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Horrible / Game Show

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Good game shows instill excitement in the audience, dread in the contestants, and ratings in the Nielsen box. These failures can't even do one of those things. Here's the worst that game shows and reality TV have to offer.

Important Notes:

  1. Merely being offensive in its subject matter isn't enough to justify a work as Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there's a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this. If it has a fandom of any sort, it doesn't belong on this list.
  2. It is not a Horrible TV series just because Game Show Garbage or any other Caustic Critic reviewed it. There needs to be independent evidence, such as actual critics (emphasis on plural) for example, to list it. (Though once it is listed, they can provide their detailed reviews.)
  3. This page is not for horrible episodes (or even seasons) of otherwise good shows. For those, see DethroningMoment.LiveActionTV and SeasonalRot.LiveActionTV.

Examples (more-or-less in alphabetical order by network, then TV show name):

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    ABC (United States) 
  • The One: Making a Music Star (2006) was a U.S. attempt at Endemol's Star Academy format, which was basically a music competition mixed with elements of sister franchise Big Brother. note  It was quickly derided as being a Follow the Leader clone of American Idol (not to mention the slew of competing talent shows also airing over the Summer that year note  as well as Big Brother itself), despite the format having debuted at around the same time as the original British version of Idol. Critics and viewers thought the judges were "forced", and that there wasn't much talent among their contestants. It debuted to what were the worst ratings for a series premiere on a major U.S. network in history; ABC pulled the plug on The One after only four episodes, and the winner was left undecided. While most of the contestants faded back into obscurity, several of them did end up becoming moderately successful eventually (among them, Syesha Mercado made it onto Idol in 2009 and finished third, Aubrey Collins briefly joined the country band Trick Pony, and Jadyn Douglas got a supporting role on NBC's short-lived 2016 sitcom Telenovela). Just over a decade after the network desperately tried to clone it, it was announced in 2017 that Idol would be revived by ABC.

    In Canada, The One also attracted controversy: CBC acquired local rights to the series since it was being hosted by CBC Radio personality George Stroumboulopoulos, and the network was considering producing an English-Canadian version of the format (TVA already had a French-Canadian version, Star Académie, running around the same time). Airing in simulcast with ABC, The One displaced CBC's traditional 10:00 p.m. newscast The National in much of the country. Critics felt it was out of character for CBC to be airing an American series in primetime, as the network (since it is Canada's commercially-funded public broadcaster) has historically focused its efforts on Canadian productions. note  Additionally, CBC's president at the time had explicitly stated that they "[didn't] do reality television." After the ratings disaster of The One, CBC resorted to Canadian versions of the Andrew Lloyd Webber talent searches instead.
  • Set For Life was a mercifully short-lived game hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and produced by Deal or No Deal creators Endemol (essentially playing Follow the Leader with themselves), where a contestant played to win a monthly annuity of a specific amount, ranging from one month to the top prize of "Set for Life" (40 years). The player pulled from 15 glowing "sticks" (read: giant Lite-Brite pegs) to find the 11 white ones which progressed them up the "time ladder", while avoiding the red sticks that knocked them down a level (finding all four reds ended the game). But there was a twist which easily led to a Shocking Swerve - off-screen and inside an isolation booth with nothing but a screen full of analytics, the player had a "Guardian Angel" who could stop the game at any time, but their decision wasn't revealed until the player finished their game (either by pulling out all the white pegs, getting all the red ones, or simply quitting themselves), meaning entire chunks of the game could be for naught. Even worse, while the show used a qualifying game that determined how much each player would be playing for (Kimmel stated it involved twelve numbers and an envelope), it was never shown.note 

    Antena 3 (Spain) 
  • One of the greatest game show failures in Spain was a very short-lived show called La Trituradora ("The Crusher"). Aired in 1999 and hosted by Belinda Washington, who back then was a popular actress and TV host in Spain, it lasted only two episodes before it was unceremoniously discarded. Part of its undoing was its unusual premise: contestants had to wage a personal belonging (such as a domestic appliance) and take part in a series of games. If they were victorious, they won a hefty prize; if they lost, whatever they waged was destroyed by Deborah, the eponymous crusher. Abysmal audience ratings, almost no volunteers to the contest (since people participate in game shows to win stuff, not to have theirs destroyed; and never mind that there was {presumably} nothing stopping you from going to a charity shop, buying some random trinket for €30, and calling that your personal item), and a very high cost per episode marked the death knell not only for the show, but for Belinda Washington's career.
    • La Trituradora was based on a 1998 British game show titled Beat the Crusher, featuring Melinda Messenger and Freddie Starr. Considering the original version was only very slightly more successful (it aired on Sky1 for a single season of 10 episodes), it's a wonder why they even decided to export it.

    BBC (United Kingdom) 
  • Don't Scare the Hare was an utterly pathetic attempt by BBC One to try and make a "family" game show, but instead ended up becoming a notorious flop. Two teams of adults competed in a series of challenges in which the object was to not "scare" (read: wake up) a giant, robotic hare. The winning team played for a top prize of £15,000. It premiered on Easter weekend in 2011 before the Series 6 premiere of Doctor Who and ended up with spectacularly low ratings (1.93 million); the producers attempted to blame the heat wave rolling through England at the time, but backfired when the ratings for Doctor Who ended up being the series' highest yet. Worse yet, since it premiered on Easter weekend, audiences were under the impression that it was a one-off to tie in with Easter, so they were surprised to find out that there were still eight more episodes; the ratings got so bad that the BBC pulled it after six episodes, with the remainder burned off in a mid-afternoon graveyard slot. Critics and audiences lambasted the show mercilessly: many mentioned that its concept would've fit better on CBeebies rather than a network meant for mainstream viewers, and the games themselves were also criticised for being either too easy or embarrassing to watch.
  • In 1996, the BBC secured what must have seemed to be an impressive coup, luring comedians Gareth Hale and Norman Pace over from ITV. Hale and Pace had starred in a popular sketch comedy on ITV, but were tired of the format and moved over to try something new. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to have an idea what that would be. The result was utterly dreadful, right down to the Lucky Charms Title, h&p@bbc. The series was a peculiar miscellany, with segments including Gareth and Norman wandering around a town trying to get free stuff, a general knowledge quiz for celebrities where points were awarded but no winner announced, and a game where audience members tried to recognise songs with their heads underwater. Each bit just felt like a way of passing time between "hello" and "goodbye", except that nobody ever said either. The whole thing just started, ran for 40 minutes and then stopped. And yes, 40 minutes is an odd length, so presumably a load of stuff must have been deemed even worse than what got on screen. The BBC seemed to have realised they had a flop on their hands before it aired, several months after it was ready, with the first episode of a supposed family show going out at 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. After that, it was basically shoved out wherever it could do the least harm with the sixth and final episode on a Tuesday at midnight. Hale and Pace did not make much else for the BBC after this.


