Troubled Production: Live-Action TV
"It hasn't had this epiphany and turned the corner. It's not a happy ship, the good ship Voyager. If I had not gone there, I think I would have always wondered, 'Maybe I should have gone. Maybe it would have worked out. Maybe I would have been involved in the new series. Maybe that was a missed opportunity.' Now I know that none of that is true, that I didn’t miss out on any opportunities. It wasn't going to be fun."
- —Ron D. Moore on leaving Star Trek: Voyager
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- Airwolf had to deal with a star (Jan-Michael Vincent) with drinking problems who got arrested four times in four years and consistent budget overruns.
- ALF had several problems during its run, mainly due to the difficulty in staging a show with a puppet (ALF) as the main star (in fact, the show was not shot in front of a live studio audience because of this). There was reportedly so much tension among the actors that one of the leads, Max Wright, simply walked off the set after the finale was shot and never said goodbye to anyone. He disliked the puppet, claiming that it got the best lines. Paul Fusco also was very particular about ALF, and disliked rehearsal. Even years later, Tina Fey discussed how, when working on NBC's 75th anniversary special, ALF's crew was very hard to work with.
- The attempt to relaunch All My Children and One Life to Live online was filled with unfortunate production problems that ultimately resulted in the soap operas being canceled again:
- Once Prospect Park purchased the license to the two soaps after they were canceled by ABC, they struggled for over a year to secure financing and their project was put on hiatus until they worked out deals with the many labor unions. Several members of the OLTL cast joined General Hospital as their characters to continue work during the hiatus.
- Prospect Park's contract required that production had to begin by a certain date, or else they would loose the license. Once funding was finally secured, the production team had only eight weeks to lease a soundstage in Connecticut, build 30 sets, begin writing episodes, casting (or re-casting) the actors, and begin production. Once cameras finally began rolling, they were writing episodes almost on the fly.
- Reception to the episodes were mixed. Many of the original viewers of the soaps were 50+, and were not quick to embrace their move online. It was also clear that an online soap opera was not as good of an idea as originally believed, since online viewers are more accustomed to binge-watching an entire storyline instead of watching it unfold over months or years. In response, Oprah Winfry's OWN cable network began showing repeats of the online episodes, though this was ultimately unsuccessful.
- Then, due to budget cuts, the number of episodes premiering a week was reduced from 4 to 2, causing much outrage among fans.
- Then Prospect Park sued ABC for killing off two OLTL characters they had leased to General Hospital, believing they were trying to sabotage their efforts. This resulted in OLTL being put on hiatus after 40 episodes, and OLTL's actors on General Hospital were written off and brought back as different characters for legal reasons. Then AMC was canceled too after 43 episodes. Neither show was ever able to wrap up their 40+ year old storylines. Oh well, at least they tried!
- Bewitched got some of this from Day 1. The show's very first rehearsal occurred on Nov 22, 1963: the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and production was slightly delayed as a result. Once production did get going, Dick York's famous troubles immediately became apparent. He was addicted to pain-killers as a result of a disabling back-injury he had experienced a few years before, and frequently came on set loopy and out of it, sometimes not at all. ABC executives wanted him fired from the very beginning, but the cast and crew fought to keep him in because of how well he performed his character, Darrin. After four seasons, this had gotten so bad, there were frequent episodes of Darrin doing nothing but laying in bed or not appearing at all. After the fifth season, he was finally fired following a seizure episode on-set that left him in the hospital for a long time. He was replaced with Dick Sargent for the rest of the series. Similar problems also happened with Alice Pearce, Irene Vernon, and Robert F. Simon who were all replaced for various reasons ranging from death (Pearce) to retirement (Vernon) to simply being unavailable (Simon). Also, as the show went on, Elizabeth Montgomery (who played lead Samantha) and William Asher (the show's main director)'s marriage began falling apart, causing a lot of friction on set, and Montgomery had all-but-completely lost interest in the show and her character a few seasons before the end.
- Central Park West has the infamy of being one of the biggest television flops of the 90's, and looking back at its production, it's not hard to see why.
- The show was developed as a sequel series to Melrose Place, and was slotted in CBS' schedule at a time when they were being trounced in the ratings due to FOX taking over the rights to NFL games. CBS subsequently decided to retool their entire programming lineup to cater to younger viewers, and CPW was rushed into development alongside cover stories and features explaining how revolutionary and sexy the new program was. In the end, all it did was create Hype Backlash among potential viewers.
- The show's first two episodes went up against anniversary installments of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose when FOX learned of the launch. According to the book Gen X TV: The Brady Bunch to Melrose Place, the show was given no time to grow and cultivate viewers organically like its predecessors, leaving it dead right out of the gate. Additionally, the show was spending a large amount of its budget on location shooting in New York (even in winter conditions). This and other factors drove each episode's budget up to more than $1 million per episode.
- Once it became clear that the show's ratings were garbage, the network was forced to stick with it in the hopes that it would get better (and to attempt to recoup their lost investment of nearly $15 million). CBS spent millions of dollars revamping the series. Mariel Hemingway (who played the lead character, Stephanie) exercised her option to quit and Gerald McRaney and Raquel Welch were brought on as a fellow media tycoon and his ex-wife. Welch later admitted that she essentially took the role for the money because she wasn't getting the plum lead roles that she used to, even though her agent told her to stay away from it. The show was retooled as a Dynasty clone in an attempt to appeal to older viewers, but it was too late. The remaining episodes were burned off by airing two episodes per week, and CBS President Les Moonves later admitted the network had made a terrible mistake when they attempted to get away from their roots.
- It's something of a miracle that Charmed managed to last eight seasons, given how rocky the road was almost from the start.
- The show's creator, Constance M. Burge, left after season 2 (though stayed on as an Executive Consultant until season 5) because she disagreed with the introduction of Cole Turner. Season 2 had been taken up with a love triangle between Piper, Dan, and Leo, and Burge didn't want Season 3 to be dominated by a love story too.
- During the third season, tension between actresses Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano was reportedly incredibly heated. Doherty ultimately left the show during the break between seasons 3 and 4, something which had also happened for similar reasons on her previous show Beverly Hills 90210. This forced the writers to kill off Prue offscreen, and Doherty later denied producers any rights to use archive footage of her on the show. Her image was also never used on the show again, as it would reportedly cost $8,000 just for a picture of her. As a result of this, it took much longer for the first three seasons to come out on DVD, and an action figure of Prue was never made.
- Holly Marie Combs, good friends with Doherty, was rumoured to want to leave the show after season 3 as well, but forced to stay by contract.
- After Doherty left, Rose McGowan was brought in as Paige, a long-lost Halliwell sister to replace Prue. She revealed in an interview that she thought the role would only last two seasons (the length of her initial contract), and did not expect to become a series regular for five seasons. She was also incredibly unhappy at how her character was being written in the fifth season, supposedly angrily going to the writers and saying "Paige isn't a ho!", which was fixed afterwards. She has been quoted as saying "each year, Charmed would get renewed and each year I would cry."
- The lead actresses were incredibly unhappy with the increasingly stripperiffic outfits the sisters would be forced to wear. The sisters would frequently be transformed into various magical creatures that would require a different skimpy outfit (mermaid, genie, Valkyrie, wood nymph etc.) and before the eighth season went to producers to protest against it. The show's costume designer for five years was fired and replaced with a new one, the sisters' clothing becoming a little more modest.
- For the final season, the network slashed the budget in half. As a result, series regular Dorian Gregory was Put on a Bus and Brian Krause had to be temporarily written out for ten episodes. The network also demanded new cast members be brought on, leading to the creation of Billie — a character intended for a spin-off that never happened (due to negative fan reactions). Shannen Doherty was not even asked to appear in the finale episode and a picture was not even used due to the costs. Producers claimed they would have had to drop one or two of the returning cast members had they used a picture of Doherty.
- Cheers had its share of issues over the years, including poor ratings early on, Shelley Long often not getting along with the rest of the cast, the illness and death of Nicholas Colasanto during the third season, and recurring actor Jay Thomas being fired and having a bridge dropped on his character after insulting screen wife Rhea Perlman in a radio interview, but all things told it was a pretty non-troubled production until the final season (season 11) rolled around.
- After the end of season 10, the long-serving showrunner team of Cheri Eichen, Bill Steinkellner and Phoef Sutton departed, leaving the far less experienced duo of Tom Anderson and Dan O'Shannon to take over. Running out of ideas, writers started focusing a lot more on the flaws of the characters in order to create comedic tension, along with recycling a script from spin-off show Wings wholesale.
- Near the middle of the season, lead actor Ted Danson announced that it would be his final season. The writers approached Woody Harrelson to take over as the lead actor, but he declined unless Danson stayed on. Other actors were also starting to grow bored of their roles and wanted out of the series, too, forcing the writers to hustle their resources together to write in an ending that made sense. As the season came to a close, many characters were given closure that seemed to come almost out of nowhere. Lillith's actress, Bebe Neuwirth, also strangely disappeared mid-season and made very few appearances.
- The final episode was set to be filmed and Shelley Long was brought back. The writers had a minor feud over whether to allow Diane and Sam to be together. Shoots took so long that Long had to go back to her other commitments, and the episode's closing scene in the bar was filmed without her. The scene was also done in secret without a studio audience, meaning a laugh track had to be added after the fact. The final episode proved to be one of the most watched and remembered series finales in television history.
- Then there's the matter of Kelsey Grammer's substance abuse, which took a spike in this season. Costars noticed that he was oddly difficult to work with and would often be nearly catatonic between takes. After several intervention attempts, Grammer finally got help. He would ultimately not make a full recovery until the early seasons of the spinoff Frasier.
- Countdown with Keith Olbermann became this near the end of its existence, and the experience pretty much ended Keith Olbermann's career as a political commentator. Where to begin?
- It started as a case of getting Screwed by the Network. In 2008, Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert abruptly died at NBC's Washington bureau from a heart attack. Russert had been a champion of Olbermann's show and defended it against NBC executives who did not like Olbermann's message and/or style.note Without Russert to act as a buffer, Olbermann's enemies within NBC began trying to turn Olbermann's colleagues against him.
- In 2010, Olbermann made hefty donations to three congressional candidates ahead of the November midterm election, in reported violation of an MSNBC policy barring personalities from doing so. Olbermann was subsequently suspended indefinitely. A fierce backlash from Olbermann's viewers — some of whom noted that conservative MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough had made similar donations with no repercussions from the network — forced MSNBC to allow Olbermann back by the end of the week. Over the following months, Olbermann's relations with MSNBC deteriorated.
- On January 21, 2011, Olbermann was told about forty minutes into his newscast that he had been released from his MSNBC contract. In his quickly improvised farewell speech, Olbermann thanked his viewers and staff, but notably neglected to mention MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC News President Steve Capus.note
- Several months later, in June 2011, it was announced that Olbermann had been hired by the independent progressive network Current TV, and would relaunch Countdown and air it in his old timeslot. On top of getting his show back, Olbermann and Current TV worked out a deal where Olbermann would wield considerable power as the network's chief news officer, and also own an equity stake. He also got a new studio and several well-known pundits and celebrities as contributors. He was slated to become Current TV's signature primetime anchor. The premiere drew more viewers than CNN. Quick fix, right?
- ...But within the year, the new Countdown devolved into a mess. Current TV failed to deliver on a promised High Definition studio and simulcast channel, while Olbermann reportedly became an abusive Prime Donna behind the scenes. Olbermann started airing shows completely in the dark to cut costs, then refused to come to work for extended periods of time — even for major news events. In March 2012, Current TV decided to cut Olbermann loose and terminated his contract.
- In the end, despite a court settlement, everyone lost. Without Olbermann's ratings, MSNBC went into such a decline (posting its worst ratings in a decade by February 2015) that it decided to re-tool itself away from the left-wing opinion style that he popularized on the network. Current TV, now unable to bank on Olbermann's star power, was eventually sold to Al Jazeera. Olbermann himself returned to ESPN to cover sports events and host a weeknight show (which airs on a fluid time slot), but has stated that he is finished with political punditry.
