers and critics. It dragged on for three years before finally being cancelled, and was a frequent target of public mockery and criticism of RTE. Especial criticism was aimed at the fact that RTE invested so much in this show, yet had rejected Father Ted and forced it to go to Channel 4 in the UK.
Sat. 1 (Germany)
- Germany hasn't been known for inventing new concepts, but what they did with Das i-Team is unacceptable. Basically, it took The IT Crowd and reshot it frame for frame — and still managed to get it wrong. The timing was awful, the delivery was bland and from all the things they could have changed, they took the intro. Thankfully, it got cancelled after two episodes.
Syndication (United States)
- Club Mario was just a repackaged version of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show with the live-action segments (the ones that actually involved the Mario Brothers) replaced by two aggressively Totally Radical Surfer Dudes with Attitude. Worse, the live-action segments have nothing to do with the Mario or the cartoons except for some stock footage in the intro and a brief summary of the episode in question. A quick edit and dub and the so-called "Club Mario" could be used for anything. Rumor had it that the Club Mario segments were so horrible, that DiC Entertainment ordered every single copy of them to be destroyed. Eventually, some streaming services would debunk that by putting up the Club Mario version of "The Unzappables". Here's RetroNausea TV's take on it, TV Trash tore it apart and here's Platypus Comix's article about the segments.
- The Magic Hour, a 1998 talk show hosted by basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson, didn't take long to become a byword for "terrible TV." Magic's incompetence at hosting made him the butt of ridicule for many, most notably Howard Stern (who was invited to be a guest on the show and proceeded to ask Magic inappropriate questions about his sexual history). Magic's sidekick, comedian Craig Shoemaker, was fired after publicly calling the show "an absolute nightmare." The show was canceled after three months, costing syndicators millions of dollars. It ranked #26 in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History.
- As a response to the popularity of Power Rangers and in advance of a film version, Fox Kids imported Gerry Anderson's British Supermarionation classic Thunderbirds, but not without some changes. 13 of the original Thunderbirds episodes were hacked into a half-hour format (with space opened for commercials), re-titled, and dubbed over with new voicesnote . It didn't last long, but then the distributor had the bright idea to create Turbocharged Thunderbirds for UPN — which took the aforementioned Fox episodes and butchered them further: the Tracy family fought supervillains, and the action took place in "Thunderworld". Oh, and the family took orders from a pair of Large Ham live-action teenagers called the "Hack Masters" who lived on the inside of Thunderbird 5 (renamed "Hacker Command"... but really, who cares) and called Jeff Tracy "Mr. T" (WHAT THE HELL, FOOL!?). Worst of all, the original dialogue was edited out completely and replaced with "ironic post-modern" jokes. Anderson was outraged when he found out what had been done to his creation (going on to call it "the most diabolical thing I had ever seen in my life"), and threatened to sue unless his name was removed from the credits (which they were, rather awkwardly — his name was blurred out in the closing credits, and then-wife Sylvia was the only one credited). The series only lasted one season. When the rights to Thunderbirds reverted to Anderson he reportedly ordered all copies of Turbocharged Thunderbirds destroyed.
UPN (United States)
- The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (the "P" isn't silent), a short-lived (and extremely low-rated) UPN sitcom, possibly the network's worst such series aimed towards African-Americans, that aired only four episodes out of the nine produced overall in October 1998. It starred Chi McBride as the titular character, a Black English nobleman who is kidnapped and sent to America on a slave ship, then becomes a horny Abraham Lincoln's valet in the form of a Servile Snarker that is more competent than any of the other inhabitants in the White House throughout the Civil War, who are all portrayed as being very stupid. This show became notorious for being the subject of protests by African-American groups against its arguably lighthearted portrayal of slavery. Because of this controversy, the original pilot episode, where Desmond Pfeiffer becomes Lincoln's butler and attempts to return to England, was never broadcast. It was so poorly received, it was even advertised with the tagline "Critics hate it." The show would have been forgotten if not for various references on Clerks: The Animated Series—and many people nearly had a Double Take after finding out that, yes, it actually was real. Brad Jones did a review of this series for his DVD-R Hell series, and TV Trash reviewed it here.