    Black Family Channel (United States) 
  • The Thousand-Dollar Bee, a children's game show filmed in Atlanta from 2004 to 2007 for the now-defunct and little-seen Black Family Channel. It was a televised spelling bee/vocabulary game with a very odd Bill Cosby-type host named Sinatra Onyewuchi (credited as "Sinatra, the wacky host" and "Sinatra Onieyewacki"; yes, a show about spelling couldn't spell its host's last name right) who wore a geeky bow tie. note  The contestants were dreadfully bad at spelling and it's not like they had any incentive to try, as the prize for the entire season was a $1,000 savings bond for college, enough in these days to buy maybe books for a year. It also had the lowest production values ever seen on cable TV in the 21st Century - a creepy CGI bee straight out of the Vídeo Brinquedo handbook, PowerPoint-grade captions done in Comic Sans, a "theme song" consisting of the same two bars of music and chipmunk vocals, a Kid Sidekick in a bee costume, Jordan Ealey, who provided overly precocious commentary about the contestants and their progress, and an entire round that involved spelling out words with refrigerator magnets (though that last one could be forgiven as an homage to the Soul Train Scramble Board). Here's some gameplay, if you dare.

    CBS (United States) 
  • Candy Crush, a 2017 game show based on Candy Crush Saga, hosted by Mario Lopez. While it can be complimented for its technical achievements (like having one of the largest touchscreens ever employed on a television program), the game falls flat quickly. The contestants are basically just playing the same game they could play on their phones, but never quite like this. Actually, scratch that - it is quite like playing it on your phone, except with stunts designed to make it more difficult (such as having your team attached to wires lowering and raising you like a pendulum, or having one player blindfolded). As usual for a modern-day game show, the contestants were already high on sugar by the time they got on stage. Due to the game's format and how the show is directed, there is little play-along value either; much like The Magnificent Marble Machine before it, the appeal is actually playing it, not watching what is essentially a show in which other people play it. Worst of all, the idea of a giant game board interface made of dozens of flatscreens made a game that should be super easy near-impossible to play because contestants couldn't see past one screen at a time! Not only that, but Lopez, despite having been host of various TV shows over the past decade, still wasn't a good game show host; his only other was the second season of Masters of the Maze, way back in 1995 on what was then The Family Channel note . Despite the Big Brother lead-in and the Celebrity Edition premiere (with teams representing Big Brother and Survivor) getting decent ratings, Candy Crush got, well, crushed on subsequent episodes; the final few episodes were subsequently burned off against opening weekend Saturday-night college football games.
  • Who's Whose? was an early Panel Game created for CBS in 1951 as a replacement for The Goldbergs. In it, a celebrity panel (Robin Chandler, Art Ford, Basil Davenport, and Emily Kimbrough) interviewed three men and three women, and then attempted to identify who was married to whom. The final round then involved guessing the spouse of a famous celebrity (in this case, Dizzy Dean, who wandered off backstage to listen to a baseball game on the radio and only barely managed to come back in time). Radio announcer Phil Baker hosted with an unidentified assistant named "Gunga" who wore a turban. The show was met with overwhelmingly negative reception, with the Chicago Tribune calling it a "miserable flop"; other criticisms included Phil Baker's ineptitude as a host and the panelists' inability to play the game. Backlash was so severe that CBS pulled the show after only one episode and replaced it with It's News to Me. It also did lasting damage to the distributor Young & Rubicam, who shed several employees and shifted their focus to commercials.
  • You're in the Picture is almost a byword for bad ideas executed badly - or it would be if it was better known. It was a 1961 CBS game hosted by Jackie Gleason, in which a four-celebrity panel (in the one episode that aired, the panel consisted of Pat Harrington Jr., Pat Carroll, Jan Sterling, and Arthur Treacher) stuck their heads through pictorial cut-outs and tried to guess what picture they were in. Within five minutes of the January 20 premiere, it was clear that the game was nigh-impossible and far from interesting; even the prize was lame - 100 CARE packages donated in that celeb's name (if nobody guessed correctly, they were donated in Gleason's name). Critics at the time absolutely slammed the show, and to this day it's still regarded as one of the worst and most embarrassing TV spectacles in history, making it to #4 on What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. Famously, the following week's "show" on January 27 consisted entirely of Gleason shotgunning coffee (which an audience member had poured some booze into) and apologizing to everyone who watched the premiere, chalking up its failure to "the intangibles of show business", sharing memories of other failures he was involved in, and making fun of a format that seemed like a winner when it was being thought up. Gleason fulfilled the remainder of Picture's commitment by producing an interview series (The Jackie Gleason Show) in its place.

    Channel 4 (United Kingdom) 
  • Cheap Cheap Cheap (2017) was intended by Channel 4 as a vehicle for Noel Edmonds post-Deal or No Deal; the game involved contestants trying to guess the cheapest grocery item out of three, with correct answers moving them up a money ladder towards a top prize of £25,000. There were three "tools" for revealing one of the prices, the most-expensive item, or to get a preview of the items in the next round before deciding to go on. Somehow it was difficult enough that the payouts were quite low, and to make up for the shallow format (what more can you do when you're literally stretching a single pricing game into a 45-minute show?) it tried to do a Noels House Party-esque Show Within a Show with the employees of the general store where the game took place, which came off as flat and surreal. Channel 4 was seemingly lacking confidence for the show, burying it in a daytime graveyard slot over the summer with little promotion (and, in turn, little viewership).
  • The Girlie Show (1996) was a late-night entertainment show attempting to cash in on the Lad-ette fad and "girl power" ethos. The show was largely a Spear Counterpart of its predecessor in the timeslot, The Word (1990-1995, with a mix of music, feature segments, and stunt/game-based segments), and mainly consisted of a group of female presenters childishly daring each other to say rude words on TV. It also featured a bunch of male correspondents (the "Naked Apes"), who visited places such as clubs or sporting events and acted like Lower-Class Lout stereotypes. Critics trashed the show for being amateurish and highly staged, with the hosts' lack of professional TV experience being very apparent. Meanwhile, audiences found it to be offensive and sexist against both men and women. It lost viewers rapidly and was canned after two series. Probably the only notable footnote of the show was that it featured one of the Spice Girls' first television appearances.
  • Love Thy Neighbour (2011) had families competing for a £300,000 cottage in Grassington — a picturesque market town in North Yorkshire, with the winner chosen by its residents. The families would perform tasks to gain favour among the residents (such as organizing events and giving a speech at the pub as a pitch) — who would then get to vote on which family would advance to the next round (beginning with heats between 6 pairs of two families each, followed by a semi-final and finale). However, there was a major flaw: the format depended on the town — portrayed as being largely conservative and not taking kindly to outsiders — displaying prejudice towards the contestants. In reality, the townspeople were actually quite kind and accepting towards the newcomers, and Vox Pops suggested that Grassington had more "outsiders" than the show suggested there were. As a result, the producers had to rely on Manipulative Editing to get their preferred point across; for instance, one episode featured a family of Nigerian descent (whose father was an aspiring Conservative politician), and the show attempted to insist that there could be racial tensions. In reality, the only things that happened were somebody mistaking them as being Jamaicans on first glance, and others displaying concerns that they might be treated with prejudice. Said family would end up winning the episode. In the end, viewership was low and the reviews were bad, so it was unceremoniously burned off on Channel 4's sister digital channel More4 after only 3 episodes.
    • It is also worth noting that ABC actually tried to do a similar show, Welcome to the Neighborhood (where the families competed to win a dream house in a conservative community in Austin, Texas) in 2005, but it was pulled over its controversial premise before it even premiered.

    City (Canada) 
  • Canada's Got Talent is often considered by many to be the worst out of the "Got Talent" shows, for many different reasons. The show was forced to make plenty of inexplicable changes from the British and US versions due to budget constraints, and it shows.

    Actual episodes were an hour long each with the results shows being 30 minutes each, resulting in the show being much less accommodating. The show also changed the idea of the original where semifinalists were judged in front of a live audience after the auditions to contestants being judged by their regional auditions.