- Doctor Who has had many periods of difficulty and many individual stories which went catastrophically wrong, particularly during the Classic series:
- "The Reign of Terror" has a minor example that doesn't really affect the quality of what is shown on screen, but is notable for being one of the most surreal production stories in television. The main director, Henric Hirsch, had a mental breakdown during the shoot due partially to the punishing shooting schedule and the mutual dislike between himself and William Hartnell, and ended up in hospital. Another director had to be drafted in at short notice to finish the job, but no surviving members of the cast or crew are able to remember who it was. John Gorrie is the man usually credited with it and he doesn't remember doing it. The alternate theory is that the episode was effectively co-directed by producer Verity Lambert and assistant director Tim Combe. For the record, the actual episode does not credit a director.note
- "The Celestial Toymaker" was going to centre around two characters from a popular absurdist play, who never appear in the play itself, actually showing up. This caused a full-blown copyright dispute. Similarly, the budget was starved and the producer was forced to go ahead with the point of the script removed and No Budget, resulting in a famously poor story with little in the way of structure, no Doctor and most of the action being characters playing board games. The BBC ended up in legal action anyway due to an adlib from Billy Bunter Expy Cyril saying "my friends call me Billy", which caused the people who owned the Billy Bunter IP to attempt to sue. The BBC had to release a public statement saying Cyril was a perfectly legal Captain Ersatz. The fiction-world idea eventually did happen in the show, in a much more careful form, in "The Mind Robber".
- Season 5 had serious problems with the scripts thanks to some poor production decisions. The producer and script editor had developed a habit of sinking lots of time, effort and money into various script ideas and then abandoning them halfway through, forcing various last-ditch efforts. Much got hastily reordered and even shoved back a season ("The Dominators" had been planned for Season 5 but was such a disaster it was edited down into five episodes and shoved into Season 6), which upset Patrick Troughton as it meant the material was under-rehearsed, eventually striking up a deal with the producers that for Season 6 he (and the rest of the cast) would only work on one story at a time. In order to churn out competent entertainment quickly, the producers decided to focus on Strictly Formula Base Under Siege plots using recycled monsters, which Troughton found boring and repetitive, and at the beginning of Season 6 he announced his intention to quit the role - just after these problems had been extinguished, too.
- The ending of Season 6 was a fiasco due to multiple scripts falling through after production had started, and replacements being hurriedly written as well as extended with tons of Padding. "The War Games", the grand finale of the season, was written in mere weeks to take up the space of a six-parter and a four-parter that fell through. Several more stories had to be heavily rewritten - Patrick Troughton was going to quit at the end of the season, and lead companion Frazer Hines at first announced he would be going mid-season but later decided to quit at the end of the season with Troughton. This vacillation was bad enough to kill at least one story at the last minute - "The Prison in Space" was commissioned as a comedy serial that wrote out Jamie and when Hines announced that he was staying, the serial had to be rewritten to include him. The production team and director hated the script for various reasons (it was an outrageously sexist Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast comedy set in a dystopian Matriarchy and included setpieces like Jamie disguising himself as a woman and, later, spanking Zoe to break her out of Straw Feminist brainwashing) and requested changes, and when the writer announced he was sick of rewriting the script the producer decided to cut his losses and commissioned "The Krotons" as a rush replacement. Between the production trainwreck and the lead actor departure the BBC was going to cancel the show, and so the finale is a Bolivian Army Ending that ended the Doctor's travels and kept ambiguous the Doctor's new face. The show was recommissioned because the BBC didn't have any better ideas for what to go in the slot, although it was a massive Retool.
- "Spearhead from Space" (Series 7) was derailed when the video camera operators went on strike, leading producer Derrick Sherwin to make the whole thing on film instead. This made the whole thing very expensive, which was bad enough even before Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant were suddenly sent to rescue a disastrous German TV production mid-shoot. Barry Letts took over at the last minute, got it done — and got handed the producer job for the Pertwee era as a result. (The film production unwittingly meant the serial could be released in HD in the distant future, which no other Classic serial can ever be due to quirks of the usual Video Inside, Film Outside production.)
- "Revenge of the Cybermen" (Series 12) suffered from a long string of bad luck attributed by the director to witchcraft. When scouting the ancient cave system of Wookey Hole - a place associated by the locals with bad luck and supposedly the grave of an ancient witch - for its suitability for location shoots, the director's wife found some Iron Age arrowheads and decided to take them home, unwittingly calling an ancient curse on the Doctor Who production team. First, the team encountered a strange individual in potholing gear who had apparently wandered into set, of whom the staff had no knowledge, which the director began to believe was the ghost of an Irish potholer who had died in the cave three years earlier. The boats used in the cave scenes repeatedly broke down; one production team member had to be replaced due to an attack of claustrophobia, and another was taken seriously ill. On a day when staff disobeyed instructions not to touch the 'Witch' formation (said to be the petrified body of the witch), Sarah Jane actress Elisabeth Sladen nearly died - her boat went haywire and she had to dive overboard to keep herself from smashing into the cavern wall, where a stuntman had to pull her out to save her from drowning, and who later fell ill. An electrician broke his leg when a ladder collapsed under him, and the pyrotechnician found nothing would light or work correctly. The director took the arrowheads from his wife and reburied them, after which production ran smoothly.
- "The Brain of Morbius" (Season 13) was largely the result of two writers having a falling out. Terrance Dicks submitted a story concerning a robot building a new body for a Time Lord war criminal currently stuck as a disembodied brain, but the serial got stuck as the Bottle Episode of the season, so to save money the script editor Robert Holmes rewrote it from the ground up to replace the robot with a human character. This enraged Dicks, who felt the rewrite opened up massive plot holes - he saw the story as a Turned Against Their Masters scenario about a robot that cannot understand beauty building a new body for his master, while a human would be able to understand Morbius would rather be in a better body - and was also upset about how Holmes' rewrite turned the story into more of a Hammer Horror pastiche than science fiction. Eventually Dicks realised he'd lost the argument and suggested Holmes replace his name on the script with 'some bland pseudonym', so Holmes passive-aggressively credited the story to "Robin Bland".
- Season 15: The previous producer Philip Hinchcliffe had been sacked due to Moral Guardians, and in revenge he boosted the budgets for the final two serials of Season 14, meaning that incoming producer Graham Williams was money-starved just at the time a crippling UK recession and industrial strikes hit (leading to a memorable occasion where the budget was so low they couldn't even afford sets — "Underworld" just used (poorly executed) CSO to put the actors into Miniature Effects). The companion character Leela was originally intended to be added for only three stories in Season 14 but was kept around as a regular due to the incoming team's desire to cause as little upset as possible with everything else going wrong. Executive Meddling forced the writers to remove all of the horror from the scripts of what had at the time been a Gothic Horror show - jokes were used to plug the gaps but with varying degrees of wit. Long-serving script editor Robert Holmes quit halfway through the season due to a combination of money problems and burnout. The stories were hastily re-edited to insert a toyetic Robot Dog Kid-Appeal Character added by executive mandate and shown out of order, spoiling the character development going on. Tom Baker's mental health, which had begun failing him in Season 14, tanked - he loathed both companion characters, wanted to be the sole star, and started threatening to quit in order to Wag the Director into letting him do whatever he wanted while also bullying his co-star Louise Jameson due to his dislike of the character she played, who quit after this series due to his treatment of her. The showrunners tried to keep Jameson in by writing her final story as if she was not leaving, leading to a terrible Strangled by the Red String ending of her inexplicably deciding to marry someone she'd just met. Despite all this, the fandom opinion of Season 15 is that it's So Okay, It's Average - two bad stories, one okayish story, and three good ones (including two all-time classics).
- Season 17 essentially had the problems of Season 15 turned Up to Eleven. Season 16 hadn't been entirely trouble-free, not least because Graham Williams was sidelined for most of the season due to health problems, but things were held together by production manager John Nathan-Turner on the filming side and script editor Anthony Read in the production office. However, Read quit at the end of the season, along with both Romana's actress Mary Tamm and K-9's voice actor John Leeson. The companion losses weren't too damaging, as new Romana actress Lalla Ward proved way more popular than her predecessor, and David Brierly was a capable enough replacement for Leeson. Read's replacement with Douglas Adams proved far more damaging; whereas Read did a lot to hold the production team and cast together, Adams was more interested in goofing around — including going on a pub crawl in Paris with the director of "Destiny of the Daleks" during the filming of "City of Death" — and rewriting scripts to incorporate his off-beat brand of humour. Combined with Baker acting up more than ever (now with even his tempestuous offscreen love-life bleeding into production note ) and the budget problems and labour disputes returning (in the latter case managing to totally derail production of the season finale "Shada") both Williams and Adams unsurprisingly decided to call it quits at the end of the season. Seasons 16-17 was also the victim of Executive Meddling, with BBC bosses first saying that it couldn't be horrific because of the Moral Guardians, and then that Adams needed to tone down the comedy. And if Doctor Who can't be scary or funny, there's not much left.
- Even among the chaos of Season 17, "Nightmare of Eden" stands out for having one of the most troubled, disastrous shoots in the show's entire run. Already suffering the usual behind-the-scenes issues, things went further south with the hiring of ageing director Alan Bromly. Not only did Bromly not get along with Baker, Ward, or Brierly at all, he insisted on using outdated shooting schedules and production techniques, making things even harder for the crew. Baker frequently refused to follow instructions and constantly picked fights with Bromly, and later on in the shoot, when it became obvious that literally no-one on the crew supported him in his arguments with the lead actor, Bromly quit, leaving Graham Williams to direct the remainder of the episode, and visual effects designer Colin Mapson to oversee editing and post-production. On the last day of filming, one of the production assistants had t-shirts reading "I survived the Nightmare of Eden!" printed up for the rest of the crew.
- "Warriors of the Deep" (Season 21). Margaret Thatcher announced an election and all the studio space was given to the coverage, meaning this serial lost two weeks of valuable production time. Thus most scenes were shot in one take and much of it was not even rehearsed, resulting in some truly dreadful acting all around. There were many rewrites, partially to Bowdlerise / remove political subtext that might influence the election, and partially due to a meddling Promoted Fanboy obsessed with preventing Series Continuity Errors. The Myrka (a ludicrous panto horse creature) costume was completed only half an hour before filming and the paint and glue on it weren't dry — it visibly smears on the sets as it staggers around, the actors inside the costume being light-headed from the fumes. Peter Davison had No Stunt Double and got tossed into an ice-cold pool of water (after being assured that it was warm) because the BBC didn't have the budget to afford warm water. The writer wanted the base to be dark and the sets had been built with that in mind, but Lawful Stupid BBC studio engineers insisted on lighting it as if it was on the surface of the sun, in line with regulations intended for chat shows. This story became an iconic example of the show being awful — and Executive Meddling to kill the show began, with the Fight Scene Failure of the Myrka sequence screened by execs to demonstrate why it didn't deserve to live.
- The "Trial of a Time Lord" arc (Season 23). The producer and script editor were desperately trying to keep the show on the television after it had been Un-Cancelled, seeing the serial as their 'trial' to prove to executives trying to kill the show that it still had value. They also both loathed each other and their mutual egotism caused them to purposefully derail each other's ideas out of spite. The script editor, against the wishes of the producer, recruited Robert Holmes (the Season 14 script editor) to write an arc, and he came up with an excellent plot with an ambiguous ending which involved the Doctor fighting his Enemy Without with no clear winner...before he himself dropped dead. The producer canned this because he felt that it would give the executives a way in to kill the show, so he handed it to another writing team famous for their Campy style and told them to write an unambiguous happy ending, without telling them any of what the previous script editor had planned (as legal reasons made this impossible). The result was a complete Gainax Ending, and the show went through several soft reboots in the final three seasons that followed.
- The first shoot of the 2005 revival series was a very troubled affair. The full details have never been made public, but by all accounts the director set about making himself unpopular, and after the first week of shooting they managed to be three weeks behind schedule. Christopher Eccleston has since implied in interviews that tensions on-set were among the reasons he decided to quit the show after the first series. He returned to film and theater and speaks fondly of his fans from the show, but did not participate in any of the events or episodes in the run-up to the show's 50th anniversary in 2013.
