Mega Flops: Giant TV Show Failures

  • Trainwrecks

    Television networks spend millions of dollars to produce and promote new TV shows, but many of them fail… and some really fail… like immediately. This subject has been much debated on the Internet. In fact, when you type in “tv show flops” into Google, in quotes, you come up with about 26,100 results. So we decided to rifle through a bunch of these lists and come up with our favorites. So consider this, the best of the best TV show flop roundups.  And away we go… Photo Credit: Studio Levy & Sons
    Supertrain
  • Supertrain

    HowStuffWorks.com, an online source for information about just about anything, suggests that Supertrain is the #1 flop. “If you can find romance on The Love Boat, why not on a train? The show Supertrain was filled with reasons why not, derailing after airing on NBC from February to May 1979. Actors such as Tony Danza, Vicki Lawrence, and Joyce DeWitt hopped onboard the Supertrain to cavort in an Olympic-size swimming pool, gym, and discotheque while traveling more than 200 miles per hour,” they explain. Predictably, this one didn’t go over well with audiences—and the premise was ridiculous. The show’s “million-dollar, large-scale model electric train set with cameras attached crashed during its first demonstration, but nobody at the network saw this as a bad sign,” HowStuffWorks says. The show’s underperformance, combined with the US boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics, supposedly brought NBC near the brink of bankruptcy. Coincidence that they’re the same network behind the The Marriage Ref? (More on that show later.) Photo Credit: curns
    The Chevy Chase Show
  • The Chevy Chase Show

    The Chevy Chase Show is another well-known TV failure. Chevy Chase started his show around the same time as Conan O’Brien—guess who lasted significantly longer in that field? “Chase emerged as the undisputed loser,” according to IMDB. It aired on the Fox network in 1993 and is widely regarded as one of the biggest late-night television disasters ever (the Conan vs. Leno brouhaha notwithstanding). Also, the network spent way too much on this one—renovating the theater where it was shot cost $1 million, and Chase was signed for $3 million. According to Entertainment Weekly, this one was bad in every respect: “So bad that the fish in the tank behind Chevy's desk were dying. So bad that the staff was reportedly recruiting audiences from old-age homes and halfway houses.” Nice. Photo Credit: Alan Light
    Cop Rock
  • Cop Rock

    It is common knowledge that Cop Rock sucked. For whatever reason, it’s often the example people use when talking about bad TV shows in general. It is described by critics as a “short-lived 1990 musical cop show” and lasted only 11 episodes before the network caved to the bad reviews and lack of viewers. ABC, which I consider to be one of the savvier networks (they had the good sense to sign Jimmy Kimmel, after all), was behind this televised trash can fire. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    You’re in the Picture
  • You’re in the Picture

    “Jackie Gleason was famous for saying ‘How sweet it is,’ but a game show he hosted called You're in the Picture wasn't so sweet at all. The first and only episode aired live on January 20, 1961, and featured celebrity contestants sticking their heads into a scene painted on plywood, and then trying to guess what the scene was by asking Gleason questions,” HowStuffWorks explains. 1961 was a bit before my time, but apparently after this trash aired, “Gleason convinced CBS to let him go on the next week and apologize to viewers under the title The Jackie Gleason Show. He did, and The Jackie Gleason Show aired for eight more weeks as a talk show before the network pulled the plug for good.” Sounds like he had a great premise—for a five minute YouTube video, not for a network television show. He was just a bit ahead of his time, that’s all. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Turn-on
  • Turn-on

    “George Schlatter's variety show follow up to ‘Laugh In’ in 1969 lasted all of one episode before being cancelled for bad taste,” according to one site. It apparently had a variety of “hi-tech” animations and graphics, which added to the show’s absurdity. Again, we will have to take their word for it—this one was definitely before my time, but anything “hi-tech” in the 1960s was, in retrospect, ridiculously cheesy. So I can see why this one did a ratings belly flop. Luckily ABC had the brains to cut their losses about as early as humanly possible, putting in the kill order before the first episode even finished. (Of course, a better option would have been not to greenlight the project at all.) Photo Credit: Tjeerd
    Me and the Chimp
  • Me and the Chimp

    “Working with animals on television is always a risk, something That Girl costar Ted Bessell found out when he shared top billing with a chimpanzee. From January to May 1972, Me and the Chimp was produced by Tom Miller and Garry Marshall, who later went on to create Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. The show centered around a family who found a chimp wandering around the neighborhood and decided to keep it hidden from their neighbors,” HowStuffWorks explains. That does sound positively awful. If any CBS network execs are reading this (since you all went for that garbage), I have a script I’ve written on spec… Me and the Killer Whale. Is that something you might be interested in? Too soon? Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Late World with Zach
  • Late World with Zach

    Contrary to what some may believe, Zach Galifianakis was not “discovered” in The Hangover—he actually had his own funny, albeit short-lived, show on VH1 called Late World with Zach. It aired during the spring of 2002, and only survived for nine weeks due to “poor ratings” — proof that the American television audience doesn’t always know what’s best. Photo Credit: TV Squad Julia
    My Mother the Car
  • My Mother the Car

    “My Mother the Car, typically named the worst TV show of all time, aired on NBC from 1965 to 1966. It starred Jerry Van Dyke as the owner of a 1928 Porter convertible possessed by his deceased mother (Ann Sothern), whose voice came out of the car radio. Although written by Allan Burns and Chris Hayward, who had success with The Munsters, the show was panned by critics,” says HowStuffWorks. Sure, this sounds positively stupid by today’s standards, but maybe it seemed swell back in the mid-60s. Is it just me, or does NBC make its fair share of dumb programming decisions? Photo Credit: cliff1066
    Minute to Win It
  • Minute to Win It