    The show also ended up with 36 semifinalists (in lieu of the other shows' 72 semifinalists), and the judges (Measha Brueggergosman, Martin Short, and Stephan Moccio) were routinely condemned by critics and audiences for being both more annoying than the bad contestants and being way too kind.

    Halfway through the season, the series got canned for considerably low ratings and high production costs that seemed like a near-impossible task for City - the network lost a considerable amount of money with each episode, and didn't create any new reality shows afterward... until they started doing The Bachelor Canada (which has fared much better). In addition, neither the winning contestants nor the judges have been seen in much after the show finished, for obvious reasons. Probably for the best.

    The CW (United States) 
  • Save to Win was a mercifully short-lived show aired on The CW between 2016 and 2017 on Saturday mornings. Hosted by celebrity chef Pat Neely with Lovely Assistant Mariana Cardenas, the show was effectively a 30-minute commercial for the variety store chain Family Dollar, but somehow got by as an Edutainment Show, as it was a part of producer Litton Entertainment's One Magnificent Morning edutainment block. While shopping has constantly proven a fine basis for a game show, Save to Win has very little to offer. Three rounds are played, with one point for each correct response. The first round involves toss-up questions regarding a product on the conveyor belt, which range from reasonable (such as identifying a missing word in a product's slogan) to absolutely banal (the very first question asked is whether Sherri Shepherd claimed that her house smelled like "wet dog" or "feet" before she sprayed it with Glade air freshener). In the second round, one contestant from each team is blindfolded and has to identify three products by taste, touch, or smell, after his or her opponent has determined which action will be done to which item. The third round involves reciting a list of products after they have traveled down a conveyor belt; this is every bit as boring as it sounds, and can be a Game-Breaker due to the much higher number of points in play. After the final round, the loser receives a $500 Family Dollar gift card, while the winner proceeds to the Bonus Round: a purely Luck-Based Mission involving matching dollar amounts hidden behind 20 products, with a maximum payout of $5,000 should two identical dollar amounts be picked. Indeed, due to the staggering odds, no team ever managed to score more than a pitiful $1,900. Not only is each round slow and dull, they also turn the opening narration and even the show's title into Blatant Lies: despite Neely's promises that "smart shopping leads to money in your pocket", no actual shopping element is involved (other than the fact that each point is called "an item in your cart"), nor do the concepts of saving or pricing items come up at any point!
    Neely's hosting is incredibly awkward: he explains very little of the format (as seen when one contestant in the first episode is disqualified out of nowhere for saying "yes" to her teammate during the "taste/touch/smell" round), and he constantly stumbles over or mispronounces words despite a large number of Looping Lines. He also dramatically overracts to wrong answers, bellowing "OH NOOOOOO!" on every single one, and sometimes makes sleazy comments to female contestants. Perhaps the only saving grace is some surprisingly decent setwork: shelves filled with actual merchandise, retro-styled eggcrate scoreboards, a color-changing background, and even a moving wall to reveal the bonus round. The show lasted only a scant 17 episodes, the last two of which don't even have gameplay. #16 is a clip show replete with an obviously staged $5,000 bonus round win and #17 is a behind-the-scenes featurette. The CW reran it for a few months before dumping it, although Family Dollar's official YouTube account has all 17 episodes available. Finally, a search of the show's Facebook page shows that both Neely and Cardenas tried to AstroTurf the show by liking and commenting on every post. As usual, Game Show Garbage has the rundown here.

    één (Belgium) 
  • Pak De Poen De Show Van 1 Miljoen is fondly remembered as one of the most spectacular flops in the history of Belgian television. Offering up to 20 million Belgian francs (around $667,000 US) in conjunction with the postcode lottery, up to 1 million (around $33,500 US) in a Bonus Round for the winning contestant, and hosted by the stars of one of the most critically-acclaimed sitcoms in Belgian history, one wonders what could possibly go wrong. For the premiere, it was everything: The hosting was so overly formal that it bordered on parody, the trivia rounds had glitchy buzzers and inconsistent judging that would make Alex Zane proud, the phone for a home game segment didn't work, and the final challenge to determine who would play for the million francs - an RC car race across the set - had a car that wouldn't move. Even worse was the irony that a random audience member could win 20 times more cash than what the winning contestant would have had if they answered all the questions of the final round correctly. The interval acts, that were filled with So Cool, It's Awesome performances, saved the program as a whole from being a total trainwreck, though. The program was ultimately retooled with new hosts as the Pak De Poen Show; it was an improvement in comparison to the "premiere", but the lingering karma led to poor viewership, and it was cancelled after two episodes.

    The Family Channel (United States) 
  • In 1993, International Family Entertainment had announced plans to launch a game show-oriented channel known as The Game Channel, which would feature classic game shows and interactive features. However, it already faced competition out of the gate from the impending launch of Game Show Network. As part of the lead-up to its (aborted) launch, The Family Channel began to air several game shows with interactive segments, all of which were produced and hosted by Wink Martindale, beginning with Trivial Pursuit. The hour-long show was treated on-air as two distinct shows (right down to having separate credits); Trivial Pursuit: The Interactive Game was a qualifier, where 12 (later 9) players competed to answer multiple-choice questions on keypads as quickly as possible, with the top three players advancing to the main show, Trivial Pursuit: The Classic Game. The first half of the show was essentially a tutorial for the "Playbreak" segments in commercial breaks throughout the remainder of the network's game show block (outside of The Classic Game, however), where viewers could call a 1-900 number on a touch-tone phone to answer questions in a similar format (only $4.98 per call!).

    The horrible part came when they introduced three other "interactive" shows in '94 - Boggle, Jumble, and Shuffle; all three shows were bare-bones, with nearly the same format and mechanics as Trivial Pursuit (designed for use on a touch-tone phone, hence making them glorified tutorials for the Playbreak segments (give us your money) yet again), and little variation (same scoring system based on response time, no bonus round or returning champions, and a lot of Prop Recycling between them, in an entire block to boot). Even worse, the contestants did not speak at all, playing the game solely via the keypads. This meant they were literally just standing there for 29 minutes (commercials included) as a silent, question-answering robot. That is unless they won, however, which gave them permission to briefly express an emotion to Wink about the sub-$3,000 trip they just won. Here is Game Show Garbage detailing all of them.

