There are a number of failed TV shows out there. Hundreds upon hundreds of concepts that never make it past the ideas stage. On top of that, there are even more that get past the ideas stage but never make it to a pilot episode. Those that do make it to a pilot episode may never actually make it onto TV due to concerns over content, monetary issues or a lack of interest.
There are also many TV shows that manage one season and then are not renewed. One of the most infamous of these, and potentially the one with the strongest call for it to be renewed, was the Joss Whedon series Firefly. Whedon had intended for the series to run for seven seasons, however Fox had concerns that the series was too dark and it was never renewed after the first season. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip was another series that only lasted one season. The season began with strong ratings which dropped significantly over the 22 episodes and the series was cancelled.
In between these are the rare shows that only last a few episodes, in some cases being cancelled after only one episode. Here we look at these forgotten shows, left to gather dust and grow old without ever having the opportunity to reach their full potential. They were given a glimpse of what could be, and then thrown back into the cupboard to grow mold.
This list counts down the top 10 TV shows that were cancelled after their premiere night.
10. Osbournes Reloaded – Opened To Horrendous Reviews
The early 2000’s were dominated by the Osbourne’s thanks to their successful, if slightly of the wall, reality show. Cameras followed the unconventional family through their less than usual life. Off the back of this success, Fox commissioned a variety show hosted by The Osbourne’s – Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and Kelly. The Osbournes Reloaded consisted of sketches, stunts, celebrity cameos and live music performances. Originally scheduled to be an hour long, the show was then reduced to 35 minutes and received horrendous reviews from critics. Sixteen fox affiliates refused to show the pilot episode, with 10 showing it at a later date. The entire series was cancelled after the first episode. The remaining five episodes were immediately shelved because of a combination of bad reviews and several Fox affiliates (including the entire Raycom and Local TV LLC station chains) either airing the program in an early morning time slot or not at all because of content concerns.
9. Comedians Unleashed – Animal Planet Turns To Comedy
Comedians Unleashed was an ill-fated attempt by “Animal Planet to mimic Comedy Central’s stand-up comedy shows, but with animal-themed jokes,” according to IMDB. The episode was presented by comedian Richard Jeni, known for playing the best friend of Jim Carrey’s character Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask. The show was set up to be an hour long and featured a variety of comedians producing animal based jokes, however only one episode was ever aired. Filmed in front of a live audience at the Improv nightclub in Hollywood, the comedians delivered their jokes to an audience, much like Comedy Central’s stand up shows. Animal Planet gave the programme a fair shot and the episode was rerun a few times before being removed from the programming lineup altogether, never to be made again, according to IMDB.
8. The Hasselhoffs – Predictably Boring
The Hasselhoffs was an A&E reality series starring 90’s Baywatch star David Hasselhoff and his two daughters, Taylor and Hayley. The series follows the family’s trials and tribulations as Knight Rider’s daughters try and break into the music industry. The first episode, ironically titled “Addiction,” saw the three Hoff’s take a bet on who can stay off caffeine the longest. Exciting stuff… A&E stated that they planned on airing the other eight completed half-hour episodes at a later date, however that never took place. However, the full series did air in the United Kingdom on May 30, 2011 on The Biography Channel.
7. The Xtacles – Money Trouble
The Xtacles were characters on the Adult Swim (American cable network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network) show titled Frisky Dingo. The show focused on the Xtacles predicament at the end of Frisky Dingo, when their leader was abducted by aliens. The Xtacles take on random missions from President Stan. Led by the highest ranking member of the team, Jack Taggart (voiced by Marshall Bell, known for Stand By Me and Twins). His team consists of A.L.E.X (voiced by Rachael Harris known for Sister, Sister and The Hangover), Chase Fontaine (Michael Ian Black known for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Ed) and Joseph Bigs by (Matthew Stanton). In early 2009, Adult Swim declined to fund the production of any episodes beyond the first two. Around the same time, 70/30 Productions – which produced the show – closed down.