USA Network (United States)
- Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills: (Yes, Dragon Ball Z Abridged fans, they did not make this up.) Notable for being one of two Power Rangers imitators that weren't adaptations of existing tokusatsu shows (the far-superior The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg was the other). This is the show's one positive, and it is squandered almost immediately. The show was a zero-budget affair that managed to look even cheaper than its Japanese inspirations (a vibe not helped by being shot on video). The acting was subpar even by the genre's standards, note the characters unlikable, one-note stereotypes (in another show, oily rich kid Gordon would probably be a recurring antagonist) and the plots horribly repetitive (especially when it came to the Big Bad's Monster of the Week schemes and over the course of 40 episodes, there were only nine or ten different monsters used, leading to some monsters showing up multiple times). Moreover, much of the show focused heavily on harshly criticizing and even outright insulting the Tokusatsu genre and showing how the creators thought such a show should be done. The biggest sin may be the fight scenes - the bread and butter of any Sentai-wannabe series. Between the beyond-obvious use of Stunt Doubles when our heroes "transformed", the use of melee weapons solely as Family-Friendly Firearms and the horrible, repetitive fight choreography, the fight scenes turned TTAFFBH from "forgettably bad" to "how the hell did this last a full season?!" bad. The over-the-top performance by the late Ed Gilbert as Darth Vader Clone Emperor Gorganus is usually entertaining, but not enough to redeem the other things mentioned above. TV Trash tears into it here, MarzGurl has more to say about it here, and TJ Omega blasts the show and all of its shameless ripoffery here.
ABC (United States)
- Home Alone 4 was a made-for-TV sequel to the theatrical series, intended to be a Pilot Movie for a TV series, with none of the predecessors' cast. The "kid sees bad guys that adults can't see" had been overused by then (including 3, though that one was decent), and your head will explode if you try to connect this film with the first two. Kevin's nominally a year younger, but visually more like eight years younger; Buzz is five years younger; the McCallisters are rich and divorced; and Marv's played by French Stewart. Seriously, does anyone really think French Stewart looks like Daniel Stern? Oh, and for those watching the Home Alone series for the traps — 4 failed there as well. There's three traps, and two of them are built into the house. Yeah. A dumbwaiter and a revolving wall? Not ingenious. Thankfully, it bombed in the ratings, killing off any chance that audiences would be subjected to Kevin's antics on a weekly basis. Despite the failure of this movie, however, it didn't stop them from making a fifth movie which, while mediocre at best, was still noticeably better than this one. MikeJ gave it a scathing review. The Hardcore Kid didn't like it either.
The BBC (United Kingdom)
- The Doctor Who 30th Anniversary Special "Dimensions in Time", which is considered definitively the lowest the show could possibly sink. This one needs to be understood in context. As the show was canned a few years before, fans were excited to get any new canon and instead got something so embarrassingly bad that everyone immediately felt stupid about liking the show. The story is completely nonsensical and a crossover with EastEnders—for no particular reason, other than it was dirt-cheap to film—with various past Doctors and companions morphing into each other for no reason. There are terrifying floating CGI heads of the posthumous Doctors. The only thing good about "Dimensions in Time" is Kate O'Mara camping her way through her awful dialogue as much as possible. On top of all this, its production shitcanned a much more promising-sounding 30th Anniversary Special, "Dark Dimension", that would have centered on a decrepit Fourth Doctor (Still alive in an alternate dimension after never having regenerated at the end of "Logopolis") teaming up with the Seventh Doctor to battle skeletal Cybermen and a redesigned Special Weapons Dalek in a Gothic church.
Discovery Channel (United States)
- Eaten Alive, which was broadcast in 2014, was ostensibly supposed to be about wildlife author Paul Rosolie's expedition into the Peruvian Amazon to locate a giant green anaconda named "Chumana". It instead became widely promoted by the network for a planned stunt, in which Paul was going to be swallowed whole by the anaconda using a suit designed for the task. The network heavily promoted this part of the special, which caused immense controversy with animal rights activists who feared for the snake's safety and those who called it blatant sensationalism. When it premiered, the 4.1 million people who tuned in to watch it found that three quarters of the documentary was about the expedition to find the snake (spoiler: he didn't). When the special finally got to the part where Paul was supposed to be eaten by an anaconda (not Chumana, but a different one), Paul called the stunt off as he was constricted by the snake due to safety concerns, at which point the program ended.note Critics savaged both the special and the network itself for engaging in false advertising, as much of the promotional material indicated that Paul would get swallowed by the snake, with at least one review comparing it to the similarly infamously anticlimactic The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults. On social media, the entire special was compared to clickbait and similarly ripped into. The special became the subject of widespread mockery of the Discovery Channel and only further reinforced the perception that it was knee-deep in Network Decay.
