No one expected CNN’s Chicagoland to be a love letter to the city – but no one expected it to be a Rahm infomercial either. A critical and ratings flop, Chicagoland is the one of TV’s lowlights in 2014. Recently, the prime-time portion of The Simpsons marathon on FXX attracted more viewers than Chicagoland did.
(Updated May 2016)
Oh, hi. Didn’t see you come in. Welcome to the newly renovated T Dog Media Hall of Shame. I’m Terence, your master of ceremonies, and since 2008, we’ve celebrated the worst television has had to offer. I am here to welcome you to the horror! The stench! The horrible stale smell of bad TV!
These shows not only jumped the shark, but jumped over several airplanes, the stars, the moon, and the entire solar system!
Our head usher, Ted McGinley is here to provide you with a complimentary gift basket filled with goodies: a Zune player, a HD-DVD player, a Jay Cutler bobblehead doll, a 20 ounce bottle of Crystal Pepsi, and a DVD of wonderful video properties, including Date Movie, Meet The Spartans, and a $2 voucher for the upcoming DVD release of The Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure! (since the movie is only worth two dollars, its free!)
All right, let me show you around. Here in our hollowed halls of horrible, you’ll find the bombs. The clunkers. The shows that just didn’t make it, ideas that were ill-conceived, or programs that just basically stunk.
Questions? Yes, you in the back… Why only shows featured since 1979 are in the Hall of Shame? Because… well, if we included pre-1979 shows, it would be too much for all of you to handle! You don’t want to pass out in here, now do you? We don’t have the medical insurance!
Besides, other places can handle that era better than I can, so if you want to see what Turn-On or You’re in the Picture was all about, then you have to go somewhere else (pssst… or click this link.)
So, let’s take a tour of terrible TV from the dumps of the Disco era to the terrible trud of today. Let’s go!
These are ranked in no particular order…
The T Dog Media Blog TV Show Hall of Shame (post-1979 edition)
– Fred & Barney Meet the Schmoo (NBC, 1979) They didn’t really meet. It was Flintstones cartoons paired up with Schmoo ones – before that, it was Fred & Barney Meet the Thing
– Makin’ It (ABC, 1979) An obsolete-the-day-it-came-out sitcom about a person who works at an ice cream shop by day, and becomes a disco dancer at night. And no, this show did not make it
– Hello, Larry (NBC, 1979-80) McLean Stevenson runs a radio station in Portland, OR while laughs ensue. Hello Larry… goodbye ratings.
– Pink Lady and Jeff (NBC, 1980) What happens when you pair an unfunny comedian with two Japanese performers who barely spoke English? Yeah.
– Hour Magazine (syndicated, 1980-89) Infotainment at its worst, hosted by personality repellent Gary Collins
– Thicke of the Night (syndicated, 1983-84) Alan Thicke hosted this supposed late night talk show
– Just Our Luck (ABC, 1983) This featured a genie who was black
– Rubik The Amazing Cube (ABC, 1983) Thank God the FCC stepped in to stop producers from basing Saturday morning cartoons on toys. One of the few things the agency has ever done right
– We Got It Made (NBC, 1983-84; syndicated 1987-88) Ironically, the syndicated version was somewhat better than the NBC one
– Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (NBC, 1983-84) What happens when you pair two, two, two great game shows in one? One huge, unwatchable mess on the screen – and off (co-hosts Jon Bauman and Gene Rayburn did not get along)
– Brothers (Showtime, 1984-89) A groundbreaking show- it was the first sitcom made for pay cable and the first one to feature a major character who was homosexual. But groundbreaking doesn’t necessarily equal a good show
– Small Wonder (syndicated 1985-89) Debated whether or not to put this show on the list since the sitcom was actually successful, ranking as one of the top syndicated shows of its time. But it would become a prototype of what has gone wrong with the TV sitcom.
