Usually when a show fails it goes unnoticed. But the failure of some is so great that it deserves the ignominy of being remembered. These are five of the worst offenders.
5. Mama’s Family (1983-1990)
“…feeble-minded and heavy-handed…” People Magazine
It’s easy enough to agree that a failed sitcom that is cancelled after one season is bad, but a show that manages to remain on the air for seven years?
The show itself, which was an adaptation of a Vicki Lawrence skit for The Carol Burnett Show, was innocuous enough. The true offence of Mama’s Family is in swallowing up and failing to do anything with the potential of the vast amount of talent surrounding it. The Carol Burnett show was a classic variety hour, but stretched out to thirty minutes and devoid of appearances by Tim Conway, Carol Burnett, or Harvey Korman, the weaknesses of the sketch really began to show.
4. Cop Rock (September-December 1990)
“This is innovation that no one needed — innovation for innovation’s sake.” Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
Cop Rock isn’t technically a comedy, so what’s it doing on this list? Well, first of all, it’s not clear exactly what genre Cop Rock itself thinks it is, so we can go ahead and categorize it however we want. But more importantly, this hard-boiled cop drama with original musical numbers thrown in for no reason is supposed to be the kind of show that you can laugh at.
Unfortunately, Cop Rock doesn’t allow you to laugh with it OR at it. It just confuses and bores. And that may be the worst offense a TV show can commit.
3. Life with Lucy (September-November 1986)
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do it. I can’t be cruel to Lucille Ball. Which means I can’t say what I really think of her new series.” Jeff Jarvis, People Magazine
No one expected Life with Lucy to do great things, but no one expected it to be as bad as it was. A flop through and through with bad casting, bad writing, and bad everything else, Life with Lucy has the added disappointment of spoiling a legacy.
After gaining icon status as the star of I love Lucy in the 1950s, Lucille Ball was one of television’s first real stars and a breakthrough for women in comedy. Too bad this turn in her later years was about as far as possible from a graceful adjustment to the modern era as one could get.
2. BJ and the Bear (1979-1981)
“This is the most dangerous show on TV, an insult to truckers and intelligence everywhere.” People Magazine
There is a saying in showbiz that an actor should avoid working with children and animals at all cost. Why? In addition to being notoriously difficult to manage, they are almost always tied to the most derivative, pandering, shallow projects possible.
Case and point: BJ and the Bear, a story that sought to capitalize on a national interest in the US surrounding semi-truck drivers by pointlessly pairing one with a chimp named Bear. For basically no reason whatsoever.
1. Cavemen (October-November 2007)
“A show that was once dumb and offensive is now dumb and pointless.” Robert Bianco, USA Today
Apparently there is a big difference between a mildly amusing advertisment and a truly entertaining half-hour of television. Unfortunately that observation seems to have escaped the executives that green-lit this adaptation of a commercial for car insurance.
Add to the totally of the wall premise accusations of racism that eventually led to the pilot being cut to a shell of its former self, you end up with a show that is a shell of almost nothing.
What shows do you love to hate-watch? Willing to defend the merits of these pieces of television garbage? Tell us in the comments.