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Thread: TV history's biggest blunders

  1. #1
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    TV history's biggest blunders

    Let's talk about some of the dumbest TV show ideas that actually got greenlit and aired, shall we? I'll discuss a few, but I'm sure someone else knows of some short-lived TV shows that were canned in a hurry, shows that never should've been greenlit, etc.


    Mrs. Columbo

    This was an unofficial spinoff of the Columbo mystery movie series. Peter Falk was never involved, Levinson & Link were not involved, and it was started after the final Columbo of season 7 was completed. The idea was that Columbo's previously-unseen wife was a newspaper reporter and was now solving crimes. The opening even shows the familiar car, a cigar and Columbo's pet dog.

    Right away the series had problems. Columbo had described his wife many times- she was about his age, had red hair and not exactly thin. She may have been Italian. Their casting choice was Kate Mulgrew, who was 20 years too young for the part, had the wrong color hair and is Irish. Columbo himself never shows up, and after bad ratings they tried to rebrand the show by changing her name to Kate Callahan, with an offhand reference that she and Columbo were now divorced. This didn't work either.

    Levinson & Link never acknowledged the show, nor did Peter Falk, and when Falk returned as Columbo in the 80s he was still married and the character continued to refer to his wife up until the end of the series. They even considered throwing in a joke that some woman had been going around impersonating his wife. The show's legacy has been reduced to a couple of episodes thrown onto Columbo DVD sets as bonus features.


    Heil Honey, I'm Home

    I know some of you have likely heard the legend behind this, but it did exist- the BBC produced a sitcom about Hitler and Eva Braun living next door to their Jewish landlords during WW2. This is real.

    Why?

    I'm not just asking that- the collective population of the UK asked the same question, so much so the series was pulled after one episode. A second episode supposedly exists(IMDB says there are 8 total episodes), or existed, but you can find bootleg copies of just the first episode on Youtube. If the other episodes were made, they've remained in the vaults, if they weren't destroyed. The show was itself in utter bad taste, and you have to wonder how no one in the process of making the show questioned whether this was a good idea or not.


    The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer

    From what I can gather of this show, it was just stupid. The series is about Abraham Lincoln's black butler, and does a very poor job of being a parody of the Clinton administration by depicting Lincoln as a sex-crazed buffoon. It lasted 4 episodes before being pulled for poor ratings, no doubt due to really shoddy parody work, a real lousy and insulting portrayal of one of history's best-loved presidents, the fact the show really seemed to offend African Americans, and generally just being dumb. It's not as offensive as the above example, but you'd have to be trying to get to that point. The Clerks animated series enjoyed referencing this show a lot- which ended up being fitting since that show also got pulled from their air in a hurry(although to it's credit, Clerks animated was decent, just the network didn't care).

    The "P" in Pfeiffer is also not silent for some reason.


    Kentucky Jones

    Gunsmoke was one of the most successful TV shows of all time, and in the first 8 seasons Dennis Weaver played the part of Chester Goode, the civilian employee of the Dodge City marshal's office. When season 9 rolled around, Weaver was in very few episodes while a one-off character from season 8 was brought back and slowly eased into being his replacement. Weaver left Gunsmoke, feeling he was now a big enough name to go off on his own. Kentucky Jones was not quite the success he'd hoped for- while it ran for 27 episodes, the show had lackluster ratings and was filmed in black & while while its competition had gone to full color. While the series had a strong modern cult following, Weaver's career would take many years to pick back up, not really happening until Duel and McCloud. In the meantime, Ken Curtis became a well-known part of Gunsmoke as Festus Haggen up until the end of the series, probably becoming even more well-known than Chester.



    Honorable mention- the "rural purge"

    In the early 70s, all the major TV networks decided to totally cancel any TV series they saw as being hillbilly/redneck/southern. Many TV shows were canned when they were still quite popular in the ratings- Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Mayberry RFD, etc. The networks felt these shows appealed to older people and wanted a younger viewership. The only saving grace behind this move? It mostly worked. Many of the new TV shows did well in ratings, becoming classics. Buddy Ebsen was hired immediately to play on Barnaby Jones, a TV series which lasted almost as long as Beverly Hillbillies did, and it saved him from being typecast.


    Dodged the bullet- Gilligan's Island's cancellation

    Gilligan's Island may be a fun piece of cult classic TV, and it had a lengthy run, but the choice on the chopping block that day was either that or Gunsmoke and Gunsmoke was a strong candidate as it was considered for the rural purge. The ONLY reason Gunsmoke was spared was because the head of the network was a fan. I believe the network made the right decision to keep Gunsmoke. GI might be an odd little show but it had worn itself thin., while Gunsmoke continued strong until the end, when it was finally cancelled in season 20 due to James Arness' poor health.

  2. #2
    Skeletor's Mullet GBglide's Avatar
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    Interesting. Is TV history a hobby of yours?
    "Milk that cow, George, milk it! MOO!!" ~ Optimus-Prime's response to the announcement of 3D versions of the Star Wars films.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior goluphi's Avatar
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    Very interesting, never knew there was a Mrs. Columbo, much less with Captain Janeway.
    Hey, if you want to wallow in the negative, go nuts. Sure, things aren’t absolutely perfect, and people passionate about a property can get all keyed up about things. But I don’t collect toys to be miserable. So I’d rather think about the things that do excite me
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