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February 21, 2022 9:20 am  #1


The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

I found this a lot of fun. It's a list of the network TV series that either got cancelled within 5 episodes or worse, were filmed and then never even made it to your screen. I've heard of some of them. Others are so obscure that I'm almost certain even the stars don't recall being in them. (I especially like the story of Kelsey Grammar hating his new show so much, he actually asked the network to cancel it!)

By the way, one of the programs on the list is from this season - ABC's Promised Land has been pulled after just a few episodes aired. The remaining shows will be burned off on their streaming service and then go into that great recycle bin in the sky. 

Do you remember any of these?

Cancelled Quickly: The Shortest-Lived Series of All Time

 

February 21, 2022 9:46 am  #2


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

Thanks for sharing RadioActtive.

I know of a couple.  HEIL HONEY, I'M HOME! is infamous.  How it ever got into production is amazing. The American version of THE IT CROWD is bad.  I've seen it.  So sanitized and pre-packaged in an American way.  The UK version was very funny for the first couple of seasons until the new boss of the company was introduced.  Then it just filled with predictable male chauvinist humour.

Some of the others I've heard of but really paid no attention to.

RadioActive, here's a list if you want more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_series_canceled_after_one_episode


- Not an industry person.  Just a guy with a love of Toronto radio. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.gif
 

February 21, 2022 10:12 am  #3


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

Three of the shows mentioned are of interest to me.

I always liked David Brenner as a comedian (especially his Superman routine - "He stands there as the bullets bounce off his chest and yet when the bad guy throws the gun, he ducks!") and would have loved to see his sitcom, which had been shot and was, as they say, in the can. But it never saw the light of a TV screen to this day. Would have been curious to see it. Instead, this is all we got.

https://i.ibb.co/gZB4vcG/Snip-TV-Guide-Fall-Preview-Sept-1975.jpg


I always wanted to see "Turn On," which was created by George Schlatter, the producer of Laugh-In, one of my all time favourite shows. As far as I know, it's the only TV program ever cancelled halfway through its very first - and only - aired episode. I never got to see it because I think WKBW refused to air it and put something else on in its place. Almost nothing remains of the show and there is barely anything online to look at. This is all I could find.



In an interview many years later, Schlatter defended the show, saying it was actually way ahead of its time and was better than the stories would have you believe.




TV Guide did an article about the worst flop in TV history. 

https://i.ibb.co/72mvHgp/to1.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/Lk6hWWG/to2.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/SBFRwp3/to3.jpg


And finally, "You're In The Picture," an absolutely unfathomable 1961 game show hosted by Jackie Gleason, a guy who was not used to failing at anything. It aired once and then the next week, he appeared on a bare set with a single chair, and proceeded to smoke and drink his way through a half hour apology for laying the "biggest bomb in the history of television."

I never thought I'd see what was surely one of the most unusual moments in TV history- a star apologizing for a disastrous show - but YouTube has both the original and the follow-up and you can see it below. The mea culpa broadcast begins at 29:27. A fascinating bit of broadcast history. 

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2022 10:18 am  #4


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

Leslieville Bill wrote:

Thanks for sharing RadioActtive.

I know of a couple.  HEIL HONEY, I'M HOME! is infamous.  How it ever got into production is amazing. The American version of THE IT CROWD is bad.  I've seen it.  So sanitized and pre-packaged in an American way.  The UK version was very funny for the first couple of seasons until the new boss of the company was introduced.  Then it just filled with predictable male chauvinist humour.

Some of the others I've heard of but really paid no attention to.

RadioActive, here's a list if you want more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_series_canceled_after_one_episode

Thanks for the link. I'd never heard of many of the shows listed, but then with just one airing, they would have been easy to miss! Wikipedia also has a full (and surprisingly long) list of commissioned (and shot) TV shows that never made it to air at all. Another fascinating forgotten part of boob tube history. 

Shows Cancelled Before Airing An Episode

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2022 11:00 am  #5


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

Turn-On was replaced by the King Family Variety Show. Chances are Turn-On wouldn't have lasted long as NBC's The Virginian [#17 that season] was its competition.

 

February 21, 2022 12:07 pm  #6


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

In September 1978 a Norman Lear sitcom called “Apple Pie” debuted in September on ABC. It featured Rue McLanahan, Dabney Coleman and Jack Gilford. Although 8 episodes were recorded it was canned after 2. My wife and I had tickets for the taping of the first or second episode at Metromedia Square in Hollywood in August/78. The show was absolutely terrible. The best part of the experience was sitting in front of a few of Hollywood’s former grand dames of the  B-actress grade regaling each other (and anyone else who would listen) of their salad days from the 1930's and 40's.

 

February 21, 2022 12:36 pm  #7


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

This Randy Quaid vehicle never saw the light of day, getting cancelled two days after its originally scheduled premiere. 

