So Bad It's Horrible/Live-Action TV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"In Beverly Hills ... they don't throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows."

Sometimes, you just wonder what television executives were thinking when they greenlight shows like these and kick others out the door before giving them a shot at stardom. These particular programs give new meaning to the term "idiot box".

Important Note: 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.

Second Important Note: It is not a Horrible TV series just because anyone from That Guy With The Glasses 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 review(s).)

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

Scripted Series

  • The ½ Hour News Hour, a satirical news show created and produced by Joel Surnow for Fox News Channel in mid-2007. The show was intended as the conservative answer to The Daily Show; unfortunately, though, while Daily was relatively even-handed in its mockery of politicians, network news, and the general public, ½ Hour dedicated itself entirely to taking weak, half-hearted potshots at popular targets for conservatives, including Barack Obama, the ACLU, and the Democratic Party. When their jokes weren't eye-rollingly obvious, they were relentlessly mean-spirited and bitter. The show was universally panned by the critics and canned after 17 episodes.
  • Cavemen. This was in fact a spin-off of an advertising campaign, i.e, the Geico cavemen. In 2004, Geico started a Running Gag in their commercial that went sort of like this: the pitchman would say that switching to Geico was so easy even a caveman could do it. This resulted in a couple of actual cavemen (who were surprisingly well dressed and articulate) taking offense at the notion that they were so dumb. The commercials were pretty hilarious, they started to make appearances in other Geico commercials, and then someone had the "brilliant" idea to give them their own sitcom. Suffice to say, the attempt to translate these 30-second jokes into twenty-minute stories didn’t work. The Chicago Tribune included this in its list of the top-25 worst shows of all time (as in, not top-25 worst sitcoms, top-25 worst shows), Adam Buckman of The New York Post declared the show "extinct on arrival", and TV Guide placed it at #22 on on their list of "25 Biggest TV Blunders", pointing out the absurdity of basing a sitcom on a commercial. Ginia Bellafante of The New York Times gave the most thorough criticism: "I laughed. But I laughed through my pain. 'Cavemen,' set in some version of San Diego where people speak with Southern accents, doesn’t have moments as much as microseconds suspended from any attempt at narrative." Fortunately, the Cavemen themselves retired on a high note, they appeared in one more Geico commercial (aired during Superbowl XLII) watching the show and commenting on how lousy it was.
  • Galactica 1980. This sequel/Spin-Off of the original series eliminated half the cast (including Apollo, Cassiopeia, and Baltar) without explanation, then was forced by Executive Meddling to pander to audiences with insipid plots involving a group of space children named "The Super Scouts". Good actors made complete fools of themselves — especially Lorne Greene, who was stuck talking to a child prodigy named Dr. Zee, for most of the run. It featured what could be one of the worst episodes of a science-fiction series ever made, "Spaceball," in which the Super Scouts have to win a baseball game. The creators were forced to write stories that could be marketed to young children and shoehorn environmental messages into each one, mainly since the show was broadcast at 7:30 PM — a dead zone that killed any chance for success even if it had been worth watching. Here's TV Trash's review of the disaster.
  • Ben Elton Live From Planet Earth, a live Australian stand-up / sketch-comedy variety show starring comedian Ben Elton. It was intended as something of a comeback for Elton, who'd been absent from the comedy scene for a while and widely considered a Fallen Creator. It was also intended as a flagship for Nine, the network which aired it. Unfortunately, the material was dated, ineptly presented, and largely unfunny; it impressed almost no one. During the premiere, viewing figures dropped from 805,000 at the start (it was scheduled to start after Top Gear in primetime) to 233,000 by the end, with about 200,000 people dropping out every 15 minutes...and if the reaction on Twitter and other social networking sites was anything to go by, most of those who hung around watched solely to rip it to shreds. Critics were by and large no more generous; typical reviews took the lines "an early contender for worst show of the year" or "a screaming, embarrassing failure". It lasted three weeks, shedding even more viewers, before being cancelled.
