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The Shortest Lived (and worst) TV Shows Ever

Updated on May 15, 2015

Lousy is Putting it Mildly

With recent cancellations of new TV shows and the dearth of speculation as to which shows may have advanced on the proverbial death list, I thought I would put together a list of shows that rank as the absolute shortest in TV history.

They are:

Turn On! was a 1969 sketch comedy show that starred Tim Conway . It aired February 5, 1969 on ABC.Show co-creators Ed Friendly and George Schlatter were producers of NBC’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. The show’s sketches were rife with no sets (only a white backdrop), no laugh tracks, and was filmed instead with no live audience.

While the show officially lasted only one episode, many ABC affiliates reported cutting the show off during the first commercial break so it’s unofficial running time was somewhere between nine and eleven minutes, making it one of the shortest network TV shows ever.

Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos was produced in 1992 on Nine Network . The intent was to present a racy takeoff on Australia’s Funniest Home Videos . The bottom line is that the show was entirely too racy with amateur content. Legend has it that the head of Nine Network at the time, Kerry Packer, tuned in to check out the first episode and was so angered by it that he phone the network to order the immediate removal of the show. It was cut off 34 minutes into its pilot episode, making it, unofficially, the second shortest TV show ever.

You’re in the Picture was a 1961 game show on CBS, hosted by Jackie Gleason. Celebrity guests appeared behind backdrops of various painted characters with the faces cut out. The guests, through bantering with Gleason, had to guess their character identities.

The show was a universal dud and only ran for one episode. Instead of a second episode, Gleason appeared on a bare bones set and made a lengthy apology for the poor quality of the show.

Who’s Whose was a 1951 summer replacement game show for CBS where host Basil Rathbone and his celebrity panel had to guess which contestants were married to each other. I’m snoring as I type this. Rathbone was quoted as saying TV and radio were “merciless mediums.” He obviously learned through experience.

Co-ed Fever was a 1979 sitcom about an all-girls college that decided to admit male students. It was one of three sitcoms that year which hoped to capitalize on the huge success of the movie Animal House.

Co-ed Fever starred Heather Thomas and David Keith .

Emily’s Reasons Why Not was a 2006 ABC sitcom based on a book by the same named. It starred Heather Graham as a young woman with relationship troubles. Ms. Graham’s presence on the big screen did not transfer successfully to the small screen, perhaps because there are (almost never) any nude scenes on network TV. (Dennis Franz got a little cheeky once on NYPD Blue-alas, I digress).

Public Morals was a 1996 CBS one episode sitcom about a vice squad in the New York City Police Department. It was produced by Steven Bocho . Thirteen episodes were produced but the show was poorly received in general, and there was some concern about vulgar language content.

Lawless was a 1997, one episode Fox drama that starred Brian Bosworth as a private investigator. Mark my word: Mr. Bosworth will never, ever appear on Inside the Actors Studio .

Anchorwoman was a 2007 one episode Fox sitcom starring actress-model goddess Lauren Jones . The premise was about the hilarity when a beauty queen became a TV news anchor. I thought pretty people were supposed to be on TV. Thankfully, Ms. Jone has moved on to become a clothing designer, and has put acting in her past.

Heil Honey I’m Home ran for one episode on British network Galaxy TV in 1990. The show was about a fictitious Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who can’t get along with their Jewish neighbors. Few mourned this show’s demise.

For the most part, TV shows have to be likeable and grab an audience quickly in order to survive. The above-listed shows did neither and quickly were relegated to TV infamy. Shows will come and go and these duds were the shortest of the short, and the worst of the worst.

Don't worry, it's short

The Opening of Co-Ed Fever


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    • Thomas J McCabe profile image

      Thomas J McCabe 3 years ago from Hartford, Connecticut

      Very good article.

      Also, I remember My World and Welcome To It.

    • profile image

      Flu-Bird 5 years ago

      MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT with WILLAIM WINDOM a putrid theme song crappy animation and what else.ME AND THE CHIMP it lasted one season GOOD RIDENCE,

    • cwhyel profile image

      Craig Whyel 5 years ago from Charleroi, Pennsylvania

      Yes, I've heard of both. I don't remember much about The Pruitts of South Hampton but I do remember watching My World and Welcome To It as a kid. Sadly, I believe we lost both Phyllis Diller and William Windom this year.

      Thanks for your comment, Flu-Bird.

    • profile image

      Flu-Bird 5 years ago

      Did you ever hear of THE PRUITS of SOUTH HAMSHIRE? with PHILLAS DILLER? It was suppost to be a revese version of THE BEVERY HILLBILLIES didn't work out.ME AND THE CHIMP was pretty awful.MY WORLD AND WELCOM TO IT Putrid theme somh,crappy animation and wasting WILLIAM WINDOM

    • cwhyel profile image

      Craig Whyel 5 years ago from Charleroi, Pennsylvania

    • profile image

      BaliJen 5 years ago

      I hope you can help Robin. I'm trying to track down one of the most short-lived TV commercials in Australian TV history. It was for a very safe government-based investment called Aussie Bonds. Aimed at Greek and Italian new migrants, who spoke little English but were beginning to earn - and save - money and were a new target group. It was a simple concept, relying largely on visuals because they didn't yet speak good English. A large group of smiling Australians stood on a map of Australia, singing "Aussie Bonds! Aussie Bonds! " while making hand gestures which - for an Australian - meant 1. an excellent choice or good work (the fist with thumb sticking up ) and 2. OK or you're ok (the circle made by linking one's thumb and nearest finger).

      Unfortunately, the Greeks and Italians use those signs to mean different and very vulgar expressions to do with intercourse with people and animals.

      It aired on one night only, don't know how many times. I can't remember the year or the station it was aired on. I think the whole thing was the idea of Aussie ad legend, John Singleton.

      I HAVE seen a copy of this on video, a long time ago. I'm hoping you'd be able to help track it down.

    • cwhyel profile image

      Craig Whyel 6 years ago from Charleroi, Pennsylvania

      Thank you. Most appreciated.

    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 6 years ago

      Hi! Great collection.

      I can see you've done a lot of research for this. Keep up the good work!