- In a less tense version of this, Russell T Davies had never managed a Sci-Fi series before, and didn't really know how to properly budget it. This led him to blow the majority of the first series' budget on its second episode, "The End of the World". While the rest of Series 1 did struggle a little because of it — the settings and sets are noticeably limited — the show was already a guaranteed success from the revival's initial episode and remains fondly remembered today despite this.
- "Planet of the Dead" (the first of the 2009 specials) was made when the new production team was being trained by the old one. Due to location shooting in Dubai and David Tennant only having a small gap in his schedule in which to film, the team only had six days to shoot. Unfortunately the double-decker bus prop on which the story relied got heavily damaged while transporting to Dubai. Russell T Davies decided to Throw It In and added lines in the script addressing the damage to the bus, but couldn't do a lot about the sandstorm that prevented shooting for several precious days!
- The Moffat era (Series 5 onward) had multiple problems getting the TARDIS set(s) to work. The original intention was for a large console room and they planned for other rooms in the same style, like a laboratory and a kitchen, but construction went massively overbudget and several questionable design decisions were made that led to parts of the set being actively dangerous to operate. This is why you rarely see the Time Rotor in motion during Series 5 - merely running it was a huge risk that chanced blowing a very expensive handblown glass prop. For Series 6, the set was heavily revised to make repairs easier (most of the wall panels and lighting housing were changed out) but had many of the same problems. It was so bad that Series 7 had to build a new TARDIS interior from scratch with No Budget, focusing on practicality of shooting — and that had to be revised heavily for Series 8 owing to the changeover from the Eleventh Doctor to the Twelfth. So, the Moffat tenure started out with a set that was designed to last for at least three years, and ended up having to build a new set each year for four years!
- "Let's Kill Hitler" (Series 6): Steven Moffat was overseeing six episodes of Doctor Who, making three film-length episodes of Sherlock and writing several Hollywood movies, and was stretched too thin and overworked. When filming was due to commence on "Let's Kill Hitler" Moffat's only option was to hand the actors his first draft and hope for the best. Most of the problems people have with the episode (ignoring people who feel They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot due to Hitler being window-dressing despite that being the point of the episode, or who simply hate the Arc it was in or Moffat's writing in general) are things like lazy filler jokes ("She's trying to kill me... plus, she's a woman!") and the lack of anything addressing the brutal finale of the last series, which likely would have been fixed had Moffat had more time to write it.
- The 1992-93 BBC soap opera Eldorado is widely regarded as one of the biggest misfires in the corporation's history, and many of the reasons for the audience apathy that led to its getting the axe after just one year can be traced back to a very troubled production.
- Eldorado began life as Little England, a series about a community of British expats struggling to maintain a sense of national and cultural identity on Spain's Costa del Sol. Creator Tony Holland, who had given the BBC its first hit soap opera in decades in EastEnders, submitted the idea for a competition held by the corporation to solicit ideas for a new soap opera to compete with commercial rival ITV's long-running audience magnets Coronation Street and Emmerdale, at a time when the BBC's audience share was lagging behind ITV and the government was considering turning it over to private ownership. At a November 1991 meeting, BBC1 controller Jonathan Powell and two other executives approved Little England to enter production.
- Problems set in almost immediately. Holland was paired with EastEnders producer and longtime friend Julia Smith, who would handle the production while Holland and EastEnders scriptwriter Tony Jordan handled the scripts. They had just six months to put the series together for its premiere, and decided to build the sets on a remote Spanish hillside miles from the nearest city, Fuengirola. Where EastEnders' Albert Square had been built in eight months and in England, the Spanish construction crew had just half that time to build the more ambitious Little England set, which featured an authentic old town with a church, a shopping plaza, and the British expats' apartment complex. Construction quickly fell behind schedule, so that when shooting began, they had to rewrite the scripts to use the sets that were available until construction finished.note
- Producer Julia Smith took charge of casting; she often gambled on casting unknowns, and while this had paid off on EastEnders (with, for example, Leslie Grantham as "Dirty" Den Watts), she seemed to aim lower for Little England. Though some of the actors, such as Campbell Morrison, Patricia Brake, and Faith Kent, were seasoned veterans, many others had little or no prior acting experience and/or a weak grasp of English; most notably, German student and timeshare salesman Kai Maurer, who had never acted before in his life and didn't even know what a readthrough was until he participated in one with the rest of the cast, was cast as windsurfing instructor Dieter after a single five-minute audition. Campbell Morrison recalled in an interview that, at the first readthrough, a director came to him with a message from Julia Smith telling him his reading was too over-the-top broad Scots; Morrison replied that he was the least of Smith's worries.
- Then, Executive Meddling began to strangle the production. With British television now reaching audiences all over Europe, Smith, under pressure from BBC executives, told Holland and Jordan that they had to place more emphasis on the non-British characters. Over time, further non-British characters were added to the cast, characters Holland and Jordan had no idea how to write for (or even which language they should use - English, which was unrealistic, or their native languages, which British audiences wouldn't understand). Finally, the BBC told Holland the title, Little England, might put off audiences in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and ordered the series re-christened Eldorado.
- When filming finally started in late spring of 1992, the sets were still not finished, and the shooting schedule was organised so that five weeks of episodes would be ready to air when the series premiered in July. Scenes were shot at breakneck speed, done in single takes except in the event of major line flubs or technical malfunctions, and with no time for the crew to reflect on whether or not a scene should be re-written or dropped altogether. As the sets were mostly stone walls and tiles, the sound had heavy echo problems that could not be resolved before the episodes were due to air. Tony Jordan recalled in an interview that the first time he attended a day's shooting, the scene being shot bore almost no resemblance to the scenes he and Tony Holland had written. The increasingly stressed Holland and Julia Smith, whose working relationship had already had many fractious moments over the years, turned on each other and fell out permanently.
- The series was launched in a blitz of publicity, and Eldorado began airing three times a week starting on 6 July 1992. Although ITV tried to "strangle the series at birth" by airing an hour-long episode of Coronation Street at the same time, the first episode drew an audience of over eight million, but by the third episode, this figure had dropped to five million, and to barely half that figure six weeks later. The press attacked the series mercilessly, finding the characters without believability (the central plot from the premiere, in which a middle-aged restaurateur returns from a trip back to England with his new 17-year-old wife, was particularly criticised), the acting amateurish, and the handling of the international cast (when they spoke in their native languages, there were no subtitles; when they spoke in English, they had almost impenetrable or comically over-the-top accents) laughable.
- Because of the heavy investment of licence-payer money in the series, the BBC tried to salvage it as best they could with a change of personnel. Julia Smith was the first to go (ostensibly due to ill health; she died five years later), replaced by another EastEnders producer in Corinne Hollingworth. She scrapped the idea of scenes in languages other than English without subtitles, chose not to renew the contracts of over half a dozen cast members (including Kai Maurer), and held the writing to a higher standard. Tony Holland left voluntarily not long after, utterly disillusioned with how far the series had deviated from his original vision.
- Although the remaining cast and crew felt the changes to the scripts and the production were a dramatic improvement and ratings began to rise again, the damage had been done, and the appointment of John Birt as BBC Director General in late 1992 and Alan Yentob as BBC1 controller a few months later sounded the death knell for the series. The last episode aired on 9 July 1993; it was fifteen years before the BBC commissioned another new soap opera (the similarly short-lived Australia-set Out of the Blue). Tony Holland never wrote for British television again, and the once stellar reputation of executive producer Verity Lambert (who, thirty years earlier, had been a central figure in the creation of Doctor Who) never quite recovered (although she did go on to produce several series of Jonathan Creek).
- Family Feud had its share of backstage troubles from original host Richard Dawson, particularly in the later years. Namely, he was a prima donna who was often at odds with the producer, even barring him from the set and debating with him on answers. Mark Goodson once remarked that Dawson gave him "tsoris" (Yiddish for "trouble").
- E! Network's Fashion Police has begun to struggle greatly at the beginning of 2015, starting with the death of Joan Rivers, the show's star and main attraction for most. The show limped on with comedienne Kathy Griffin sitting in for Rivers. However, scandal struck after the 2015 Academy Awards, after host Giuliana Rancic joked that attendee Zendaya Coleman looked like she smelled of "patchouli oil" and "weed" because she chose to wear her hair in dreadlocks that night. Rancic apologized, but that didn't stop both Griffin (no stranger to controversial statements herself) and Kelly Osbourne from quitting soon after. When the dust finally settled, E! announced they were putting the show on hiatus until September to "refresh" it before next award season, though most believe (and some hope) that is industry-speak for "finally putting it out of its misery."
- Growing Pains started having problems when its lead actor, Kirk Cameron, became a born-again Christian during the height of the show's popularity. He caused creative problems, objecting to the smallest suggestion of innuendo. He even got his co-star Julie McCullough fired, because she had posed naked for Playboy.
- Douglas Adams described the creation of the TV version of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy as "not a happy production. There was a personality clash between myself and the director. And between the cast and the director. And between the tea lady and the director." Said director, Alan Bell, puts the blame on Douglas, claiming they used to make lists of his ridiculous unfilmable ideas, to which Adams would reply that Bell "cheerfully admits he will say what suits him rather than what happens to be the case. And therefore there's no point in arguing." John Lloyd, the producer and co-writer of the radio show, was annoyed that he was made "associate producer" (he felt that the fact his credit literally explodes in the ending credits was a comment on how meaningless it was) and thought Bell was too concerned with getting things done efficiently, rather than getting them done right. The second series simply didn't happen: Adams wouldn't do it without Lloyd or Geoffrey Perkins; Bell wouldn't do it with them. It was suggested that Perkins could be script editor (since this would minimise his interaction with Bell), and he viewed the possibility of trying to wring scripts out of Adams under these conditions with horror. Nobody would back down, so...
- In its final years, the original run of The Hollywood Squares taped in Las Vegas. According to Word of God, these episodes were troubled because Paul Lynde was upset with the lodging accommodations, and his mood was bringing down everyone else.
- The Hogan Family is another show affected by infamous cast shuffling problems. The show was originally titled Valerie for the first couple seasons, and was a vehicle for star Valerie Harper, who was fresh off her success with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda. After Harper got into a dispute with show producers over the direction of the series, she was fired, and her character was killed off in a car accident. The show was then titled Valerie's Family: The Hogans, with Sandy Duncan replacing Harper as the main character, taking over as the aunt of the family. After another season, the series was again retitled The Hogan Family after enough time had passed since Harper's departure. The show channel hopped from NBC to CBS in 1990, where it lasted for one final season.
- The short-lived 1983 ABC sitcom It's Not Easy was originally supposed to debut in the 1982 season. The series (about a divorced couple living across from each other to make visitation easier on the kids) was originally intended to star Gerald McRaney (who was available because his show Simon And Simon was on the bubble in terms of possible cancellation) and Larry Breeding. The pilot was shot, but soon after CBS announced they were picking up Simon and Simon (thus removing McRaney from the production, with former The White Shadow star Ken Howard replacing him) while the series was taken off the fall schedule. Then, on September 28, 1983, Larry Breeding was killed in a car accident, with the show held back until the 1983 season (by which time game-show host Bert Convy had replaced Breeding).
- In the late summer of 1993, with Michael Jackson having just launched the Asian leg of his Dangerous tour, the rest of the Jackson family was preparing a Jackson Family Honors pretaped television Award Show / charity benefit for December that would feature most of the family (plus other acts like Dionne Warwick and Celine Dion) performing their hits and presenting a pair of humanitarian awards to Berry Gordy and Elizabeth Taylor. And then...
- The family's press conference announcing the show doubled as a show of public support for Michael in the wake of a 13-year-old boy accusing him of child molestation. In the wake of this, NBC postponed the show to the following February, while Michael prematurely ended his tour due to drug problems that necessitated an overseas stay in rehab. Michael returned to the U.S. at the end of '93, and settled out of court with his accuser in January 1994.
