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Cancelled after one episode -- a look back at very short-lived television shows

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 7, 2015 05:02pm | Post a Comment

CRT Graveyard

While there have been at least six or seven quality television programs, the telecommunication device has for seventy years or so more often been derided for the lack of quality programming. Whereas US forces regularly play awful music to tortured captives, no one with even the tiniest remaining shred of humanity would force even the worst villain to watch Access Hollywood or Extra so how bad, then, must a show be to be cancelled after a single episode?



Of course, television is valued by network executives less for its artistic quality than its ability to sell advertising space, which is why we have Big Brother. What then would result in the plug being pulled after just once episode? Let's have a look.

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FUN AND FORTUNE (6 June, 1949)

Fun and Fortune was a game show hosted for its only episode by Jack Lescoulie. The object of the show was for contestants to identify a mystery item concealed by a curtain after being given four clues. It certainly sounds no better or worse than most game shows that came before. Perhaps ABC execs, then in their second year of television broadcasting, were merely hoping that something better would come along in its wake. 


WHO'S WHOSE (25 June, 1951)

CBS had been around since 1927 and were, as such, veterans of mindless entertainment by the time of Who's Whose, in which celebrity panelists attempted to correctly pair the three married male contestants with their three female counterparts. It was aired as a replacement for The Goldbergs, which CBS had cancelled after the series' creator, Gertrude Berg, refused to fire actor Philip Loeb after he was blacklisted. The Goldbergs, which had debuted on NBC in 1929, returned to their old home whereas Who's Whose was never to return. 


YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE (20 January, 1961)


You're in the Picture was game show hosted by Jackie Gleason who, after a disastrous first episode, returned a week later in the same time slot to apologize. He then proceeded to revive The Jackie Gleason Show in its place.


TURN-ON (5 February, 1969)



Turn-On was ABC's attempt at cashing in on the popularity of NBC's program, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
Apparently it Turn-On was too much, and at least one network switched programming after the first commercial break and whereas others in later time zones didn't air it at all. ABC dropped it after the first episode. 


THE MELTING POT (June 11, 1975)

The Goon Show's Spike Milligan wrote and starred as Mr. Van Gogh, a Pakistani immigrant living illegally in London. Spike Milligan had earlier been involved in a series with a similar premise, Curry & Chips, which had aired in 1996. However, after the first episode of The Melting Pot aired on BBC1, the remaining five were unaired. 


CO-ED FEVER (4 February, 1979) 



Co-Ed Fever was CBS's attempt to ride on the coattails of National Lampoon's Animal House, which had played in cinemas the previous year. They weren't alone, ABC had Delta House and NBC Brothers and Sisters, neither of which are fondly remembered but both of which lasted more than an episode. Five episodes of Co-Ed Fever were filmed but only the debut aired in the US. Audiences in Vancouver weren't as lucky, and they were all broadcast on BCTV.



HEIL HONEY I'M HOME!  (30 September, 1990) 


In 1990, Galaxy aired a Heil Honey I'm Home!, a spoof of classic American sitcoms depicting Adolf Hitler and Evan Braun living next door to a Jewish couple. Although it sounds a bit like something Trey Parker and Matt Stone would've made (or Mel Brooks), it didn't do well with viewers.


SOUTH OF SUNSET (27 October, 1993)


Glenn Frey of soft rock band The Eagles starred as an insufferable private dick in this series, which only lasted one episodes (although the remaining five that had been filmed later aired on VH1). 


PUBLIC MORALS (30 October, 1996)



Producer Steven Bochco worked on hits like Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D., and NYPD Blue. He also is remembered for Cop Rock. Less-remembered and shorter lived than even that flop cop musical was Public Morals. Thirteen episodes were filmed, one aired (in markets where affiliates didn't refuse to broadcast it).

LAWLESS (22 March, 1997)


FOX got into the cancelled-after-one-episode game with Lawless, in which American football player Brian Bosworth played a private investigator. Bosworth had, six years earlier, memorably played a cop who played by his own rules in Stone Cold.

