29+ TV Shows That Don't Meet The Critics' Standards
| LAST UPDATE 03/31/2022
When it comes to Hollywood, there isn't much that hasn't already been done, but who says that's always a good thing? From flying nuns to talking cars, here are the TV shows ever to air that just didn't cut it, according to critics.
The Jerry Springer Show
As Springer himself told CNN, "Let's face it: The show deserves critics." Sure enough, 27 seasons and endless tears later, the star's controversial talk show has garnered just that - not that we didn't love every minute of it.
From fistfights to paternity tests, our favorite daytime binge, "Sinks talk TV to new lows" - if we're asking the Associated Press, at least. But perhaps that's what made it the guilty pleasure that it was. In fact, while the series may have ended in 2018, "You are not the father" is bound to live on in our memories forever.
My Mother the Car
We already know that when it comes to Hollywood, there isn't much that hasn't already been done. But how about the time we watched a man communicate with his deceased mother... all through his car's radio speaker? Not ringing any bells? Allow us to help out here.
Back in 1965, NBC blessed our screens with My Mother the Car - otherwise known as the '#2 Worst TV Show of All Time,' according to TV Guide. The premise? David Crabtree's latest purchase, a 1928 Porter, was actually the reincarnated spirit of his late mother, Gladys. Sure, it only lasted 1 season, but A+ for creativity, right?
When we think of our favorite police drama, we might picture Olivia Benson and her unstoppable Special Victims Unit, or Jake Peralta and his quirky gang down at the Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But back in 1990, there was a different crew of crime-stoppers hijacking our screens, and they weren't exactly met with raving reviews.
As the Baltimore Sun put it, Cop Rock was, "The kind of TV people [were] going to be talking about," and with good reason: The ABC drama followed a group of officers on their musical adventures - a cop show and a musical meshed into one. The takeaway? "Don't put music in a cop show," as show-runner, Steven Bochco, reflected.
When dealing with one of the most adored television shows of all time, one wouldn't exactly expect its spinoff series to be so negatively received by, well, almost everyone. Unfortunately for M*A*S*H, that's exactly what happened, with the 1983 follow up - and flop, according to reviews - of its sequel, AfterMASH.
Sure, it was, too, set in a hospital, and landed three of its original cast members, but that didn't stop Rolling Stone from dubbing it as one of the worst TV spinoffs ever. And, well, they weren't the only ones who felt this way, with the series getting the axe right before its season - or should we say series - finale.
The Flying Nun
Ever wondered if the famous faces behind our famous flops (according to some) were ever aware of just how, um, unforgettable their time on our screens would be? Well, if we ask Sally Field, who starred as a flying nun back in 1967, she'll be happy to tell us herself.
"I didn't want to do it. I was trying to figure out who I was, but I knew who I wasn't: A flying nun," the actress revealed to Oprah Magazine of her time as a Sister in the sitcom, The Flying Nun. Nonetheless, the series managed to run for 3 seasons, something that FlavorWire calls, "Proof that television is magical." Ouch.
It sounded like the perfect sitcom on paper, a carefree show to unwind to on the recliner. Unfortunately, McLean Stevenson's time on our screen as a relatable family guy, a divorced dad raising two teenaged daughters, "quickly went from great white hope to the butt of jokes," as the Rolling Stone put it.
In other words, "It [simply] became the textbook example of a failed, terrible sitcom," as Flashbak elaborated. But while 1979's Hello, Larry might have been pulled off the air after only 2 seasons, our next controversial series only lasted 3 weeks. That's right, keep scrolling.
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
If by some chance the name of our next title doesn't ring a bell, perhaps it's better that way - at least if you ask Variety, that is. In fact, according to the magazine, "One can only hope that before long, it will be difficult to prove this sitcom ever happened." Their problem with the "historically awful" series?
Centered around a black English nobleman, living as a trusted confidante to President Lincoln, The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer was considered so offensive, it only lasted mere weeks. By the fourth episode? UPN pulled the 1998 series off our screens, now reigning in Hollywood's hall of infamy.
