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Worst One-Episode TV Shows

Television | By The Top 13 on April 5, 2010

In the annals of TV history, there are a select group of shows that were deemed so terrible that they were canceled either immediately after their first episode, before they even aired, or - in a couple of cases - while the first episode was actually in progress. Today, we take a look at this flotsam and jetsam of TV history with this list of shows that were instantly canned, ranked by just how ridiculous, asinine, offensive, and downright unwatchable the premise was. Accordingly, we present the Top 13 Worst One-Episode TV Shows.

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Viva Laughlin

1

Viva Laughlin

2007

Viva Laughlin, a Hugh Jackman-produced "mystery drama musical" (yes, you read that right), was canceled by the Nine Network in Australia the day after its first episode aired (CBS aired two episodes in the United States, but the show lasted less than a week). As with many of these shows, the clip below must be seen to be believed, as the characters spontaneously decide to butcher Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" (skip ahead to around the one minute mark if you can't bear the suspense).

Poochinski

2

Poochinski

1990

Poochinski is so ridiculous that it's hard to imagine it was ever really made into a show. It never got past the pilot stage but at least that aired in 1990. The premise? Peter Boyle is a cop killed in the line of duty, and his soul inhabits the body of a dog which can, inexplicably, talk. He and his young partner were then to track down his killer. What's most amazing about this show is that Boyle, who has been nominated for 10 Emmys in his career (winning once), agreed to voice Poochinski.

Who's Your Daddy?

3

Who's Your Daddy?

2005

The Fox network has conducted some pretty despicable social experiments via reality TV, but it's hard to go lower than this one, in which an adopted woman tried to pick her estranged biological father from a panel of eight "contestants." The kicker? If she chose her father correctly, she would win $100,000, but if she chose the wrong "daddy," the imposter would win the $100,000 (perhaps mercifully, the real father would be revealed either way). In other words, Fox created a strong incentive for all eight men to pretend they were the father; the video clip below shows one of the impostors going for the cash.

Heil, Honey I'm Home!

4

Heil, Honey I'm Home!

1990

Again we have a show with a jaw-dropping premise: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun are living together in marital bliss in 1930s Berlin until Jewish neighbors move in next door, and hilarious antics ensue. What's even more amazing is that this spoof of 1950s and 1960s American sitcoms was aired on Galaxy, a British satellite TV network. Although Nazism has been successfully parodied to funny effect, such as in the musical/film The Producers, this one went too far.

Beware of Dog

5

Beware of Dog

2002

This show - from the director of the film Air Bud: Golden Receiver - was the first sitcom produced for the Animal Planet network. The show followed a dog, blessed with Look Who's Talking-style narration powers, who attempts to entice a family into adopting him. Think Poochinski without the funny premise or ridiculous animatronic puppet. Although two episodes aired back-to-back on the night of the show's premiere, it was canceled before it ever aired again, making it fair game for this list.

Osbournes: Reloaded

6

Osbournes: Reloaded

2009

Termed by some as the "worst variety show of all time," a truly damning remark, this show was yet another Fox vehicle designed to force Ozzy Osbourne's irritating family into your living room. The show was both bad and filled with bleeped-out obscenities, and its hour-long premier episode was cut down to 35 minutes following an expanded episode of American Idol. Many Fox affiliates preempted the program and chose to air local news and other content instead. If you missed out on the fun, the first episode is available on Youtube.

Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos

7

Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos

1992

This show is famous for being one of only two TV shows to be canceled during its very first episode. As the story goes, Kerry Packer, owner of Australia's Nine Network, caught wind of the show's content - primarily animals having sex and similarly crass material - and called the studio's operators, ordering them to "get that shit off the air!" The show never made it back from its first commercial break, replaced by reruns of Cheers. Following Packer's death in 2005, the full episode was aired in August 2008, billed as "the show Kerry Packer didn't want you to see."

Babylon Fields

8

Babylon Fields

2007

This show puzzlingly asked a question that nobody wanted answered: What would happen if dead people came back to life as zombies without any sinister brain-eating motives, but instead just wanted to continue their normal lives? In all seriousness, the premise had some promise, but the show was far too dull to realize it. Babylon Fields was actually canceled before it ever saw the light of day, though the pilot has bounced around on the internet.

Emily's Reasons Why Not

9

Emily's Reasons Why Not

2006

This poor knockoff of Sex and the City flopped and was quickly axed by ABC, which evidently failed to realize that viewers wouldn't identify with Heather Graham's vain and judgmental main character, who broke up with any man if she could come up with five reasons why they shouldn't be together. Either that or - as is rumored - the network greenlit the show without seeing a script and nevertheless spent millions promoting it. Perhaps network execs would have been better served coming up with five reasons why anyone should watch this show.

You're in the Picture

10

You're in the Picture

1961

This failed game show hosted by Honeymooners star Jackie Gleason, which premiered following the broadcast of John F. Kennedy's inauguration, was so poorly received that the second episode was replaced by an on-air apology by Gleason for making a show so horrible. The premise of You're in the Picture was that four celebrity panelists would stick their heads into cutouts of life-size illustrations of famous scenes or songs, and then the celebrities would take turns guessing what the scenes were from.

Secret Talents of the Stars

11

Secret Talents of the Stars

2008

This show was quickly aborted after its first episode by CBS, who incorrectly assumed that Americans had any interest in seeing B- and C-list celebrities demonstrate talents that nobody knew they had. The first and only episode featured such acts as singer Mya tap dancing and actor George Takei singing, and seemed benign enough. Nevertheless, the show was a ratings flop. We're sad we never got to see scheduled appearances by Danny Bonaduce riding a unicycle and boxer Roy Jones Jr. - who made our list of Worst Songs by Athletes - rapping on TV.

Turn-On

12

Turn-On

1969

Like Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos, this show was notoriously canceled during its first episode. Unlike that show, Turn-On actually had some promise, but was too risque for American audiences at the time given its preference for sexual innuendo and pro-drug jokes. Created by the producers of the popular Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and reminiscent of Britain's Monty Python's Flying Circus, the show featured virtually no sets, rapid fire and madcap jokes, quick edits and cuts that were disorienting to audiences at the time, and no laugh track. Several affiliates never came back from the first commercial break and the show was canned the night of its premiere.

The Rich List

13

The Rich List

2006

A game show with a premise after our own hearts, this show from the makers of The Weakest Link offered cash prizes to contestants based on how many names of things they could list in certain categories, such as James Bond films. The show was killed after poor ratings but eventually was resurrected by the Game Show Network two years later under the name The Money List. It also has more successful cousins in Australia and Germany that made it past one episode.

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Comments Leave a comment

eeezoe 

Poochinski -- Hilarious!!!!

11:02 AM   Apr 05, 2010

stillathreat ★★

I'd never before heard of this show, but I need to find the trailer and whatever episodes were filmed ASAP.

12:21 PM   Apr 05, 2010

jason ★★

On The Soup on Friday, Joel McHale pleaded with CBS to release the tapes of the remaining, unaired episodes of Viva Laughlin. I'm going to be contrarian and plead that they do not.

11:08 AM   Apr 05, 2010

ajay ★★

Yeah, I want to play The Rich List.

12:59 PM   Apr 05, 2010

johndoeaa 

"Viva Laughlin" was a remake of "Blackpool" or "Viva Blackpool" as it was known on BBC America, a far superior British show that is worth checking out.

9:44 PM   Apr 07, 2010

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