    Fox (United States) 
  • The Chamber stands tall as a textbook example of how not to do a quiz show. It was rushed to air by Fox in 2002 to compete with ABC's The Chair, a decent game show hosted by tennis player John McEnroe that quizzed contestants while subjecting them to events intended to raise their heart rate - which itself aired only a half-season. The Chamber taped six episodes and aired only three. Unlike the fairly mild, very-unlikely-to-kill-you stimuli used on The Chair (like tennis balls and a fake alligator), contestants on The Chamber were subjected to extreme heat, extreme cold, high winds, simulated earthquakes, etc. - and we didn't even get Scenery Porn from it. Even worse, if the producers had done their homework, they'd know that the winds at Levels 4+ were enough to cause extreme frostbite in the Cold Chamber... and only the producers at Fox know what went on in the Water, Insect, and Electric Chambers that were only used in unaired episodes. It's believed that one contestant sued the network over health issues brought on by the show's stimuli. You can see a segment of one of the aired episodes here.
    • The show was also plagued by frequent audio equipment failures. The headsets worn by the contestants were prone to falling off, and in one episode the headset just plain stopped working, resulting in host Rick Schwartz having to shout the questions into the Chamber.
    • Matt Vasgersian, formerly of Sports Geniuses, was originally slated to host, but was disgusted by the show's premise and left before it even premiered.
    • MADtv parodied this show in "The Probe", a sketch where Mo Collins is strapped to an operating table as a giant drill whirls towards her spread-open legs and she screams for someone to let her out.
    • Sounds disturbingly like someone watched The Ducksters and thought that was a great idea to build a show around...
  • I Wanna Marry "Harry", from 2014, is without a doubt one of the most tasteless and downright awful ideas for a dating show ever thought up: A bunch of women are flown to London, and are led to believe that they are competing for the affection of Prince Harry (while not outright being told that it's Prince Harry until the 5th episode). The Prince Harry impersonator in question (Matthew Hicks, an environmental consultant) is always surrounded by helicopters and high security everywhere he goes and the women are only to refer to him as "sir". The show was horribly received from both critics and audiences, with many reviewers noting its blatant ripping off of one of Fox's own older shows (Joe Millionaire), and also going so far as to slam its lack of shame from deceiving these poor women, and its apparent enjoyment of their foolishness. The show was a bomb in the ratings department and was pulled after four episodes (though all the remaining episodes would be released on Hulu and the series was shown in full in the UK and Australia, but suffered awful ratings there as well). Four years later, the real Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle, a commoner whose former roles include a game show, making the show Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • In 2020, several of the contestants confirmed in an interview that few of them were actually fooled, thanks to their never being allowed a good close-up look at "Harry" and still being able to tell it wasn't him, which forced the show's crew into increasingly creepy Gaslighting to keep them going, including their being forbidden any contact with each other off camera.
  • Knock Knock Live! was 2015 reality show that pretty much mixed everything about the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, celebrities, and everything bad about reality TV in one mix, plus Ryan Seacrest. In this show, Seacrest went door-to-door with various celebrities to give regular people anything from cash to big prizes to the chance to play and win a big game. The problem was how it went about doing so: where some boring white-bread suburban development in Dallas got cleared out for fun and games where the entire mostly-Caucasian population got money (along with a meeting with David Beckham where a family got free iPhones), a "knock-knock" in an urban neighborhood was much different - the mostly minority population had to chase money distributed at random or the usual generic "help out a church" story which hardly helps any individual family that might deserve a reward. Despite Seacrest's star power, along with other minor celebrities, it failed to rate well and was canned after only two episodes.
  • In the first half of the 2003 miniseries Married by America, a series of men and women were matched up with potential spouses; their families and viewers' call-in votes ultimately arranged their engagements sight-unseen. The second half of the series followed the 10 couples thus created to a retreat where they spent the next few weeks "preparing for the wedding" and competing to avoid getting "voted out". In the finale, it was down to two couples and two weddings - and if either couple agreed to say "I do" at the altar, they won a ridiculous sum of money. Neither couple agreed to go through with it, making the whole series a wash.
    • In one episode, Fox sent a bunch of strippers into the resort for the grooms' "bachelor party" to try to see if any of the guys would break - if they did, they were voted out. The FCC fined Fox over this episode, although the network managed to get the fine substantially reduced after it was revealed that most of the complaints were part of an AstroTurf campaign.
    • Most of those who heard about it found it twisted, feeling that it degraded both the participants and the very concept of marriage. The Raleigh-Durham affiliate (WRAZ) found the show so distasteful, they ran reruns of The Andy Griffith Show instead. However, most people just didn't hear about it, so it got bad ratings.
    • One contestant had to be removed early on because the show's staff somehow missed the little detail that she was already married, and thought that weddings in Las Vegas aren't real - which many viewers noted was shockingly reminiscent of Phoebe's subplot in the Vegas episode of Friends.
  • Mr. Personality, a 5-episode series from 2003 hosted by Monica Lewinsky (the former White House intern at the center of the Bill Clinton sex scandal). It was like The Bachelorette - a woman picks a husband out of a field of suitors - but in this case all the men wore creepy-as-hell masks so she could pick the right guy without considering looks. It was a good concept with horrible execution - namely that the vast majority of the guys were movie-star handsome, with the one or two "ugly" ones being Hollywood Homely at worst.
  • The Swan, unlike most makeover shows, took plain-looking women with bad health, self-esteem problems, etc. and put them through months of therapy, strenuous training, and painful, extensive surgery in order to transform them into plastic facsimiles of the "Hollywood Ideal" - all for a beauty pageant at the end. A few women got sent home early because of accidents or mishaps under the knife, leaving them worse off than they were before. And during the pageant finale, the girls came down the catwalk to the tune of Groove Armada's "If Everybody Looked the Same", or at least a version that never got to the next line - "We'd get tired of looking at each other." Entertainment Weekly called it the worst reality show ever made, and it's been described as nothing more than a thinly-veiled advert for the plastic surgery industry.
    • In one episode, a contestant was reluctant to have her nose operated on, as it was something of a family trait she shared with her daughters and was proud of. The show made no attempt to hide the disdain everyone had for this woman who didn't want to turn into a life-size Barbie clone.
    • Without a Trace did a Played for Drama version of this, with the missing person being a contestant on a Swan-like show, "American Goddess", and later realizing she shouldn't have changed.
    • Now complete with a Celebrity Edition...which seemingly (but unsurprisingly) failed to make it to the air.
  • Utopia note , an ambitious $50 million program that Fox premiered in Fall 2014, and which quickly went down as one of the biggest bombs in TV history. Based on a Dutch reality show, 15 people from all walks of life were sent to live on a compound in southern California in the hopes of building a new society, with a working farm, a lake stocked with fish, and a 24/7 live camera feed that anybody could watch online. While the original Dutch show it was based on was a success, the American version completely botched the execution, as the cast was composed of Jerkasses and exaggerated stereotypes picked out specifically to cause tension with each other (a minister and an atheist, a hunter and an animal rights activist, etc.), pretty much defeating the whole point of the show right from the start. One critic called it nothing but non-stop "farming, fighting, and fornicating - but mostly fighting", few of the people involved (in either the cast or the production) seemed to have any idea what they were doing or what the point of the show was, and some cast members were overtly saying on-camera that they couldn't wait to get voted off so they could collect their paychecks. The show's swift cancellation after only one month strained the network and deepened its slump in the mid-'10s, and sparked much discussion about whether Reality TV, at least on the broadcast networks, was wearing out its welcome.
  • The 2-hour reality special Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, aired in February 2000, is one of the lowest points in Fox's long run of horrible ideas. The premise was that 50 women competed to marry a "multi-millionaire" named Rick Rockwell. The woman he chose would be married to him on the spot and win $100,000 and various prizes; said winner, Darva Conger, wound up getting a divorce less than two months after the show aired... but not before capitalizing on her 15 Minutes of Fame by almost immediately posing for Playboy. It was revealed not long after the special that not only was Rockwell barely a multi-millionaire (he'd only been worth $2 million, with less than $1,000,000 in liquid assets - pretty well-off, but far from the elite uber-rich dude he'd been promoted as), but one of his ex-girlfriends had filed a restraining order against him for Domestic Abuse. What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History has this squarely at #9.
  • In Who's Your Daddy?, a person who had been adopted as an infant is forced to pick out his/her biological father from a group of 25 men. Picking the right man won $100,000, but otherwise the "impostor" got the money. In other words, this is essentially a Prime Time version of the Daddy DNA Tests on Maury. After being hit with poor ratings, massive public backlash, and the Raleigh-Durham affiliate (WRAZ, the same station that refused to air Married by America) refusing to broadcast the show, Fox canned it after one episode, quietly burning off the other five episodes they had filmed on the (now-defunct) Fox Reality cable channel.