    The curtain hasn’t closed on this one yet, but the prognosis is not good. According to CNN, “Variety reports that NBC's ‘Minute to Win It’ -- a distinctly non-‘kulinary’ game show that challenges competitors to master stunts like one-handed tissue-box emptying and re-stacking plastic cups – ‘didn't put up great overall numbers from 7 to 9 p.m.’ on Sunday but rallied slightly against other networks' programming at the 8:30 p.m. mark. Lukewarm ratings might not relegate most shows to the trash bin, but given how this one underperformed after being so heavily promoted via pricey Winter Olympics commercial breaks, popular food blogs like ‘Eater’ are already predicting the show's cancellation.” It is hosted by the Food Network star Guy Fieri. Looks like you may be back to the food TV world soon enough, bro. Photo Credit: NBC.com
    Who’s Your Daddy?
  • Who’s Your Daddy?

    No, really, who is your daddy? “The popular 1990s slang phrase ‘who's your daddy?’ eventually appeared in everything from movies to a country music song by Toby Keith. That didn't help a 2005 reality show on Fox called Who's Your Daddy?, which was canceled after one episode. The show took a woman who had been adopted as an infant and placed her in a room with eight men, one of whom was her biological father,” writes HowStuffWorks. If the girl can pick out the dude who actually spawned her, she gets a load of cash. If she chooses the wrong dude, the real dad gets the cash. Classy, right? To be fair, at least this one has truth in advertising: it is a show purely about finding who your (biological) daddy is… perhaps unsurprisingly, this premise outraged adoption rights organizations, “so Fox decided not to broadcast the other five episodes that had been produced.” Fox… caving in to criticism? I am shocked, and disappointed. I suspect the real reason was purely financial. Nip/Tuck has infuriated plenty of people, but they keep the salacious plastic surgery drama on-air because it draws in lots of eyeballs. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    The Michael Richards Show
  • The Michael Richards Show

    Everybody’s least favorite Seinfeld cast member (and alleged real life racist!) Michael Richards had an eponymous show of his own, but it didn’t last long—October 24, 2000 to December 19, 2000, to be precise. Only eight episodes of this half-baked private detective show saw the light of day—that’s eight episodes too many. Photo Credit: Alan Light
    Pink Lady and Jeff
  • Pink Lady and Jeff

    “Pink Lady and Jeff aired for six weeks in 1980 and made network executives see red. The show combined musical numbers by a Japanese female singing duo called Pink Lady and sketch comedy starring comedian Jeff Altman,” says HowStuffWorks. Six weeks! That’s a short shelf life, even for a bad TV show. Apparently, the girls on the show didn’t know much English and so they learned their lines phonetically—not something critics or viewers like to see. Photo Credit: zagrobot
    Joey
  • Joey

    Another case of a cast member from a very popular sitcom venturing off onto his own, and failing miserably. “As NBC’s comedy juggernaut ‘Friends’ prepared to go off the air, the network frantically put out feelers, hoping one of the six stars would be willing to press on with a spin-off. Eventually, they got around to Matt LeBlanc (who had already proven his lack of discernible taste with the 1996 monkey-baseball movie ‘Ed’). Sure enough, the only star of the show never to host ‘Saturday Night Live’ relocated the most-one-dimensional ‘Friend’ to the absurdly overpromoted ‘Joey,’ which told the story of his move to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune,” explains MSN TV. How did it fare, though? “The program struggled through its freshman season, receiving disappointing ratings before a mercy pickup for Season 2, in which ‘Joey's’ ratings dropped off by 82 percent.” Oh. On to the next one. Photo Credit: Alan Light
    Armed & Famous
  • Armed & Famous

    Armed and lame, at least: this one was “a reality show with D-level celebrities playing cops in a small Indiana town,” according to MSN TV. It survived only 16 days before CBS gunned it down. “Celebrities” on the show included Wee-Man from “Jackass” and Jack Osbourne. Photo Credit: Wikimedia
    Show Me the Money
  • Show Me the Money

    Or don’t. This one aired in 2006, on ABC, and lasted for seven episodes. “Have you already forgotten this high-profile game show? Or were you one of the millions who simply ignored all the hype? Attempting to cash in on the ‘Deal or No Deal’ formula, ‘Money’ gave us a simple set-up that required no real knowledge of anything, a cheesy title and catchphrase and an even cheesier host,” says MSN TV. How dare you, sir! There is nothing negative that can or should be said about William Shatner. He’s awesome, and he will find you a great deal at Priceline.com. Why did this one fail? I personally think Shatner is awesome, so it wasn’t the host that was at fault. Rather, it might have been this production shortfall: “Captain Kirk’s 13 female dancers/card revealers were no match for Howie Mandel’s 28 models/briefcase openers” on rival show “Deal or No Deal.” Gotta get more models next time, Captain. Photo Credit: Jerry Avenaim
    Is the Marriage Ref Next?
  • Is the Marriage Ref Next?

    Possible failure in progress “The Marriage Ref”—the new show on NBC produced by Jerry Seinfeld—is being slammed by some critics as an “unfunny, painful” program. In fact, no one I know likes it, but it would be unwise to bet against Mr. Seinfeld. He has enough famous friends and pull at the network to presumably give this one a running shot of survival. Consider this. Galifinakis gets cancelled but The Marriage Ref survives. Life isn’t fair. Well, at least I’ve got “Between Two Ferns.” Photo Credit: NBC.com
    Movie Flops time…
  • Movie Flops time…

    Now that you’ve read about TV’s failures and euthanized underdogs, it’s time to see the list of the big screen’s epic failures. Click here to read 10 Gigantic Movie Flops. Photo Credit: Getty Images
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