– America (syndication, 1985) Daytime talk show featuring Sarah Purcell, McLean Stevenson, and Stuart Damon. Three months and $22 million down the drain later, this show was gone
– The Colbys (ABC, 1985-87) Dynasty spin-off, with the all-time soap opera clincher – Fallon abducted by a UFO
– Life With Lucy (ABC, 1986) Lucille Ball’s short-lived comeback attempt
– Home Shopping Game (syndicated, 1987) From HSN, you can watch a game show and do your shopping from home at the same time! What a novel concept!
– She’s the Sheriff (syndicated, 1987-89) The Sun-Times’ Daniel Ruth once wrote about this show, “Suzanne Sommers returns to television. Who cares?”
– Geraldo (syndicated, 1987-98) Geraldo Rivera brings daytime TV into the sleazy era
– The Morton Downey Jr. Show (Syndicated, 1987-89) Mort shouted, screamed, and yelled into viewers’ living rooms only to usher himself out when he fabricated a story about being attacked by skinheads in a restroom at a San Francisco airport.
– USA Today on TV (syndicated 1988-90) The most expensive flop in syndication history – all style, no substance
– The Pat Sajak Show (CBS, 1989-90) The Chicago native and Wheel of Fortune host thought he can take on Johnny Carson in late night. Oops.
– Everyday With Joan Lunden (Syndicated, 1989-90) Joan Lunden was perky on Good Morning America, but audiences couldn’t take no more than two hours of such nausea a day. Of note is this monstrosity was produced and even syndicated by Lunden’s talentless ex-husband, Michael Krauss.
– Chicken Soup (ABC, 1989) Jackie Mason and Lynn Redgrave fall flat on this sitcom devoid of laughs
– New Kids on the Block (ABC, 1990), The Guys Next Door (NBC, 1990) and any other Saturday morning program based on a fictional or non-fictional music group (except The Banana Splits)
– Joker’s Wild,Tic Tac Dough (syndicated, 1990-91) Two very horrid remakes of great game shows
– Cop Rock (ABC, 1990) A musical that didn’t quite work out. Never, ever should be tried again. Will it?
– Good Grief (Fox, 1990) Hijinks ensue in this sitcom set at a funeral home with Howie Mandel. Good grief, indeed.
– Into the Night with Rick Dees (ABC, 1990-91) Into the night and right into the trash can for this turkey of a late night talk show, hosted by L.A. disc jockey Rick Dees
– Johnny B. On the Loose (syndicated, 1991) Jonathan Brandmeier: Good disc jockey, bad TV show. Lasted just five weeks
– The Jerry Springer Show (syndication, 1991-) A given.
– Rhythm & Blues (NBC, 1992) Sitcom that was set at a radio station in Detroit. WKRP it wasn’t.
– On the Air (ABC, 1992) A single-camera sitcom summer burn-off, it was off the air in three weeks
– The Jackie Thomas Show (ABC, 1992) with Tom Arnold
– The Chevy Chase Show(Fox, 1993) 29 episodes was more than enough for this clumsy late-night talk show
– South of Sunset (CBS, 1993) After one airing, this Glenn Frey crime drama went south quick
– The Drew Carey Show (ABC, 1995-2004) Like Drew, but not this show
– Suddenly Susan (NBC 1996-2000) Amazingly not to be confused with She’s the Sheriff
– Homeboys in Outer Space (UPN, 1996) The title just speaks for itself
– Public Morals (CBS, 1996) Certainly not Car 54: Where Are You? and definitely not Barney Miller, this sitcom set in an NYPD Precinct was dropped after a single episode. Stick to singing cops, Steven Bochco.
– The Magic Hour (syndicated, 1998) Magic Johnson’s talk show
– Maury (syndicated, 1998-) The crowd shouts, “Who’s Your Daddy?” “Who’s Your Daddy?” (not to be confused with his earlier effort, The Maury Povich Show)
– The Mike O’Malley Show (NBC, 1999) The dude from Nick’s Get the Picture and GUTS and CBS’ Yes, Dear – yes, it’s the same guy
– XFL (NBC, TNN, UPN, 2001) From the infertile mind of Vince McMahon
– According to Jim (ABC, 2001-09) Disposable sitcom trash
– Around the Horn (ESPN, 2004) This only covers the Jay Mariotti era – bounced from the show in 2010 after domestic abuse charges
– Life & Style (syndicated, 2004) This View rip-off featured four ladies (one of whom was Kimora Lee) who practically had no chemistry whatsoever on-screen and reportedly clashed with each other off-screen. What’s amazing is with an average rating of 0.4, this clunker lasted a half a season before getting canceled
– The Larry Elder Show (syndicated, 2004) Or anything with this guy in it, and that includes Moral Court
– The Tony Danza Show (syndicated, 2004-06) One word: Why?