The Grubbs - Wikipedia

The Grubbs - IMDB.com



PJ
 


ClassicHitsOnline.com...The place where all the cool tunes hang out!
 

February 21, 2022 2:56 pm  #8


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

I noticed that one of the never aired series in the original article was a show about radio. It was titled "Next Caller" and starred (or would have) stand-up comedian Dane Cook as a satellite radio talk show host who's forced to work with a co-host he hates. Four of the six commissioned episodes were filmed but none of them ever made it to air, with NBC deciding it was so bad, it had no chance of succeeding. 

They didn't even bother to burn off the existing episodes in the summer, a standard practice on orphaned shows. It would have been one of a handful of TV programs set in radio ("WKRP," "Newsradio," and "Frasier" were some of the more successful concepts using the medium as a premise.)

NBC Cancels Dane Cook Sitcom 'Next Caller' Before it Airs

A one-minute plus trailer appears to be the only evidence that still exists. If you watch it, you'll see the familiar face of Jeffrery Tambor and another newcomer who did considerably better in his next sitcom try - a baby-faced young actor named Chris Perfetti, who can currently be seen as one of the teachers on the new ABC hit "Abbott Elementary."  He's probably glad he was allowed to move on to something better, although "Caller" was commissioned in 2012, so it likely would have gotten the axe long before his new show was even thought of. 

And is it just me or does that blonde woman in the pic below bear a striking resemblance to City TV reporter Cynthia Mulligan?

You can see the trailer for what might have been here. 

https://tvline.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/quickly-cancelled-next-caller-nbc.jpeg?w=620

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2022 3:30 pm  #9


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

^ RadioAcitve, don't forget CBS's "Good Morning World".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Morning_World_(American_TV_series)


- Not an industry person.  Just a guy with a love of Toronto radio. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.gif
 

February 21, 2022 3:52 pm  #10


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

A one season wonder from 1967, with Goldie Hawn, soon to become a huge star on Laugh In, in a minor supporting role:

https://i.ibb.co/16q4MKs/Radio-Good-Morning-World-1967.jpg

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2022 6:26 pm  #11


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

George Stroumboulopoulos was set to host a reality should about the formation of a band called The One on ABC that was on the verge cancelled before it finished airing on the west coast on the first night, which left the CBC with egg on its face because it delayed the National to air the show in sync with ABC.  It was cancelled on night two after the 4th episode aired.  It was the most expensive summer series ever on ABC.

Last edited by Tomas Barlow (February 21, 2022 6:27 pm)

 

February 21, 2022 9:09 pm  #12


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

There's Jackie Gleason's infamous "You're in the Picture" which lasted one episode but wasn't there also a show that was cancelled in the middle of its first episode and never returned from a commercial break?

 

February 21, 2022 9:44 pm  #13


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

Hansa wrote:

There's Jackie Gleason's infamous "You're in the Picture" which lasted one episode but wasn't there also a show that was cancelled in the middle of its first episode and never returned from a commercial break?

Not sure, but that might be Turn On, which is referred to above. Some stations showed the first segment then refused to come back after the first break.

God, I'd love to see that show, it's so infamous. I'm betting it would seem awfully tame today. Back then (1969) it was scandalous. 

Times change and so do standards. Anyone remember the outrage and fury when CBS showed the first episode of the TV version of "Uncle Buck?" One of the little kids said "you suck" to her brother as the very first line of dialogue in the very first episode and you would have thought someone dropped the f-bomb on network television. The complaints were so loud, it ended up on the news. And that was only 1990!

     Thread Starter
 

February 23, 2022 10:44 am  #14


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

And who can forget the uproar over the NYPD Blue episode where Andy Sipowicz calls a female co-worker a "pissy little bitch"

 

February 23, 2022 10:55 am  #15


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

mace wrote:

And who can forget the uproar over the NYPD Blue episode where Andy Sipowicz calls a female co-worker a "pissy little bitch"


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March 17, 2022 9:46 am  #16


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

I just discovered the opposite for this article. It's already a bit out of date, having been published in 2021. But it lists the 20 longest running TV shows in history, some of which have been around longer than many of us have been alive. Number one in the compliation: The Tonight Show, which, as of the date of publication, has been on NBC almost every single weeknight for 67 years!

Interestingly, they don't list one of the few shows that easily beats that record. It's another Peacock network classic, "Meet The Press," which started in November 1947 and has been on the air in various incarnations for an astounding 75 years. 

The 20 Longest-Running TV Shows of All Time

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March 18, 2022 1:11 pm  #17


Re: The Shortest-Lived TV Series of All Time

Perhaps the article should have been entitled the longest running entertainment shows of all time. Otherwise, they would have included the previously mentioned Meet The Press plus Today, Face The Nation and Good Morning America.