Thursday, July 28, 2016

Beyond awful: two more shitcoms that never should have existed

This is the only epsisode of Heil Honey I'm Home ever aired. No one knows how many were made. The rest were buried in a concrete bunker, or set on fire, or ran away to Argentina. It was a sort of I Married Adolf thing that reeked of bad. The disclaimer at the beginning insists this was a great work of art and tragically misunderstood. I am not against Hitler parody. I kind of like SOME of the Downfall parodies, though somebody decided to beat it to death and it's no longer funny. Mel Brooks took it to sublime heights in The Producers, one of my all-time favorite movies which I still laugh at after watching it at least 27 times. But this. . .

This is Hitler as Archie Bunker. I bailed partway through. And you will, too!

And this is Woops.When I heard about the idea for this show, I groaned but disbelieved it. This was during the height or depth of the nuclear panic in the mid-1980s, and everything teetered on the point of a pin as Reagan's doddering finger fumbled around for the button. He probably thought he was ringing for the nurse. Meanwhile, I just dismissed it as somebody's sick idea of a prank.

And then. . .

Anyway, Woops (strangely misspelled)  is a comedy about the last survivors of a global nuclear war. To get a more accurate picture, watch The Day After, Testament, or Threads. Anyone involved with this appalling, jaw-dropping crime against humanity should be tied to a chair and forced to watch Threads in its entirely. I coudn't. I was sobbing too much.

Some things, believe it or not, just ain't funny. The end of civilization? Hitler in a sitcom? Television, get your head out of your ass.

Shit stew: the lows and lows of '70s TV

It's dead-summer, like dead-sure or deadbeat. So here's something lightly borrowed from ME-TV, which steals everything (with link right at the top!). If I only paste a link, no one will read it.

So what was I doing from 1977-1978? Gaaaaaah. I had two babies! I had my first baby in 1975, and my second baby in 1977. I was 21 and 23 years old respectively, and had never held a baby, let alone taken care of one. For the most part, I was alone, as my husband frequently travelled. I had no friends to speak of, and no family support. I don't know how I made it. I think everyone thought I'd go under from postpartum depression, but I didn't. If I had spaced my two children out more, it would have been much more enjoyable (or less stressful), but that's what happened, Shannon (the "baby", now nearing 40) was in a hurry to get here.

TV? I don't even remember! At some point I became addicted to Upstairs Downstairs, though when I recently attempted to watch some of them on YouTube, they seemed dreadfully mannered and even dull. For an awful interval, I watched Another World, but refused to get into it and become One of Those Women.  I do remember a few of these clinkers however. Sanford Arms, Man from Atlantis, Operation Petticoat. . . no one really had time to get attached to them.

MASH came along about that time, didn't it? And the first season of MASH was utterly horrible: trite, silly, completely unrealistic and a travesty of the quirky, legendary movie. And it went on to be, not just classic, but landmark. So what happened? It had really good people in it, better than their material; and as the show wore on, the material got better and the two elements melded. Groundbreaking TV comedy-drama was the result. (And my favorite character was Charles Winchester, the one nobody liked, because he could act rings around everyone else. His character evolved to a greater depth than any of the others, which is no mean feat when you're playing someone unlikeable.)

Would any of these shows have made it if they'd been given the chance to evolve? They wouldn't have been classics or legends or anything like that. Mulligan's Stew ran for six episodes - stew, indeed - SHIT stew!! The dog one reminds me of that Tom Hanks movie with the disgusting dog in it - I don't want to look it up, and as with 90% of things now, I don't remember the name of it.

I couldn't remember: Minions; Pikachu; and Pusheen. I got the first syllable of Minions, but it came out Minchkins. It's awful.

(Oh. Six episodes of Mulliganw's Stew were made. They didn't say how many were shown. I used to relish the unsold pilots that were inexplicably aired back then. I mean - why? Most of them were appalling, but then there's the failed pilot for Star Trek that was retooled, recast and became another TV touchstone. The same thing happened with Mr. Ed. The horse was the same, but not Wilbur.)


Half of the television schedule, scrapped. By May 15, 1978, a whopping 45 of 96 shows had made the canceled list — and more cancelations were on the horizon. The casualties were reported in a syndicated news story that proclaimed, "TV's Worst Season Slowly Nearing an End." The TV listings were littered with sitcom corpses and dud dramas. Even celebrity vehicles like The Betty White Show, The Ted Knight Show and The Richard Pryor Show failed at the start.