– The War At Home (Fox, 2005-07) See According to Jim above
– Emily Reasons Why Not? (ABC, 2006) A sitcom dead after one airing. Yeah, why not?
– Show Me the Money (ABC, 2006) Insipid game show
– Dr. Keith Ablow (syndication, 2006) Another in the line of useless talk shows
– Flavor of Love (VH-1, 2006) Reality TV meets Jerry Springer
– Any “soap opera” that aired on My Network TV
– Anchorwoman (Fox, 2007) Two episodes + one airing+ zero ratings = quick cancellation
– Pirate Master (CBS, 2007) Survivor rip-off (and not a good one at that)
– Cavemen (ABC, 2007) An idea. How about a sitcom based on a TV commercial? Hey, it just might work!
– Kid Nation (CBS, 2007) A reality show featuring kids. Where’s social services when you need them?
– Viva Laughlin (CBS, 2007) See Cop Rock
– First Take (ESPN 2, 2007-). Since 2012, this pathetic daytime talk show featured sports “columnists” Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith yelling at one another and making idiotic comments.
– Merv Griffin’s Crosswords (Syndicated, 2007-08) Yours truly liked this show, but poor production values, canned applause, and one episode where the day’s champion won only -$250, lost the bonus round, and wound up going home with only a cheap watch qualifies this program to land here
– Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants (CW, 2007-08) And as if the real beauty pageants aren’t bad enough
– Celebrity Apprentice (NBC, 2008-) These “celebrities” are vying with each other in Donald Trump’s dog-and-pony show for charity (what charity wants to be associated with this garbage?) to see who can make the biggest ass out of themselves.
– The Pussycat Dolls Presents: Girlicious (CW, 2008) Remember when The Pussycat Dolls were hot? It seemed like a long time ago, doesn’t it?
– Secret Talents of the Stars (CBS, 2008) Huh? One and done
– I Survived a Japanese Game Show (ABC, 2008-09) Is it a game show? Is it a documentary? What the hell is it? Do you care what the contestants go through to be on a Japanese game show and hear them talk about it for fifteen minutes? Hell, no! We want to watch them compete, not sit around all day and whine about it… How about a show based on someone surviving watching this for an hour?
– Do Not Disturb (Fox, 2008) Shhh!! Do not disturb. If you do, this unfunny comedy might wake up and torture us. It was the first official cancellation of the 2008 fall season
– Momma’s Boys (NBC, 2008) Three guys choose from 32 women with one catch – their mothers get involved in the decision! And one of them is prejudiced! Wow, television just doesn’t get any better than this. Hey Seacrest, stick to six of your day jobs.
– Osbournes: Reloaded (Fox, 2009) A “preview” of a new TV series (which was pre-empted or delayed in 16 markets) featuring… kids dressed up as Ozzy and Sharon swearing; the Osbournes working a drive-thru; and an ambush wedding, all in 35 minutes. It’s so outrageous, so bold, so daring… so who cares? Nobody else did.
– Sit Down, Shut Up (Fox, 2009) Who knew an animated series could suck so badly? Should’ve renamed it Capitol Critters II: The Awakening. The producer of Arrested Development struck out on this one.
– I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! (ABC, 2003; NBC, 2009) Should be retitled I’m A Viewer, Get Me Out Of Here! Another in a long line of useless reality shows.
– Brothers (Fox, 2009) This sitcom with Carl Weathers and Michael Strahan is unrelated to the 1984 Showtime series of the same name – except for the fact that they both suck.