The Chevy Chase Show
Sure, there's Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, among others, but how about the time Chevy Chase swapped scripted adventures for his very own go at late-night television - before being booted out weeks later?
Of course, we're talking about the time FOX turned to the National Lampoon comedian to host his very own talk show, even if they may, um, regret it today. After only 5 weeks, the actor's time in the hot seat was brought to a halt, being labeled, "A late-night dud that even insomniacs will want to skip," as Rotten Tomatoes put it.
Homeboys in Outer Space
They say reach for the stars and land on the moon - but in Tyberius "Ty" Walker and Morris Clay's case? They did just that, and it didn't exactly go as planned. That's right, the Force was definitely not with these two when they set off to a galaxy far, far away, back in '96.
In fact, if you ask The Orlando Sentinel, the '90s sitcom, set in the 23rd century, was simply "a waste of space," plagued by "tacky sets and special effects." Then again, when you're traveling across the universe in a spaceship named the "Space Hoopty," stocked with a talking computer named Loquatia, all bets are off.
Thanks to our friends at GEICO, we all already know that car insurance is so easy, a caveman can do it. As for what our Neanderthal friends can't do? Why don't we, um, let the critics do the talking, you know, considering they had a whole lot to say for themselves here.
Back in 2007, we watched the GEICO mascots make their way from limestone caves to sunny San Diego, as they landed themselves their very own sitcom, Cavemen. Sure enough, their time on our screen didn't last long. In fact, if you ask critics from The New York Post? "It became clear... that Cavemen [was] extinct upon arrival."
The son of a deranged serial killer working for the San Francisco PD; An endless slew of mind-bending cases: On paper, Killer Instinct had the perfect formula for a captivating series. Unfortunately, the 2005 cop drama was ultimately labeled a recipe for disaster, lasting only 13 episodes before being pulled off the air.
How did the San Francisco Chronicle explain it? "You won't see any worse acting across the broadcast spectrum. The women-in-peril scenes are vile. The writing is atrocious." In other words, the show was simply "horrifically bad," as they put it. Yikes.
"It could have been the funniest show in the world," as Newsday put it... That is, "if there was a nuclear war, really, and this was the only one show left." We see what you did there, Newsday: Our next series follows the lives of 6 nuclear holocaust survivors, only it appears that the real drama was going on off-screen.
Of course, we're talking about the all too real disaster, otherwise known as the cutting words that the 1992 sitcom was met with shortly after its premiere. Take the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, for example, who labeled the series, "So irredeemably silly that you begin rooting for the mutant spiders."
Long before we watched Zac Efron reign the Delta Psi Beta house, or Fat Amy rule the Barden Bellas, we had a different group of college troublemakers dominating the college parties and Greek life: Co-Ed Fever's Baxter College students. Not ringing any bells? There's a good reason for that.
Back in 1979, CBS debuted a special preview of their latest upcoming sitcom, Co-Ed Fever, chronicling the antics at a fictional co-ed college campus. Sure enough, audience feedback must have been really poor, considering they pulled the plug on the entire series, which would have aired 2 weeks later. So many questions.
What happens when you place a group of beautiful, young lifeguards together, alongside the dreamy backdrop of California's shores? Back in '89, as Los Angeles' finest made their way onto our screens, it was only a matter of time before Baywatch won over hearts around the world, a global sensation. But not everybody approved.
In fact, the hit series originally had such low viewership at first, it was canceled by NBC after just one season. It's safe to say, a lot has changed since then, even if critics still label it as "hunks 'n' babes with bodacious bods, sullying sand 'n' surf with silly stories," as the Miami Herald put it. To each his own, right?
The Powers of Matthew Star
Our next series centered around a mysterious foreign exchange student, dominating the halls of Crestridge High. No, the tourist didn't hail from a quaint little city in Europe, nor the land down under: Matthew Star's homeland was far away - we're talking twelve light-years across the galaxy from Earth.