FOX (United States)
- The Brady Bunch in the White House, a 2002 Idiot Plot-driven, Made-for-TV second sequel to the original Brady Bunch movie. The film, in which Mike Brady ends up as President of the US via a contrivance pileup and selects wife Carol as his VP, lacked nearly all of the charm and fun of the first two movies and tried to fill that void with jarringly out-of-place sexual and scatological humor - including one gag involving Secret Service agents openly ogling Marcia's (still-underage) butt. Even when the film tried to emulate the previous ones' Fish out of Temporal Water humor, it tried to play things as straight sight gags, rather than playing up the anachronistic nature of the character's actions (and onlooker's confusion at same). Not to mention the Bradys came across as actively stupid here, rather than merely oblivious. The film has an IMDb score of 3.3 and Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 17%. MikeJ reviewed it here.
- Generation X, a low-budget, poorly-conceived TV movie based on the comic book of the same name. It starred Matt Frewer as a villainous ad exec that uses his mind control device to cause mass flatulence at a board meeting. The '90s, ladies and gentlemen. You can read more about it at number one on this list.
Hallmark Channel (United States)
- Shark Swarm, a Hallmark Channel movie which clocks in at 164 minutes despite not having enough content for half that. The story is full of Plot Holes (the big one being nobody in this small town notices when so many people suddenly go missing) and bloats the run time with irrelevant subplots about uninteresting characters. The movie takes itself far too seriously, throwing in an Anvilicious Green Aesop, and worst of all, the actual shark attacks, the things people expect to see in a movie with this title, are lame. They just alternate between shots of unnamed extras thrashing about and shots of the same CG sharks (with the camera zooming in and out instead of actual attacking), with almost no variety. The only time a shark actually bites someone on camera lasts only half a second! Also, it's difficult to have a blood-filled horror film on the Hallmark Channel. The movie does try toward the end to use the terror caused by shark attacks to set up a Heartwarming Moment, but by that point it's too little too late. The excessive length and total failure as a monster movie have put it past redemption. Matt Murray of Corn Pone Flicks wrote an entertaining review of the film.
KDOC-TV (United States)
- On December 31, 2012, local Los Angeles (well, technically Orange County) independent station KDOC decided to air a New Year's Eve special hosted by Jamie Kennedy. That was only the tip of the iceberg for what The A.V. Club dubbed the Jamie Kennedy Falling Apart At The Seams New Year's Eve 2013 Spectacular, as the world found out after Patton Oswalt tweeted about it: there were awkward glitches and dead air, the beginning of an interview with Shannon Elizabeth accidentally started with a shot of Kennedy moping about on stage, hot mics picked up strange discussions peppered with F-bombs from the host and crew, racist sketches where Jamie Kennedy played a Mayan (while dressed like a stereotypical Native American, no less) who went to the Commerce Casino to try to regain his people's lost gold, a potentially drunk Macy Gray and an uncensored(!) Bone Thugs-n-Harmony serenaded the audience celebrating the arrival of the year 1999, Kennedy proclaimed that he would "see you in 2024!", and a fight broke out on stage during the (silent) credits. It has to be seen to be believed (though given how desperately KDOC seems to want to consign this to the memory hole, you may have to make do with Nathan Rabin's account for the AV Club). Kennedy has since claimed that the entire thing was meant to be that bad.
Lifetime (United States)
- The Brittany Murphy Story is a biopic about the life of the late Brittany Murphy. The film was a massive failure with both audiences and critics due to glossing over most of the actress' career, it's melodrama that wouldn't pass in a soap opera, atrocious acting, poor makeup and, worst of all, the actress who plays Murphy looks nothing like her.
- Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life is a Lifetime film about porn addiction. Described as "Reefer Madness for the PC generation" by Rotten Tomatoes, it's so detached from reality and especially modern teen culture that several critics pointed out how disconnected the writer was from the intended audience. It deals with a fourteen-year-old high school boy becoming addicted to very, very soft porn on the Internet (as in, it mostly consists of pictures of cleavage) that he happens just to have discovered recently. Disregarding the fact that modern generations would probably see much more hardcore material in PG-13 movies and would know about stronger erotic material on the Internet at much earlier in life, the fact that the character even gets bullied for liking porn (even when this is hardly a reason for bullying among teenage boys; if any, not watching porn is a more likely reason for bullying) to the point of depression and attempted suicide feels beyond forced and unsubtle, for a topic that can be reasonably interesting and a valid concern for parents as porn addiction can be a real problem. Here is Ralphthemoviemaker's take on it and here's Something Awful's.
- Destination: Infestation is an unbearably awful 2007 Follow the Leader-type TV movie that was made to cash in on the Snakes on a Plane B-movie craze: this time there's ants instead of snakes. There's a total of 10 minutes of these bugs in the film, most of it consisting of short shots of the swarms and one very lame attack scene that comes off as if the writers forgot about the movie's concept. Though it's a Canadian production, there are a lot of geographical errors; for one, WestJet doesn't travel to Colombia, and there's also an insane amount of Plot Holes. There's bad acting abounds and awful CGI too. The funniest thing about this whole fiasco? It premiered on Lifetime, the same channel who airs such gems as Cyber Seduction and Someone Else's Child.
- Social Nightmare, a 2013 effort from The Asylum about an A-student who's getting ready to go to college when someone starts posting inappropriate pictures of her that she sent to her boyfriend, putting offensive updates on other people's pages, and generally trying hard to ruin her life. It's filled with ridiculous plot points (the guy our heroine goes to for help decides to try and rape her just because), terrible dialogue, the worst Foreshadowing in history and a villain so blindingly obvious that the Blu-ray actually has the movie's name changed to Mother. Not to mention a wholly unbelievable wrapup filled with Mood Whiplash - whatever Kirsten Prout (the daughter), Chloe Bridges (her best friend, also targeted) and Daryl Hannah (the daughter's mother) got paid for this, it wasn't enough.
NBC (United States)
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure. This "sequel" is often considered by even hardcore fans of the National Lampoon's Vacation series to be one of the worst sources of sequelitis ever. The idea is that Cousin Eddie is the main character, and his boss fires him but sends him and his family on a vacation of the South Pacific, where things predictably go wrong. It abuses every single "stranded on an island" cliche in the book and often resorts to recycled slapstick gags from the first movie which somehow manage to be completely boring this time around. Despite taking place sometime after Vegas Vacation, the children inexplicably haven't aged, and trying to connect this to the film canon will practically cause your head to explode.
The film will ruin everything you love about the first movie, and is one of the most poorly-received TV movies from NBC, which also ended the tradition of TV film from NBC for a time until The Sound of Music Live! became a ratings hit and spawned more TV specials in the same ilk. Even more baffling, it's not even a sequel to Christmas Vacation, but rather, the first film in the whole series, Vacation (for example, the original Audrey, Dana Barron, reprises her role). And even the cameo from Eric Idle as the accident-prone Englishman from European Vacation failed to please fans. MikeJ, ''TV Trash'' and Best of the Worst had nothing but contempt for the movie.
Pro Sieben (Germany)
- Back in 2008, German television channel ProSieben produced a horror movie "parody" called Halloween Horror Hostel. Imagine Seltzer and Friedberg doing even less researching than usual, then go a bit further, and there we are. Just to give you a hint about how bad this movie is — it begins with a few people sitting in a car while the radio talks about a hockey player called Michael Myers gone missing. You sure you don't mean Jason? What follows are thousands of references and toilet humor. Just like a ______ Movie, except even cheaper. The best/worst part is the Overly Long Gag of one dude who thought he was invisible or something like that, walking veeeerrryyy slowly around with a pillow in front of his head.
Showtime (United States)
- Joe Piscopo: A Night at Club Piscopo, an hour-long stand-up special from 2012, featuring the SNL alumnus reeking head-to-toe of washed-up-ness. Alongside horrid David Letterman and Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions, TWO THIRDS of the show features Piscopo playing music with his backing band. He goes in between the worst Piss-Take Rap, playing a wide variety of instruments (all poorly), and incorporating worse impressions of James Brown and Johnny Cash (singing PUBLIC DOMAIN SONGS!), the former he stole from Eddie Murphy. The special is scattershot with awkward banter and interviews so self-congratulatory and ridden with name-drops it borders on autofellatio. The real kicker, as pointed out when Opie, Anthony, and Jim Norton eviscerated the show, is that the special was scraped together from two nights of Piscopo's casino/cruise act in Atlantic City, without any effort to even have a Laugh Track. There were thousands exposed to this toxic shit, not just in New Jersey nightclubs. The special stands with a 1.8/10 on IMDb; 75% of the ratings are 1/10's with Opie & Anthony and the sole review (also a 1/10) comparing Piscopo to Rupert Pupkin.