KENNY AND THE CHIMP (4 September, 1998)


Kenny and the Chimp
(also known as Chimp -N- Pox) was an animated Hanna-Barbera series created by Tom Warburton. Production was cancelled after the the airing of the first episode, "Diseasy Does It."



DOT COMEDY (8 December, 2000)


ABC entered the information age -- or at least attempted to -- with Dot Comedy, a horribly-named series of funny stuff culled from the internet and hosted by the Sklar Brothers. It proved so unfunny that it was cancelled after a single episode and yet eight years later basically spawned the career of Daniel Tosh

COMEDIANS UNLEASHED (8 October, 2002)

Animal Planet attempted to unleash an animal-themed stand-up comedy show, Comedians Unleashed, hosted by Richard Jeni in 2002. The first episode starred comedian Rick D'Elia and his wooly soul patch. The series was euthanized almost immediately after it was born. 


WHO'S YOUR DADDY? (3 January, 2005)


Fox debuted Who's Your Daddy?, a reality show in which an adopted woman tries to find her father. After adoption rights groups protested it was actually cancelled before the first episode aired, which was then broadcast as a special rather than a series premiere. 


THE WILL (8 January, 2005)

Less than a week after the cancellation of Fox's Who's Your Daddy?, CBS's even tackier series, The Will, followed the hijinks involved involved in participants attempting to be named the beneficiary of a will. Although dead on arrival and cancelled immediately, it did air in its entirety in New Zealand (and later on Fox Reality Channel). 


EMILY'S REASONS WHY NOT (9 January, 2006)


ABC's Emily's Reasons Why Not, starring Heather Graham as a young woman unlucky in love, was cancelled the day after it aired. The claim was later made that ABC had committed to the show (hoping that it would be Sex & the City-style hit) without the benefit of a pilot being screened to executives. 



KORGOTH OF BARBARIA (3 June, 2006)



Korgoth of Barbaria
was an Adult Swim series parodying post-apocalyptic sword and sandals shows like Thundarr the Barbarian, Blackstar, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Galtar and the Golden Lance. After the pilot episode aired, it was announced that the series had been picked up to debut on 18 June. However, no further episodes followed, evidence suggests partly because of production costs. 


THE RICH LIST (1 November, 2006)


The British producers of Dog Eat Dog and The Weakest Link adapted an ITV series, The Rich List, for the US. The promo advertised it as the "most anticipated game show of the year." Does anyone anticipate game shows? Maybe not. Two days after The Rich List's debut and following low ratings it was cancelled. A version of the series was later revived and adapted as The Money List, but unaired episodes of The Rich List remain unaired.


THE DEBBIE KING SHOW (5 March, 2007)

After hosting Quizmania, Debbie King hosted The Debbie King Show on ITV Play. The debut aired for two-and-a-half hours before it was axed.


QUARTERLIFE (26 February, 2008)


NBC's Quarterlife was an adaptation of a web series about "a group of twenty-something artists who are coming of age in the digital generation" that debuted on MySpace. It was cancelled after its first episode and the remaining five episodes were a month later aired back-to-back on Bravo.


SECRET TALENTS OF THE STARS (8 April, 2008)




Secret Talents of the Stars, as its name suggests, was a CBS reality talent show in which stars like Danny BonaduceMarla MaplesJoshua Morrow, and others attempted to demonstrate their hidden talents. The show, live and previously recorded, required an hour to showcase its secret talents but after one episode, the show was cancelled and to this day most of the participants' talents remain secret.


OSBOURNES RELOADED (31 March, 2009)


Midlands Mumblecore
reality series The Osbournes aired for three seasons. Four years after the end of The Osbournes, Fox unloaded Osbournes Reloaded. It was a departure from the "reality" format that had made Ozzy's family members inescapable "television personalities" but no one was having it and after it's loud, obnoxious, and strangely captivating debut, the remaining five episodes were shelved.



FORD NATION (18 November, 2013)


After Toronto mayor Rob Ford became one of the world's most famous mayors, he and his brother Doug agreed that the next step was to star in a weekly television series. Sadly, the world was deprived of more Ford magic, reportedly because of production costs.