    GSN (United States) 
  • GSN's entries into the reality genre are usually forgettable, but none more so than Carnie Wilson: Unstapled. The series is a documentary on an attitude-ridden Carnie trying to shed her pregnancy weight. Add plastic acting, an annoying supporting cast, and a mention of a diet where she gained weight and you have the makings of a dark point for GSN. It lasted 13 episodes before being relegated to late nights and cancellation. It's no wonder she was replaced as host of their version of The Newlywed Game by Sherri Shepherd soon after.
  • Faux Pause, from 1998. The concept was basically a game show version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 - find a lame old game show and riff on it. It's a great concept, but the way this show executed it failed on basically every level: the hosts (obscure comedians Mary Gallagher and Sean Donnellan) were extremely unfunny and often mean in their riffs (e.g. calling everyone in Oregon a hick, implying that New Jersey girls are all ugly, or making a joke about excessive chain-smoking when the host of the show they were riffing on died of lung cancer), the shows being riffed on were often Cult Classics (most notably Go and Hot Potato) or at least unremarkable shows not bad enough to warrant the MST treatment, and the interstitial skits were both unfunny and poorly-acted. Read a Game Show Garbage review of the series here, and a rundown of the Hot Potato episode here. Perhaps the only good things to be said about the show are that its producer Frank Nicotero went on to host the much better-remembered Street Smarts, while Donnellan switched to voice acting in video games. Also, this was the only time GSN has ever shown the 1975 pilot of Barry-Enright's short-lived/obscure Hollywood Connection, and the episode skewering Winning Streak had one joke's punchline be a still-shot of the slate for that one surviving episode. note 
  • How Much Is Enough?, from 2008, was probably the most tedious game show ever created: four contestants attempted to gauge how greedy they were by locking in a value on a "money clock" going up from $0 to $1,000; they kept whatever value they stopped at, unless they had the highest amount, which meant they got nothing. This continued with a $2,000 round played in reverse (the earliest to stop got nothing), and then they did three more rounds with increasing amounts, alternating between these formats, until the final, where the middle two players played for the collective pot... with one more round. While it employs the same thought processes that create the drama that made Deal or No Deal a hit, it lacked most of the elements necessary to make it watchable, besides Corbin Bernsen actually hosting it well. It lasted only two months.

    ITV (United Kingdom) 
  • 24 Hour Quiz (2004) was billed as being a cross between a quiz show and a reality show. The gist of the show was that three contestants were locked in a "quiz pod" 24/7, and that for 16 hours per-day (8 hours fewer than what the title promised) they would answer questions (approximately every 30 seconds) off computers in the pod, with each worth a life-changing £1. That was, unless it was worth an even greater amount, such as £100 (which was often done when one of the contestants was distracted). The privilege of food, going to the bathroom, or taking a shower deducted money from your score. There were a total of five episodes per-day, including a Noon show that featured updates on events transpiring overnight, and the beginning of a round where 14 new contestants could compete to displace one of the three contestants in the pod. This bit came to a climax in the evening edition, where the worst-performing contestant (in a 2-hour segment aired on ITV2 immediately before) risked elimination if the top contender could pick the correct Pod Pass out of five (with the chance to remove incorrect passes by answering questions). ITV2 also aired a primetime episode with a "cramming" session with a guest expert, as well as a late-night "party" show as a wrap-up (with frequent ITV2 Companion Show host Matt Brown).

    The show's biggest missteps came as a direct result of its Lowest Common Denominator positioning: the questions were often too easy, Shaun Williamson (who had recently departed from Eastenders) wasn't exactly the best host, and it was too concerned with trying to channel Big Brother (unsurprisingly, it was produced by Big Brother creators Endemol) in its presentation and interactions, with awkward results. For instance, the contestants were often too busy focusing on answering the questions when the host tried to strike up conversation with them. Let's not also forget them having to eject a contestant after he got drunk on the wine they brought in to make things more lively, and started kicking the walls in the middle of the night (he was invited back for the tournament of champions finale, though). In Northern Ireland, UTV had to preempt the lifestyle segment of their 5 p.m. newscast into the early-afternoon to make room for 24 Hour Quiz (a decision that was quickly reversed after viewer outcry). In 2012, a writer for The Guardian deemed 24 Hour Quiz one of the worst British game shows of all time, noting that the only thing it managed to do was "marry the mind-numbing tedium of a second-rate reality show, with the plodding boredom of a sub-standard pub quiz". Needless to say, it was not renewed. NBC would revisit portions of the concept with its Million Second Quiz (which by contrast, focused more on the actual gameplay rather than trying to be Big Brother in a broom cupboard).
  • Celebrity Wrestling was a concept that might have worked, had they managed to fill the cast with people who actually knew how to wrestle, or at the very least were known for athleticism. Instead, we ended up with a bunch of reality TV stars and other D-listers who clearly weren't even cut out for arm-wrestling, much less the real thing. On top of that, the selection of contests didn't even resemble wrestling, but rather a heavily watered-down version of what you'd see in shows like ITV's own Gladiators, meaning that there wasn't even any pleasure to be taken in watching the "celebrities" fail miserably. Not even having long-time WWF veteran Roddy Piper on hosting duty could save it. Incredibly, ITV had enough confidence in the show to not only run a hugely expensive promotional campaign, but scheduled its debut against the newly relaunched Doctor Who; specifically, the episode which featured the return of the Daleks. Cue tabloid headlines about the show being "exterminated" in the ratings. After two more weeks of being thrashed by Doctor Who, ITV unceremoniously dumped the programme to a Sunday-morning graveyard slot and left it to die.
  • The Colour of Money (2009) tried to turn those radio contests where the contestant is read off increasing amounts of money and has to stop before they hit the Whammy and lose everything, into a full show, hosted by Chris Tarrant (who, appropriately, had conducted contests like this when he was a host on Capital FM's morning show). The goal was to collect a target amount of usually £50,000-£100,000 (and no more than that) in this manner from 10 of 20 cash machines. The machines were colour-coded (hence the name of the show) and counted in £1,000 intervals, and each contained a maximum value ranging from £1,000 to £20,000. There was only one machine of each amount, however, as gauged by a Deal or No Deal-style tote board (contestants were urged to "play the gaps" to figure out if there was going to be a certain amount present). The game was tedious and repetitive, lacking something that added unpredictability and personality to the proceedings (such as the Banker of Deal). Making matters worse, it had the stereotypical aesthetics of a big-money game show (although it was originally pitched with lower stakes) and liberal use of Trailers Always Spoil (to the extent that you could have a Fox version just by changing the currency and having Mark Thompson narrate). Rapidly decreasing ratings led ITV to can Colour right before its finale. Interestingly, the format was brought to Italy, where it became a modest success.
  • Red or Black? (2011), created by Mean Brit talent show judge Simon Cowell, subjected a group of 1,000 contestants to a series of luck based missions involving red and black motifs, designed to whittle them down to 8 for the live final later in the night (In full, the episodes were 90 minutes, but they had a second program in between, such as The X Factor). This would, in turn, determine the one person who would have a chance to win £1,000,000 by guessing whether a ball would land in a red space or black space on a giant roulette wheel. It required absolutely no skill at all, besides predicting the outcome of luck-based scenarios (sometimes involving celebrity guests) by either making the titular choice, or having it made for you without any input at all. The first series was broadcast as a 7-day-long event in September 2011; while the ratings were good by ITV standards, Red or Black? was lambasted by critics for being dull and utilizing stereotypical reality show tropes. Plus, controversy brewed when it was revealed that the first million-pound winner had a criminal record (while they didn't strip his winnings as demanded by the media, several contestants were silently disqualified from the live round in later episodes). The show was renewed for a second series in 2012 (with weekly episodes as a late-Summer run after the Olympics), but ITV demanded a Retool. It was significantly downsized (it started with 8 contestants in the studio), and the luck-based games were replaced with games of skill that still involved the same motif. Ratings were worse the second time around, and the show was silently cancelled.
  • Shafted (2001) appeared to be ITV's answer to The Weakest Link (i.e. dark, elimination-based quiz show with an antagonizing host). After having six contestants choose how much money they wanted to begin with (and the contestant with the highest starting amount getting eliminated off the bat), five contestants wagered on whether they could answer a question, given the first few words (meaning it could be a Bait-and-Switch about a completely different topic). The contestant who bet highest then answered the fully-revealed question. After each round, the contestant in the lead eliminates an opponent, and everyone else's bank is raised up to the leader's total. When the game is down to two contestants, it goes to a Prisoner's Dilemma finale (see Friend or Foe, Golden Balls, etc.) where the contestants secretly chose if they wanted to share the final pot, or take it for themselves (in other words, Share or Shaft). If both choose to Shaft, they lose everything. The problems? Its Who Wants To Be The Weakest Link aesthetic and premise felt derivative and cliche (and this was coming from the network that premiered Millionaire in the first place), and only exacerbated the moral issues of the game itself. The hosting of Robert Kilroy-Silk (a former Labour Party MP) was also stiff and lacking personality. While ratings started off good, they began to see significant losses by the fourth episode, prompting ITV to give the eight remaining episodes the shaft themselves. A clip of Kilroy-Silk's catchphrase for the endgame later became a Running Gag on Have I Got News for You.
    • Despite the failure in Britain, they did manage to sell the format in Australia (where it lasted 40 episodes before getting canned).