- The show was set to go at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada rather than the originally announced Atlantic City, New Jersey. While this was something of a step up (the MGM Grand being a shiny-new venue at the time), there were issues with the guest list. The Jacksons wanted Oprah Winfrey, who had interviewed Michael for a blockbuster ABC special the previous February, to host the show, but she turned them down. And Black Sheep of the family La Toya, who claimed that she'd seen evidence suggesting Michael was a pedophile, wanted to participate. She claimed she was barred from the event and her husband Jack Gordon threatened to sneak her into it, but that didn't happen. (Years later she recanted her claims and was accepted back into the family.)
- Neither Michael or Janet were willing to lodge with the rest of the family; each stayed elsewhere on the Strip. In fact, she only performed one number at the show and promptly left the venue altogether.
- The show was held in the hotel-casino's arena; according to the Christoper Andersen book Michael Jackson Unauthorized the tickets, priced as high as $350, sold so poorly that 3,500 freebies were given away. Even then, hours before showtime the organizers rounded up young people to act as seat-fillers and Michael supporters via premade placards.
- Interview footage with two attendees reveals that the show started 90 minutes late due to an extensive security check at the doors to the arena that kept audience members from getting to their seats.
- The big climax was effectively Michael's presentation of Elizabeth Taylor's award. Trouble continued there — a heckler asked why he'd paid his accuser off, a comment that was edited out for the television broadcast. Then the whole segment went awry when she explained to the audience, who was clamoring for him to perform, that he didn't have anything prepared. She then had to discourage them from booing, all of which was included in the broadcast version. He did participate in the most-of-the-family finale, but that was it.
- According to a Los Angeles Times article, the show raised $4.5 million, but only $100,000 of it went to charity. Several hundred thousand dollars' worth of the ticket money had to be refunded to upset patrons who paid full price for tickets that were heavily discounted by showtime. The Jacksons were also slow to pay the people who put the show on, and MGM Grand officials claimed to have been stiffed on the room service, wardrobe, and limousine bills they racked up.
- Kamen Rider takes this to an art form. The first show had a shoestring budget, and lead actor Hiroshi Fujioka did all of his own stunts, which backfired when he was injured in a bike stunt gone wrong. For a handful of episodes, production had to make do with outtakes of Fujioka dubbed over by voice actor Rokuro Naya. On the other hand, the ensuing change in formula and introduction of Kamen Rider #2 gave the series a ratings boost, and created the franchise we all know and love.
- The original 1980s version of the game show Lingo was put out by a production company that failed to pay most of its contestants due to financial difficulties. The same producer, Ralph Andrews, also had this hit on another show, a game show version of Yahtzee, around the same time.
- The shooting of the pilot episode of Lost was interrupted by constant rain, resulting in their set getting flooded and some of the equipment washed away and/or waterlogged. They had to drive to the nearest town, which was something like half an hour away, to buy hairdryers to dry off the cameras. In addition, natural rain doesn't show up properly on camera, meaning they had to fake rain all over their poor actors at the same time as trying to keep equipment from getting washed away. Then there was the other problem they had just before shooting; Evangeline Lily, who is Canadian, had some problems with getting her work visa, causing them to delay her scenes and almost have to recast the female lead in the middle of shooting.
- The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour was this, especially for Gene Rayburn who hosted the former segment. He disliked working with co-host Jon Bauman who emceed the Hollywood Squares portion (over venerable host Peter Marshall) and, according to announcer Gene Wood, was "dragged kicking and screaming" into the show. The latter segment was also plagued by convoluted either-or questions with the celebrities not allowed to give Zingers or bluffs. Since they were also not given the answers beforehand, many were forced to pull answers out of thin air, as noted by Rayburn.
- The hugely-successful Moonlighting was fraught with production delays and on-set issues, to the point that its problems were lampshaded by ABC in an ad campaign:
- While it was being produced, the series was one of the most expensive television programs ever made. As a result of overlapping, fast-paced dialogue between the main characters, the scripts often ran up to 120 pages, it cost more than $1.5 million dollars to film each episode, and production was almost always behind schedule (not helped by series creator Glenn Caron, who would often rewrite dialogue on-set during filming).
- The well-known episode "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice" cost a then-unheard of $2 million to film and took 16 days to shoot, largely due to Caron's insistence that the filming use actual black-and-white film instead of shooting in color then decolorizing it. Even then, ABC was displeased with the episode and, fearing backlash from fans who wouldn't understand the concept, had a disclaimer run before the episode informing viewers of the filming change.
- Cybill Shepherd (who played Maddie Hayes) was reportedly burned out by the long filming times and production issues, coupled with the fact that she would be receiving new script pages the day they were to be filmed. Not helping matters was the fact that Caron blamed her for the delays in production, referring to her as a star who "already reached the top of the mountain". Things got to the point where, in the fourth season, Caron reportedly left the production for good because of the tension between Shepherd and himself, arguing that he believed the network would pick her over him if it came down to a corporate decision.
- Bruce Willis (who played David Addison), by contrast, started out the series being very friendly to Shepherd and the production crew. However, once Die Hard became a smash hit, he realized he was meant for a movie career and became detached from the job, as well as had a strained working relationship with Shepherd.
- The production delays were so severe that ABC ran an ad campaign showing network executives waiting for new episodes to appear at their company headquarters. Further production delays (including Shepherd leaving production to give birth to twins and Willis suffering from a skiing accident) only exacerbated the problem.
- When Shepherd returned from her post-pregnancy break, the writers forced her character into a storyline where she spontaneously married a random man she met on a train (in a bid to recreate the tension between David and Maddie), despite Shepherd herself vehemently protesting it. This led to a further ratings decline, and the series' eventual cancellation at the end of its fifth season.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn't perfect, being a series that brings big laughs with a small budget, but they do have some very interesting incidents.
- Back in Season Two, there was The Sidehackers. Prior to this episode, Best Brains would choose a movie, someone would watch over part of it and if was worthy to riff, they'd go through it. When Frank Conniff found it, he thought it was good enough to riff on and the rights were acquired for it. Imagine their shock and horror when, partway through, there was a rape and murder scene. Unable to pull back, Best Brains ended up lopping out the entire scene and Trace, as Crow, added in a throwaway line mentioning what happened to the girl who suffered that fate. Not surprisingly, the production team decreed that they would watch the whole film before committing themselves to shooting an episode based on it in future.
- The blooper reel Poopie! does show a number of incidents that has the Crow, Tom and Gypsy puppets malfunction in some way, mostly by Tom losing his dome or Crow's headnet falling off. One incident from the movie Danger!! Death Ray had a scene where Tom shoots Crow with a ray gun and Crow's seen lit up. As the scene comes to an end, Crow bursts into flames! The scene was actually kept in!
- Another Poopie! blooper from The Hellcats episode showed that Frank couldn't say "I don't fink on soul brother" with a straight face at all! It was so bad, that they grabbed the best take and cut just before he and Trace burst out laughing.
- The Sci-Fi Channel years suffered heavily from Executive Meddling. Sci-Fi executives demanded a recurring storyline, much to the crew's chagrin, and initially limited their movie output to Universal titles. The restrictions were relaxed somewhat for the final season.
- NBC's entire news division under NBCUniversal Newsgroup President Pat Fili-Krushel and NBC News President Deborah Turness. If you want to take a news organization that was trusted and ratings-dominant for two decades, then ruin it with a series of increasingly disastrous PR flaps, these two are the ones you want.
- In fairness, things were bad before Fili-Kushel and Turness got the top jobs, though they undoubtedly made things worse. The controversial firing of Keith Olbermann (see above) and the botched dismissal of Ann Curry as co-host of Today led ratings for MSNBC and Today (which had been the consistently highest-rated morning news show for seventeen years until that point) respectively to suffer.
- So how to repair the damage done by the previous botched firings by presiding even more botched firings? First to go was David Gregory, the longtime NBC political correspondent whose run on Meet the Press had been marred by gaffes and unfavorable comparisons to predecessor Tim Russert. NBC was criticized for putting out a press release assuring everyone that Gregory would not be going anywhere, then abruptly kicking him off both the show and the network.
- Then a strange melodrama unfolded when Turness had to disprove rumors that Today co-hosts Natalie Morales and Willie Geist would be the next ones axed. Who was? Today's general manager Jaime Horowitz, who Turness had been desperate to hire but who had only been on the job ten weeks before being told to leave.
- But this is nothing compared to MSNBC's own hirings and firings, and the resulting game of musical chairs with its hosts. Between 2011 and 2015, Ed Schultz's show changed time slots no less than five times before it was cancelled. The network also made some controversial new hires such as Ronan Farrow (Mia's son), who had no experience in TV journalism and was given a weekday show solely on the basis of his social media presence. His show was cancelled after one year.
- Yet the most humiliating blow came when NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was caught embellishing his involvement in a firefight during the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was suspended for six months without pay. An internal review by NBC reportedly discovered eleven other examples of fabulism by Williams. While he was not fired outright, in mid-June it was announced that he had been effectively demoted to serving as "breaking news anchor" for MSNBC while Nightly's longtime weekend anchor Lester Holt was promoted to lead anchor.
- Venezuelan screenwriter Ibsen Martinez was infamous for having walked off the production of his soap Por Estas Calles in the mid-nineties because of intense Executive Meddling. After two decades away from TV, he wanted to have a return to form by penning Nora, a co-production between Televen, Telemundo, and Cadena Tres, but after all the trouble behind the scenes he should have walked off this one too.
- The trouble began even before filming. The soap was originally promoted under the name "Nora la emprendedora" ("Nora The Enterprising"), but it was changed because they realized it was ripe for joking / being confused with Dora la exploradora. It was announced around 2011, but production didn't fully begin until October 2013 because there was no national network willing to finance or broadcast the program, due to both Martinez's fame and Venezuela's economic situation.
- The main actress, Colombian Carla Giraldo, was very temperamental and didn't get along with most of the Venezuelan production staff and cast, but to her merit she tried to be professional and amiable during promotional stints. Still, there was enough of the drama leaking that Martinez felt forced to give a press release declaring that no, he wasn't going to walk off this soap, and yes, there were problems but they were working on them.
- The troubles with Giraldo increased when she was revealed to be pregnant during the production, so filming had to be rushed to get all her scenes in before the pregnancy showed too much. By the time she went on maternity leave they had advanced so much into filming, the production decided to film the rest of the soap before premiering because why not, conveniently forgetting that the last time someone in the country filmed a soap fully note the resultant product bombed in the ratings.
- Complicating matters were the famous protests of early 2014 in Caracas, where the soap was filming, which greatly disrupted the filming schedule as many of the protests were on the roads midway between the studios and the homes of the cast and crew.
- Because Giraldo went back to her country to give birth and then decided not to come back to finish filming, Martinz was forced to rewrite the plot to get Nora out of the story and reform a villainesque character into a suitable love interest for the male protagonist.
- The soap was finally premiered in September 2014, to tepid reception, mixed critics, and low ratings.
- Pitfall, a short-lived game show hosted by Alex Trebek. The production company had trouble paying contestants their winnings, and even stiffed Alex on his salary — he still has the bounced check from the production company framed in his living room.
- Power Rangers: Particularly in the movies.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Season 1 hit its troubles when it turned out the series was more popular than anticipated. So when Fox Kids ordered an additional 20 episodes for Season 1, Saban asked TOEI to make new fight footage from Zyuranger exclusively for Power Rangers, known to fans as Zyu2, due to the original usable Zyuranger being exhausted (even so, they made two Post Script episodes which recycled a lot of already used footage in different context to kill time until they got the Zyu2 stuff). The original plan was to do even more exclusive footage for Power Rangers and introduce upgraded Dinozords, but because of the cost, it was decided to just adapt Dairanger's monster and zord footage instead with only 25 Zyu2 fights filmed.