ABC was sitting pretty with the top three shows on television — Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days and Three's Company — neatly bunched together on a blockbuster Tuesday night. With Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Soap, ABC could also claim some of the hottest new series. CHiPs and The Incredible Hulk clicked for CBS. But elsewhere, the debuts fizzled at an alarming rate.

Looking over the list of premieres from the 1977-78 season, it's a real Who's Who of "Huh?" Here are 13 unlucky busts. Did you watch any of them?


NBC quickly called a mulligan on this shank, the lowest rated new show of the season. Lawrence Pressman, perhaps best known as the boss doctor on Doogie Howser, M.D., played the patriarch of a very Eight Is Enough–ish family. Just six episodes were produced.

Image: CBS Television Distribution


Jack Webb was a TV giant, bringing pioneering realism to police and rescue procedurals like Dragnet, Adam-12 and Emergency! However, the K-9 unit would prove to be his Achilles heel. Mark Harmon, who had also featured in the backdoor pilot for an Emergency! spin-off titled "905-Wild," starred alongside a cute Labrador retriever named Sam. Six episodes were produced, the last of which contained the final screen appearance of Vivian Vance.

Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution / markharmonfanwiki


Not long ago, we asked, "Do you remember the show San Pedro Beach Bums?" You answered with a resounding, "No." We can't blame you. The SoCal "bums" were an assorted handful of Sweathog-like characters — the tough guys, the ladies' man, the dweeb, etc. They were named Stuf, Dancer, Moose, Buddy and Boychick.

Top image: ABC / sitcomsonline


With Quark, Buck Henry looked to do to Star Trek and Star Wars what Get Smart did to the spy genre. (Mel Brooks would have far more success with Spaceballs.) The madcap adventures of a space garbageman, the sitcom featured sexy twins, a plant man, a disembodied head and a transgender engineer.

Image: Columbia Pictures Television


It's just like Sanford and Son! But without Sanford. And the son. Both Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson were nowhere to be found, as an old Army buddy of Fred Sanford takes over the property and runs a boarding house.

Image: Sony Pictures Television


It's hunky Patrick Duffy! As (not technically) Aquaman. Actually, the undersea hero was closer to Namor, the Marvel legend. Marvel published seven issues of a Man from Atlantis comic, which almost matched the 13 episodes aired. Duffy did have a nice butterfly kick, though.

Image: Warner Bros. Television Distribution


The educational computer game The Oregon Trail began to become a familiar school presence in 1974. What most children of the era will remember about the game is the familiar fate of "You have died of dysentery." That could explain why just six episodes of this Western aired on NBC. Or it could be because audiences had fallen out of love with Westerns.

Image: NBC / Universal Television


Further evidence that the era of the television Western had ended was this CBS flop, which only managed to air a meager four episodes. Rugged Renaissance man and karate black belt Rick Moses played the titular pioneer.

Image: 20th Century Fox Television


Imagine Dallas set on a tropical island. Perhaps people were expecting more Hawaii Five-O.

Image: MGM Worldwide Television


Patrick McGoohan was famously known as the Prisoner, but he truly felt trapped in this medical drama. "A disaster ... the most miserable job I've ever done in my life ... a total frustration from start to finish," the actor later reflected.

Image: CBS Television Distribution


The spin-off from the 1976 sci-fi film roped in D. C. Fontana and other vetern Star Trekwriters, yet schedule changes lost any potential audience. The show's failure forced the Mego toy company to cancel plans for Logan's Run action figures.

Image: MGM Television


Operation Petticoat was a hit comedy film in 1959 for Tony Curtis and Cary Grant, andPetticoat Junction was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1960s. However, this was 1977, and the market was not hungry for more petticoats nor WWII humor. John Astin headlined, adding more nostalgic flair, while Tony's daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, offered a blood link to the original.

Image: ABC


Beverly Archer, who would go on to play neighbor Iola Boylen on Mama's Family, starred in this sitcom about a working couple. Other TV vets such as Tom Poston and Joan Van Ark could not compensate for plots like "Stuart tries to become a professional magician."

Image: MTM Enterprises / CBS

OK, I'll tell you

NOTE. This was my first experience with embedding a Vimeo, and because it's ginormous, the right-hand side of the frame is cut off. But when you watch it, it's as if nothing is cut off. This is quite interesting, a recreation of Nietzsche's Writing Ball (and if I EVER have to spell out his name again, I will be writhing more than writing).