BREAKING BOSTON (March 13, 2014)


Boston
-loving hip house hitmaker Marky Mark produced Breaking Boston, a reality show concerning four women attempting to "break" Boston. The A&E series didn't break a second episode, however, but the rest were aired on Hulu's website.


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Happy Birthday, Johnny Madero, Pier 23

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 24, 2013 05:30pm | Post a Comment
On this date (23 April) back in 1947, the radio drama Johnny Madero, Pier 23 made its debut. It
 was the second detective drama that resulted from the collaboration of Jack Webb and Richard L. Breen


St. Regis Hotel in 1904

Jack Webb was born 2 April, 1920, in
Santa Monica, California, the son of Margaret (née Smith) and Samuel Chester Webb. Samuel split before Jack’s birth and and thus the child was rasied by his mother and maternal grandfather, who lived together in Bunker Hills St. Regis Apartments.


As a child Webb attended school nearby in Filipinotown at Our Lady of Loretto Elementary School. He attended high school at Belmont High, in Westlake. He later studied art at St. John's University, Minnesota. During World War II Webb enlisted in the Army Air Forces. After receiving a hardship discharge, he moved to San Francisco where hefound work as a radio DJ. In February, 1946 at ABC’s local affiliate, KGO, Webb first hosted half-hour comedy, The Jack Webb Show, written by Jim Moser. In March writing changed hands to Richard L. Breen.


Richard "Dick" Breen was born in Chicago. After returning from World War II, during which he served in the Navy, he moved to San Francisco and became roommates with Webb. In August, Webb and Breen debuted their hard-boiled detective creation, Pat Novak… for Hire. Pat Novak… for Hire is one of the great hard boiled radio noirs, most immediately notable for Breen’s over-the-top Chandler-esque writing. The two left the program in over creative differences with KGO’s management. The show continued, less memorably, with Ben Morris in the lead role and Gil Doud -- formerly of The Adventures of Sam Spade -- taking over the writing. 


1947 - The San Francisco of Johnny Madero... and Pat Novak

Relocating to Hollywood, Webb and Breen pursued work with the latter scoring the first big success, penning the screenplay for A Foreign Affair. Webb’s first major gig was in January 1947 as an ensemble performer on Murder and Mr. Malone, starring a pre-Nightbeat Frank Lovejoy. A few months later Webb would again host his own show.



Johnny Madero, Pier 23 debuted in April at MBS, with Breen acting as a writing consultant. JohnnyMadero, like Pat Novak, was a San Francisco boat-renting detective for hire. Where Novak often turned to Jocko Madigan, an alcoholic ex-physician, Madero often consulted a similar character named Dipso. The antagonists of both programs were sadistic SFPD inspectors (Johnny Madero’s was played by the wonderful William Conrad, five years before he starred on Gunsmoke). Novak lived at Pier 19 and Madero at Pier 23. ABC were not happy with the two programs’ perceived similarities and subsequently sued their rival network.


MBS replaced Dipso with Father Leahy, changed the opening theme music, and satisfied, ABC dropped their suit. 26 episodes were ordered of the series and it was a hit -- almost immediately there was discussion of a Johnny Madero film. The series was also controversial. Complaints were made about the violent content and MBS abruptly cancelled the series after airing the twentieth, on 3 September, 1947. No Madero film materialized.

Webb next starred on a similar series, CBS’s Jeff Regan, Investigator. In 1949 he returned to Pat Novak… for Hire where he resumed role of the title character. After completing one season of Novak, he debuted the character with which we would forever after be associated, Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet


Breen and Webb again collaborated in 1951, on Pete Kelly’s Blues, about a jazz musician (Webb was a huge jazz aficionado) in Kansas City, Missouri. The snappy dialogue showed that Breen still had it but Dragnet remained Webb's main vehicle. They again collaborated on Appointment With Danger (1951), a film version of Pete Kelly's Blues (1955, dir. Webb), 24 Hour Alert, and both runs of the Dragnet TV series.


Johnny Madero, Pier 23 -- "Episode No. 9"

Today only two episodes of Johnny Madero, Pier 23 are known to survive. "Episode No. 9" features the great John Garfield. The other episode is "Episode No. 10." 

Credit to the folks at Digital Deli Too for their research, accuracy, and several of the images.

