Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Worst TV Science Fiction Shows

Jerry Taylor over at Geekend loves, it would seem, to start flame wars. He has put together a list of what he suggests are the worst science fiction television shows EVER! Now I will give you the list, refresh your memory and add my comments or not, but I would be interested in what you folks think or if you have better suggestions. Now, no fair just flaming, if your going to say a show rots, back it up and we will talk about it on the next program. NO FLAMES!

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Voyage was broadcast on ABC from September 14, 1964 to March 31, 1968, and was the product of the science fiction schlock master Irwin Allen. The series tells the adventures of the crew of the Seaview, a nuclear powered submarine designed by Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart) and commanded by Captain Lee Crane (David Hedison).

What is truly amazing is that this show was the longest running science fiction series of the 1960’s on American television. And lest we forget, Allen also made those fine science fiction series Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. (Now I watched this as a 10 year old so it was magic to me. I would make almost ANYTHING into a sub and spend long hours cruisin the depths. Was it bad? Looking back...a bit, but the remake? total waste of time)

Manimal

The creation of Glen Larson, this series features our action here Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale), who can turn into animals to fight crime. Usually it is either a hawk or panther with the same exact backdrops every time; but, when he changed into a bull, dolphin and horse, it was off-screen.

Thankfully, this nightmare of cheap special effects only lasted from 30 September to 17 December 1983. Larson was also responsible for those excellent serious serious offenders such as Knight Rider, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the original BattleStar Gallactica and Night Man. (dead on here, I watched this maybe twice and it sucked. Knight Rider I watched a couple of times but that's one more time than the remake as well as Buck and the little robot that looked like a walking dildo, have to disagree on BSG, a bit slocky maybe but the stuff that worked was the stuff that is still working for the remake. Though if they had the present day Cylons back then I probably would have pissed myself. Night Man?! did ANYONE watch that crap?)

Airwolf

Donald Bellisario, told us of the adventures of series protagonist Stringfellow Hawke (Jan Michael Vincent), his crew chief Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine) tooling about in their an advanced supersonic helicopter with stealth capabilities and a formidable arsenal.

Having killed off the interesting arch-villain and all around American utter bastard Dr. Charles Henry Moffet (David Hemmings) in the series opener, it quickly devolved to flying Airwolf around, blowing up stuff and then flying home. One of the best TV series lines of all times is Moffet’s “There’s nothing wrong with a little perversion, Mark,” said to a crew person, “so long as you don’t hurt yourself.”

Bellisario later went on to make Quantum Leap, which more than makes up for this show. (Air Wolf I did watch, not sure why. I think by this time I was getting lazy in my sci-fi watching and the constant buzzing was a good way to phaze out. But the show was stupid and the only thing I wanted to see was the chopper. Quantum Leap, for some reason everyone loved and I never "got" the show. The premise never worked for me. I totally dissed the original run and only watched it later in syndication on Sci-fi. )

Star Trek: Enterprise

The brain child of Brannon Braga and Rick Berman, we follow the adventures Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) depicts the mostly human crew zipping about the galaxy at Warp Factor 5. The crew faces situations which have been encountered numerous times on other Trek series, but are new for them. The producers had the final laugh when it was revealed the last episode, These Are The Voyages… (and possibly the whole series) was a holo desk presentation being watched by Commander Riker and Deanna Troi! Low ratings killed the series after 4 seasons and may well have finally made any potential new Trek show in the future impossible - an ugly, ugly end for the franchise. (Did I ever buy Bakula as a captain of an Enterprise? Not completely, but calling the show a running joke is harsh. I was really regular at watching this program, though once I knew it was canceled I kinda lost heart. I never really picked up on ST-TNG in its first run because of the was it was marketed. The stations in my area didn't pick up on it and the Fox affiliate ran whatever it felt like which meant...you guessed it. No Star Trek. But calling Enterprise one of the worst? ummm nope, not when the greatest American Hero didn't make this list? or Time Tunnel? Or Land of the Giants? There are so many that calling this one bad is just to damn narrow)