– The Beautiful Life (CW, 2009). Not so beautiful given this drama lasted only two episodes
– Secret Girlfriend (Comedy Central, 2009) Here’s the premise: “you” are the main character of this insipid sitcom where he/she follows two aerosol can-sniffing morons all day where he/she ends up at parties, watching women make out with each other, and listen to their female friends whine about everything. Makes “you” want to grab a shotgun and put these people out of misery. This show – hands down, is the worst television program of all time, even worse than According to Jim and My Mother The Car. Girlfriend lasted just six episodes, five more than necessary.
– The Jay Leno Show (NBC, 2009-10) History was made when NBC decided to move Jay Leno to primetime at 9 p.m. (CT), making his show the first network program to be stripped in the daypart in more than 50 years. History was also made when this show completely bombed in the ratings, thus rendering Leno’s move to prime-time one of network television’s biggest blunders. Leno has since returned to late night.
– Sons of Tucson (Fox, 2010) Three kids who live in Tuscon pay a complete stranger to be their father. Let the laughs begin.
– Monsters and Money in the Morning (WBBM-TV, 2010). A failure you can see a mile away, former radio stars and Comcast SportsNet morning show rejects Mike North and Dan Jiggetts come to CBS 2 with the same show – but adding Terry Savage and Mike Hedegus, making for really bad morning TV. The first local Chicago show to ever make the Shame.
– Hasslehoffs (A&E, 2010) One of the shortest-lived series in cable history, this reality show about the antics of David Hasslehoff and his family was canned after two episodes.
– The Cape. (NBC, 2011) Dopey tripe about a guy who adapts the identity of his son’s favorite superhero, The Cape.
– Perfect Couples (NBC, 2011). The rom-com comes to TV. Can we send this back to the theater?
– The Paul Reiser Show (NBC, 2011) Oh, Paul. Did you really think you were funny, talented, and charming enough to headline your own sitcom, let alone a concert in the parking lot of the local Blain’s Farm & Fleet?
– H8R (CW, 2011) How about a reality show where you get to meet the celebrity you despise? Canned after four episodes.
– Charlie’s Angels (ABC, 2011) Reboots gone wrong: this revival of the 1970’s crime drama featured three women who looked more they wanted to shop at the mall than fight crime.
– How To Be A Gentleman (CBS, 2011) Odd Couple rip-off about a guy trying to teach a street punk about the social graces. Crank up the laugh track.
– Marriage Ref (NBC, 2010-11) A daytime-like show in primetime, celebs come on and discuss – and make fun of – everyday couples with minor martial squabbles. A laugh riot, I’m sure.
– Allen Gregory (Fox, 2011) One of the worst sitcoms of all time, Jonah Hill created and voiced this animated series about a 7-year old prodigy who acts like an adult. Lasted seven episodes.
– Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, 2012) Sitcom based on the best-selling book from Chelsea Handler, who ought to stick to books and her late-night talk show. Are You There, Humor? Nope.
– I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Fox, 2011-12) Hate is quite a strong word for this insipid sitcom, a throwback to the past.
– Work It! (ABC, 2012) This sitcom featured two guys forced to cross-dress in order to keep their jobs. They – and this show – were fired anyway after two episodes.
– 3 (CBS, 2012) This Chicago-based dating reality show should have been named 2 – that’s how many episodes this show lasted.
– Glass House (ABC, 2012) A puerile ripoff of CBS’ Big Brother. Enough said.
– Animal Practice (NBC, 2012) Hey network execs, remember Me and the Chimp and Mr. Smith? How’d that work out? Nice to see these idiots still rehashing shit from 30 or 40 years ago. Worst new sitcom of the year, and remember, this is the network who gave us My Mother The Car and Supertrain. This sitcom lasted six episodes before someone sent it back to the Humane Society.
– Mancow Experience (WPWR, 2012-14) Why this fucking idiot has his own TV show is more than enough to put this piece of shit on this list. A zero rating and share for one week in September 2014 closed the book on this show, which was canceled a month later.