- Season 2 had it even worse. The last ten episodes spilled over to Season 2, which created a new problem when Saban and Bandai wanted to introduce new zords to get new toys on the shelves in time for the holidays. The decision was made to hack the Dairanger mecha footage prematurely, resulting in two different sources of footage being spliced together for the zord battles. The mecha from Dairanger would launch an attack and then cut to footage of the Zyu2 monster taking the hit and vice-versa. After the Zyu2 footage was bled dry, the situation was completely reversed. Now, the monsters came from Dairanger, meaning the zord battle didn't have to be spliced together, but since most of the Dairanger monster costumes were unusable for American footage and Power Rangers continued to use the Zyuranger costumes, the majority of Dairanger monsters never once appeared on screen with the Rangers. Instead, most of the ground fights were Rangers fighting Z-putties in American footage with the Dairanger monster barking orders in completely isolated footage before Zedd made the monster grow. To top it off, the actors playing the Red, Black, and Yellow Ranger were let go halfway through Season 2 due to contract disputes with the producers and during the interim of writing the replacements into the show, the production team had to use stand ins and recycled footage from earlier episodes to make it seem like the departed cast members were still on the show until they were able to write them out.
- When production ran longer than expected for the movie, the TV series production was forced to film in Australia, leading to heavy use of stock footage for scenes that required sets they couldn't access at the time, such as the command center.
- Power Rangers Turbo had production troubles in its first half. Producer Jonathan Tzachor wanted to embrace the source footage Gekisou Sentai Carranger's slapstick comedy and then story editor Doug Sloan wanted to continue Power Rangers Zeo's more serious bent of the franchise growing up. This led to severe mood whiplash, like a villain planting bombs that Rangers needed to deactivate before they blew up and kill people while having goofy concepts like Tommy reading the new zords' instruction manual. Eventually Doug Sloan left and was replaced with Judd Lynn right when it came time to jettison the old cast (save the new kid appeal character they just brought in) and replace them with a new cast. As Judd Lynn was in agreement on playing closer to Carranger's comedy, the product became a lot more cohesive in the show's second half.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Jonathan Tzachor wanted the space theme to continue due to In Space's popularity but the Sentai series had a nature theme, where the Rangers had animal motifs, their zord was made out of living animals, and the standard weapons were swords. This led to a series set in a space colony where many episodes suspiciously feel like they should be taking place on Earth. When the actress playing Pink Ranger Kendrix was stricken with leukemia, her planned replacement was Cassie, the Pink Ranger of Power Rangers in Space, but this was scuttled due to contract disputes,note and she was replaced by Karone, the former Astronema. Fortunately, this worked out really well.
- Additionally, scripts were constantly being rewritten, and at times, the producers weren't sure what exactly they wanted to do with the season. This is particularly evident when the Lost Galaxy, the season namesake, was reduced to an eight-episode mini-arc near the end of the season.
- The "Lights of Orion" arc suffered horribly, to the point where scripts for episodes were still being written DURING THE FILMING OF SAID EPISODES.
- Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: While the show overall didn't seem to suffer massive issues, the team-up with the previous season... On top of drawing heavily on Sentai footage from the counterpart team-up special, which is rarely done for any team-up, given the diverging plots between Power Rangers and Super Sentai, it was originally released as a video tie-in for McDonald's, explaining why the episode focused more on a child actor than, say, the two teams teaming up. Amy Miller, the actress who portrayed the villain Trakeena, left the set shortly after filming began when she learned that the Lost Galaxy characters were essentially cameos in their own team-up and was replaced by another actress. While he remained for filming, Danny Slavin, who played the Red Lost Galaxy Ranger, is audibly redubbed with the voice of another actor at points.
- Power Rangers Wild Force: The anniversary episode "Forever Red" was rife with problems. Originally conceived as a cult attempting to revive Dark Specter, the need to use abandoned Beetleborgs costumes and the want of a super weapon led to the usage of the Machine Empire and Serpentera. Scenes were filmed and cut out (including a bigger role for the Wild Force team outside of their brief cameo) and a major battle between classic Megazords and Serpentera were scuttled when Bandai insisted that Cole use a vehicle he gained just an episode earlier, leading to a Curbstomp Battle. Also, Leo's actor had been dissatisfied with his show's treatment in their crossover on Lightspeed Rescue, and only agreed to do it after most of the episode had already been shot. Hence his very late arrival, and the awkward bit where he demorphs just so the big morphing sequence can include all ten Rangers.
- Power Rangers Dino Thunder: Not as bad as most, but Jason David Frank wanting to spend some time back with his family and run his martial arts school in the United States forced them to create a scenario where Tommy is trapped in his morphed state, then invisible. Like the Karone incident, it did lead to an awesome moment. Production also had to change course when Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger's apparent Sixth Ranger, AbareMax, turned out to be a powerup for the Red Ranger instead of giving the powers to Devon as reportedly planned.
- Power Rangers S.P.D.: Executive Meddling led to a good chunk of the series' budget being placed onto the series finale, which had a major CGI battle between the SWAT Megazord and the Bigger Bad. However, this led to them being unable to do a number of things, including hiring an actor for Sixth Ranger Sam, the Omega Ranger. As well, many episodes were taken wholesale from its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. When Canada accidentally aired the second crossover episode between SPD and Dino Thunder, ABC held back that part for a good length of time before finally letting it air. Speaking of that episode, budget problems led to them to not even consider bringing back Jason David Frank who was back in the States. Frank has stated he was never asked to return. He was never seen out of his suit, and his voice was shemped by Trent's actor Jeffery Parazzo, as they couldn't afford to bring in a specially cast voice actor and Parazzo was already available.
- As a whole, the Disney-era Rangers series suffered from Troubled Production. It was bought up when Disney attempted to get the Fox Family Channel and Saban's collection of series (specifically Digimon) and the series as a whole clashed with Disney's family-friendly attitude. While they did show some care during the early years, their apathy soon started to show. They attempted to shut down the series at least three times and even attempted to start up an animated version to avoid paying TOEI money.
- Power Rangers Megaforce has been hit with major problems with almost everything but the actual filming. After the Power Rangers franchise was canceled by Disney and bought back by Saban Brands, the show Channel Hopped over to Nickelodeon... who then slapped the show with a "20 episodes per season" limit that split each adaptation in half (Rangers is one of the few shows to exceed the typical 22-episode limits of American television, often having 32 to 40 episodes per season, which is still less than Super Sentai's typical 50), and a massive summer hiatus. This didn't affect Power Rangers Samurai too badly, but it created a cascade of problems that piled up and broke the back of Megaforce.
- Power Rangers found itself slipping further and further behind the Sentai source material (as of this writing, Rangers is roughly three seasons behind). Furthermore, the next seasons in line to be adapted were Tensou Sentai Goseiger, a rather mediocre season, and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, a 35th anniversary milestone celebration. Although Gokaiger's 35th anniversary would dovetail nicely with the 20th anniversary of Power Rangers, Saban was apparently not allowed to simply skip Goseiger and go straight to Gokaiger. In an attempt to square the circle and catch up to Sentai, Saban decided to fold together the two series, starting with Goseiger for Megaforce and moving to Gokaiger for the second half of the season, Super Megaforce to line up the respective anniversaries.
- This created new problems, not helped by They Just Didn't Care hitting the show hard. Taking 100 episodes of two different stories and condensing them down into a single 40 episode story arc resulted in massive pacing problems. Additionally, the two series varied widely in terms of tone and characterization, with Goseiger being more light and fun and Gokagier being a little more dark and complex. Combining stock footage from both created wildly inconsistent characterization, with characters bouncing back and forth from calm and stoic to hyper and energetic and vice versa (the Pink Ranger got the worst of this). Additionally, Gokaiger had a gimmick of being able to morph into past Rangers and using their powers. Super Megaforce kept this, along with several ranger teams that never actually made it to North America who simply appeared with no explanation outside of being "new powers" On top of all this, the anniversary aspect left the door open to cameos and appearances from past Rangers (as happened in Gokaiger). Of the hundred or so actors who played Rangers in the past 20 seasons, they brought back roughly 10, with actor after actor announcing they weren't returning either because they simply weren't asked or they declined the (apparently really bad) offer, and some of those that did return didn't even have speaking parts to show for it (it should be mentioned that these appearances were no small feat, as the show now films in New Zealand). An anniversary season with an interesting theme and incredible Stock footage built right in has sadly turned into a massive case of What Could Have Been.
- Once he became executive producer of The Price Is Right in the 1980s, Bob Barker was often at odds with the models, having fired six of them for various reasons. All six of them sued him for sexual harassment. He also barred longtime announcer Rod Roddy from appearing on-camera in the early 2000s due to a salary dispute, which led to Fremantle Media covering up by saying that they'd enacted a policy to keep announcers from appearing on camera… which quickly fell apart when, only a couple seasons later, his successor Rich Fields started appearing on camera regularly.
- The Highlander television series had its own spin-off: The Raven. The show went through a lot of mutations, beginning as a totally unrelated script and eventually settling on a Distaff Counterpart played by one of Highlander's supporting characters (Amanda Darieux, played by Elizabeth Ward Gracen). A combination of pressure from the producers (the star of Highlander: The Series was in a hurry to leave), poor casting choices, a healthy dollop of Mood Whiplash, and a lack of direction marred the project. In the DVD featurette, the creative genesis of Raven is a fog: No one had an idea where to take Gracen's greedy thief, a strange fit for a selfless heroine. Problems mounted as anathema grew between the two leads: Gracen had gotten involved with a French "Ambassador" who later turned out to be a fantasist (and a Bastard Boyfriend, to boot) and convinced her that Ken Starr has turned his cross-hairs from Monica Lewinsky to Elizabeth Gracen and that her co-workers were all CIA spies. And that's not even addressing the music composer who spent his days hitting bars instead of working, foreign investors who insisted on a Lighter and Softer tone for a series about lopping off heads, etc. The series wrapped up after 21 episodes, with a cliffhanger no less.
Bill Panzer (Executive Producer): I will take my share of the blame. I hope there are others who will stand up next to me.
- The producers might have known something was up when Gracen came in to audition: her black hair had been cropped and dyed white, making her look like a Eurythmics-era Annie Lennox. No one thought twice about it, thinking it would be a good look for the character. (In actuality, Gracen had been disguising herself to elude the CIA.)
- Red Dwarf has had its share of trouble over the years:
- Series I was held up for six months by industrial action at The BBC. They also had so much trouble finding studio audiences that co-creator Doug Naylor had to go around pubs near the studio to recruit audience members.
- Series V suffered from the departure of long-standing director Ed Bye. His replacement, Juliet May soon proved to be totally out of her element on the show, resulting in the intended season premiere "Demons and Angels" having to be punted back to being the penultimate episode when it turned out that not one of the complicated split-screen shots required to show the crew's "high" and "low" forms was usable. As the season wore on it quickly became apparent that the cast had lost any respect they had for May, resulting in creator Rob Grant and Doug Naylor cutting their losses, firing May and directing the remainder of the season themselves.
- The abortive Red Dwarf USA pilot suffered from friction between Grant Naylor and the American creative team, the latter of whom quickly adopted a The Complainer Is Always Wrong stance and shut their British counterparts out of the writing process. Not to be deterred, Grant and Naylor rewrote the pilot script themselves, and the cast and director much preferred their script, but the American producers insisted on going ahead with the original version, which proved a bomb. Not to be deterred, Grant and Naylor managed to shoot a second pilot, a glorified promo reel with No Budget... which got an even worse reception than the first pilot, and killed the whole thing completely.
- Grant and Naylor returned to the UK fully intending to write and direct Series VI themselves, with full creative control, only for the BBC to pour cold water on that dream by giving them just four months to write and film the whole series, forcing them to hire another new director (who, fortunately, proved up to the job this time). The rushed schedule forced a much bigger reliance on Running Gags than in previous years, and resulted in the season finale, "Out of Time" being written as it was being shot.
- Series VII had a lot of trouble just getting to the point where they could even make it. Craig Charles was imprisoned due to a (eventually proven false) rape allegation, while Chris Barrie decided that he wanted to leave the show to focus on his own sitcom, The Brittas Empire (eventually just starring in two episodes of Series VII, with cameos in two more). More seriously however, the strain of Red Dwarf USA and Series VI had caused the Grant Naylor writing partnership to collapse, leaving Doug Naylor to write the show alongside a bunch of new writers whose work always required extensive retooling. This time the troublesome creative process proved obvious on-screen, with Series VII being a ratings hit, but near-universally considered the show's worst season by some distance.