Holmes and Yo-Yo

Brought to us in 1976 by ABC, Holmes and Yoyo is the tales of Detective Alexander Holmes (Richard Shull), NYC detective who is constantly getting his partners injured, so the department assigns him Gregory Yoyonivich (John Schuck), a good natured, slightly clumsy sidekick, who just happens to be a robot. The series featured a constant set of jokes about Yo-Yo’s constant malfunctions, inability to fully comprehend humans; while, they treated the depicted crimes seriously. Not to be confused with the John Amos and Ernest Borgnine Future Cop, which managed to earn distinction when Harlan Ellison successfully sued for stealing ideas from his work; this series well earned its place on the list. (ehhh one of the worst? He's right, Future Cop was grade a trash, but this was harmless fun like Hermie on Get Smart. I had trouble for years taking Schuck seriously because of this show. This is like an ehhh...I guess)

Automan

Automan featured police officer and computer expert Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), who had created an artificially intelligent crime fighting program that generated a hologram (Chuck Wagner) able to leave the computer world and enter reality to help fight crime. Automan could turn into all manner of everyday objects such as a Lamborghini Countach, helicopter, 18-wheeler, etc., while surrounded by a nimbus of wonky blue light and totaling violating all known laws of physics. This disaster ran for 13 episodes before being condemned to the dust bin. (ok, yeah, I don't think I watched all 13, I may have but then I don't remember the 18 wheeler so maybe I missed a few. Arnaz actually carried his part off I think. Always amazed geekie, but I also always knew it was a Tron rip. Have you seen it in rerun? That hair! Those clothes! unreal!)

Space 1999

Moonbase Alpha stuck on the moon, which has been blown out of Earth Orbit by an accident with nuclear waste being stored on it. Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau), Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain), Professor Victor Bergman (Barry Morse) and other notables went from pondering deep universal questions to suffer through horrible scripts that were generated with the arrival of Fred Freiberger. (now Space is on this list because of the last season with Freiberger who every sci-fi tv fan knows is the killer of all we hold dear, but the basic show held me. I loved Landau, Bain, and Morse and I let it slide that anything that would blow the moon out of orbit would have plowed it into Earth first and at the very least broken the body into millions of parts. But I waited for that next season that never came. The level of special effect for that program were amazing for the day. Freiberger didn't do it any favors, but the worst? naaaaaaaa)

Logan’s Run

Lasting one season of 14 episodes, rogue Sandman Logan 5 (Gregory Harrison), Runner Jessica 6 (Heather Menzies) and their faithful android companion REM (Donald Moffat) travel towards Sanctuary post-apocalyptic America, while avoiding their dogged pursuer Sandman Francis (Randolph Powell). The series should be applauded for managing to use nearly every sci fi convention in a such a short run; however the beer budget special effects and wooden dialogue (shamefully written by such greats as D.C. Fontana, Harlan Ellison and William F Nolan) nearly outdoes Irwin Allen’s efforts in making truly bad television! (I used to love seeing the big names roll up for this program but this was one show that just never did anything for me. I never bought into the premise. I could never understand the motivation of the hunter, it never made any sense that he would pursue them like the FBI agent in the old Fugitive. The movie had it own really dumb moments - ice robot anyone? - and this show is one I have to agree, pretty bad)

Crusade

the series tells the story of Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole) and the crew of IAS Excalibur’s search for a cure to the Drakh nanoplague that has been released on Earth, after the end of the Shadow War. TNT killed the series after 13 episodes were produced, but before any were aired. Due to the episodic nature of the B5 world, the series is a failure due to the extended time given to character development and unanswered questions. Frankly, after several more bad movies, I hope JMS will just let the B5 universe alone for awhile. (anyone? never saw this. )

Kolchak: The Night Stalker

ABC having made one of the greatest and scariest horror movies ever made for TV, decided to do a series about our intrepid, bumbling, cynical Independent News Service reporter hero Karl Kolchak (Darren McGavin). Between bamboozling his editor Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland) about which story he is actually reporting on, fending off the snide commentary and underhanded attacks of Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage) and dealing with corrupt city officials while trying to get to the real story; he has to deal with all manner of various supernatural predators. (said to be the inspiration to the X Files but based on an unbelievable premise....come on! yeah the movie was better. Umm that's usually the way it works. This show put Darren McGavin on the map as far as I am concerned. Was it science fiction? NO it was a monster show, that being said, I never missed an episode)