    Mediaset (Italy) 
  • Trasformat was a game based on recognizing the faces of famous celebrities disguised behind heavy photo editing. The concept itself wasn't bad (it even won a prize for "most original concept for a game show" in 2011), but good concepts aren't always well executed and in this case the execution was terrible. Many hints clearly gave away that it was blatantly fake and/or rigged: the contestants were always good-looking university students in their mid-twenties (other shows on the same network always had people of any look and age), the prizes way too big for the relatively easy game, and winners never emoted, almost like they already knew whether they were going to win or lose. It lasted only seven months from 2010-2011, but in January 2012, out of the blue and with very little promotion, a "second season" was announced. Except that, in an act eerily similar to Peer Pressure, it was just reruns, with minimal edits for the second cycle to make them look new, such as replacing the lovely assistants (Raffaella Fico and Katia Follesa, replaced by Francesca Cipriani mid-season) with its creepy-looking CG mascot named Enrichetto (a cube-headed chibi version of the show’s creator and main host, Enrico Papi, done in the same style that was used for the equally creepy-looking contestant avatars shown in between each game phase) with a Chipmunk-like voice (which was just the lines said by the original assistants pitch-shifted, most likely without their permission), the addition of a Laugh Track every time Enrico made a joke or Enrichetto was in the shot dancing or waving around and, most annoyingly, the part after the last commercial break always began from the end and then rewinded to were they left, wasting 40 seconds of the episode. It was finally cancelled for good by June.

    PAX (United States) 
  • One of the shows PAX (now Ion Television) aired on its first day (August 31, 1998) was The Reel-to-Reel Picture Show, a painfully-dull movie trivia Q&A created to sell an equally-dull movie trivia Q&A board game with No Budget. While Peter Marshall was a master on The Hollywood Squares and other games, he was a deer in the headlights here—often tripping over questions, forgetting the rules, and making unintentional Squares references. It's not as if he had old age or health to blame: he seemed perfectly fine as Guest Host on the Squares revival in 2003 despite pushing 80 at the time. The celebrity guests looked like they would've rather been somewhere else, and some of them were clueless. But the biggest issue was that the production company behind it had financial difficulties and had to pull the plug after only 25 episodes, which is truly bad for a traditional game show and far below the 200 PAX had ordered. Worst of all, nobody ever got paid! note  The show ran from August 31 to October 2, after which repeats aired for a brief period. Interestingly, this was the second time Marshall hosted a game show where both he and the contestants never got paid, the first being a somewhat better-received adaptation of Yahtzee in 1988.

    RAI (Italy) 
  • Rischiatutto (an Italian quiz show inspired by Jeopardy!) is a beloved show from the 1970's. When Rai decided to revive it in 2016, they managed to mess it up in every way possible, resulting in a boring, drawn-out mess. It was broadcast in primetime unlike the original, meaning that it lasted a good three hours instead of one. The extra two hours were padded by host Fabio Fazio stopping the game to a screeching halt to turn it into a full-fledged talk show, with celebrity interviews (the guest was the topic of one of the categories), and dragging out the original producer and past contestants to remind viewers how great the good old show was. Of course, Fazio all but forgot that back then, this actually was a game show. Ultimately, it only aired for six episodes and was swiftly forgotten, leaving anticipating audiences, fans of the original show, and young viewers who had never seen it enraged by boredom. Not even the participation of Mike Bongiorno's foundation could save it, and this insulting "homage" perfectly showed off how can you mismanage an old property to desperately appease an aging demographic.

    RTE (Ireland) 
  • Cabin Fever was a 2003 Irish reality show consisting of eleven contestants with no prior sailing experience tasked with sailing a 90-foot, two-mast schooner around the Irish coast with a professional crew of two. The show was to last eight weeks with one contestant voted to "walk the plank" every week, but less than two weeks in the ship ran aground and was broken up on the rocks of Tory Island. All aboard were rescued and the proceeds from that week's phone votes donated to the coast's lifeboat coverage. Following this the rest of the show's run was plagued with problems, including the replacement ship suffering from malfunctions and three of the original lineup of contestants declining to return following the accident. As a silver lining, the show did bring in a decently-sized audience, even if many merely tuned in to see what would go wrong that week.
  • Celebrity Farm, also from 2003, involved eight C-List celebrities spending a week tending to a farm with one being voted out every evening. The voting system was the reverse of what audiences were used to, as the votes were for who was to be eliminated rather than who audiences wanted to keep. Hence controversy was drawn from the first episode, as the deviation from the norm and an unclear explanation of the voting system by the hosts resulted in the most famous and popular celebrity of the group being voted out on the first night. Audience frustration at the confusion, as well as the general dullness of the show and the people on it, led to it lasting only one season and becoming a often-ridiculed footnote in Irish television history.

