Whilst it’s all too common for a network to milk a successful show to death, commissioning new series long after it should’ve been put to bed when a show looks like a complete failure, those at the top often have no hesitation about pulling the plug. Here are five prime examples of TV shows that got axed after the first episode:
It seems a miracle that Turn-On ever got to the production stage, let alone an airing in a prime time slot on ABC. The comedic sketch show pushed the boundaries of its genre in all most every way. Visually, it was extremely stark, with no sets being used aside from a white backdrop. It also used disorientating, rapid cuts between scenes, some of which featured stop animation or computer graphics.
In terms of audio, it made strange and distinctive use of a Moog synthesizer and completely lacked any laugh track, further highlighting the awkward nature of the humor, which centered around off-kilter one-line puns, with contentious issues such as homosexuality and birth control featuring prominently (this was in 1969).
A second show was never aired, but most affiliated networks had already stopped showing it during its first slot, cutting to alternate programming after the first ad break.
The Will (2005)
Tastelessness is not the exclusive preserve of scripted shows pushing the boundaries of mainstream taste. Indeed, if you simply conjure up the right scenario, all you have to do is point the camera in their direction, and even the most regular of people can start producing appalling behavior.
This seems to have been the thinking behind the reality/game show The Will, in which the family members and friends of a freshly departed, very wealthy man were to compete to be named the beneficiary of his will.
Luckily, the public proved to have more taste than the producers and, due to low ratings, the show was axed after the first episode.
Heil Honey I’m Home (1990)
The irony is something the British are renowned for doing well, but, in the case of Heil Honey I’m Home, they went overboard and then some.
The show was written and presented in a style designed to parody the cheesiness of American sitcoms from the 50s and ’60s. At the same time, it sought to lampoon Nazism by detailing the domestic difficulties faced by fictionalized versions of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, and their Jewish neighbors.
Though eight episodes were planned, only the pilot ever saw the light of day, and, other than its initial airing, it’s never been shown on TV again.
Who’s Your Daddy? (2005)
Who’s Your Daddy really begs the question; do the people who conceive these shows live anywhere in the vague vicinity of the world inhabited by the rest of us? If so, how do they end up with such twisted moral machinery?
The program had a single amoeba-simple, yet incredibly galling concept; the adopted woman would attempt to pick out their biological fathers from a line of impostors. As a form of entertainment. One episode was one too many.
You’re In the Picture (1961)
You’re In the Picture was a foray by the multi-talented comedian/musician/actor, Jackie Gleason, into the world of the game show presenting. Unfortunately, the show’s format was bizarrely convoluted (contestants climbed into a frame, forming part of a picture, and then asked yes/no questions to try and ascertain what scene they were in) leading it to be panned by critics.
Though the show retained its slot, the concept was immediately dropped. The following week Gleason used the airtime to broadcast a comedic, yet sincere apology for the farce that had preceded the week before. The apology was much better received than the show itself.
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