Misfits of Science

The series detailed the madcap adventures of a group of super-powered humans. Led by Dr. Billy Hayes (Dean Paul Martin, Dino’s son who tragically died in a National Guard F-4 Phantom fighter jet crash in California’s San Bernardino Mountains during a snowstorm in 1987) and featuring such diverse actors as Courteney Cox (Friends), Kevin Peter Hall (who was the dude in the Predator suit in the first film if ya didn’t know) and Mickey Jones (where he played kick butt take no names Chris Faber in the V miniseries), the series was played for laughs, which were all too few. Ultimately, it was done in by J.R. as it was playing in the same time slot as Dallas. (again: anyone? I never watched it....looked stupid and mostly was I surmise. Didn't know the Predator stuff though. cool. but hell yess, trash)

V: The Series

Kenneth Johnson (who also gave us the The Incredible Hulk) took the interesting premise of his Nazi allegory V and turned it into a weekly soap opera that reads like a mash-up of The Fugitive and Star Trek, without bothering to have any good scripts! Watching Mark Singer and Jane Badler spout bad dialogue fully explains the utter look of disgust on Michael Ironside’s face every time you see him in the background of a scene. (Ditto. For some reason seeing Michael Irosides in this show didn't work for me. I guess maybe you could tie it into the way he trashed his career in the old Battlestar Galactica. I didn't care for him there either. But Nazis? I never got that vibe once! Anyone else? I just thought bad special effects, all the aliens look human. Eat mice and bad vocal track. ehh. I lost interest fast.)

The Starlost

This series about Devon (Keir Dullea) and his adventures on the Ark. Lasting 16 episodes which were broadcast on CTV and syndicated to a few US stations, the plots and acting were so bad that Twentieth Century Fox, executive producer Douglas Trumball, writer Harlan Ellison and Ben Bova, all disavowed the show.

Little seen for years, the series is finally being released on DVD on September 30th, 2008, which you might miss in all the excitement of the Iron Man DVD release. (Never seen this one either, but if someone said Ellison and Bova in the same sentence I would have gone for 1 at least)

Ok, so, lets get a list together of what you thought were rank terrible or why these are or are not.

Oh and you will want to go over to Geenend for the complete article.
I have only put up the highlights

9 comments:

S.M.D. said...

DS9
I know a lot of people liked it, but this show was the most boring Star Trek show ever made...most of the stuff that happened wasn't even scifi. You could have just taken the situation, turned the aliens into different nationalities, and it would have been the same stupid thing. It supposedly got interesting later when there were wars and crap, but I'm not willing to watch anything that sucks from the start long enough to see the good stuff...

Heroes
I don't get it. I tried watching the show, and it had its moments, but then it got political, tried to do what X-men had already done only not as well and with heroes that mostly suck...I'm not the only one that thinks the cheerleader is just a lame version of Wolverine...I watched the first half of season one and realized this was more crap TV.

Lost
It's Gilligan's Island, but not funny and impossible to believe. Maybe if this show took place in 1850 I would believe what was going on, but it didn't...and the fat guy never loses weight...bull. There's no way they're feeding him enough and letting him sit around enough to stay that big.

Those are three I'm nominating for crap series.

Paul said...

Oh I have to comment SMD! DS9 I watched but your right...big ole space station that don't go no where. I swear they just threw the Star Trek moniker on it to bring in an audience and lost it just as fast. I feel it was in reaction to Babylon 5's marginal success. Heroes has to be one of those I get it or I don't. I do get it, but not sure I am liking this new season. hummmm. But Lost! Oh yeah, I have only watched it a few times and have NO CLUE! Thanks for three for the crap pile.

Paul said...

OK How about
Mork and Mindy anything past the first 5 or so shows. Second season? The big egg and bigger head? Jesus shoot me!

Land of the Giants I watched it but why was every giant like someone from east Germany?

The 6 million dollar man. I read the book. TV-Steve was a joke. It got to the point that every time they played the damn de de de de de in slow motion I threw something at the tv. I like Robot chicken's version the 6 million peso man. Now that was so not PC and funny!