    Seven Network (Australia) 
  • The 2012 revival of The Price Is Right had a glitzy look and feel based on the then-recent French revival, and longtime Aussie Price host Larry Emdur, but not much else. For one, the show had far lower payouts in comparison to past Aussie versions of Price, or even its lead-out Deal or No Deal: pricing games were generally played for prizes no more than $2,000 in value, and the Showcase prize package tended to be around $25,000 in total. Given the compressed budget, the show was seemingly subsidized by endless plugs for its sponsor, the discount store chain Big W (comparable to stores such as Walmart): they were plugged as the "provider" of its prizes, its logo was plastered all over the pricing game props (practically all of which did not have their names on them either, which made them look bland and, in the case of Cliff Hangers, outright missing the top part of its board), and cash prizes in games such as Plinko were always in the form of "Big W shopping sprees" (read: gift cards). There's even an episode posted on YouTube with a running total of all the Big W plugs. One Big W the show didn't have was the Big Wheel—the show instead used a mix of the already polarizing U.S. New Price is Right (with no Contestants' Row) with the original half-hour format in which the top two winners advanced to the Showcase Playoff (conducted similarly to past Australian runs), but with a One Bid-like round used as a tiebreaker if needed. Last but not least, Emdur's sidekick was the "hip" and hammy Brodie Young, whose introduction in the first episode didn't exactly bode well (he wanted to shorten the signature catchphrase "Come on down!" to "C-O-D!" because it sounded cooler). Price debuted in May, was cancelled in December, and was missed by nobody.

  • The 2001 syndicated version of Card Sharks is frequently considered one of the worst game show revivals of all-time, and it's not hard to see why. It featured unusual changes to the classic gameplay, such as removing the survey questions in favor of an out-of-place mechanic known as "Clip Chips", where contestants could guess the outcome of a Candid Camera Prank to switch the card. By far the most flawed change was that there was only a single row of seven cards shared by both players, rather than individual rows for each. This meant that a player could win without making a single guess if their opponent swept the first six cards but made an incorrect call on the last. The atrocious hosting of Pat Bullard (who had already proved his incompetence on a short-lived revival of Love Connection three years prior and the also-pretty-lousy Hold Everything! in 1990) and the ugly-looking set didn't really help matters either, and neither did the fact that promotional efforts for the series were hampered by the 9/11 attacks the Tuesday before; local stations were rightfully focused on trying to report on the local impact of the attacks rather than promoting some cheesy game show revamp on their Fall lineups. It would only last four months before it got thrown in the trash. Fans have referred to this revival as "Card Guppies" or "CASINO"("Card Sharks In Name Only"). Here is an episode, if you dare. It took 17 years for another revival attempt to be made, this time for ABC in primetime (which, as with their other recent game show revivals, is more faithful to the format of the classic 1970's version).
  • Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich replaced the Ohio Lottery's long-running and relatively straightforward game show Cash Explosion (basically a multi-round, Press Your Luck sans trivia-type game) with a confusing multi-round game that begins with teams (taking so long that later episodes actually cut out a portion of it in post just to speed things up), and then turns into a White Elephant exchange with the teams broken up into individual contestants to find out who will play the Bonus Round against the returning champion. It was also littered with bonus spaces and features requiring the contestant to have qualified for the show with a more expensive version of the show's associated scratch-and-win game in order to use them, which added to the confusion. Not to mention the hosting of David McCreary, which Game Show Garbage thought made Patrick Wayne from the 1990s Tic-Tac-Dough (see below) seem tolerable in comparison. It was widely considered a failure, meaning that Cash Explosion was promptly Un-Cancelled the following season (although McCreary was retained as host).
  • The 1998-99 version of Match Game with Michael Burger got a lot of flak for its lower quality in comparison to previous versions. Its material attempted to be Hotter and Sexier rather than censor-dodging like past runs of the show (which prompted some stations to bury it in late-night time slots)—in fact, nearly every episode had at least one censored answer, including the winning answer in one case. The show also had Running Gags about Bill Clinton, nearly to the point of obsession, and the panel, which was also reduced to 5 celebrities from the traditional 6, appeared to lack chemistry. Finally, the top prize in the Super Match was $5,000—puny for a syndicated show at the time, and especially for one without returning champions.note  Overall, Match Game flopped against the Whoopi Goldberg-produced revival of Hollywood Squares with Tom Bergeron which—in spite of being stuck with No Budget at first—was an objectively better program, lasting until 2004. Besides a few one-off pilots and an appearance in CBS's Gameshow Marathon miniseries, it took until 2016 for it to get a full-fledged primetime revival, which is hosted by Alec Baldwin and patterned upon the beloved Gene Rayburn era in terms of look, feel, and format. Here is Game Show Garbage listing the 5 reasons as to why it failed.
  • When the children's game show Peer Pressure went into its final season (which was literally just the first being reaired for the third time in a row, but with even more obtrusive editing than the so-called "second" season), it gained a Spin-Off to make up for the cancellation of Merv Griffin's Click (which was often paired with Peer Pressure), known as Pressure 1. Unlike its parent, which was a board game-like Edutainment Show based on evaluating moral dilemmas, this was just a basic quiz show for teens with little connection to the original program and an atmosphere that wasn't really engaging. It even recycled the Title Theme Tune from Peer Pressure as well. The final round was just a "get these 5 questions right the fastest" showdown between the final two contestants, with a "Pressure Gage" as the timer. In regards to the obtrusive editing to Peer Pressure, it was repackaged as Pressure 2 to go along with the new show (which is odd, given that Pressure 1 is the sequel to Pressure 2), with the word "Peer" censored out whenever it was mentioned as the title. See also the Game Show Garbage review.
  • Shoppers Casino was a home shopping Infomercial disguised as a game show; given that its production values were just as bad as one, it's not hard to see why for years it was claimed to be the worst game show of all time. Jeff Maxwell does a pretty bad job as host (flubbing his lines not once but twice in the first episode), and the models act like they're only there for the paycheck. The set is dingy and poorly-constructed, which makes it hard for the cameramen to get good shots of the games, which were just dumbed-down versions of blackjack, roulette, and chuck-a-luck. They attempt to sell "bargain items" to the home viewers that aren't actually bargains at all, and worse, they deceive said home viewers with a "home caller" that sounds like they're actually using the PA system in the studio, thinking the viewers wouldn't know the difference. Game Show Garbage has a review here... but if you really want to see for yourself how bad it really was, it's present in all its glory here.
  • 3's A Crowd, a 1979 syndicated show created by Chuck Barris (best known for creating The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, and The Gong Show, the last of which he also hosted). In it, host Jim Peck asked probing questions of a male contestant, then asked the same questions of both his wife and secretary, to determine which of the two knew him better. The show drew outrage from Moral Guardians and from women's organizations, leading to all four shows being cancelled. Outside a couple syndicated revivals of Newlywed and Dating, the show proved to be more-or-less a Creator Killer for Barris; he never got another original show on the air before he retired to France at the end of The '80s. What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History ranked it at #94.
    • Despite this show's toxic nature, it got a revival in 1999 for GSN, hosted by Alan Thicke; while this one removed the "secretary" element in favor of having the second woman be a friend of the man instead, it was still a Turn of the Millennium GSN show and quickly fell by the wayside.
  • Temptation: The New Sale of the Century (2007-08) was loosely based on Temptation, an Australian reboot of Sale. Its biggest change was replacing the historic shopping endgame with one where the champion is given a choice between going home with a prize, or resisting temptation and risking it for a chance at a bigger prize the next episode.note  The U.S. version shoehorned the shopping aspect back in, but the prizes on offer severely paled in comparison to the variety and value of those offered on past iterations (for one, most of the prizes were designer goods for women — which could be seen by a male contestant as either a nice gift for the wife, or an Undesirable Prize), and there was no option to eventually win "the Lot" and a jackpot like classic Sale. The actual gameplay featured a bastardized version of the classic "Fame Game" rounds (which ripped off the Toss-Up puzzles from Wheel of Fortune), and another completely original game concept called "Knock-Off" (fittingly, a knock-off of Wipeout; it was also played as a Bonus Round called "Super Knock-Off"). In other words, it was a half-baked Temptation and a half-baked Sale of the Century. Besides a Celebrity Edition preview special featuring American Idol finalists (aired by the equally-forgotten MyNetworkTV; Fox was the distributor), the series never had a Nielsen rating above 0.5, and it too was cancelled after a single season. And did we mention it had a tie-in website eerily reminiscent of Shoppers Casino's pathetic attempt to peddle its crap to viewers? Here is Game Show Garbage to show you why it was a no-sale.
  • Another oft-cited example of a terrible game show revival is the 1990s Tic-Tac-Dough. The pot reset to zero after each tie note , the Dragon and Dragonslayer began rapping in the bonus round about six weeks in, a special week in November had divorced couples playing against each other, and Henry Mancini composed the uncharacteristically kiddie theme music. Patrick Wayne was an all-around terrible host who read the questions in monotone and explained the rules very slowly, but amped everything else up whenever a contestant blocks their opponent or wins the game, shouting "YOU BLOCK!" or "YOOUU WIIIIIIINNN!" respectively. One must wonder if Dan Enright was high when he produced this version, as it would be the last game show he would work with before his death in 1992. It didn't even last a full season before getting axed. Game Show Garbage talks about it here and here. If you're brazen, you can see an episode here.