6. Emily’s Reasons Why Not – Poorly Conceived Stereotypes
This very short lived ABC sitcom starred Heather Graham as a single career woman, unlucky in love, who employs a list-making system to help her determine when it’s time to give up on a relationship and move on, according to IMDB. Emily’s Reasons Why Not was based on a book of the same name, and was generally regarded as a less risqué Sex and the City. The series was canceled on January 10 by ABC programming chief Steve McPherson when he decided that it was “not going to get better and we needed a quick change.” It was reported that ABC executives committed to the show without seeing a pilot or a script, according to IMDB. Part of the reasoning for the poor reception was the shows use of homosexual stereotypes to portray an intentional virgin, with the show being described as lackluster and unlikely to improve. The show had been penned as a staple of the stations programming and its marketing had been so intense and its cancellation so sudden that magazines found themselves running stories on a canceled show.
5. The Will – A CBS Failure
The Will was a CBS reality show “in which family members and friends competed to be named the beneficiary of a will,” according to IMDB. The pilot episode featured a family that were competing to win the rights to inherit the patriarch’s prized Kansas ranch. The ratings for the premiere episode was amongst the worst in American TV history, and the series was immediately cancelled. Despite having a strong promotional push from CBS, The Will received a poor average of 4.2 million viewers during its 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. slot which made it CBS’s lowest ranking show of the week. The following Saturday, the show was replaced by a re-run of the crime drama Cold Case. The Will was created by Mike Fleiss, who is known for producing the much more successful The Bachelor for ABC.
4. Public Morals – Too Vulgar For CBS Affiliates
Public Morals was a Steven Bochco-produced CBS sitcom that was a spin off from the popular series NYPD Blue, also produced by Steven Bochco. Thirteen episodes were produced but several affiliates refused to show the pilot, which was originally scheduled to air first, due to concerns that the language was too vulgar, according to IMDB. “CBS then decided to air a different episode from the thirteen produced, but even that was too much to ask, as it turned out to be the only one aired.” Critics expressed concerns that the characters were under developed and the humor involved racial stereotypes. Brochtrup and his character John Irvine returned to Bochco’s NYPD Blue, becoming a series regular.
3. The Melting Pot – Deemed Racist
The Melting Pot was a British BBC sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand. Milligan also starred in the show as “Mr. Van Gogh”, one of two Pakistani illegal immigrants who arrive in London. The series was produced by comedy producer Roger Race who is known for the British TV comedy series The Liver Birds and Sykes. The debut was shown on BBC1 in the UK, but the remaining five episodes have never been seen. The series was pulled from the BBC due to angry reactions to what was perceived as racist content being handled in an insensitive manner. Previously, Milligan had starred in a series called Curry and Chips alongside Eric Sykes which had a similar premise. Milligan starred as an Asian immigrant who worked on the factory floor of fictional factory Lillicrap Ltd. This series was also cancelled after six episodes as it was deemed to be racist.
2. Heil Honey I’m Home! – Comedy About Nazism
Heil Honey I’m Home spoofed American sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s by featuring caricatures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live in matrimonial bliss until they become neighbors to a Jewish couple. In unseen episodes, the Hitler’s plot to murder their Jewish neighbors. The show was cancelled after one episode due to controversy that was caused when it was broadcast. The show has been described as the world’s most tasteless situation comedy. It was accused of crassly trivializing Nazism, although it has also been described as in the same league as Third Reich parodies such as All Allo. Unfortunately, the show seemed to exceed the limits of irony and was simply offensive. The show remains one of the most controversial shows to have ever been screened in the UK, and the show has been included in a countdown of 100 Greatest TV Moments from Hell, coming in at number 61.
1. Co-Ed Fever – Bad Animal House Imitation
This was a CBS sitcom that attempted to imitate the then-successful National Lampoon’s Animal House. Co-Ed Fever was produced by Frank Show who was known for his work on The New Dick Van Dyke Show and The Bill Crosby Show. The series starred David Kieth (Daredevil, U-571), Alexa Kenin (Pretty in Pink) and Heather Thomas (The Fall Guy). The series focused on Baxter College, an all-girls school that was converted to a co-ed college. Within the college was Brewster House, a dormitory that was home to a number of males and females, where a variety of hilarious circumstances and happenstances were set to occur. They did not occur, however, as only the pilot was aired as a “special preview” of the upcoming season and the series was canceled shortly thereafter. The other five completed episodes remain unaired in the United States, but were shown in Vancouver, Canada on BCTV in a late afternoon weekend time slot.
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