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America's Programming Gone Haywire: 15 Television Shows With Flawed Ideas

Updated on November 30, 2019
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Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 15 years.

What is considered a good idea to base a television show on? A simple concept? A character or one particularly thin idea?

It's hard to say, but many networks have tried continuously to create their own original programming in order to keep up with broadcast channels, cable and now streaming services. They're all in the business of the bottom line and that's drawing viewers and keeping them there. A simple concept about a scheme or desire to get something accomplished usually inspired a complicated chain of events that made for great television. Okay, occasionally an idea might sound good at the time, but in the end was a mistake because they didn't think of the fallout for the rest of the show. A prime offender of this would be Hannibal. It had a killer second season that culminated in a shockingly bloody season two finale, but the next (and last) season spent multiple episodes simply trying to recover from the shock of it all. It took a while for it to gain momentum, but the show was too far gone to be saved from the cancellation chopping block.

Overall, television has grown in leaps and bounds than it was decades ago, but it has also made its fair share of mistakes. Here is a list of fifteen television shows that had some level of promise that were often dashed by one idea, timing or simply a revolving door of cast members. Read on to see if your favorite television show is on the list.

The cast of Camelot strike a pose.
The cast of Camelot strike a pose.
Killer Women Poster
Killer Women Poster
The Glades Poster
The Glades Poster

Ended Too Early

Camelot (2011)- When Starz began airing original series, Camelot was among one of the first shows it aired. The first season told the story of Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) and his rise to becoming King of Camelot. His relationship with Merlin (Joseph Fiennes) and his mother Igraine (Claire Forlani) were complicated at best. His half sister Morgan (Eva Green) was full of tension that would carry most of the season. He also had an attraction to the married Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton). The first 10 episodes delivered many promises on a continuing storyline that never was. Starz cancelled it due to it being very expensive to produce and the cast's conflicting schedules. This was before Game of Thrones became popular and where money was no object in high quality television. It's a shame because this show had some huge potential, especially with Green as the show's villainess.

Killer Women (2014)- This Tricia Helfer headlined show premiered in 2014 as a midseason replacement, but unfortunately low ratings caused it to be cancelled earlier than intended. It was panned by critics due to a poor quality premiered that one described as being "a cheap broadcast version of a Quentin Tarantino knock-off." The premise of the show followed former beauty queen Molly (Helfer) turned Texas Ranger who was going through a painful divorce from her estranged abusive husband. Each episode followed Molly's life and her cases that involved women who killed for various reasons. Okay, the premise was a bit generic in Molly's cases, but it was Molly's personal life that was interesting. The show could've fared better on a cable network where they could've gotten away with more. Helfer made for a dynamic lead, but it was a shame that the show couldn't keep up. ABC cancelled it after two episodes and aired the remaining ones to burn them off.

The Glades (2010-2013)- For four seasons on this A&E show, Matt Passmore played the ever so charming and sarcastic Detective Jim Longworth who moved from Chicago to Florida after getting shot by his captain in the butt. He thought that Jim was having an affair with his wife, which he wasn't. Jim settles into Palm Glade and provides his own unique brand of crime solving to each of his cases. While there, he starts a tentative romance with Kiele Sanchez's Callie Cargill who was married to a man currently in prison. Callie was raising her teenager son Jeff (Uriah Shelton) as basically a single mother while working as a nurse and going to medical school to be a doctor. As the series progressed to a fourth season, the show progressed up the long awaited wedding of Jim and Callie. The finale ended up with a mystery when Jim gets shot and is left for dead. Unfortunately, A&E decided not to renew the show for a fifth season for some unknown reason. If the show was meant to continue, the mystery of who shot Jim would've been the focus of the next season. Sadly, viewers will never know who shot Jim Longworth.