    Tien (The Netherlands) 
  • De Gouden Kooi (The Gilded Cage) was a Dutch reality show based on the original concept for Big Brother, airing a few years after the Dutch version of that show ended. It was even crueler than Big Brother was - the housemates each had to pay €10,000 to get in, and the prize money of €1,000,000 (plus the fully-furnished house!) was given to the last person left at the end. That's it. No rules. People had to bully each other until everybody except one walked out. It's widely considered the worst television show in the history of the world by the Dutch. (In case you're wondering how it went, the residents all had massive orgies and the biggest Jerkass won.)

    TLC (United States) 
  • In the height of the dance show craze that brought us hits like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, TLC took a crack at the genre with the short-lived Master of Dance. Hosted by Joey Lawrence (of Blossom and Melissa & Joey fame), the show featured ordinary people performing their moves to a wide variety of music. In each episode, five contestants are evaluated on their ability to adjust to an abrupt change in music by a panel of three judges and were progressively eliminated until one is declared a winner and moved on to the Tournament of Champions for a chance to win $50,000. Alas, this admittedly cool premise was undone by horrendous execution.
    • For one, the contestants who were incredibly talented were the ones who got eliminated. To put this into context, in one episode a breakdancer who perfectly adjusted to the changes in the music finished runner-up, while an obese woman who did nothing but move around in circles throughout progressed to the Tournament of Champions.
    • It doesn't help that out of the three incompetent judges, only one (Tyce Diorio) was active as a professional choreographer and dancer at the time of this show's airing. The other two judges? A dancer-turned-actress who was retired for over 18 years and a stand-up comedian.
    • Add the show's No Budget production values and the piss-poor covers used for the music and it's hardly surprising why the network canned the show after only six extremely-low-rated episodes. It's an Old Shame for the network nowadays, as there's only one preview clip on its website and nothing else, and with a 2.0 rating on IMDb and considerable hatred from fans of dance shows, you can see why TLC would like for it to stay that way. Here's Meredith Myers' audition on the show.

    UPN (United States) 
  • The UPN Iron Chef USA specials. The idea of an American Iron Chef wasn't bad; in fact, it would be pulled off successfully later by Food Network. The biggest difference between the two American Chef shows? Food Network's Iron Chef America understands and respects the source material while, at the same time, realizing that American viewers were watching mainly for the competitive aspects (the original show's appeal to Japanese audiences, meanwhile, was watching celebrities engaged in the intimate act of eating). The result was a show that's faithful to the original while still going in its own directions. All UPN's people understood was "Wacky foreigners acting like cooking is a sport!", resulting in commentators who paid more attention to the cheering studio audience than the actual cooking (and who couldn't tell a melonballer from a spork). Just about the only element UPN got right was William Shatner as the Large Ham Chairman, very much in line with Takeshi Kaga's performance.

    Yootoo America (United States) 
  • America's 72nd most-watched network America One (which has since been acquired by the owners of what is now Youtoo TV, and merged and renamed Youtoo America) brings us America's 72nd most-popular big-money game show, The Million-Dollar Word Game (1999). The player must unscramble words (either a single word, or coming up with multiple words of specified length using the letters of one word). A few milestone points award cash and a trip, and getting past all 14 "levels" apparently allows the player to win a prize from the cheap-looking board, such as maybe, just maybe, $1,000,000. It was ostensibly attempting to clone Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (and was likely the first U.S. Follow the Leader clone of it), but had 1989-level production values, if not worse (they couldn't even afford to show a countdown clock onscreen!), and none of the atmosphere or substance that makes game shows legitimately exciting. The "set" was literally just a wall with the show's logo and the "prize banks" for the Bonus Round on it (the credits contain the plug "Signage by Fastsigns"; the joke writes itself), two cheap-looking podiums, and effects lighting borrowed from the local rock and bowl. The host, Ian Jamieson (who you may remember from such shows as The Lonely Chef and America One's hit variety show The Ian & Clare Show - whose co-stars are the producers of MDWG), has laid-back mannerisms that contribute to gratuitous Padding. Overall, the show had a dull, public access atmosphere that makes the aforementioned Shoppers Casino look like The Price Is Right in comparison.
    • One wonders if the show could even afford to give away $10,000, let alone $1,000,000, given that it clearly has No Budget. Though, according to a post discussing the show on newsgroup, contestants rarely made it to the higher levels to begin with, and one contestant made it to Level 14 but lost. In the episode posted on YouTube, Ian boasts at the top of the show that the next round of tapings would add a top prize of $5,000,000! Later on, he announces a planned tournament between the United States and Canada as a contestant plug. Of course, the number to call to be a contestant is a 1-900 number. Once again, the joke writes itself.
    • Said tournament never came to be on TV, and instead another was eventually held online for a grand prize of $10,000,000, but each entrant had to pony up $100 to approximate the $10,000,000 grand prize. And the winner had to fly to the Caribbean to claim it. Can anyone spell "scam"?
  • When Yootoo TV was originally called The Nostalgia Channel, one of the shows they picked up was a game show called Let's Go Back. Its host/producer Scott Sternberg (whose previous work in game shows was Everything Goes, a porno game show that was essentially Strip Hollywood Squares, and who would later go on to produce the much-maligned Wheel 2000 and Jep!) was wooden as host. The format was a complete ripoff of Jeopardy!, and the bonus round was a ripoff of Split Second. Also, the prizes were incredibly cheap (seriously, who thought it was a good idea to give a Pet Rock as a prize?!), and the top prize for each game was a mere $500 in an era where most cable game shows could give away at least $1,000 and sometimes as much as $10,000. Game Show Garbage rips it a new one here.


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