    • Quite possibly the worst section of the whole thing was Girl Flat, a sitcom in which Lady Gaga, Beyoncé Knowles, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse share a flat. It comes off like every line was ripped from the worst YouTube comments - apparently, the writers thought that a famous woman saying vagina was the funniest thing ever.
  • De Oro Puro ("Of Pure Gold"), a Venezuelan Soap Opera which, despite its high production values, was unspeakably awful. The plot seemed to be a Love Triangle between a girl with Psychic Powers and Easy Amnesia, a man with a Mysterious Past, and the Wandering Jew... who's female and apparently mother of the heroine (Jesus damned her from the cross and all). There was also a Mad Scientist with a lab with Jar People growing up, and numerous supernatural elements. At least, that was the most comprehensible thing people got from it. RCTV, the network that made it, placed it in the prime time timeslot previously occupied by the long-lasting, successful, social-themed soap Por Estas Calles, causing a cultural shock that obviously didn't help it at all. When the ratings sank, they tried to attract people by airing segments in which the whole cast and a respected character actress who wasn't even in the production recapped and explained the convoluted plot and backstory; this backfired when people realized that, if the creators had to explain the story, the viewers won't get much from watching it. When it became obvious that the show could't be saved, they edited the latter chapters to shorten the chapter count and make it finish earlier, in the way hacking their plot points and alienating the poor souls who did invest their time watching this soap. The parody by Radio Rochela[1] was arguably better.
    • This show's failure contributed to the ratings downfall of RCTV during a good chunk of The Nineties; ruined the career of its author, the late Julio Cesar Mármol (an usually competent scriptwriter who before this fiasco was known to have written successful soaps like Estefanía, La Dueña, La Fiera and El Desprecio, and after it was reduced to write remakes of its former successes); and killed for almost two decades the then budding practice of fully filming the soap before broadcast[2]. RCTV was obligated to broadcast it full, since they had already produced it, and all the above actions where measures taken to try to save the production. In the "Telenovelas" section of RCTV international website, this is the only one whose description is purposefully obfuscating.
  • Though few people would have anything nice to say about Cartoon Network's infamous short-lived attempt at rebranding known as CNReal and the live-action shows that have followed since (some more justified than others), none have truly come close to the sheer unrelenting awful that is Dude, What Would Happen? The premise was that the hosts, the three most painfully Totally Radical Surfer Dude actors since Club Mario, would be given a question and attempt to answer it through an experiment much like MythBusters...except it somehow manages to even screw that up. Instead of old wives' tales or questions kids might actually ask, they ponder things such as what sticks to peanut butter on an inclined surface longer (one of the tested substances was more peanut butter), if covering a piano in deflated basketballs would make it bounce, or what would happen if you popped the world's biggest zit. And instead of answering anything, they would just use the question as an excuse to do something stupid for the sake of doing something stupid (the previously-mentioned zit experiment for example was "solved" by filling a punching bag with cream and dropping it off a building) more in the vein of MTV's Jackass, only everything is played without the slightest hint of irony or self-awareness. Despite bringing in ghastly ratings and universally unkind viewer response, CN seemed to be convinced it was the greatest show ever made, and promoted the everloving hell out of it and gave it two more seasons while popular shows were not given such treatment, which only earned it more viewer hatred.
  • Emeril. No, not the cooking show — the sitcom. Imagine watching beloved chef Emeril Lagasse trying and failing miserably at acting. Also imagine a bunch of lame jokes being repeated over and over again every episode. The series barely lasted eight episodes and the chef's career went steadily downhill afterward. It's very often seen on "Worst Of All Time" lists. Sadly, it was one of the last roles for co-star Robert Urich.
    • The show was originally supposed to premiere on 9-11, but was postponed for news coverage. The popular joke about this series is that the terrorists made their attack to prevent the world from seeing this terrible show. Too bad it still ended up airing anyways.
