There Is No Such Thing as Bad Television

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How could I not comment on TV Guide’s Worst TV shows ever list? How is it that I wasn’t consulted for this list? Is there anyone out there who likes bad TV more than me? As for TV guide, here’s my vote for it as worst magazine ever. Sure in the old days before the internet it was essential to have around the house, but is there anyone outside of a doublewide trailer resident who ever purchased one of these to read? Sure, I admit that I enjoyed the Cheers and Jeers section, but you could read that in the checkout line and save yourself a buck and a quarter. I’m not one hundred percent positive about this but I’m willing to bet that TV Guide thought at least half of these shows were brilliant when they first came out.

Really though, what is bad TV? Is it incompetent poorly written TV? Do I really want to admit here how many episodes of Saved by the Bell I have seen? Some people would say it was TV that was in bad taste but that includes just about everything I find really entertaining. Sometimes I’ll see Conan O’Brian do a routine with the masturbating bear and I just have to laugh at such a brazen waste of technology. Hell, half of the joy of early David Letterman was watching him laugh to himself with glee as he got away with throwing pencils at his cameras while on a major network. To me bad TV is the stuff that you look at and say gee I could be reading some Proust or Nietzsche right now. You know something lightweight and fun. Actually, some of the worst TV I have ever seen came from shows that used to be really good like Happy Days. Remember the Jenny Piccolo years? Ralph Malph balding? Fonzie becoming a step father? Now that was some awful television. 

After perusing the list, I realized what a great movie could probably be made about the life and work of Fred Silverman. That guy was like an insane patient on the loose. Anyway, here is their list.

1. The Jerry Springer Show – Anyone who reads me knows that I love this show. This is clearly just posturing by TV Guide. A clear attempt to make some comment on the willing to do anything for ratings 90’s. Let’s defend it this way.
 
• Jerry is a nice guy. He shakes everyone’s hand when they leave the studio and he’s extremely gracious about his success.
• When has this show not been entertaining? When has it not been worth at least a thirty second glimpse just to see the freak show? People talk like PT Barnum was the greatest guy in the world and they turn their nose up at his spawn.
• There used to be a show on called the Richard Bey show. The Richard Bey show made the Springer show seem like Masterpiece Theater.
• Anyone that can sit through an hour and a half of people rutting like wild animals with their blood relatives and still give their thought of the day with a straight face deserves some well earned respect.
• I will maintain it until the day I die. Showing this to children would be a thousand times more productive means of decreasing teen pregnancy than all of those right wing abstinence speeches combined.
• I don’t care if I’m in a room full or foreign dignitaries, nuns, preachers, heads of state – given the choice between this and Meet the Press I’m watching Springer every damn time.

2. My Mother the Car – Has anyone alive even seen this show? To tell you the truth I’d pay four or five bucks easy just to check it out and see how bad it really was. Personally, the concept sounds pretty fun to me. Who wouldn’t want to have a talking car? Then again when I was in college I wrote an existential ode to Mr. Ed. Nevertheless, if it were my show I would have made it something like My Ex-Girlfriend the Car. How about a show where Marilyn Monroe or Elvis is reincarnated as a Cadillac convertible?

3. The XFL – I’m embarrassed by this because although I never watched an XFL game on television I went to like six of the games in person. I couldn’t tell you a single player in the league other than “He Hate Me” but my friends went so I went too. Actually, I do remember a guy on the LA squad whose jersey identified him as “The Truth.” I loved that. I used to spend the whole game screaming “Put the Truth in. You can’t handle the Truth!”

One game it was pouring rain and we lasted the entire first half. What a concept. We spent the whole time asking each other what the hell we were doing there. I ruined a two hundred dollar leather coat that day proof positive that those IQ tests I used to dominate on aren’t worth a damn thing.