Syfy (United States)
- Highlander: The Source, a Sci Fi Channel original. The film has almost nothing to do with the original Highlander and completely alters the fundamental premise of the series with "The Source", which is apparently the source of immortality (you'd think they'd have mentioned that before) and (if allowed into what passes for continuity) retcons the way Immortals have functioned for the entire series. It also seems to be out to distance itself from the Highlander TV franchise as much as possible, killing Joe Dawson, and possibly Methos, and breaking Duncan's iconic katana. The driving force of the plot is a Romantic Plot Tumor which results in a Gainax Ending. The villain's not intimidating, the fight choreography's terrible, and a lot of plot elements don't make sense. You know it belongs here when Highlander II: The Quickening, the previous all-time go-to example of a bad sequel, is compared favorably to this. Spoony expounds further.
VH 1 (United States)
- Man In The Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story: a cheap, made for TV biopic that paints a very messy portrait of the King of Pop (said even hated it). Barely any of the characters looked like who they were portraying — including Flex Alexander's awful performance (read: impersonation) of Jackson, cringeworthy, overdramatic and repetitive dialog, shaky camerawork and awkward cuts to actual news footage, inaccurate and exaggerated portrayals (especially Liz Taylor), and a sappy monologue about love. Even worse? As it was an unauthorized biography, it could not use any of Jackson's actual music, meaning that one of the greatest performers who ever lived is stuck dancing to royalty-free stock music.
- In 1986, following the discovery of a "secret vault" under a hotel that once belonged to Al Capone, Geraldo Rivera was brought in to host The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults, a syndicated special in which the vault would be opened... after a large number of backstory segments to discuss Capone's history and hype its possible contents. But what was inside it? Loot? Bodies? Ancient alien superweapons? Dirt? If you answered "dirt"... well, you are correct. To say around 30 million people actually took two hours out of their day to witness this is an understatement: Rivera ultimately admitted that the special was a "silly, high-concept stunt that failed to deliver on its titillating promise", but felt that it was only the start of his career. Meanwhile, while Rivera managed to survive this debacle, both he and Capone became associated with the ritual of opening otherwise empty containers on television.
- Paparazzi Princess: The Paris Hilton Story. This docudrama/biopic/whatever you want to call it of the 2006 Paris Hilton court case is often considered to be distasteful, disgraceful and largely inaccurate. Paris, Nicole, and Nikki are played by people who look nothing like them, but that is the least of the film's worries — they are horribly wooden and seem to have the personalities of department store mannequins. The film is often very obviously low-budget, with awful cinematography and a soundtrack of original music because they couldn't get the rights to existing music. The resulting music is just sad. Furthermore, the film can't even decide if it wants to be a depiction of Paris' party girl lifestyle or her legal issues, and towards the end it tries to depict her jail time as the most depressing event in human history, portraying her as someone who needs medical attention (there's even a scene of her going for electroshock therapy). The film was blasted by the Hilton family themselves, aired on the station it premiered only once, and it destroyed a lot of the careers of the actors involved (including Amber Hay, who played Paris; Sara Canning (Nikki) was a lot more fortunate).
- The Baseball Network is one of the biggest examples of "bad idea, worse execution" in the history of TV. Going into the 1994 season, Major League Baseball needed a new network TV contract after CBS, who had lost roughly $500 million off of a four year long, billion dollar contract, refused to renew theirs. The league higher-ups got the admittedly-novel idea of actually producing the telecasts themselves, and then brokering them to the networks. The league made a deal with ABC and NBC to show selected regular-season games (after the All-Star Break) in primetime, under the title Baseball Night in America, along with coverage of the postseason. Where the concept fell apart, though, was that there was no national game of the week, only multiple regional broadcasts. Even worse, BNiA had an exclusive coverage window over each market, meaning that no other channels could show MLB games at the same time.