  • Heil Honey I'm Home: Six episodes were filmed, but only one aired, of this Sitcom (yes, sitcom) about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living next door to a Jewish family. They apparently tried to kill the Jewish family every week, but the Jewish family remained blissfully unaware of Hitler's treachery. Ironically, this was conceived as a parody of terrible sitcoms — the premiere tries to spoof the old "my boss is coming to dinner" plot with Neville Chamberlain — but unfortunately it ended up becoming the thing it tried to parody. Humor is almost nonexistent, the main concept's played straight, Hitler's no different than any other sitcom husband, and his attempt at a catchphrase is the incredibly-creative "Honey, I've been a baaaaaad Hitler!" One of the strangest things ever seen on TV, it appealed to nobody and hasn't been aired in its entirety since (although a clip is here, The Cinema Snob's review of the pilot is here, and the whole thing's available on [dead link]), though parts turn up in clip shows of the worst TV moments ever.
  • Germany hasn't been known for inventing new concepts, but what they did with Das i-Team is unacceptable. Basically, it took The IT Crowd and reshot it frame for frame — and still managed to get it wrong. The timing was awful, the delivery was bland and from all the things they could have changed, they took the intro. Thankfully, it got cancelled after two episodes.
  • Life With Lucy. No, not I Love LucyLife With Lucy. This 1986 Lucille Ball comedy series was supposed to be a smash success, but instead became one of the biggest critical and commercial flops of the 1980s. Why? ABC gave complete creative control to Ball, who was 75 years old at the time of production — a risky move because A) advertisers prefer viewers under 49, and B) in a deep risk, the show led off the night. The plot, with Ball's character helping out at a California hardware store, was painfully slow and not funny. The show finished almost dead-last in the season's rankings, and Ball was reportedly so devastated by its failure that she gave up production on any more television projects. Pity...
    • Another issue, as pointed out by the book What Were They Thinking?: The 100 Dumbest Moments In Television, is that it tried to recreate the physical stunts of I Love Lucy when Ball was in her seventies. Watching her try to do those stunts didn't so much inspire laughter as it did fear for her safety. Allegedly this was mandated by the executives, as they mistakenly thought the public wanted to see her doing the kind of pratfalls that made her famous.
  • My Mother the Car was one of the first Sitcoms to attain true infamy for its terribleness. Its premise is that the protagonist's recently-deceased mother has been reincarnated as a (fictional) 1928 Porter; aside from that being impossible without a major Temporal Paradox, it doesn't translate well to monochrome live-action TV because you can barely see when the mother's speaking — they use a faint flickering light in her (anachronistic) car radio. The full ontological possibilities are never explored, perhaps because the writers were unable to think of them. None of the characters are sympathetic. Worst of all, none of the jokes are funny! You can now (legally!) witness the horror on YouTube. You can also watch TV Trash's review of it.
  • In an attempt to bring the ratings gold of MTV's The Osbournes to network TV, FOX created Osbournes: Reloaded, a Variety Show starring the first family of metal. The premiere consisted of a guy being tricked into kissing an elderly woman blindfolded, a "randomly-selected" audience member given the prize of marriage to his long-time girlfriend (they were married on-air), painfully long and unfunny sketches with little kids dressed as Ozzy & Sharon (the joke is that they swear) and Ozzy & Kelly working in fast food. The show was canned after one episode, although multiple affiliates either refused to air it or threw it on in the dead of night.
  • Pink Lady ...And Jeff, perhaps the worst TV Variety Show ever produced, was the brainchild of NBC exec Fred Silverman, and was helmed by legendary TV producers Sid & Marty Krofft (who had also given us The Brady Bunch Hour, in addition to all those trippy kids' shows). The show was intended to be a star vehicle for the Japanese singing duo Pink Lady, consisting of singers Mitsuyo "Mie" Nemoto and Keiko "Kei" Masuda who were paired with comedian Jeff Altman. The only problem? Neither member of Pink Lady could speak a word of English, and they had to learn all their lines phonetically. This led to one of the biggest trainwrecks in the history of television, and is often named as the exact moment when the Variety Show stopped being relevant in American television. Despite the singing talent of the ladies, who sang a few tunes in their native tongue (without subtitles), the show only lasted six episodes — the last of which didn't even air.