That's right, The Powers of Matthew Star followed the adventures of an undercover alien, seeking refuge after his homeland of Quadris was invaded. Sound interesting? Well, if you ask The Things, "It felt like the deck was stacked against [it] from the start," they admitted of the series, which landed the ax after just 1 season.
They say all good things must come to an end, but is that really so? Back in 1979, as Battlestar Galactica was met with a sudden cancelation, and with that, a slew of devastated fans, ABC would soon bless us with a saving grace: A long-sought-after spinoff, Galactica 1980. Safe to say, things didn't quite, um, go as planned.
In fact, while initial excitement may have been out of this world, the sequel's harsh reviews were all too real. Then again, with severe budget cuts and production time limited to mere weeks, perhaps it's no wonder Galactica 1980 was met with a brutal fate, facing cancelation after just 10 episodes.
Darcy Walker is no ordinary detective. And not only because she gets to zip around in a swanky white Corvette: By day, she's the mysterious Angel City policewoman reporting for duty. By night? She's 'Black Scorpion,' the unstoppable superhero, cruising around in her suave Scorpionmobile. Impressed?
Perhaps we shouldn't be - that is, if you ask critics, at least. In fact, as the Boston Herald put it, the crime series "looks like a sad refuge for actors down on their luck." Nonetheless, actress Michelle Lintel helped take bad guys off of the streets, so that's something, right?
Yep, much like the title suggests, our next series revolves around, well, lots of dead people. No, there are no evil demons, or spooky hauntings like one might expect. Instead? The uplifting drama focuses on the adventure of Melinda Gordon, a gifted medium who helps spirits cross over to the other side.
But while captivated viewers might have been glued to the screen for the entire 5 seasons, critics didn't exactly feel the same: "At times during Ghost Whisperer, the sentiment was so thick you might want to go away from the light -- the light from the TV set, that is," the Boston Globe jabbed.
Sure, we watched Marcy, Lisa, and Pam navigate the skies above as Sun West Airlines stewardesses. But perhaps the bumpiest part of their ride was the turbulence they faced when they weren't passing out soft drinks and making sure folding trays were in their upright positions.
Of course, we're talking about the slew of unimpressed critics the 1978 sitcom, Flying High, was met with after its premiere. From being labeled "old-fashioned, if not stereotypical," by People to "copying" Charlie's Angels, perhaps it's no wonder the controversial series didn't take off. (See what we did there?!)
On paper, a comedy series revolving around prisoners of war during World War II, well, doesn't exactly sound like something you'd see every day. Well, folks, believe it or not, back in 1965, that's exactly what viewers were tuning into, and we've suddenly never been more speechless.
With that being said, why don't we let the critics do all of the talking here? "To say that Hogan's Heroes was politically incorrect would be an understatement," as Forbes put it. But regardless of the controversy the series called for, the comedy went on to land not one - but two Emmy awards. Interesting.
The Brady Bunch Variety Hour
Long before the Kardashians, there was a very different family dominating screens across America: Of course, we're talking about the Brady Bunch, the blended family who went on to invite us into their colorful household for 5 successful seasons. Safe to say, there was never a dull moment.
Perhaps that's why critics were so taken back when the famous bunch took to our screens, years later, with their spinoff, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, to sing and dance in a variety show. Not exactly something we ever expected to see, though it certainly made for unforgettable television, huh?
Hee Haw Honeys
Half an hour of lighthearted fun, featuring performances from big-name country stars sounds like something that would go over well with viewers, right? Unfortunately for this Hee Haw spinoff series, though, the sitcom's reviews were, well, far from sweet.
The 1978 sitcom may have boasted a familiar rustic humor, but that didn't stop the spinoff from getting the boot after just 1 season. But if you ask Hee Haw Honeys star, Kathie Lee Gifford? "I made [a lot of] money doing what TV Guide called 'perhaps the worst sitcom ever,'" so something tells us she'll be just fine.
Before we break down our next series, let's start with the very title, considering if you ask Forbes, it "tells you everything you need to know about how bad this show is." Centered around a fictional Dr. Jonathan Chase, it wasn't long before Manimal introduced us to many different sides to him.