True Detective Poster
True Detective Poster
Revenge Poster
Revenge Poster
Intelligence Poster
Intelligence Poster
Super Fun Night Poster
Super Fun Night Poster
Game of Thrones Poster
Game of Thrones Poster

Ideas That Never Got off the Ground

True Detective (2014-present)- When it comes to gold standards, season one of this HBO series was considered the best. That acclaimed first season followed Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as they struggled to solve one complicated case. The acting and writing was top notch. As for season two, the leads (Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch) played three cops working together to stop a crime wave. Unfortunately, this time around the storylines and the dialogue was so convoluted that viewers were left scratching their heads. Due to the mixed response for season two, season thee didn't come about until earlier this year with Mahershala Ali playing the lead detective and drawing viewers into the mystery. Rumors of 4th season are likely true, but only time will tell if that's the case.

Revenge (2011-2015)- This television focused on Amanda Clarke's (Emily VanCamp) and her quest for revenge against the Grayson family for destroying the life of her deceased father David. He was falsely accused for bringing about a terrorist attack, which Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) was the true mastermind. The series followed Amanda's four years old quest to destroy Conrad and his wife Victoria (Madeleine Stowe). This show brought back Stowe into the forefront as a complicated villain who had some good and lethal qualities. Unfortunately, towards the end of the series it had one too many twists that were considered believable to viewers. The return of David Clarke (James Tupper) who wasn't deceased after all and him not being so good was a surprise, but it also signified the beginning of the end. When he returned for the 4th season, the show seemed to be rightly going to its logical conclusion where everyone got what was coming to them. A sequel series is currently in the works on ABC with a new character and quest for revenge, but there are rumors that one character from the original show will return.

Intelligence (2014)- This CBS show had potential to last, but it's focus on technology and human behavior made it hard to watch sometimes. Josh Holloway played a man with a computer chip in his brain that allowed him access to any type of technology. The show had potential, but it somewhat overlooked the risks of having access to such highly classified material could be dangerous. That was a costly mistake, which could partially be why it was cancelled just after 13 episodes.

Super Fun Night (2013-2014)- Rebel Wilson became famous for her role as Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect films by this point. Sadly, her comedic talents could've save this generic sitcom format and ABC wisely cancelled the show after one season. It just wasn't funny and stuck too many sitcom tropes that should be long forgotten about. Wilson should either stick with movies or work on a cable network to fully branch out.

Game of Thrones (2011-2019)- Okay, for the most part the show was the good standard of high quality television, but it started to slack off by the start of season eight. Rushed storylines in a severely condensed final season and some rushes to judgment that weren't fully developed (Emilia Clarke's Daenerys becoming a villain springs to mind). Viewers could have bought Clarke's beloved character going evil if the writers managed to bring it up a little earlier than it was. The twist seemed to come out of left field. The Bran the Broken plot also seemed to be a little half baked at best, but it could've worked if they made it a viable option earlier than the conclusion of the final episode.

Single Ladies Poster
Single Ladies Poster
American Horror Story Poster
American Horror Story Poster
Dynasty Poster
Dynasty Poster

Cast Members Leaving/Staying Too Long at the Party

Single Ladies (2011-2015)- The show started with some promise with a two hour movie that led to a full series on VH1 that followed three friends (Stacey Dash, LisaRaye McCoy and Charity Shaye) and their continuing quest for love. Sadly, some behind the scenes drama led to the hasty visit of Dash's Val and replaced her with Denise Vasi's Raquel for two more seasons. VH1 cancelled the show in 2014 and BET picked it up for an abridged fourth season on Centric, which began to pick off the original core cast members one by one in storylines until there was none left. When the show aired its last episode, it looked nothing like what drew viewers in the first place.

Dynasty (2017-present)- This CW reboot show can offer some cringes of a time of shoulder pads and catfights. Sure, the latter was still part of the equation, but there were still some twists involved. The show has only been on the air for three seasons, but the show can't seem to keep a Cristal for more than a season at a time. Cast members have come and gone repeatedly and Nicolette Sheridan's Alexis came and went with especially memorable fanfare. Elizabeth Gillies' Fallon remained the main draw and will hopefully continue to do so as the show progresses on.