What this meant, essentially, was that once a week the affiliates in New York had to choose between either the Yankees or the Mets, royally pissing off fans either way. The same problem affected Chicago (Cubs/White Sox), Los Angeles (Dodgers/Angels), and even the San Francisco Bay Area (Giants/A's). Making matters even worse, affiliates couldn't show the local team if they weren't playing in the right time zone. For instance, if you were a Mariners fan in Seattle and you wanted to see your team play on the East Coast... tough shit, you were stuck with the early game of the night.
Ultimately, ABC and NBC decided to end the Baseball Network arrangement early after a player's strike cancelled the 1994 postseason. However, it went on for one more season, including the 1995 postseason... and that's when the problems really reared their ugly head. MLB, like all major pro sports, had long televised all playoff games nationally. With The Baseball Network, that wasn't the case for the 1995 Division Series. Fans in Cleveland were watching the Indians make a serious run at the World Series (ABC and NBC wound up, erratically splitting coverage of the '95 postseason, including the World Series) championship for the first time in generations, but if you lived outside Cleveland's coverage area... tough, you were stuck with watching the Reds. The '95 postseason is remembered even today as one of sports' greatest playoff tournaments, but thanks to the Baseball Network, it happened in relative secrecy. Fan hatred of the idea of "America's regional pastime" is part of what paved the way for MLB's current arrangement with Fox.
- Until 2014, Thursday Night Football stood out as the worst pro football broadcast. Looking past the questionable wisdom of making teams play on Thursday, after only four days' recovery time from the previous week's action (which multiple players have spoken out about), the telecast itself feels second-rate. The graphics were cheap-looking, the music is bland, and the pregame and postgame shows are utterly execrable ("Verizon at the Half" this isn't; NFLN was lucky to get the declining Sears to sponsor their pre-game shows). For many years it was also hamstrung by its 'please call your cable company to watch us' reputation of NFL Network, which wanted half the money ESPN gets per month for about 30 hours of game action a year, with the rest being analysis, NFL Films archive shows and during game action on Sundays, a still screen with statistics and 'you should probably be watching this' radio commentary; many cable companies refused to carry it because of that. Thankfully in 2011 after some compromises they finally got all the coverage they could earn from cable companies, though the addition of the awesome RedZone channel alongside NFL Network probably helped.
In its short existence, TNF has gone through several different commentary teams, but none of them have stuck around long enough to make an impact (most of were under probably pricey loans from other networks). The football itself isn't even that great, often having second-rate matchups and- owing to the teams having shorter rest time than usual-sloppy, turnover-ridden play, and many of the matchups were of lower-tier teams in order to provide some kind of night game to a low-prestige team but not at the cost of burning a Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football game on the Jaguars or Dolphins.
Thankfully, this is a case where things improved. In 2014, looking to make it relevant, NFL Network partnered with CBS to produce the broadcasts and simulcast TNF for the first half of the season and a December Saturday game in a one-year experiment. CBS put actual effort into the broadcasts, having Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in the broadcast booth for the games, giving it its own separate and much better graphics package and E.S. Posthumus-composed theme (CBS uses another tune from the same group for its main NFL telecasts), adding many more cameras, and effort was put into choosing better matchups, which were more relevant divisional tilts than the random choices of the past. The problems of sloppy play and quick-turns for teams, along with an unprecedented string of blowout games during the CBS half of the season continue to occur (which cannot be helped by either CBS or the NFL; the 'only of interest to Nashville and Jacksonville' Jaguars/Titans divisional tilt has to go somewhere every year), but compared to the pre-2013 efforts, the contrast is huge and much more palatable (though speaking of contrast, the 'color rush' uniform setup for TNF, where both teams wear uniforms with bright colors, has been mainly ill-received, especially among the colorblind). In 2016, the package was split into a 5/5 setup where CBS got the first half of the season, while NBC did the second half of the season (with a few NFL Network-exclusive games in-between, including a confusing Sunday afternoon game on Christmas Day 2016 branded as Thursday Night Football); Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth did the NBC half of the TNF package (with Mike Tirico doing a few to give Al Michaels a break, he did TNF full-time for NBC in 2017). All simulcasted games also had a webstream from Twitter in 2016 and on Twitch (via Amazon Prime Video) in 2017, though thankfully tweets and chat mostly stayed off the broadcast for the most part.