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The worst television shows ever…


After attempting not to do any work for my finals, I postulated a question a few friends: What is the worst television show of all time? Unfortunately, most of the answers were either popular shows that they loved to hate (Lost, ) or mediocre examples from this past season (My Generation, $#*! My Dad Says). These shows are bad, but forgettable. It takes a certain type of show to be so atrocious that it makes you wonder how such a train wreck could pass by network executives. And some of these shows are so bad that you get giddy in delight seeing that the full series is on Hulu.

As a rule, I’m not listing any shows that are currently on air and excludes shows that actually were not the worst ever (you might not have liked The O.C., but it is certainly not the worst show ever).

Honorable Mentions:

Cleopatra 2525 (2000-2001, syndicated)

“Five hundred years into the future, she will enter a world where machines rule the Earth. Mankind has been driven underground and Cleopatra is about to discover… There’s no place like home!”

– Cleopatra 2525 opening narration

You may recognize the woman in the center (Gina Torres) as both Zoe Washburne and Jasmine from Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Angel, respectively. Torres has had a moderately successful television career, though she never really has been in a successful television series.  This one’s about a woman who is cryogenically frozen after her breast augmentation surgery went awry, only to wake up 500 years later and discover that the world has been taken over by robots. Let’s just forget this one ever happened, k?

Opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YmnG2pzVgQ

L.A.X. (2004-2005, NBC)

45 minutes of Heather Locklear running around in white pants, L.A.X. is noted as one of the biggest television blunders of all time. Not only was it terrible (it was pitched as “24 with sexual tension”… really? In an airport?) but it was a complete bomb. That shouldn’t be any surprise, people hate airports.

Here, you can watch Heather Locklear look aghast when viewing a clip of her own show. I think that should send off some red flags.

Manimal (1983, NBC)

Dr Jonathan Chase… wealthy, young, handsome. A man with the brightest of futures. A man with the darkest of pasts. From Africa’s deepest recesses, to the rarefied peaks of Tibet, heir to his father’s legacy and the world’s darkest mysteries. Jonathan Chase, master of the secrets that divide man from animal, animal from man… Manimal!

– Manimal opening narration

It’s about a cop that transforms into animals to solve crimes. Yup. It was crappy NBC before NBC was consistently crappy.

Watch the transformation sequence here. This really is television magic.

Caveman (2007, ABC)

There obviously was a reason why ABC executives found Cavemen to be a lucrative idea: the marketing campaign by Geico had already proven to be wildly successful and dominated the airwaves similarly to the original gecko. Why wouldn’t a sitcom work? Unfortunately, the idea of cavemen in modern society didn’t have much creative power outside of 30-second spots. Try watching the first episode. I dare you.

It’s that bad.

The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (1998, UPN)

Oh look, Chi McBride!  I loved Pushing Daisies! This can’t be that bad, can it?

I mean, how funny is a sitcom about Abraham Lincoln’s slaves?

Yes, this is a sitcom about slavery. Hah…ha?

Homeboys in Outer Space (1996-1997, UPN)

During the 90s, fledgling networks Fox, the WB and UPN needed any progamming they could get. Shows that should have been canceled weren’t. That’s how we got shows such as Herman’s Head on for three seasons.
Even without The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, Homeboys in Outer Space managed to be (almost) as offensive, especially considering UPN’s target demographic.

Let’s look at the description:

The plot centers around two astronauts, Tyberius “Ty” Walker (Flex) and Morris Clay (Bell), who flew around the universe in a winged car in the 23rd century. The duo’s car, which was a cross between a lowrider and an 18 wheeler, was piloted by a talking female computer named Loquatia. The show was intended as a parody of science fiction shows such as Star Trek.

Loquatia? Really?

Here’s a clip of some dude turning into a hot girl. No, really. It’s almost Manimal bad.

Small Wonder (1985-1989, syndication)

This one was on for four long, arduous, laugh-less years. Small Wonder is about a man who creates the perfect robot daughter. Hilarity ensues! Except I literally did not even crack a smile while watching an episode. I even smirk during $#*! My Dad Says (sometimes). There’s a laugh track, but I’m not even sure what the joke was supposed to be.

Check it out for yourself.

And to help you cleanse your brain from that travesty, here’s the E! True Hollywood Story of Vicki the robot which is, sadly, more funny than the show ever was.

V.I.P. (1998-2002, syndication)

Unlike Pamela Anderson’s surprisingly hilarious Stacked, V.I.P. was a campy mess. Her first major television series after Baywatch, Anderson stared as Vallery Irons, the figurehead of “Vallery Irons Protection.” Boobs, explosions, poor acting, bad production values and an abundance of dutch shots created something akin to a softcore pornography. Though, I guess that’s what they were going for.

Here’s madTV making fun of the show. Just like many things on madTV, it’s fairly hit or miss. Just enjoy the first part.

Baywatch Nights (1995-1997, syndicated)

At first, Baywatch Nights was harmless enough. Just David Hasselhoff solving beach-time shenanigans after the lights went out. Cue some sunset shots, film noir-esque poses of the Hoff… standard, right?

Then shit got weird.

In its second season, Baywatch Nights decided to abandon almost all of its earlier stories and focus on the supernatural. That’s right, Baywatch Nights became The X-Files‘s campy, stupid cousin. Watch both the introduction to the first season and then the second season to see what I mean. Try not to laugh out loud.

The Winners:

Third Place: Cop Rock (1990, ABC)

Steven Bochco created genre-defining hits such as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. But no one wins every time, especially in television. Such is Cop Rock, Bochco’s attempt to synthesize the gritty streets and… MUSIC!

It’s just one of those concepts that could never succeed, kind of like a sitcom starring Michael Strahan . Take a look here at the series’, uh, interesting style. Rich people singing about doing coke! How is this still not on the air?

Second Place: My Mother, The Car (1966-1965, NBC)

Most of the shows on this list have been fairly recent to be somewhat more timely, but there are some ideas that you just cannot understand. I present to you My Mother, The Car. This hilarious sitcom centers on a man whose dead mother comes back to life… as his car! Think of the possibilities! The hilarious misunderstandings!

It only lasted one season. As it should.

And thankfully for you, the entire series is on Hulu!

First Place: Viva Laughlin (2007, CBS)

Every once in a while, there is something special that comes along in the television world. Something daring.

Watch this clip from The Soup, and you too will understand the magic that is Viva Laughlin.

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