The saddest part about the XFL was this one guy who we always used to see at the games. He was about 24 and weighed in at like 280. The poor schmuck was at every game – alone. We used to include him because we felt sorry for him but one day something he said nearly caused my eyes to pop out. We’re talking to him when he reveals that he participated in three different XFL fantasy leagues. I was so flabbergasted by his high score on the loser scale that my buddy had to lead me out and walk me around for a quarter or so. “XFL fantasy league? Three. That poor motherfucker.”

4. The Brady Bunch Hour – Robert Reed that poor man. I mean he was in agony doing the original series. Imagine how he felt singing and dancing in a variety show. Nevertheless, I’m guessing it wasn’t nearly as bad as Brady Brides.

5. Hogan’s Heroes – Must we be so politically correct? This was my favorite show when I was a kid. I used to sing the theme song and call out the names of the actors. Robert Crane … John Banner … Werner Klemperer!! Personally, I think the best thing to do with the Nazis is to make them look like fools. So tell me why is the Producers genius and this offensive? Then again when I was a kid I used to think about how big of a hero Hogan would have been after the war when everyone found out how we really beat the Third Reich. I was that kind of a kid and I was never not amused by that guy who used to always yell “What is this man doing here?” every time Hogan would pop into Klink’s office.

I loved how they replaced Ivan Dixon with another black guy in the middle of the show. After all we were always told that no one ever escaped from Stalag 13. Then again you know those stupid Nazis couldn’t tell one black guy from another.

The 5th worst show ever? Please all you have to do is yell out “I know nothing” in a semi German accent and people are rolling in the aisles.

6. Celebrity Boxing – C’mon tell me if they held a fight between Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doran in the fifties that you wouldn’t have watched. The only thing that sucked about this show was that they filmed it in advance and word got out before hand on who had won. I’m still more than a little shocked that Manute Bol beat William “the refrigerator” Perry.

7. AfterMASH – OK this show sucked, but at least it was better than pretending that Hot Lips was still attractive after she hit menopause in the fourteenth year of that two year war. Since I have nowhere else to say it here it comes. Larry Linville as Frank Burns was genius. That guy never got any respect.

8. Cop Rock – The great thing here was that a bunch of people thought that this was genius. My guess is that half of them worked for TV Guide at one time or another.

9. You’re in the Picture – Supposedly this was a really bad game show with Jackie Gleason where after the first episode aired Gleason came out and spent the entire second episode joking about what a terrible show it was. I’d watch that.

10. Hee Haw Honeys – God what an awful show Hee Haw was. I used to just cringe every time I used to see that guy with his red white and blue guitar. That show was on longer than the Ming Dynasty. There should be an anti defamation league for southerners. Hee Haw was at least as insulting to them as Amos and Andy was to African Americans. At least this show dispensed with the music and just showed a lot of chicks with huge tits.

11. The Secret Diaries of Desmond Pfeiffer – OK I admit it this was a worse blow to Lincoln than that night at the Ford Theater.

12. Hello Larry – Sure it was awful but not nearly as awful as Too Close for Comfort and boy was that blonde with the big breasts hot. Loved her in Tuff Turf.

13. Twenty-One – This show gets a bad rap because it was fixed. That never hurt pro wrestling.

14. Baby Bob – My friend almost got a job writing for this show. What do you do when you can’t get a break in show business and they offer you the chance to write an awful show? I suppose you try to make it better but you know the first day you are there they would yell at you and make you watch the pilot over again so you could get the proper feel for the humor of the show.

15. Manimal – Never watched it but hell now I kind of wish I had.

16. The Chevy Chase Show – What a train wreck. This should have been number one. That guy should thank god every day for his career because I find him about as funny as a rusty chain saw.

17. Casablanca – That noise you hear is Ray Liotta crossing this off of his resume.

18. The Ugliest Girl in Town – Just goes to show that as long as there is entertainment there will be shows and movies and plays about men in dresses. Here’s a tip. If you’re not Billy Wilder or Tom Hanks just let it go. Hell, I even thought Tootsie sucked.