    • Pink Lady was continuing its tour during filming, so between that and the language barrier we saw much more of Jeff... whose material wasn't good enough to hold things together.
    • This show was so bad that The Agony Booth did a detailed run-down of the entire series with tons of screencaps from the official DVD — including the unaired sixth episode, which manages to make the first five look tame and actually serves as a fitting closer.
  • The Starlost. Full stop. This is one of the legendarily bad TV shows of all time, all the more heartbreaking because it was born out of a script for a miniseries penned by Harlan Ellison that, had it been made as written, would have been award-winning. Instead, it was subjected to substantial Executive Meddling and Adaptation Decay, and produced on a shoestring budget in Canada at a time when Canada didn't have the kind of support and facilities for TV production that it does now. The result was so bad that it must be watched to be disbelieved; Ellison demanded his name be removed from the show and his "red flag" pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird" be used instead.
  • Supertrain. Fred Silverman of NBC, maker of the aforementioned Pink Lady, saw that ABC's The Love Boat was a ratings hit and decided his network needed a similar show — a traveling location that combined the best of City of Adventure and Walking the Earth, a large staff to slot the regulars into, and plenty of visitors/passengers who could be played by big-name guests. This show had all of that. It had everything that The Love Boat had except A) the boat itself and B) viewers. No, the location of this show was a giant, multi-story, nuclear-powered... train. Because, you know, the female 18-35 demographic is all about giant nuclear trains.
    • According to legend, Silverman tried to show off the model of Supertrain (which purportedly cost over $1,000,000 to make) to fellow NBC executives. When it started to move, the train inexplicably jumped the tracks and smashed to bits on the studio floor, causing another equally-expensive model to be built because they didn't get the hint.
    • The show's a rich source of Snark Bait for train fans. Supposedly, the train was so wide it required a 3,000-mile wide-gauge rail line. The train had shopping centers and discos onboard, and yes, you read the above right — it was nuclear-powered. In 1979, the year of Three-Mile Island. Between this show, Pink Lady, America's boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, and Season 6 of Saturday Night Live, NBC nearly went bankrupt.
  • The Tammy Grimes Show, aired on ABC in 1966, starred Grimes as an heiress with plots focusing on how much she loved to spend money. Ten episodes were produced, but only four aired before it was canned and replaced by a nighttime version of The Dating Game. Keep in mind that this was when networks were far slower to bring down the axe — My Mother The Car lasted a full season, but Tammy Grimes lasted just four shows.
  • The Trouble With Tracy is thought to have been made just to fulfill a then financially unsteady CTV's quota for Canada-produced content. There's certainly no other justification for this 130-episode 1970's sitcom, which went on for six months due to a desperate attempt by CTV to recoup their investments. Due to a severe lack of time and money, they could not shoot on-location, build convincing sets, or even retake scenes. The scripts were, for the most part, recycled from the 1930-45 radio series Easy Aces, with a few topical references (such as Tracy's deadbeat hippie brother) shoehorned in.
  • Turbocharged Thunderbirds, a half-hour version of Gerry Anderson's British Supermarionation classic Thunderbirds, produced for syndication. Thirteen of the original Thunderbirds episodes were hacked into a half-hour format (with space opened for commercials), re-titled, and dubbed over with new voices.[3] The Tracy family fought supervillains, and the action took place on "Thunderworld". Oh, and the family took orders from a pair of Large Ham live-action teenagers called the "Hack Masters" who lived on the inside of Thunderbird 5 (renamed "Hacker Command" ...but really, who cares) and called Jeff Tracy "Mr. T" (WHAT THE HELL, FOOL!?). Worst of all, the original dialogue was edited out completely and replaced with "ironic post-modern" jokes. Anderson was outraged when he found out what had been done to his creation, and as a result it was canceled almost immediately. Here's their take on the "Martian Invasion" episode, if you dare.
