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The Shortest Lived (and worst) TV Shows Ever
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.
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.
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.
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.