- Series VIII was actually pretty smooth sailing for the most part... until the season finale came along. Doug Naylor initially wrote a ludicrously over-ambitious episode that would have seen Red Dwarf finally return to Earth, before hastily writing the actual season-ending episode, "Only the Good." Filming of that episode went well, albeit with Naylor having to pay for an all-important model out of his own pocket due the budget having run out. But then Naylor decided to ditch the original ending (which clearly set up a Series IX) in favour of a more open-ended conclusion that would allow him to end the TV series and do a Continuity Reboot with the planned Red Dwarf: The Movie, while still doing Series IX if he wanted to. This resulted in the episode's eventual ending being something they thought of only minutes before shooting, with no idea how they were going to resolve it.
- After Red Dwarf: The Movie died in Development Hell, the eventual Series IX took the form of a three-part miniseries called "Back to Earth." Unfortunately, they only had the budget for a two-part miniseries; it was originally supposed to be accompanied by a standalone special named "Red Dwarf Unplugged," where the cast would have performed classic Red Dwarf sketches before a live audience, but during a run-through it was realized that the special simply didn't work on any level whatsoever. Since Grant Naylor was still under contract to provide three episodes however, they had to stretch their minimal budget out in any way they could.
- Series X had a myriad of problems which began from two things. Firstly, Chris Barrie and Craig Charles flat-out refused to return unless every episode was shot before a live audience. This wasn't a problem back when the BBC were still making the show, as they handled that in-house, but Grant Naylor had to hire an external agency to do provide the audience at considerable expense, which in turn caused nearly all the season's location scenes to be scrapped. Secondly, the season's intended producer, Jo Howard (who had worked on the show in various capacities since Series III, and produced "Back to Earth") was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which claimed her life not long afterwards. She was hastily replaced by Doug Naylor's son Richard, who did an admirable job given the circumstances, but made several beginner's mistakes which caused filming to be incredibly rushed. On top of all this, there was a camera problem that required substantial re-editing on the first episode of the season, something not helped when all the raw footage went missing.
- On its first day of airing, PAX (now Ion) had a movie-based quiz show called The Reel to Reel Picture Show, hosted by Peter Marshall. 200 episodes were ordered, but due to the production company going bankrupt, only 25 were made. In addition neither Peter, the celebrity guests, or any of the contestants were ever paid.
- Sam & Cat ran into many problems during its short run. Spun off from two of Nickelodeon's more popular shows, iCarly and Victorious, and featuring two of their more popular stars, Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande, the show was a hit from the word go, despite controversy (namely the show resulting in the cancellation of several other shows on Nick's schedule).
- The problems seemed to start when, instead of being renewed for a second season, the series instead had its first season episode order doubled from 20 to 40. This is an unheard-of number for a scripted show; most American series don't exceed 24 episodes a season, with cable shows often having far less. (Even in the 1950s, when it was not uncommon for series to have upwards of 30 episodes per season, this would have been unheard of.) This meant that the cast and crew didn't get a break from their schedule and also didn't get to possibly renegotiate contracts between seasons.
- This grueling schedule put a strain on everybody, with McCurdy and Grande both reportedly ready to move on. Both stars began showing up late on set, and McCurdy backed out of a planned appearance at the Kids Choice Awards in 2014, saying point-blank on Twitter the reason was the way she was treated by Nickelodeon. There was also the Contractual Purity of being young adults working at the kid-friendly Nickelodeon; Grande's music career has taken off, and McCurdy was struggling with personal problems, including losing her mother in late 2013 and the leak of several racy (though not explicit) photos.
- Amidst all of this, the show wasn't renewed for a second season and instead was placed on "permanent hiatus", with all crew members let go apart from post-production to finish the episodes already filmed. Nick then officially cancelled the show.
- "A Study in Pink", the Pilot Episode of Sherlock, was originally shot as a 60-minute one-off movie, supposedly at cost of almost a million pounds. There were rumors the BBC was going to junk it, and they did ... by asking Gatiss and Moffat to turn it into a series pilot instead. But that required making it longer, and they didn't think they could maintain a consistent feel since they couldn't get their original cinematographer back. So they shot the whole thing over.
- The reshoot didn't go smoothly. It turned out to be during the coldest winter in Britain in 30 years, with many scenes taking place outdoors (and at night as well). Benedict Cumberbatch came down with what he thought was just the flu but turned out to be potentially life-threatening pneumonia, for which he had to be hospitalized. Not to be outdone, Martin Freeman fell while getting out of his ride to the set one day and broke his wrist, requiring that his hand be placed in a cast between takes.
- Sliders exemplifies the former Sci-Fi Channel's penchant for production problems, along with hubris and arrogance on the cast's part, despite it being the channel's top-rated program at the time. Simply put, everyone on the cast or crew got screwed over at one time or another:
- The first two seasons were fraught with behind-the-scenes battles between the Fox network and the production team. Fox wanted more episodes that had a greater emphasis on action and less continuity (so they could show them in any order they wanted), even putting the show on hiatus after the ninth episode of season 1. The production crew responded by forcing a cliffhanger at the end of said episode, to Fox's dismay. Later on, Fox canceled the series at the end of season 2, and it was only saved by a massive fan campaign.
- Fox brass continually hounded co-creator Tracy Tormé throughout his tenure on the show. They tried to derail his plan to resolve the first-season cliffhanger, his input in season three was ignored by the production team when the series moved primary filming to Los Angeles, and he eventually left the show at the end of the third season.
- John Rhys-Davies' controversial death in "Exodus" (via having his brains sucked out, being shot and then left to die on an exploding planet) was caused by behind-the-scenes issues. Rhys-Davies allegedly insulted then-producer David Peckinpah (while drunk) at a party hosted by Fox brass when the series first began. Later on, when Peckinpah was promoted and gained control of the series, he used this leverage to convince the network to fire the actor (via the release of his episode contract), and gave him the fate he endured in the episode.
- Jerry O'Connell was originally planned to star in several episodes of the fifth season, but held up production for months while he tried to negotiate for an Executive Producer credit. While the network had already given him more perks than any of the other cast members, O'Connell wouldn't budge, and after hearing that his brother Charlie wouldn't be able to appear in all 18 episodes (as Charlie's character, Colin, was contingent on Jerry's character, Quinn), the brothers walked away from the table. Things got worse when the production team attempted to figure out a way to explain Quinn and Colin's absence from the show - Jerry wouldn't give up the use of his image or voice from the prior seasons, meaning that the producers had to make do with a pair of stunt doubles and a voice that is clearly not O'Connell's.
- Kari Wuhrer's presence on the show in the third season caused massive friction between herself and Sabrina Lloyd. During a script-reading, Wuhrer made snide comments about Lloyd's engagement to one of the crew members, which caused Lloyd to break down and cry in her trailer, thus holding up production for hours. David Peckinpah (who first approached Wuhrer to star on the show) used this incident to spread lies about Sabrina costing the network money, and eventually told her point-blank that he would support Wuhrer and not her (prompting her to leave the series). Even worse, Peckinpah later twisted the knife by condemning Lloyd's character, Wade, to being raped in a Kromagg breeding camp - the only reason it didn't come off looking even worse is because the production staff led a Writer Revolt to change the plot to something more meaningful (via the introduction of the Humaggs).
- Peckinpah himself was demoted to a consultant by the network out of spite because he had taken on a concurrent job as executive producer with another Universal Studios production called Turks. However, he often visited the Sliders set and ended up influencing the direction of the fifth season just as much as the previous ones.
- While renewal rumors were still up in the air at the end of season five, Sci-Fi discovered that they didn't have the cash necessary to pay the actors' contracts for another season, and when fans emailed the company asking for information, Sci-Fi representatives emailed back that the show was cancelled because the actors wouldn't sign back on, conveniently ignoring the monetary issue.
- The short-lived musical drama series Smash inspired a long article on Buzzfeed shortly before the second-season premiere about how the show's first season was a, uh, smash in an entirely different sense of the word, requiring a major Retool:
- The concept seemed great at first. Playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck, who'd been a co-producer of NYPD Blue, had long tried to sell the idea of a TV series built around putting on a Broadway show. No one was interested until Robert Greenblatt, who's apparently also a theater geek, took over at NBC. The network's lagging ratings and need for something different made it likely her show would be picked up. Then he got Steven Spielberg interested. The $7.5 million pilot episode wowed audiences at the 2011 upfronts and was set to premiere in midseason.
- Then things went to hell. Since Rebeck had never run a TV show before, the network and the studio brought in David Marshall Grant, who had the relevant experience, to be her assistant showrunner. She reportedly resented the idea she needed help, and immediately got paranoid, believing Grant was being set up to replace her eventually. Soon she was fighting regularly with not only him but the executives at the network and the studio.
- Rebeck insisted on writing the next two episodes by herself. She also eschewed having a writers' room, preferring to work with the writers individually and then rewrite to her pleasure, a process that's worked on other shows. However, during that time, she and the other executives became preoccupied with fending off Spielberg's move to replace Megan Hilty.
- They kept her, one of the few things that kept the show's quality up, but meanwhile the writing went off in weird directions. A subplot involving Julia's attempt to adopt a sister for her teenage son, Leo, began taking up a great deal of the show. It was kept in because it mirrored a similar event in Rebeck's own life, and even the network executives knew how personal it was to her and said nothing. Ellis, villainous assistant to Julia's writing partner Tom, somehow became a major character (because Spielberg loved him), as did Leo (whose actor, Emory Cohen, also survived an attempt to recast him). The writers couldn't give Julia any serious challenges to overcome because she was based on Rebeck herself, and naturally the showrunner portrayed her as totally heroic, even when she began having an adulterous affair that cost the character any sympathy she might have gained. Since there was no writers' room, and one hand didn't know what the other was doing, important character moments wound up being glossed over in episode after episode, to the point that the term "hatewatching" was coined when people tried to explain why they tuned in.
- By the time the third episode was done it was obvious that the show was going the wrong way in a big hurry. Yet Rebeck wouldn't listen to anyone and refused to make any changes, no matter how long and loud they fought with her. Yet the executives, particularly Greenblatt, continued to involve themselves in even minor aspects of production, like the fabric for the Marilyn Monroe costume. His suggestions were actually, according to the writers and crew, useful, to the point that they were hoping Rebeck gave in. "You know it's bad when our last hope was the network," said one.
- Spielberg was the only one supporting her after a while, and when the two executives from DreamWorks who'd been keeping him from finding out how bad things had gotten on the show finally let him on it, Rebeck lost even that. Shortly after the show was renewed, she was fired... and things went From Bad to Worse. Much worse. Much, much worse. And don't think Rebeck didn't notice.
- Looking back, it's hard not to sense art imitating life in the storyline itself. As part of the Season 2 retool, the show's perspective was evenly split between a) Bombshell, the massively-promoted (but unwieldy) Marilyn Monroe piece which, judging by the near-constant backstage strife, will finally debut sometime in 2024 AD, and b) Playlist, a hot off-Broadway property with a Younger and Hipper bent and creative backing from the ex-star and ex-director of Bombshell, both of whom were exiled. The Bombshell storyline was representative of Theresa Rebeck's camp; the Playlist half (where most of the show's improvements were) represented her network enemies.
- Star Trek: The Original Series was rife with problems. The root cause for much of it was the network wanting an action-oriented Space Western and the production team wanting to do serious science fiction. Low budgets were also a big problem, something you'd probably figure out from watching almost any episode. Things got especially bad in the infamous Third (or "Turd") Season. The show was renewed thanks to a fan letter-writing campaign, but with budgets slashed further and a move to the Friday Night Death Slot. This led to Gene Roddenberry quitting his job as Show Runner. As a result of all this, the third season had a marked decline in quality with an accompanied increase in campiness. Leonard Nimoy found himself frequently clashing with writers and directors who wanted Spock to do Out of Character things like use violence or hit on the Girl of the Week. By the end of that season, the show had predictably crashed and burned itself into Cancellation.