American Horror Story (2011-present)- This series had a revolving door of cast members and a stable of returning ones that usually played different characters in different storylines. It had a blazing beginning with the first season and a few misfire seasons since. Jessica Lange had a strong presence in the earlier seasons, but she has since gone and moved onto other Ryan Murphy related projects. It's latest season followed the 1980s slasher movie format very well, which meant that there was still hope that this show will end on a decent note at some point.

The Carrie Diaries Poster
The Carrie Diaries Poster
Ravenswood Poster
Ravenswood Poster
The cast of The Hills: New Beginnings get together.
The cast of The Hills: New Beginnings get together.
The two leads in Beauty & the Beast try to fight their feelings for one another.
The two leads in Beauty & the Beast try to fight their feelings for one another.

Spin-Offs/Updates That Couldn't Get Off the Ground

The Carrie Diaries (2013-2014)- This CW series followed as a prequel that showcased a teenage Carrie Bradshaw's (AnnSophia Robb) lifelong love affair with New York City. The show started with Carrie as she started to figure out who she truly was and wanting to be a writer. The series followed Carrie, her friends and her family as they navigated through the different complications in their lives. It also introduced how she met Samantha (Lindsey Gort) in season two and became good friends. Sadly, the show ended after the second season just as it was truly finding its footing.

Ravenswood (2013-2014)- It was a Pretty Little Liars spin-off that was swiftly cancelled after one season due to low ratings. Viewers likely missed seeing Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and preferred seeing him with Hanna on the flagship show instead of headlining this one. The show's murky mystery didn't help matters much either. Freeform also tried another attempt at a spin-off with Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, but that was also cancelled after one season. That just goes to show that not everything is meant to have a spin-off.

The Hills: New Beginnings (2019-present)- This reality show sequel came about due to the enduring popularity of the original MTV show The Hills. This time around Lauren Conrad and Kristen Cavallari had nothing to do with it. It followed the rest of the cast and a few additions (Brandon Lee and Mischa Barton) as they lived an worked in Los Angeles. It seemed like a grab for the supporting players of the original to gain some more fame and Barton's shot at a comeback. MTV swiftly renewed it for a second season though, because viewers do love to hate Spencer and Heidi. Plain and simple.

Beauty & the Beast (2012-2016)- In a tale as old as time, a star crossed romance began with a cop (Kristin Kreuk) and a beast (Jay Ryan) as they worked together to solve supernatural type crimes. Kreuk and Ryan had believable chemistry, but the premise had been done before repeatedly. Time to work on updating that old as time tale never happened with this show, which was a shame. Sure, it was entertaining to watch, but it was too familiar to stand the test of time.

In the end, not every idea that comes on television can be considered a good one. It might look or sound good in a pitch meeting, but the execution gets muddled during the production process. Cast members begin to not get along and onset drama starts to ruin the chemistry of the show, which partially explains why Shannen Doherty left Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed during the height of their popularity. She was just a star that many had trouble getting along with. In recent years and her cancer battle, Doherty has mellowed and managed to mend some professional fences from her past. She appeared in this year's one season run of BH 90210, which proved that a career resurgence was in the cards for her.

Sometimes, a show can just run its natural course, because nothing lasts forever. That definitely pertains to television shows. When they start to lose their creative spark, it was time to end while the quality level was still relatively high and fans were still wanting more. Crafting the right type of ending was what many popular shows had a problem with (Seinfeld and Dexter to name a few). It's about pleasing the fans and still maintaining the core of what drew them to the show in the first place, which is where many writers tend to stick on the landing. They should look to Breaking Bad for some inspiration (not plagiarism), which maintained its natural course while coming to a satisfying conclusion.

Many stick with a show due to their love and devotion to it by following it as it goes through various time slot changes or network changes. Some ideas are successful, while others aren't so much. That's just the nature of the beast so to speak.


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