Top 10 FAILED Television Shows (Shortest TV Shows)
Welcome Top10Archive! The world of television is a fickle one. With so many ideas being tossed around, it’s sometimes hard to tell what will stick and what won’t. In this installment from Top10Archive, we’re going to look at 10 television shows that simply did not make the cut and fizzled out within only the first few episodes.
Turn-On (1 Episode)
Ed Friendly, known for being the creator of “Little House on the Prairie”, had, at one point, tried his hand at a sketch comedy. In February of 1969, the sketch comedy show “Turn On” aired and turned heads across America with risqué punch-lines and an overt sexuality. Only one episode aired, and certain parts of the country didn’t even make it through that first episode. Clevelend, Ohio’s WEWS-TV let the episode air for 11 minutes before turning it off entirely. The adult nature of the show left a bad taste in the station immediately, but that’s a full 11 minutes longer than other stations. Stations in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington chose not to air the episode at all, citing the same complaints as WEWS-TV.
You’re In The Picture (1 Episode)
On the evening of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Jackie Gleason and a crew that included Johnny Olson and Dennis James put on “You’re In The Picture”, a game show that Gleason thought would define his versatility to the public. What it wound up doing in the end was forcing the former Honeymooner to apologize for an atrocious attempt at televised entertainment. The game show had a panel of four celebrity guests sticking their heads in a life-sized illustration of a famous scene. They would then ask Gleason yes or no questions to determine what scene they were in. It’s not an entirely impossible gimmick to pull off, as the improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” pulled it off without a hitch with their “Newsflash” segment, but Gleason and crew simply couldn’t get it to stick. Two episodes of “You’re In the Picture” were filmed but only one was aired.
What’s Alan Watching? (1 Episode)
This no-hit wonder featured an impressive list of celebrities including Eddie Murphy, Fran Drescher, Alex Trebek, George Carlin, and Pauly Shore, but not even star power could save “What’s Alan Watching”. The premise had seventeen-year-old couch potato, Alan, viewing his life and family as if they were on a television program, using his remote to switch between different scenes in his life. The series lasted one episode in 1989, though a review from the Los Angeles Times praised the production for its comedic value. Regardless of the potential that could have been there, the show was canned and, as anyone can see, it didn’t help Eddie Murphy’s career that much.
Osbourne’s Reloaded (1 Episode)
“The Osbourne’s” took television by storm in their successful reality television series, cleverly titled The Osbourne’s. The original production that followed Ozzy Osbournes incredulous family lasted four seasons and 52 episodes from 2001 to 2005. When they attempted to return to fame of reality TV with “The Osbournes: Reloaded”, a variety show focused around the quirky English family, the variety show failed to carry the same charm as The Osbournes originally had, instead placing the family in an extremely awkward light for the entire one episode that aired. The lack of that crass chemistry between the family members left The Osbournes: Reloaded, feeling like a flat attempt at cashing in on prior fame.
Public Morals (1 Episode)
They say 13 is an unlucky number, and maybe for CBS’ 1996 sitcom, “Public Morals”, that was just the case. Regardless of the superstition behind this failed production, of the 13 episodes that Peter Gerety and fellow castmates filmed, only 1 actually made it on air. The show was yet another cop show and focused on a group of detectives in a New York City vice squad. The show even featured an NYPD Blue crossover, administrative assistant John Irvin, portrayed by Bill Brochtrup. Though Steven Bochco had a hand in creating both NYPD Blue and Public Morals, Morals simply didn’t have the gusto that NYPD Blue had to help it survive after just 24 minutes on air.
Viva Laughlin (2 Episodes)
Though this musical comedy-drama mash-up featuring British theatrical star, Lloyd Owen, filmed 8 episodes, only 2 actually made it to air in Canada in the United States. The show also didn’t fare so well in Australia and the UK, as only one episode ever saw the light of day. “Viva Laughlin” follows businessman Ripley Holdon on his exploits as he tries to run a casino in the small town of Laughlin, Nevada. Throughout the episodes, characters broke out into contemporary song, filling in that much needed unnecessary musical vacancy that all television dramas have been missing. Surprisingly, among the lackluster cast was Hugh Jackman, who was also credited as executive producer. Not even the famed Wolverine, with his beautiful singing voice could pull Viva Laughlin out of the doomed pit of despair.
The Paul Reiser Show (2 Episodes)
Paul Reiser is probably best known for the successful sitcom “Mad About You”, but in 2011, the comedian tried to make a comeback and make a new name for himself with a self-titled program, “The Paul Reiser Show”. Reiser’s self-aware comedy was a semi-autobiographical look at what his life has been like since Mad About You went off the air. The show wound up being a 2 episode-long mess that tried hard to use star power to keep the ratings up. In the two episodes that aired, Reiser worked alongside Survivor producer Mark Burnett, Larry David, and Henry Rollins. Despite the accompanied big names, the Paul Reiser Show tanked and, at the time, produced NBC’s lowest rating for an in-season comedy premier.
Adams of Eagle Lake (2 Episodes)
Police shows are fairly popular these days, but apparently in 1975, such shows may not have been as popular. Andy Griffith played the sheriff of the small town of Eagle Lake and each episode was to follow Griffith’s exploits in solving issues across the town. The main character was originally from a 1974 television movie, Winter Kill, which intended to be a series pilot. When the pilot failed, Griffith’s character was renamed and put at the head of Adams of Eagle Lake. Griffith was backed up by a fairly big name cast of Abby Dalton and Nick Nolte, but that did nothing for Eagle Lake’s success. After two episodes, Eagle Lake was given the axe.
Daddy’s Girls (3 Episodes)
Dudley Moore, trying to recreate the fame received from 1981’s Arthur, turned to television. The show focused on Moore, a father of three who recently lost his wife and business partner to an extramarital affair. Daddy’s Girls was the first show to feature a gay character played by a gay actor. Beyond that, there was nothing else notable about Daddy’s Girls. Unless, of course, you call lasting only three episodes before being canned as something being notable.
Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (4 Episodes)
At the height of really bad ideas for a television series, there is “Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer”, a comedy that tried to tackle the ever-humorous topic of slavery in America. Pfeiffer aired in October of 1998 on UPN and centered around an African-American man that was banished from England to be sent to the United States during the Civil War. There, he finds work as Abraham Lincoln’s butler. Nothing stirs up the laughs better than jokes about cotton-picking and gags about important historical figures, right? According to audiences, apparently not, as Pfeiffer was cancelled after only four episodes.