– The Jeff Probst Show (syndicated, 2012-13) Poorly executed from the start, the Survivor host could not cut it in daytime.
– Katie (syndicated, 2012-14) OMG! The perky Katie Couric comes to daytime with her own talk show! Are you excited? No? Me neither!
– Cult (CW, 2013) An hour-long drama about a blogger journalist and a production assistant working on the “popular” show… um… Cult and solving a mystery that developed. Too bad art didn’t imitate life because in the real world, Cult was canceled after seven episodes – including a stretch which saw the show earn only a 0.2 Nielsen rating.
– Do No Harm (NBC, 2013) At 8:25 a.m., Dr. Jason Cole is a successful neurosurgeon. At 8:25 p.m., Jason Cole becomes evil personality Ian Price. And at 8:25 a.m. the next day, he becomes Jason Cole again. At 9:32 p.m. on January 31, 2013, viewers flee for the exits from this show’s premiere episode. At 5:47 p.m. on February 8, 2013, NBC cancels this Do No Harm after two episodes.
Lucky 7 (ABC, 2013) A group of South Bronx service station employees pool resources together and win the lottery – and feel the aftermath that follows. Canceled after two episodes.
We Are Men (CBS, 2013) We Are Idiots is more like it, regarding this “comedy” about four whiny divorced men in an apartment complex.
Super Fun Night (ABC, 2013) It’s no fun looking at Rebel Wilson act awkward in this insipid sitcom.
The Millers (CBS, 2013-15) Hapless sitcom with Will Arnett as a newscaster who deals with his now-divorced parents who drive him crazy. Cue the laugh track.
The Test (syndicated, 2013-14) Idiots go on TV to take lie detector tests to see if they can catch someone they know in a fib. Kirk Fox presided over the festivities.
Bethenny (syndicated, 2013-14) What happens when you give a Real Housewife a talk show? Instead of a “conflict” talker (see above), you get a show where there’s no conflict unless Bethenny is involved. Otherwise, it was a boring, useless program. Either way, it would’ve made this list.
The Arsenio Hall Show (syndicated, 2013-14) As much as yours truly likes Arsenio Hall, the dismal failure of his late-night talk show revival can’t be overlooked.
Chicagoland (CNN, 2014) You can click here to see why this was a critical and ratings failure. This eight-hour infomercial for Rahm Emanuel made Sharknado an Academy Award winner by comparison.
The 2014 Chicago Bears (various networks). This team was so bad, it became the first sports team to enter the Shame. Led by Jay Cutler, watching this squad week in and week out makes most of these shows on this list Emmy winners by comparison.
Heroes: Reborn (NBC, 2015) The results were just what I predicted. A no-brainer to be on this list.
FABLife (Syndicated, 2015-16) Tyra Banks in a panel daytime talk show who, among others included Chrissy Teigen and a “YouTube star”. Seeing this was a bad idea from the start, Banks left the show two months into its run.
SexBox (We, 2015). Um, WTF is this? A couple bang each other in a “box” on stage and tell about their “experience” to a psychologist in front of a studio audience in hopes to improve their “relationship”? Are you kidding me? Perhaps the most odious concept ever developed for TV, SexBox lasted just five episodes, five more than necessary.
Truth Be Told (NBC, 2015). Truth be told: this sitcom sucked.
Vinyl (HBO, 2016). It is rare to see an HBO show on this list. But this series from Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter about the rock n’ roll business during the 1970’s was disjointed and pretty bad, despite credible on-camera talent.
Son of Zorn (Fox, 2016-17) A mix of live-action and animation, this “innovative” sitcom about an animated warrior reconnecting with his live-action family is about as funny as a four-year old’s sketch drawing.
APB (Fox, 2017) Taking recycling shows to a whole new level: The Chicago Code revisited, only more high-tech.
Well, that’s it for the tour! For now. But hey, it doesn’t end here. We here at the T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame are always adding new items, so come back and visit… Remember our slogan: “The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame. Where you will always find the worst crap from yesterday… and today.” Thanks for coming!