The live action Spider Man oh and throw in Wonder Woman for good measure. You KNOW what agrevated me about WW. What a rip! All that jumpin, runnin, punchin and not one jiggle? That kind of thing can do a guy damage! As for Peter Parker, why did he move like a chimp whenever the suit was on? He could have started slapping the ground and flinging chimp shit and it would have worked!

Concat folks said...

Hi

Just a couple of comments

_Space 1999_ was created by Gerry Anderson (who also did _Fireball XL5_, _Thunderbirds_ etc). Now the thing is that originally I understand that Gerry wanted to develop his live-action TV series _UFO_, that ran for two seasons (1970 – '73). This show was quite successful in Britain but expensive. The show's effects were not up to those of _Space 1999_ but more than sufficient considering that UFO's story plots were far more coherent, logical and there was a loose but clear story arc. However some US executives were willing to make the necessary investment to upgrade the series but alas they wanted substantial changes. This included some US leads, complete series premise change, and greater control over screen stories. Result, we lost what might have been a groundbreaking series and got _Space 1999_ instead. It ruined Gerry's cred and we got nothing as good from him since. To make matters worse, his _Thunderbirds_ series was mutilated by Jonathan Frakes' attempt to bring it to the big screen because Frakes wanted to put his own stamp on it; which begs the question why he did not do his own thing instead of ruining a much loved Brit show. Gerry Anderson never regained his former heights.

Check out _UFO_ – Dated yes. Budget limited yes. But well ahead of its time.


_Kolchak: The Night Stalker_
I think you will find that there were two Kolchak films (not just one). One concerned a vampire and the other an immortal who kept his youth by continually re-appearing every few years to commit murders to extract some hormone (or something) from his victims to keep him young.

The thing about the Kolchak series was that we never got to the series' climax. Why was Kolchak the one to be continually stumbling on all these Fortean goings on?


_Crusade_
Am I the only one who liked this series a lot. (Actually I am not as a couple of us on the _Concatenation.org_ team like it too. Yes it never got a chance but not for the reasons you gave. My understanding (from rumour I openly admit) was that JMS and the studio did not get on and that the studio wanted someone else to write the scripts. The story (rumour) goes that JMS therefore dictated screenstories to his secretary so that technically he did not write them. The studio found out and cancelled the series. Anyway, that's the rumour we heard. The series looked like it was becoming a Babylon V version of _Star Trek_.

(Meanwhile we carry TV news in our seasonal newscast on Science & SF Concatenation.)

Best

Beam Me Up said...

Concats: when I posted the story I gave the cred to Jerry Taylor over at Geekend. I thought his original rant would make (and I was right) excellent fodder for continued comments. I mention that because it was Jerry who made the comments for Night Stalker. I had said that I watched the show and was very entertained by it. Science fiction it wasn't though. the whole idea was to hear what people DIDN't like. Everyone has time to tell you their favs but it takes some thoughts to recall the ones that made you want to throw the tv out a window. With everyone doing top 10 this and that, I jumped at a chance to crack that mold. SMD has shown us just how well that worked. He took aim at the darling children of network tv. Good deal, I am lovin it.

Anonymous said...

This was part of a show I don't renember well,just the ladies,Electro Woman & Dynamo Girl,kept my attention. Capes,sand buggy electricity and water.My mind rotted.

Beam Me Up said...

Anon, you got me there...doesn't ring a bell. I did find a show that was close? Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. Wikipedia notes it as a 1976 Sid and Marty Krofft
live action children's television series produced by Sid and Marty Krofft under the umbrella called the Krofft super show. Each episode was 12 minutes and lasted 1 season. The series ws most often though of as a Batman and Robin send-up. Most notably Deidre Hall played Electra Woman. Judy Strangis, Spike Jones' neice played Dyna Girl

anything close to what you remember?

BFilmFan said...

Sorry I missed this conversation. And I only had so much space to list out bad series. I could have went on for ages.

And I still get hate mail about that article. Haha

Beam Me Up said...

BFilmFan
No such thing as too late. Hit me! Oh and you just KNOW Kall will be right here too! Watch out though, he is one of those raving DR. fans....nuff said.