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Happy Birthday, The Life of Riley! - or - What a revoltin' development this is!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 16, 2012 12:22pm | Post a Comment
On this day, in 1944, The Life of Riley premiered on the Blue network (later known as ABC).


The Life of Riley began with an audition taping on July 25, 1943 after its creation by Irving Brecher. Over the course of roughly 320 episodes, it established itself as one of the most enduringly funny sitcoms on Old Time Radio. It's final episode on ABC aired on July 8, 1945. After moving to the NBC radio network, it aired again from August 8, 1945 until its final episode aired on June 29, 1951.

The main character, Chester A. Riley, was played by William Bendix. His wife, Peg, his son, Junior, and his daughter, Babs, were all played by more than one actor. Both his co-worker/neighbor, Gillis, as well as audience favorite, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (the "friendly undertaker") were both played by John Brown. At various times it was sponsored by the American Meat Institute, Teel Dentifrice, Dreft, Prell Shampoo, and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

   

In 1949 it was adapted into a feature film that was co-written by Brecher and Groucho Marx. That same year it also debuted as a television series starring a pre-Honeymooners Jackie Gleason in the title role that ran for 26 episodes (Bendix's contract with RKO prevented him from appearing on NBC TV). It returned in 1953 with Bendix again in the title role and again with Marx as a writer. It proved much more successful and ran for six seasons until 1958, when it was also adapted into a Dell comic book.


The series followed the day-to-day doings of the working class, Irish-American Riley family, nominally headed by the bumbling Chester Riley, who supported his brood by working, like many post-War Southern Californians, at an aircraft plant, in this case as a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft. In reality, Chester Riley was the dimmest bulb in the drawer, and usually misinformed by Gillis. 

As originally developed (as The Flotsam Family), the title role was to have been played by Groucho Marx but the sponsors had difficultly envisioning Marx's brainy, unhinged comedy being reigned in for the much straighter role as the somewhat dense head-of-household. Bendix was cast after Brecher saw his appearance in 1942's McGuerins from Brooklyn and it was renamed. 

If you ask me, the humor, unlike that of a lot of radio sitcoms, still holds up today (the same thing can be said about The Great Gildersleeve). The sitcom formula of the confounded father who barely maintains even a semblance of authority over children can be seen and heard in comedies like The Honeymooners, The Flintstones, All in the Family, Robin Harris's Bebe's Kids routine, Married... with Children, The Bernie Mac Show and The War at Home

You can listen to episodes online by clicking here or check in Amoeba's back room for CDs, which come through used occasionally in the Spoken Word section. 

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Like, Omigod! I Might Actually Enjoy 80s Music...

Posted by Miss Ess, May 15, 2009 06:23pm | Post a Comment
Going on a road trip any time soon? Looking for the perfect soundtrack to capture the giddy spontaneity of the road? May I suggest taking along epic 80s boxset Like, Omigod! The 80s Pop Culture Box as a way to bring the good times?


I'm just starting to get comfortable with being an actual fan of 80s music. (Brad will be proud!) My boyfriend, on the other hand, is well beyond the comfort level with his fandom, and is completely into rehashing every last radio hit from that era. In the past, this would have been met with little more than a blank stare from me; when he put this 7-cd box set collection on in our car, I admit I braced myself for impact, but turns out it was more entertaining and silly, more of a conversation-starter, even, than anything else we could have spent hours listening to in close quarters.

Track after track brought either squeals of recognition and memories, like Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl" and my total fave, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," or was met with a vacant look by me and incredulous gasps by my partner in crime, who couldn't get over the fact that I had never heard "Pac Man Fever" by Buckner & Garcia or "The Look of Love" by ABC. What can I say? My parents sheltered me back in the 80s! While I of course appreciate gems like Prince and The Replacements, I've spent the last few years even further deprogramming myself and very slowly coming to terms with the fact that musically the 80s weren't complete and utter trash. Nostalgia aside, based on the tracks I had never heard before, this box set goes a ways in proving that singles from the 80s work hard and succeed at providing something pop music nowadays is sorely lacking: fun...which is exactly what you need when you are endlessly stuck in a two door car in the middle of nowhere!