Like the ones that had him shapeshifting into a panther and hawk. That's right, did we mention Dr. Chase could transform into just about any animal - all while using his powers to solve crime? But despite the show's "cheese factor that would worry anyone with lactose intolerance, it's become a cult favorite," as Empire put it.
Life With Lucy
If there's one star who's earned the love of millions from her time on our screen, it's none other than Lucille Ball, or simply, "Lucy." The beloved comedian and her unforgettable roles were almost as vibrant as her red locks, which is why the failure of her latest - and final - series came as such a shock to many.
Including the actress herself, who revealed she cried after the brutal criticism her 1986 spinoff, Life With Lucy, was met with. From being labeled an "embarrassment" by The Washington Post to "sad" by The Associated Press, Ball's final time on our screen might have been short-lived, but her legacy will live on forever.
Don't take our word for it, but one might just call it ironic that the very show named after a scientific theory predicting ultimate chaos, well, resulted in ultimate chaos. Back in 1988, as ABC debuted its latest sitcom-drama, Murphy's Law, it was only a matter of time before the negative reviews came flooding in.
What could be so bad about a comedy series following an insurance fraud investigator? A whole lot, apparently: The sitcom was "so monumentally meaningless, so pathetically puerile... that, within my limited professional context, it prompts the biggest question of them all: Why is there television?" as Newsday put it. Ouch.
Sorry to disappoint here, but if you ask critics, it looks like nobody had the time of their lives watching this Dirty Dancing spinoff series. Sure, we watched the same familiar tale: Girl falls in love with forbidden boy, the two dance off into the sunset together, but that doesn't mean this story had a happy ending.
As a matter of fact, if you ask The Los Angeles Times, the would-be fairytale felt more "like an extended shampoo commercial... lacking the edge and joyful vigor of the movie on which it was based." Nonetheless, we'll never put baby in the corner, right?
Many of us have made a sacrifice, or two, to land the job of our dreams, haven't we? Well, for Lee and Angel, they did, too - only theirs called for dressing up as women in order to keep their jobs. Safe to say, the premise of Work It did not go over well with critics, leading to its cancelation after just 2 episodes.
Once viewers got past the glitzy tiaras, designer heels, and colorful dresses, the controversial sitcom's reality was actually far from glamorous. In fact, if you ask The Daily News, "The show lumbered like a 200-pound man trying to impersonate a 95-pound ballerina."
To all of our Marvel fans, we apologize in advance: Sure, we've had the pleasure of witnessing gems like Avengers and Thor, but back in 2017, as the latest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise took to our screen, things were practically doomed from the start, if you ask critics.
Centered around the 'Inhumans,' a threatened alien species, this action-series brought viewers on an adventure, as we watched the main characters use their superpowers to fight for survival. But if you ask Variety? The show's "only superpower was its sheer ineptitude."
If you haven't yet heard of the 2013 sitcom, otherwise known as Dads, allow us to pass on some friendly advice - though you didn't hear it from us: "Just don't watch it. For real," Vulture kindly recommends. What could be so bad about a comedy series centered around a group of dads moving back in with their sons?
"It's the sitcom equivalent of 'Pull my finger:' crude, outdated, and immodestly proposed," or at least that's how Slant Magazine sees it. Perhaps watching a 30-year-old man have his father come and live with him doesn't sound as appealing to viewers as writers may have thought. The jury's still out on that one, though.
Last, but certainly not least - well, actually, depends on who we're asking - we're bringing happy hour to you, though you might not want to raise your glass just yet. Not only because martini time in Larry and Henry's apartment is 4 p.m., not 5, but because of the unhappy words their time on our screen was met with.
The 2006 debut of Fox's sitcom, Happy Hour, followed roommates, Larry and Henry, on their boozed-up single adventures. Sound entertaining? Perhaps don't ask the San Diego Union-Tribune, who labeled it, "About a loose-knit gaggle of young singles with the average IQ of a miniature schnauzer." On that note, cheers!