Sunday, June 3, 2012

10 VERY VERY Short-Lived Television Series

In fact, so short-lived that they were cancelled after the first episode.

In today's world of weekly television series, having new shows cancelled after only a few episodes is common practice…just business as usual. In fact, there are several highly successful television series of years gone by that wouldn't have lasted beyond the first few episodes in today's television business atmosphere.

Coming to mind immediately—MASH on the air for 11 years and winner of 99 Emmys yet barely made it as a renewal after a full first season of very low ratings and didn't really find an audience until the second season, ground breaking sit com ALL IN THE FAMILY where Archie Bunker et al didn't find an audience until the summer reruns following the first full season of poor ratings and was eventually responsible for several successful spin-off series (MAUDE, THE JEFFERSONS, GOOD TIMES), and the original HAWAII 5-0 which barely made the cut for a second season renewal after struggling through its first season yet went on for several successful seasons and added those immortal words to our lexicon…book 'em, Danno…and was brought back to life with a successful new version a couple of years ago.

But entire series, planned to certainly last out the first season, that were cancelled after only one episode had aired?

Well, by coincidence I came across a list of 10 such series. And also (I think understandably so), there's only one of these series that I've ever heard of. I guess I was one of those millions who did not watch them. :)

A sitcom starring Heather Graham. Apparently ABC committed to the series without even seeing so much as a script. All that good faith disappeared when the first episode aired. They immediately pulled the plug.

LAWLESS (1997)
Ten years after his Seattle Seahawks football prime, Brian Bosworth (the Boz) was selected by Fox to star in this action-drama series. It was so bad that Fox pulled it after the pilot aired.

On the heels of the success of Ozzy and family's reality show, Fox starred them in a variety show featuring a mixture of sketches, stunts, etc. and placed it in an excellent time slot immediately following AMERICAN IDOL. More than 25 of the Fox network affiliated stations refused to air it following the first episode. Fox pulled the plug and the other 5 episodes never aired.

TURN-ON (1969)
When ABC attempted to cash in on the popularity of ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN with this series, they loaded it with what was at that time deemed totally sex-obsessed material as cutting edge pushing the envelope type of programming. Unfortunately for them, several of the ABC affiliated stations refused to return to the program following the first commercial break. That put an end to the series.

Apparently NBC didn't understand that internet stardom does not necessarily relate to TV stardom. They bought the rights to this web video series that aired on MySpace (you remember that, it was pre-Facebook) with plans to air the episodes on network television after they aired on the internet. Well…surprise, surprise for NBC—nobody watched it on television.

Several years before NBC bombed with QUARTERLIFE, ABC purchased this internet based show. After placing 87th in the Nielsen ratings, the network pulled the plug after airing only one episode.

This Cartoon Network animated series had only one airing of the pilot episode. Cartoon Network cancelled it claiming it was too expensive to make more episodes.

This British sit com followed the day-to-day life and high jinx of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in the same premise as The Honeymooners. After massive public outcry, Galaxy TV removed it from the schedule and the remaining filmed episodes never aired.

You could call this desperation reality TV. This Fox series focused on an adopted woman who tried to identify her biological father out of a group of imposters. There was so much backlash before it even aired that Fox dropped the concept of a series, aired the first episode as a special and never spoke of it again.

Unlike the above listed series that actually aired one entire episode, this one didn't even last on the air that long. Australian network TCN-9 attempted a risqué take-off of AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS. The network's owner (mogul Kerry Packer) had not seen the show before it aired. He was so angry when he saw it, that he called and had it pulled off the air immediately. The rest of the episode was replaced by a Technical Difficulties sign.

Do you recall any particularly bad television series that were cancelled very quickly?


Angelia Almos/Angie Derek said...

FIREFLY comes to mind. It was pulled after 9(?) episodes I think and they were aired out of order.

BRISCO COUNTY JR did last one season and we hated to see that one go.

Been watching JOHN DOE on Hulu Plus and I think it was pulled after a half season.

Samantha Gentry said...

Angelia: There have been several series over the years that I liked but sadly they didn't last a full season.

Thanks for commenting.

Harlie Reader said...

Firefly found its audience AFTER it was pulled and has a cult following because of it.

Chuck (one of my personal favorites of all time) was threaten to be pulled all the time.

I don't really remember any shows that were that bad. I watched Pan Am and I really liked it but it was pulled. Also, The Firm was good but I will admit that I only watched it because of Josh Lucas. :)


W. Lynn Chantale said...

I didn't care for Pan Am or The Playboy Club.

I loved Chuck. Now a couple of shows I got into that didn't last were Pushing Daisies, Fastlane and Journey Man.

Samantha Gentry said...

Hi, Marika: Haven't seen you for a while.

Sometimes shows are ahead of their time. Like Chuck, many years ago the original Star Trek was constantly threatened with cancellation. It finally managed to limp along for 3 seasons. But look what happened after the original series was pulled off the air! It became huge with movies and spin off series.

Samantha Gentry said...

Lynn: Was Pushing Up Daisies on HBO?

Harlie Reader said...

Hi Samantha. I know that I've been absent. I've actually been writing (and getting rejected) and now we are knee deep in T-ball season. Hubs is the coach of our son's team.

At least my review blog has taken off. I've hired reviewers.


Kellie Kamryn said...

I don't watch a lot of TV anymore so I don't know but from this top 10 list, I can see why all of these were pulled!

Fun post :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Marika: Good on your review blog taking off. Good luck with it.

Samantha Gentry said...

Kellie: I was about to say that I wouldn't have watched any of them from the description...but obviously I didn't watch, along with most everyone else who also didn't watch. :)

Sandra Dailey said...

I know of a recent short-life series! How To Be A Gentleman lasted 2 weeks on CBS, and one week on comedy central. Now they're burning off the last of nine episodes as a summer replacement. I saw it on Saturday night, and yes, it is that bad.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sandra: It seems to me that I have heard that title somewhere. Sounds as if they're going to be able to at least recoup their production costs.

Thanks for commenting.

Kimberly said...

I really loved 'The Phoenix' with Judson Scott when I was a little girl. It only had the pilot episode and two after that before it was replaced by Tales of the Golden Monkey :)


Samantha Gentry said...

Kimberly: I thought The Phoenix was a much better show than Tales Of The Golden Monkey. I think The Phoenix was just ahead of its time. Judson Scott was hot!! :)