  • Turn-On was a Totally Radical sketch-"comedy" program on ABC in 1969. Inspired and produced by some of the same people who made the actual hit show Laugh-In, it took everything in that show and turned it Up to Eleven. It was canned before the premiere had finished its half-hour run, though most of ABC at least let it finish running. It tried to be psychedelic and Totally Radical (something television as a medium has never been good at) and surreal (which it perhaps succeeded at too well) along with being more openly sexual than shows normally got back then. Two ABC affiliates didn't make it through the only airing (Cleveland's WEWS and Denver's KBTV {now NBC station KUSA} cut away from the network for a documentary on gun safety), and at least two more (KATU in Portland, Oregon and WHNC {now WTNH} in New Haven-Hartford) didn't air the show at all. Here's a sampler.
  • Where Do I Sit? Comedian Peter Cook was riding high with his comedy show Not Only... But Also when he was offered his own vehicle with full creative control. Foolishly, he decided to do a combination chat show, sketch comedy, and music show. The premiere had Peter interviewing S. J. Perelman, who just sat in his seat yawning while Peter couldn't think of anything to ask. An interview with Kirk Douglas featured an inebriated Peter asking Kirk "Who are you?" followed by a long, awful silence. The show also featured the unedifying sight of Peter ripping into an audience member who had complained about a sketch he had performed and phoning up a viewer at home who had pondered whether Peter was on drugs (the call took over five minutes as the person was in the bath). Peter also insisted on performing a song in each show, and he was a notoriously bad singer. The show managed to last three episodes, after which it was canned and the tapes wiped.
  • Work It, ABC's 2012 cross-dressing comedy set In a World where only women are getting jobs, was critically savaged from the word "go". The writing was full of bottom-of-the-barrel humor and played so much to stereotype it wasn't even funny. Unlike Bosom Buddies (Tom Hanks' sitcom from the 80s with a similar plot that sort-of worked) the premise was built on misogyny, and the writing is shamelessly racist. Offensive to women, minorities, and everybody else with a working brain, it was canned within two episodes (six episodes were ordered overall). Its only redeeming quality is that it killed off ABC's attempts to make "mancession" comedy a genre.
  • Even divorced from it’s complete lack of regard for the source material, Amazon’s The Rings of Power is full of terrible writing where characters inexplicably gain information they have no way of knowing, clear and basic facts are repeatedly contradicted within the span of a single episode (such as when a character's claim to not have seen an orc in years, followed by claiming their local area has been infested with them), characters making totally illogical actions with no explanation that aren’t even needed to drive the plot (A character on a ship feeds a horse a modern apple, takes the partially eaten apple from the horse and eats part of it, then leaves to throw a still only half eaten apple overboard), scenes blatantly contradict each other, basic filmography continuity errors (such as a chain held by two combatants growing several times its length after a camera angle cut, or characters running in what establishing shots of the terrain showed is actually the wrong direction), action scenes that forget camera angles are supposed to hide that the actors are actually out of measure instead of making it clear they couldn't hit each other, and blatantly plastic and cloth armour in a production that cost a billion dollars. It is so bad a (not super old) analyst who was paid by Amazon to watch it admitted to falling asleep multiple times trying to finish the first four episodes. To boost apparent popularity, Amazon owned IMDB deleted every user review lower than a 5 under a claim of bot manipulation.
  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law made the curious choice to give a legal drama to writers who admitted to not knowing how to write legal drama, and the results aren't pretty. Plots don't function in basic logic let alone the American legal system [4], key details disappear between episodes (Jennifer has a contract with her job to be She-Hulk for publicity purposes, yet she later can't find a way to prove she has a pre-existing use of "She-Hulk" in a trademark case?) and sometimes even within the episode (a man claims he needs he'd be ruined if his ex-wives got money from him, then freely gives this money to them because he's so loaded it doesn't matter) while the secondary cast is immune to continuity (and not in an intentional manner) able to openly commit crimes one episode then appear in public as though nothing happened the next, character personality varies wildly between episodes (The main character claims to hate being catcalled in the first episode, then claims nobody was interested in her before she was She-Hulk.), and the legal mistakes are obvious even to the layman.