- If there's any single episode of TOS that suffered from this trope, it was "The Alternative Factor" during the first season. John Barrymore, Drew's father, had been cast as Lazarus, the main guest role ... and then didn't show up on the first day of filming. His agent and lawyer couldn't find him, so they cast someone else in a big hurry (Barrymore's absence led to him getting suspended by SAG for six months after Desilu filed a grievance). The beard for the replacement was improvised from what had been designed for Barrymore, and it shows. The script has howler lines like "Starfleet has been getting reports from all over the galaxy and far beyond..." It also had a subplot in which Lazarus became romantically involved with a black member of the crew — which admittedly seems out of place on the eve of universal Armageddon and didn't have much to do with anything. That was actually filmed ... and hastily edited out when NBC got paranoid about how the Southern affiliates would react, resulting in the finished episode's choppy feel.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation had a similarly rough ride for its first couple of seasons, mostly due to Gene Roddenberry's declining health, substance abuse, spaced-out mental state, and the ridiculously high turnover rate in his writing staff for the first two seasons. Roddenberry's lawyer took control of the writing staff for most of the first season (supposedly rewriting scripts, against Writers' Guild rules, at one point), leading to the departure of TOS mainstays David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana after he began retaliating against them for complaints (Gerrold left amicably, or so he thought, only to be blackballed after Gene "The Great Bird" Roddenberry told everyone he was fired for his incompetence). Near the end of the season cast member Denise Crosby, who got pissed off at being a glorified extra, also left.
Things got a bit better for the second season where Maurice Hurley took over the writing staff, but since a lot of TV writers chose to sit out the whole 1988-89 season after the 1988 WGA strike it left no more than about four or five writers (two of whom worked as a team) working on the show at any one point. It didn't help that, according to Tracy Torme at least, Hurley didn't get along with anybody and only differed from Roddenberry's lawyer in that he actually had writing experience. There were also rumors that Hurley had a big crush on Gates McFadden and expressed it like any four-year-old would: he had her written out of the second season (replacing her with Dr. Pulaski) when she brushed him off. It wasn't until the third season, when Roddenberry's health wouldn't allow him to even work, which allowed Rick Berman and Michael Piller to gently steal control of the production and the show started to balance out.
- Even by the standards of the first two seasons, the infamous episode "Code of Honor" stands out. One of the two original writers took his name off it after it was heavily rewritten, and that was before the director they hired chose to populate the aliens of the week entirely with African-American guest actors, whom he proceeded to treat like garbage (though apparently he didn't treat the main cast a whole lot better). Eventually Roddenberry decided enough was enough and canned the director, leaving the first assistant director to pick up the pieces for the remainder of the shoot... which just happened to include the episode's big action sequence. Most of the main cast members (Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton especially) have had some rather choice words about the episode in recent years. Not to mention that many of the writers felt Roddenberry's rewrite put it beyond any chance of salvation. He had supposedly told one of the two original writers, on another episode, that the Enterprise doesn't fire warning shots ... only to add a scene in this episode where it did exactly that. Gah.
- Just getting Star Trek: Voyager to air was incredibly problematic. Originally, Genevieve Bujold was to play Captain Janeway, but had no experience with a television schedule. Reportedly, there were also creative differences: Bujold had a habit of ad-libbing emotions and differing from the director's and producers' vision of the character. According to Rick Berman, no one on set believed she would last a week, but had been brought in by the studio as a 'name' actor for the role. On the second day of shooting, she walked off the set, and did not return. (Making at least one crew member in the betting pool extremely happy).
This caused a chain reaction of problems: Robert Beltran, who had agreed to play Chakotay just to act alongside Bujold, was not a happy camper for the seven year run. The crew filmed what they could while trying to recast Janeway, but, being Star Trek, they sort of needed to have The Captain be prominent in the first episode. This led to production shutting down for two weeks. When they finally got Kate Mulgrew for the role, after viewing the rushes, they noted that the stage lighting didn't mix with Mulgrew's ginger hair, creating a blinding distraction in every shot. This prompted more reshoots (with a severe "bun" hairstyle on Mulgrew), most of them on-location, which were no longer available and thus more expensive. A favorite joke on set was wondering if the pilot would be finished before the series ended. Adjusted for inflation, Voyager's pilot cost more than Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- But it was all worth it just to bring smiles to the fans' faces? Right? Actually, the debut of a female Captain provoked bomb threats.
- In the writer's room, there was apparently a lot of friction over the direction of the series - some of the writers wanted to follow a more serialized pattern, others wanted an episodic approach. As everyone now knows, the latter prevailed: The first season introduced several story arcs that were either aborted or left untouched. The first attempt at a multi-episode character arc, in season two, with Tom Paris's erratic behavior and the traitor, was wrapped up in a manner most found unsatisfactory.
- When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine concluded, Ronald Moore joined the writing staff on Voyager. He left after an episode and a half due to the atmosphere in the writer's room, where he specifically was told, when asked how to write a character, "we don't know, do whatever." This led to a falling out between him and former frequent writer partner (and head of writing staff) Brannon Braga, who was no longer in any mood for collaboration. Braga essentially drummed Moore out of the job by refusing to let him attend meetings, even relocating the script conferences to his own house. In recent years, they appear to have patched things up.
- According to one account, Jennifer Lien's departure from the show was a mix of tumultuous circumstances. During production of the "Scorpion" two-parter at the end of the third season, it was decided to bring on a new cast member. The producers didn't want to make the main cast go any higher than 9 members, and were considering cutting Harry Kim's actor, Garrett Wang (supposedly because he was known to be lazy and missed filming for several episodes). However, Garrett's inclusion in a People Magazine article in 1997 caused the producers to scramble to find someone else to fire, and the axe fell on Lien. Reportedly, she didn't even know she had been fired until she read the script for "The Gift", her farewell episode.
- The introduction of Seven of Nine created a host of new problems. Alongside Jennifer Lien's departure mentioned above, the writers quickly snapped up the opportunity to write for a new character after three years of the same ones. This pushed Seven of Nine to the front of the show — well ahead of series mainstays Tim Russ, Garrett Wang, Roxann Dawson, Robert Beltran, and even the "star" Kate Mulgrew — causing tensions on set that would reverberate for the remaining four seasons.
- And none of this factors in the issues with Jeri Ryan's Future Spandex costume. Alongside being uncomfortable and delicate, it was downright dangerous, with the high collar pressing against Ryan's carotid artery and causing her to faint on set at least twice, alongside creating a production shutdown any time she needed to go to the bathroom (causing her to simply not drink and suffer from dehydration).
- A particular favourite of Garrett Wang's to tell at conventions: the series finale's final shot was to end on a shot of Kim crying Manly Tears of joy at the crew's arrival home, with it starting as him having a touched smile, to full on tears. This shot did end up being in the show... in an entirely different context altogether. The shot was shortened to Kim weeping at the birth of another character's baby. Wang was extremely pissed at this, and phoned up CBS in a fit of rage to ask why it was used in hard context.
- Hell, Wang himself was the punching bag by much of the producers. A whole list of reasons would end up as long as this page itself. It's a miracle he is able to go from con to con and tell stories about the experience with a sense of humour.
- Wang had a couple of flare-ups with executive producer Rick Berman. When he asked the latter why he wasn't promoted higher than his character's standard rank, Berman replied, "Well, someone's got to be the ensign." Wang has also gone on record as stating that an early interview with a reporter caused Berman to deny him the chance to direct an episode purely out of spite.
- But he's not entirely blameless. Reportedly, during the first two seasons, he so frequently came in late and hungover from his weekends in Vegas that he was put on notice, and even though he did clean up his act was discreetly punished by being largely written out of a few episodes.
- It's not surprising that The Starlost ended up as a major case of What Could Have Been when you look at how things went behind the scenes:
- Originally, it was pitched as a Fox-BBC coproduction but rejected by the BBC. The producers were able to salvage it by selling NBC and the Canadian CTV network on it (albeit at a lower budget than originally hoped for). An early potential problem - a writers' strike that was set to begin before Harlan Ellison could finish the show's bible - was averted when producer Robert Kline negotiated an exception with the Writers' Guild since the show was being produced in Canada to take advantage of tax credits available there.
- The first serious problem was a Special Effects Failure. A camera system Douglas Trumbull was developing called Magicam that would have allowed moving shots of actors against a blue screen to be combined with models of the set simply did not work well enough to use. As a result the show had to rely on standard (for the time) stationary camera shots of the actors against the blue screen, which were less exciting.
- They couldn't use full-size sets either, as the Canadian studio space was too small, so they had to rely on partial versions of the sets.
- To fully avail themselves of the Canadian subsidies and credits, Canadian writers had to be involved. Ellison, back in LA, wrote outlines which the Canadian writers then fleshed out into scripts. With this distance from the process, and the low budget, it was inevitable that there would be changes at the production level—and that they would not be to Ellison's liking. Once he saw what was happening to the pilot episode, he quit and invoked the clause in his contract which allowed to slap his "Cordwainer Bird" pseudonym (meaning to all in the know that he disowned the product completely) on the script and bible. Supposedly this is his worst experience ever in TV and film (even more so than "The City on the Edge of Forever"), and he is still angry at the producers even after 40 years.
- Ben Bova, also hired as science advisor, was similarly peeved at being ignored, so he quit not long thereafter, but couldn't take his name off the credits.
- While the show was canceled after 16 episodes, Ellison and Bova salvaged something out of it. In the former's case, it was a Writer's Guild award for his original script for the pilot (novelized with a foreword by Ellison explaining just how badly the show was screwed up). Bova, after publishing a similarly-themed editorial in Analog, got the last laugh when he wrote a Take That novel, The Starcrossed.
- Terra Nova, Fox's notorious sci-fi flop from 2011, was among the most expensive TV shows in history. The pilot cost $16-20 million and the rest of the show was in the area of $4 million per episode, with hundreds of crew members and extras. It also suffered from production problems that were indicative of the poor planning around the show. Locations for sets in Queensland were chosen largely on the basis of how they'd look on film, with almost no consideration to the weather or the task of moving equipment to and from set. As a result, expensive sets were built in the middle of northern Queensland's wet jungles, where regular flooding would force cast and crew to hike through knee-deep mud to get to work, only to find themselves infested with leeches and ticks; they eventually had to build a bridge to solve this problem. A flash flood nearly killed a security guard while he was trying to save a power generator. Furthermore, production coincided with "schoolies week", the Australian version of spring break, forcing production to put up with swarms of drunken teenagers in the nearby town. All told, while the show was initially seen as holding promise, ratings dropped and reviews got more scathing as the show went on, leading Fox to cancel what had become an expensive turkey after only a single 13-episode season.
- Threes Company got this so bad, a TV movie was made in 2003 about its troubled history. Actual line from Brian Dennehy: "The inmates are running the asylum!"
- It was stuck in the pilot stage for a long time. Peter Stone wrote one pilot set in New York that was never filmed. Larry Gelbart wrote another one set in North Hollywood that was filmed (with John Ritter, Valerie Curtain, and Suzanne Zenor), but not used when the show was ousted from ABC's fall schedule. CBS then offered to take the show, but ABC backtracked and agreed to air the show mid-season if the pilot was rewritten and reshot with a new cast. Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernie West wrote a third pilot script set in Santa Monica, and it was shot with John Ritter as Jack, Joyce DeWitt as Janet, and Susan Lanier as Chrissy (taking over for Denise Galick, who was fired two days before shooting). Executives disliked Lanier's portrayal of Chrissy, and producers were so desperate to find a new one, they basically fast-forwarded through all the audition tapes for the character before eventually settling on Suzanne Somers one day before she was supposed to be on-set. However, John Ritter was almost fired before the pilot taped again, with executives believing his performance was too effeminate. ABC's Fred Silverman successfully fought to keep Ritter on the show, and the pilot was shot a third time before it was finally on the air.