19. The PTL club – Sure now that Jim Baker was someone’s bitch in prison for ten years. I’d watch it today just to check out Tammy’s makeup. It could hardly be any worse than VH1’s Driven.

20. The Pruitts of Southampton – Remember Ray Pruitt Donna’s singing abusive boyfriend on 90210. I wonder if he was on this show?

21. Baywatch – Please. Who do TV Guide think they are? Girls in bathing suits running around in slow motion — genius. Casting Carmen Electra, who couldn’t even swim as a lifeguard – genius. Trying to fit Pamela Anderson into a swim suit – genius. Face it if all the women in the world disappeared. We’d all be desperately trying to trade our Seinfeld videos for a box of these. For some reason I was always most attracted to the smart sensitive hottie who still managed to have gigantic breasts. Really anything that has breasts in it shouldn’t ever be on this list.

22. The Powers of Matthew Star – The adventures of high-school student Matthew Star, who is actually a super powered alien prince from another world. God I love TV. People actually get paid to come up with this stuff.

23. Sammy and Company – Could it really have been much worse than Howard Cosell’s variety show?

24. One of the Boys – Starring Mickey Rooney, Scatman Cruthers, Meg Ryan, Nathan Lane, and Dana Carvey. Wow, how could that be bad? I’ll watch anything with Scatman in it. Even Chico and the Man after Chico blew his brains out.

25. Who Wants to Marry a Multi Millionaire – Apparently Fox and TV Guide aren’t owned by the same company. Admit it this was really fun for at least two weeks or so. Apparently, the guy who checked up on Rick Rockwell’s fortune went on to a successful accounting career at Enron.

26. Life With Lucy – Could it really have been less funny than her other 18 post I Love Lucy efforts. Probably. If you’re a famous redhead and you have to die your hair perhaps you should just retire and let that performance bug go.

27. Turn On – Apparently it lasted one show and feature the word Sex in big glowing neon letters. Hell, I’d watch that once.

28. Supertrain – Damn, how is it that no one is hiring me to run NBC? Here’s a great idea we take the Love Boat and subtract the pool, the dance lessons, the Lido Deck … Personally, I don’t even enjoy those mysteries set on trains.

29. Howard Stern – His first show on E! was brilliant. He would interview celebs like Tom Jones and Jason Priestly and talk about nothing except how great it must be to be able to have sex with so many different women. This version has had some great moments even though it’s more often than not about as socially redeeming as raping elderly women. Of course the amazing thing to me is that guys are so horny that they will watch breasts even when they are pixilated. Nevertheless, if Beetlejuice is on I’m watching it.

30. Unhappily Ever After – Wasn’t this like ALF where Bobcat Glodthwait was ALF? Sometimes, even I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve seen something.

31. Homeboys In Outer Space – Never saw it but I wish I had. The title alone is never not a great punch line

32. Co-ed Fever – It’s amazing how such an benign word like Co-ed has become dirtier than half the words you can’t say on television. Aren’t guys technically co-eds too? If it has co-ed in the title breasts can’t be far behind. Please I bet even women would be happier to see a magazine full of naked breasts lying around than an old edition of TV Guide. Breasts are never out of date.

33. Holmes and Yo-Yo – Couldn’t have been worse than that movie with Jay Leno and Pat Morita. I actually remember enjoying this, but then again I was 11.

34. Alexander the Great – OK I’m stumped

35. Pink Lady and Jeff –  Now this thing I’d pay large money for to own on DVD. Two hot female Japanese pop idols who don’t speak English and a bad stand up comic named Jeff Altman. The show actually had some good bands on like Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick. I found an amazing clip of it on the internet. In it Jerry Lewis and Jeff Altman fawn all over each other as the two chicks stand around in Evening dresses awkwardly not having any idea what the hell anyone is saying. It’s amazing how funny Jerry Lewis thinks he is with that lighting the cigarette with that huge flame routine. Has that thing ever gotten a laugh? He’s gone through about 700 lighters doing that gag and I bet it wasn’t funny once.