Reality/Game Shows

  • For some reason, during the early to mid 2000's, FOX had a very dubious gasp on what makes a either a Game or Reality Show interesting and engaging. Some of this network worst failures:
    • In 2002, FOX aired a quiz show called The Chamber, which was a textbook example of how not to do a quiz show. It was rushed to air to compete with ABC's The Chair, a passable game hosted by 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 only ran three episodes. Contestants were subjected to extreme heat, extreme cold, high winds, simulated earthquakes, etc., and we didn't even get Scenery Porn from it. It is believed that one contestant sued the network over health issues brought on by the show's stimuli.
      • 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.
    • Married By America, on FOX in 2003. In the first half of this miniseries, 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 FOX 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.
    • Another one from FOX, 2003's Mr. Personality. It was like The Bachelorette — a woman picks a husband out of a field of suitors. But all the men wore creepy-as-hell masks so she could pick the right guy without considering looks. Good concept, horrible execution — the vast majority of the guys were movie-star handsome, with the one or two "ugly" ones Hollywood Homely at best. It lasted five episodes. Oh, and it was hosted Monica Lewinsky; yes, her.
    • FOX's The Swan. Unlike most makeover shows, this one 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 "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 Deconstruction of this, with the missing person being a contestant on a Swan-like show and later realizing she shouldn't have changed.
      • And somehow, the thing was briefly revived as an Celebrity edition special
    • Yet another one from FOX — the insipid reality show 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. Yes, you read that correctly — somebody at FOX thought it would be a bright idea to take the paternity tests from Maury and build an entire reality show around them. 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...then aired the other five episodes they had filmed on their FOX Reality cable channel. (So they canned Firefly and saved this?)
  • De Gouden Kooi (The Golden 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.)
  • One of the shows PAX aired on its first day (August 31, 1998) was a game show called The Reel-To-Reel Picture Show. It was 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. The celebrity guests looked like they would've rather been somewhere else, and some of them were clueless. The production company had financial difficulties and had to pull the plug after only 25 episodes, which is truly bad for a traditional game show and one-eighth of what PAX had ordered. Worst of all, nobody ever got paid! 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 was a game show version of Yahtzee in 1988, which was a confusing Match Game knockoff With Dice! that still managed not to be completely terrible — for one, it taped at Trump's Castle in Atlantic City, and it was executive produced by Ralph Andrews (of Lingo fame).
  • Set for Life, a mercifully short-lived ABC game created by the Deal or No Deal people and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. The contestant was on a Luck-Based Mission that requires literally nothing but pulling out "light sticks" (giant Lite-Brite pegs) and going up the money ladder. White ones advanced you, red ones knocked you down; pulling all four reds ended the game. But there was a twist which easily led to a Shocking Swerve — offscreen, 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!
    • The British version handled that part differently and at least showed it on-air — the couple picked a dollar amount, then played a variation of the stick-pulling game with three reds. White sticks added to the pot, red sticks subtracted; the couple could stop at any time, but only after they picked a white one. What you gain in truthfulness, you lose in tediousness.
  • The WB's Superstar USA, an American Idol clone that ran for seven episodes in 2004 and was sadistic from start to finish. How? Let us count the ways...
    • The format was inverted — while saying they wanted a good singer, the judges praised the horrible ones and mocked the genuinely good ones. That kind of mentality almost certainly scarred someone for life.