- Suzanne Somers didn't get along with any of her co-stars, especially Joyce DeWitt. Once contract re-negotiations began in Season 5, she demanded a higher salary than her co-stars, feeling that her hotness was partly responsible for the show's success. When executives refused, her diva antics began. She frequently showed up on set late, and often not at all. It got so bad, the writers had to pen two versions of the scripts: one with Chrissy and one without Chrissy. This prompted producers to severely reduce her role in the show for the remainder of her contract. It was explained that her character had gone away to be with her sick aunt, and she only appeared in quick telephone scenes toward the end of each episode, shot alone at night/early morning with no studio audience, and away from her angry co-stars. Once her contract was up, producers refused to renew it, and her character completely vanished for the last few seasons with no explanation. Somers' relationship with the rest of the cast and crew was severely strained, and she never spoke to Joyce DeWitt for over 30 years.
- Somers' replacements for the rest of the show didn't have it much better. Jenilee Harrison was brought on as Chrissy's cousin Cindy as a quick fill-in for Somers. While she got along well with the cast and crew, she was only seen as a temporary character, and her role got smaller and smaller until she was off the show for good. Priscilla Barnes (who played permanent new character Terri) had a miserable and "uncomfortable" time on set, and she asked to be released from her contract after taping only a couple episodes. The executives refused, and she remained on the show until the end, later referring to it as the worst experience of her life. Despite this however, she got along well with the cast and crew.
- Norman Fell and Audra Lindley were screwed over when their characters were spun off into their own show, The Ropers, following the third season. Norman Fell was very uneasy about doing the spinoff because of the security he already had doing a regular sitcom. He came to a compromise, and he and Lindley were promised a return to Three's Company if The Ropers lasted less than a season. It did go on to last one successful (6-episode) season before getting Screwed by the Network and getting cancelled at the end of its second season for poor ratings. The Ropers made only one final guest appearance on Three's Company, and they were permanently replaced with Don Knotts as Mr. Furley.
- Ann Wedgeworth was brought on in Season 4 as a regular cast member named Lana Shields, a neighbor attracted to John Ritter's character. However, her schtick got old quickly (John Ritter himself complained to the writers, wondering why a character as sex-crazed as Jack would repeatedly refuse the advances of a beautiful, sexually voracious woman; the only explanation the writers would give him is that Jack would be turned off by the fact that Lana was older than him, though only by about ten years). Writers found themselves with less to do with her character, and her role was reduced after just a few episodes. Insulted, Wedgeworth successfully asked to be released from the show.
- In addition, the show's other spinoff/sequel, Three's a Crowd, continued the story with Jack and his female roommate. Pre-production for the show was done in secret from the rest of the cast and crew, and auditions were held for Jack's roommate during the Christmas break. When Joyce DeWitt came in to set up her dressing room for the upcoming episodes, she accidentally walked in on the auditions. She and Priscilla Barnes felt betrayed by the goings-on, and DeWitt's relationship with the producers and Ritter was strained for the rest of the show, although she reconciled with Ritter many years later. Three's a Crowd, meanwhile, was axed after one season.
- The 1990 revival of To Tell the Truth was hit hard with this. First, NBC aired the pilot on the East Coast by mistake (which was hosted by Richard Kline instead of Gordon Elliott). Elliott was fired early on over a salary dispute, so Lynn Swann took over. But Lynn had scheduling conflicts, so Alex Trebek had to step in. Then he had to miss two episodes because his wife went into labor, so producer Mark Goodson filled in for him. Between the inability to hold down a host and the saturated market in 1990, it's no wonder this version did not make it past one season.
- The BBC's Triangle foreshadowed some of the later problems it would have with Eldorado.
- It sounded like a great way to adapt The Love Boat for the British market: the show would be set on the North Sea ferries, with a regular cast playing the crew and guests playing each week's set of passengers. Even better, advances in portable equipment meant that the crew could actually shoot on location on the ferries themselves for greater realism ... and at less cost, since the videotape was cheaper than the film stock commonly used for TV production at the time.
- Only on the water did the limitations of the show's concept begin to show. The Love Boat is set on a cruise ship that goes to beautiful, sunny, tropical locations. The North Sea ferries, by contrast, plod along across featureless open water under what are frequently gloomy and overcast skies. In the first episode star Kate O'Mara is seen sunbathing topless on what's clearly an otherwise cold and windy day.
- Then the problems with using portable video cameras became apparent as well. They could handle both natural and artificial light convincingly ... but when it came to a mixture of both it threw off the color to the point that pretty soon they started leaving the ferry to film interior scenes on sets, thus negating the cost savings the producers had hoped for. And if the color problem hadn't made them do this, the cameras' lack of stability controls (an important thing when you're shooting in a large boat on rough seas) likely would have eventually.
- The series was never the success it had first seemed to be, and the BBC canceled it in 1983.
- Two and a Half Men got this beginning with Season 7.
- The show was put on hiatus after star Charlie Sheen entered rehab for his drug addiction, but after production resumed and wrapped for the season, Sheen was rumored to be quitting the show because of pay concerns (he was making $1 million per episode), however he did sign on for two more seasons. Co-stars and crew members noted that Sheen had become increasingly difficult to work with, with him sometimes having a difficult time standing and remembering his lines. Halfway through Season 8, Sheen once again checked himself into rehab, putting the show in another hiatus. After he blasted the show creator Chuck Lorre, CBS, and Warner Bros on various talk shows, he was fired from the show, with the rest of the season canceled, and it's fate up in the air. This affected 200 employees and resulted in over $10 million in losses. The show returned for a ninth season, but with Charlie Sheen's character killed off and replaced with a new character played by Ashton Kutcher. There had been buzz about Sheen possibly making another appearance in the show, but it never happened.
- The show also ran into problems with Angus T. Jones, who became a Born Again Christian by Season 10, publicly blasted the show for being "filth," and demanded people not watch it. He later apologized to show creator Chuck Lorre, but otherwise stood by his remarks. Due to his school schedule he was bumped to recurring status by Season 11, although he did not make a single appearance. He was dropped from the show for Season 12 (the final season), although he did make one final appearance in the series finale. For Seasons 11 and 12, his character was replaced by a new character played by Amber Tamblyn.
- Saban's sister series VR Troopers has a fair share of headaches as well.
- Originally a vehicle for former Green Ranger Jason David Frank, a short pilot using footage from the Metal Heroes series Choujinki Metalder called Cybertron was filmed with him alone. However, his immense popularity as Tommy led to Saban deciding to pull him back to Rangers. As such he switched places with Brad Hawkins (who was originally supposed to be the White Ranger during the second season of MMPR,) who became Ryan Steele. This alone led them to believe the show was beyond hope, but because of commitments to broadcasters, they had to press on.
- Since they didn't have Frank's Green Ranger star power to support the show, they decided to expand it, buying up a second Metal Heroes series, Jikuu Senshi Spielban, hired two more actors, and made the show about a trio. Since the two series were completely unrelated, the only footage they had off all three Troopers together and morphed were things they filmed themselves, which they didn't have the time or budget to do a lot of, so the majority of episodes involved finding new and unique ways to split Ryan away from Kaitlyn and J.B.
- While filming the show, they noticed several new problems. Alongside the fact that the Metal Heroes footage was almost a decade old (unlike Sentai footage, which is never more than a year or two old, Metalder and Spielban were from 1987 and 1986,) the shows in question also used a lot of unmorphed battles, meaning the usable footage was thin to begin with. Stock Footage was abused, with the same scenes of a drill driving through the wall of an underground lab seeming to be in almost every episode. Despite all this, the show was a hit and a second season was ordered.
- The second season had the Metalder footage (Ryan's armor) run out fast, so they had him get an upgrade to new armor, this time from Space Sheriff Shaider (an even older series, but I digress.) The second season limped along with its endlessly repeated Stock Footage, until, by the end of the season, both Shaider and Spielban footage had run dry. They bought up a fourth Metal Heroes series, Juukou B-Fighter, but rather than run the risk of alienating kids by overhauling everything at once (Power Rangers Zeo hadn't happened yet, so Saban wasn't sure if a complete visual overhaul would work; until that point, even though Rangers got new zords each season, the suits were still the same familiar ones from Zyuranger,) they decided to finally chuck Troopers in the bin and instead turned B-Fighter into Big Bad Beetleborgs.
- The Walking Dead has been a massive hit for AMC, but significant production issues and a rotating stable of showrunners also made it a magnet for controversy:
- During production of the first season, Darabont reportedly fired his entire writing staff, including executive producer Charles Eglee. While executives with the production were quick to deny the story, sources indicated that Darabont wanted to use freelance writers, but pushback from AMC and possible issues with the Writer's Guild of America convinced him otherwise.
- The second-season premiere, "What Lies Ahead", had roughly 2/3 of its footage (which involved Rick's group revisiting the Vatos nursing home from the first season) deleted from the final print due to being "unusable", despite it being promoted in early trailers. The rest of the footage (the encounter with the horde of walkers on the highway) was merged with the following episode, and Darabont reportedly took his name off the print and used a pseudonym instead.
- As a result of the contentious season premiere, and three days after appearing at Comi-Con 2011 to promote the show, AMC fired Darabont and supposedly kept the reasons for his firing from the cast and crew. Various reasons were given for his sacking, including the fact that he pushed back against AMC's planned budget cuts to each episode (though it was countered that the cuts were to make the show more sustainable), that the footage shot for "What Lies Ahead" was unusable, that AMC was showing favoritism towards Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner by giving him an increased budget for his series and short-shifting others, and that Darabont was a notorious pain who complained about the long hours and how uneasy he felt running a television series. Further complicating matters is that the decision to fire Darabont was caused by AMC head of original programming Joel Stillerman, who supposedly used the pretext of "unusable footage" to fire Darabont.
- Jeffrey DeMunn (who played Dale) was incensed by the network's decision to cut Darabont, and asked to be written out of the show. He later reconsidered, but by that time the writers had his character get killed off near the end of the second season and had no intention of changing their stance.
- Showrunner Glen Mazzara (who took over production duties from Darabont) left at the end of the third season, which confused many fans who enjoyed the third season's jump in quality. This move was reportedly due to creative differences between Mazzara and AMC over various parts of the episodes.
- Half of the third-season finale, "Welcome to the Tombs", was reshot months after filming wrapped due to a perceived lack of suspense regarding Andrea's fate (originally, Milton would be shot by the Governor, and would do more to try and free Andrea. Tyreese eventually discovered the undead Milton taking a bite out of Laurie, and saved her, but she asks for a gun to kill herself with). It is unknown if this was the incident that caused Mazzara's departure from the production.
- A few particular episodes of The X-Files became associated with production problems, leading to mixed results:
- Several of the show's first season episodes succumbed to cost overruns, despite being conceived as Bottle Episodes. "Space" became the most expensive episode of the season thanks to the construction of a NASA Mission Control set. Production was also delayed so that the crew could take turns with a flight simulator. "Space" is reportedly Chris Carter's least favorite episode.
- "Gender Bender" went through several rewrites over the sexual content of the script; this resulted in an abrupt and much-criticized Twist Ending. Other issues involved a failed attempt to illuminate scenes with lantern light, and a physically encumbering catacomb set which necessitated an extra day of filming.
- "Darkness Falls" was plagued by poor weather and explosive Cabin Fever between director Joe Napolitano and first assistant director Vladimir Stefoff, resulting in Napolitano's departure from the series. The weather problems meant that pick-up shots and inserts had to be filmed at a later date, which meant more time-wasting commutes to the inaccessible shooting locations in Lynn Valley, British Columbia.
- The third season episode "Teso Dos Bichos" called for Mulder and Scully to be attacked by a horde of feral house cats in the climax, but that was nixed because Gillian Anderson was allergic to cats. The cats were also lazy, leading the crew to improvise with unconvincing shots of a single, fake-looking monster cat. Director Kim Manners took issue with the fact that the cats became the culprits of the episode when the teaser segment alluded to a leopard spirit, and begged Chris Carter to shift the focus back to that plot point. Add in the constant re-writes and it's no wonder Manners nicknamed the episode "Teso Dos Bitches".