There have been a lot of terrible TV shows in the past. In fact, it’s hard to name the worst because for a long time TV networks had a certain attitude to making pilots. That attitude was “greenlight everything and cancel it later” and it flooded us with crap. Today we enjoy great hits like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Orange is the New Black, but once upon a time people had to make do with, well, complete crap. And there was so much of that crap too. Well, we decided to go out and do some research and find the ten absolutely worst, stupidest, dumbest TV shows that were ever greenlit by some mental TV executive.
1. Bates Motel
“Wait,” you’re thinking, “that Bates Motel is pretty good!” and you’re right! The Bates Motel TV show which ran from 2013 to 2017 has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been critically praised for its subtle and frightening story. But we’re not talking about that Bates Motel. We’re talking about this one.
This was a 1987 spinoff pilot that was greenlit for only one episode—later released as a TV film—about a man who befriended Norman Bates in an asylum and inherited the motel after Bates died. What follows is a bizarre episode where the main character has to contend with inheritance, family shenanigans and a haunting. The general idea was that each week a new set of guests would visit with some spooky or supernatural twist and he’d have to solve their problems. Sounds positively zany.
2. Heil Honey I’m Home
Uh, who thought this was a good idea? It’s a sitcom parody of I Love Lucy except it’s about Hitler and Eva Braun who live next door to a Jewish couple. The only episode ever broadcast focuses on what happens when Neville Chamberlain (the UK Prime Minister in 1937) visits for dinner. But the Hitlers don’t want the Jewish couple to interrupt and mess up the very important dinner. The whole show was an over-the-top parody of US sitcoms and I Love Lucy in particular, with the actors using broad and silly “Noo Yawk” accents as an obvious homage. Either way, Heil Honey I’m Home! never quite got past the absolute mad premise and was cancelled almost immediately after a single episode. The real question ought to be: how in hell did this even get a single episode!?
3. Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos
This show has the unique distinction of being the only show to ever get cancelled half-way through its first episode. Seriously. The story goes that the network’s owner was flicking through the channels at home when he came across Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos. As soon as he realised that the show was playing on his network he called up the studio and screamed, “Get that shit off the air!” and it was cancelled there and then and replaced with an episode of Cheers.
What was so bad exactly? Well the show featured clips sent in by viewers that mainly involved animals having sex, humans having sex, and a clip of a child grabbing a kangaroo’s testicles. There were people running around with toilet paper stuffed up their bums while on fire, one clip of a man having his head crushed between giant breasts, and a man lifting a barbell with his penis. I’m sure you could say this show got cancelled for being raunchy but, honestly, it sounds like it got cancelled for being total rubbish.
4. Secret Talents of the Stars
Would you be interested in seeing if any celebrities you know have secret talents? Maybe. But this show with that very premise encountered a road block that other reality shows have encountered before. They couldn’t get any celebrities. Would you like to see Roy Jones Jr. rapping? You don’t know who Roy Jones Jr. is? Yeah, us neither. What about Sasha Cohen? No not Borat, that’s Sacha Baron Cohen. No this is Sasha Cohen who was an Olympic skater… at least according to Google.
So we couldn’t tempt you into watching Ric Flair salsa dance? Well, neither could the makers of this show. Out of their entire line-up only George Takei is immediately recognisable and there’s something strangely sad about the idea of watching him warble his way through a karaoke set. I’m sure he’s good but it’s just not what I want to do with my night, and it wasn’t what anyone else wanted to do either because this show was quickly canned for low viewing figures.
5. Steel Justice
What is this exactly? Why is there a picture of a metal T-Rex terrorising people? Well in the 1980s there was robosaurus, a giant metal dinosaur that was used as a prop by casinos, race tracks, and demolition derbies for publicity. Apparently part of that publicity was the creation of a pilot episode featuring robosaurus. The show was about a policeman who could summon the spirit of his dead son into his toy dinosaur, turning it into a giant metal leviathan that helped his solve crimes.
Yup. You can watch it in full here, but honestly, why would you do that to yourself? Why would anyone want to watch this show? In fact, the only thing stupider than this show is the fact that for a period of time this cheap looking metal-monstrosity was considered great entertainment.