    • The "coaching" sessions consisted of more lying to the contestants, mostly to inflate their egos but also to have them emulate those with actual talent. It didn't help that all the contestants were so deluded as to actually believe them. These sessions by definition defeat the concept of the show — even terrible singers will get at least a tiny bit better with practice and encouragement, meaning that you have a search for a worst singer and each of whom are getting slightly better every week.
    • Fearful that the audiences for the live performances would not be able to keep their composure (i.e., boo and throw stuff at every contestant), executive producer Mike Fleiss asked who had heard of the "One Wish Foundation" (which doesn't exist) and, upon getting some raised hands that probably thought he said/meant "Make-A-Wish" (or were plants), said that the contestants were all terminally-ill and being granted this wish by said fictional Foundation.
    • The eventual winner, a woman who could barely sing and was undoubtedly picked for her boobs, was told the truth after it all ended and didn't seem all that offended by it.
    • The show was considered by Fleiss to be a prank, with lying to the audience being "the only way to get it to work". Unsurprisingly, the winning singer's album never materialized.
  • Tease, a laughable show on Oxygen that tried to replicate the formula of Iron Chef WITH HAIRSTYLISTS! The show tried to aim for the Blaxploitation vibe of hairstylist-themed movies such as Barber Shop and Hair Show; they had "black" celebrity Lisa Rinna as host, and many of the contestants had a "ghetto-fabulous" schtick going for them. But the show was terrible and ran only six episodes in 2007, done in by Oxygen being bought by NBC shortly after its premiere and NBC not wanting it to cannibalize their much better show in Bravo's Shear Genius.
  • Thousand-Dollar Bee, a children's game show filmed in Atlanta 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 who wore a Geeky bow tie. The contestants were dreadfully bad at spelling and didn't have any drive to be better, 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 Video 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 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 a homage to the Scrambleboard of Soul Train. Here's some gameplay, if you dare.
  • Top Design, especially Season 1. Bravo thought people who loved Top Chef and Project Runway would love to see more takes on that formula, and so they made a show like those two shows, but with interior designers. They also decided to combine the host and mentor roles into host Todd Oldham. Now, this can be done right — HGTV had a competitive reality show for interior designers that worked. But Top Design didn't get it right. The challenges were not engaging enough to viewers; the elimination catchphrase "See you later, Decorator" was dull; and Todd Oldham had negative charisma. The show was a flop in the ratings. Instead of canceling it right then, Bravo gave it a second chance, giving production of the Season 2 to the studio behind Top Chef and Project Runway and ordering a major Retool of the show to get it closer to the formula of Chef and the Bravo seasons of Runway. India Hicks became the new host; Oldham was demoted to mentor, but unfortunately was still there. The elimination catchphrase was changed, the challenges became more elaborate, and the Season 2 finale was a two-parter. Despite the changes, the retool failed to bring in new viewers. Nowadays, when Top Design is mentioned in articles or forums related to Bravo shows, the reaction is always negative. Despite this, three years later, Nine Network launched an Australian version.
  • You're in the Picture is almost a byword for bad ideas executed badly — or would be if it was better known. Hosted by Jackie Gleason, the four-celebrity panel stuck their heads through pictorial cut-outs and tried to guess what picture they were in. Within five minutes of the 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, they were donated in Gleason's name). The following week's "show" consisted entirely of Gleason shotgunning "coffee" and apologizing to everyone who watched the premiere. Incidentally, the half-hour apology (the Poorly-Disguised Pilot to a Gleason talk show) may be the top Funny Moment of his long and illustrious career.

TV Movies/Specials

  • Destination: Infestation is an unbearably awful 2007 Follow the Leader-type TV movie that was made to cash in on the Snakes on a Plane B-movie craze: this time there's ants instead of snakes. Ignoring how the premise doesn't work since ants cannot survive at a cruising altitude, there's a total of 10 minutes of these bugs in the film, most of it consisting of short shots of the swarms and one very lame attack scene that comes off as if the writers forgot about the movie's concept. Though it's a Canadian production, there's an insane amount of Plot Holes and geographical errors; for one, WestJet doesn't travel to Colombia. There's bad acting abounds and awful CGI too. The funniest thing about this whole fiasco? It premiered on Lifetime, the same channel who airs such gems as Cyber Seduction and Someone Else's Child.