36. The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo – Was this a Dukes of Hazzard spin off? Couldn’t have been worse than the one with Enos. Hmm oh it’s from BJ and the Bear. Wow, how could I mix up those two shows?

37. Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell – It’s amazing how bad toupees look. You’d think that with all the money and technology around that they would have figured out a way to make fake hair look at least as real as the special effects in Battlefield Earth.

38. Hell Town – Do we really need to pile on Robert Blake?

39. Still the Beaver – I was just happy to find out that Eddie Haskell didn’t really die in Viet Nam.

40. Making it – Ok I’m stumped again

41. The Tom Green Show – The stuff where he would embarrass his parents was brilliant. I saw Bobcat Goldthwait at a club in LA and he was talking about watching this show with his daughter. He said that he didn’t find it funny and his daughter said “Maybe you just don’t get it.” So Bobcat says “Hey I set the Tonight Show set on fire. If anyone gets it, it’s me. I just don’t think it’s funny.”

42. The Flying Nun – God I love the 60’s. Talking horses, Gomer Pyle, wacky Nazis, housewife witches, astronauts with Genies. I feel bad for all those parents who have to explain to their kids just how great the drugs were back then.

43. Woops – kids accidentally blowing up the world? People didn’t watch that?

44. She’s the Sheriff – I submit to you the reading audience the career of Suzanne Somers aka how hard it is get through life with a penis.

45. AKA Pablo – Someday every race on earth will be lucky enough to have their own awful sit com. That’s truly what Martin Luther King was saying.

46. Me and the Chimp – The show with the guys in drag failed? Have we tried a show with monkeys?

47. Rango – God knows Tim Conway seems like a decent guy but you just know he’s going to hell.

48. Bless this House – Admit it you loved those dirty nursery rhymes Andrew Dice Clay used to do.

49. The Ropers – Poor Norman Fell. “No really I think a spin off would be a terrible idea. How much money?”

50. Barney and Friends – There’s no accounting for the crap that kids enjoy. God it seemed like someone should have been in jail for abusing those kids that appeared on that show. I met the girl who broke my heart at a friend’s party where he paid a guy to show up as Barney. I wonder if the purple suit turns women on?

We were robbed. 

How many times do I have to tell you. There was never a show nearly as bad as Mama’s Family. Hell I’m not even sure what all those morons thought was so funny on the Carol Burnett show.

 

 

Other awful favorites

 

Three’s Company – if the world started with those characters instead of Adam and Eve the whole world would have been doomed. Larry was the smartest guy on the show and that guy couldn’t even tie a pair of shoes.

 

Facts of Life – Not just the theme song was painful.

 

Different Strokes – Didn’t you think he was going to eventually grow taller when you first saw Gary Coleman?

 

Joanie Loves Chachi – How did this get overlooked? When Satan is done with Tim Conway, Garry Marshall better start running.

 

Whatever was on between Friends and Seinfeld – Honey I’ve got a half an hour free do you want me to take out the trash?

 

Anything with an Ex-Member of Seinfeld – just live off those royalty checks people. It’s embarrassing for us fans.

 

Here’s a good addition from my pal Grant

 

Dick Clark and Ed McMahon hosting “Foul-ups, Bleeps and Blunders”.  Most of the show was bad outtakes from “Full House” or “Empty Nest” but occasionally they’d get a wily celebrity to set up a prank on another celebrity.  And by celebrity, of course I mean the woman who played the neighbor on “Conrad Bloom” and the mom from “Growing Pains.” 

An argument among my newsgroup fans over the TV Guide Essay. 

Some coward who didn’t sign his name had this to say about the TV Guide piece.  

“No one reads posts this long.  Try to be concise.” 

Luckily a guy named Eric sprung to my defense with “Just because you have the attention span of a cum shot doesn’t mean the rest of the adults around here don’t love Brad Laidman’s posts. Don’t cry, jackass.”

 

Something about the internet just makes people crazy with anger. Thank you Eric

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