6. The Littlest Groom
The Bachelor with midgets. There, I just saved you a Google. Seriously though, that’s the show. It’s The Bachelor except both the contestants and the guy are midgets. Except even that idea came up short *giggle* so they threw half a dozen taller contestants in for… excitement? Or something? It’s not clear what the rationale is here. Why is The Bachelor with midgets interesting? They’re just short. That’s it. They won’t mysteriously date in some crazy new way. It’ll be no different. The mental image of the guy busting out a step-ladder to kiss one of the taller contestants is slightly amusing but hardly “commission me a whole show” funny.
Interestingly while the show received a lot of criticism by mainstream media for coming off a bit like a freakshow it was defended by not just the contestants but also by advocacy group Little People of America who said that any publicity would help reduce the stigma experienced by people with dwarfism. Whether or not this was true, the show didn’t last and was quickly cancelled after only two episodes.
7. Homeboys from Outer Space
Huh. So this is another one that baffles the mind. Two black guys named Ty and Morris drive around the universe in the 23rd Century. They drive a winged car that is a cross between a low-rider and an 18-wheeler and is piloted by an AI called Loquatia (seriously!?). Oh, and the car was called a Space Hoopty. If it doesn’t frighten you to realise this unbelievably bad-taste show was made in the mid-nineties long after good taste should have stepped in, then it should at least frighten you that it got 21 episodes and had guest stars like John Lithgow, George Takei, Gary Coleman and *drum roll* Anthony “Academy Award Winning” Hopkins.
Well regardless of the… surprising amount of talent (?) that went into this show it was thankfully beaten to death by critics long before it could get a second season. Still, it’s worth noting that this was one of the longer lived shows on this list. Just goes to show, even a turd can float.
8. The Flying Nun
This one is not a complicated pitch. She’s a nun. She can fly. She’s a flying nun. That’s it. That’s uh… that’s it. She flies around the place. The episodes have synopses like, “Sister Bertrille and Carlos attempt to restore an ocean-damaged church bell that once rang at the convent” or “Sisters Bertrille and Jacqueline try to hide a parrot in the convent”. How does the flying nun factor in? We don’t know. We assume there lots of shenanigans although we can’t say for sure. We’d have to watch it to tell you and that’s not happening.
Maybe it’s me but it feels a bit misogynistic that the reason the nun flies is because she’s so thin. And yes, that’s why the nun can fly. She’s very skinny and her weird shaped hat lets the breeze lift her off and it’s all possible because she weighs 90 pounds. So, uh, the only thing stopping other women from flying is they’re too fat? Maybe I’m looking too much into it, it just feels a bit weird to have a show where a woman’s superpower is staying skinny and celibate. Thank God this show got put down in the end.
9. Mr. Smith
“The comedy that begins where Darwin left off.” Hmmmm. Well, let’s get started shall we? In this show an orangutan escapes a zoo, runs away, gets picked up by a research lab, escapes again and drinks a serum that gives him an IQ of 256. Afterwards he learns how to talk and is immediately named Mr. Smith and put to work by the government body that created him so that he can act as a political advisor in Washington (what else would you do with a hyper-intelligent orangutan?). Also his previous zookeeper is now his assistant and his job is to keep Mr. Smith’s identity a secret. There, that’s the show in a nutshell. A stupid stupid nutshell.
It sounds awful. Just the worst. It’s kind of hard to believe this got approved, even after all the terrible shows that have just come and gone. This show was at least quickly recognised as bad, being called “famously terrible” by The AV Club, and it’s still often named as one of the worst TV shows ever made. Perhaps the only thing dumber than this show is the fact that there have been at least two other attempts to make sitcoms with intelligent monkeys as the main character after this one exploded. At least Mr. Smith has the benefit of saying “no one ever did it before” but no one can say that about 2012’s Animal Practice.
10. My Mother the Car
This one is pretty much what it says on the tin. A man buys a car and it happens to be the reincarnated spirit of his mother who can communicate via the radio. To further the possible shenanigans there’s a car collector who hears the car talk and now he desperately wants to get his hands on the car. So there’s your villain. Episode synopses include gems like, “[the car] gets drunk on antifreeze”, “Captain Manzini [the villain] uses a hypnotic drug on Dave to get him to agree to sell the Porter” and “Dave and his mother try to thwart the assassination of a passing dignitary”.
Perhaps the most frightening thing is that this abomination got a full thirty episodes in before it was pulled, which is strange since it was savaged by both critics and viewers alike. Maybe there was an executive who just liked the show? Can’t possibly imagine who that is or what happened to them to damage them into liking such a stupid idea.