  • The low-budget, poorly conceived TV movie based on the Generation X comic book. It starred Matt Frewer as a villainous ad exec that uses his mind control device to cause mass flatulence at a board meeting. The '90s, ladies and gentlemen. You can read more about it at number one on this list.
  • Back in 2008, German television channel Pro Sieben produced a horror movie "parody" called Halloween Horror Hostel. Imagine Seltzer and Friedberg doing even less researching than usual, then go a bit further, and there we are. Just to give you a hint about how bad this movie is — it begins with a few people sitting in a car while the radio talks about a hockey player called Michael Myers gone missing. You sure you don't mean Jason? What follows are thousands of references and toilet humor. Just like a ______ Movie, except even cheaper. The best/worst part is the Overly Long Gag of one dude who thought he was invisible or something like that, walking veeeerrryyy slowly around with a pillow in front of his head.
  • Highlander the Source, a Syfy original. The film has almost nothing to do with the original Highlander and completely alters the fundamental premise of the series with "The Source", which is apparently the source of immortality (you'd think they'd have mentioned that before) and (if allowed into what passes for continuity) retcons the way Immortals have functioned for the entire series. It also seems to be out to distance itself from the Highlander TV franchise as much as possible, killing Joe Dawson, and possibly Methos, and breaking Duncan's iconic katana, the driving force of the plot is a Romantic Plot Tumor which results in a Gainax Ending. The villain's not intimidating, the fight choreography's terrible, and a lot of plot elements don't make sense. You know it belongs here when Highlander II the Quickening, the all-time go-to example of a bad sequel, is compared favorably to this. Spoony expounds further.
  • Home Alone 4, a made-for-TV sequel to the theatrical series, intended to be a Pilot Movie for a TV series. The "kid sees bad guys that adults can't see" had been overused by then (including 3, though that one was decent), and your head will explode if you try to connect this film with the first two. Kevin's nominally a year younger, but visually more like eight years younger; Buzz is five years younger; the McCallisters are rich and divorced; and Marv's played by French Stewart. Seriously, what was up with that? Does anyone really think French Stewart looks like Daniel Stern? Oh, and for those watching the Home Alone series for the traps — 4 failed there as well. There's three traps, and two of them are built into the house. Yeah. A dumbwaiter and a revolving wall? Not ingenious. Thankfully, it bombed in the ratings, killing off any chance that audiences would be subjected to Kevin's antics on a weekly basis.
  • The UPN Iron Chef specials. The idea of an American Iron Chef wasn't bad; in fact, it would be pulled off successfully later. The biggest difference between the two American Chef shows? Food Network's version 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.
  • The Syfy (now Syfy) made an "adaptation" of A Wizard of Earthsea. That film was blasted by Ursula K. LeGuin herself, though admittedly she assumed Tehanu was a good work in the same breath. Still, the Sci-Fi production killed much of the subtle cultural stuff LeGuin had tried to put in her original work. Talk about wasting Isabella Rossellini. Worse, SyFy then used the fact that they had the American rights to produce Earthsea media to keep Studio Ghibli's Tales From Earthsea movie from coming out in America for some time (which eventually saw a limited theatrical release in August 2010).

  1. RCTV's main sketch show, a Saturday Night Live equivalent in cultural influence
  2. Usually Latin soaps on first run film a buffer of 20 - 30 chapters (about one month of emission) and then film the rest adjusting to ratings and character reception
  3. Which included Tim Curry no less
  4. For example: An immortal spontaneously decides to "kill" himself to escape a nagging wife and assumes a new identity, because this is somehow more financially advantageous than just divorcing her. Putting aside the holes in him being "dead" works, how he would inherit any money from his former identity after its "death", let alone more than he'd retain after a divorce, is never explained.