10 TV shows that were cancelled after a single airing — or less

The Hasselhoffs (2010)

After the infamous cheeseburger incident and his umpteenth hospitalization for alcohol poisoning, former Knight Rider/Baywatch star David Hasselhoff created this ridiculously scripted “reality” show as a way to give himself Kardashian-style relevance, an image makeover and showbiz careers for his daughters — none of which happened, by the way. After dismal ratings and horrific reviews, A&E cancelled the show immediately after it aired. Technically two episodes aired (back to back) but why split hairs when you’re hasslin’ the Hoff?

 

The Osbournes: Reloaded (2009)

Of the many failed attempts to resurrect the variety-show format (remember Rosie Live or that Nick Lachey/Jessica Simpson crapfest?), The Osbournes: Reloaded was easily the worst. Meant to capitalize on viewer love for the potty-mouthed family after the success of their MTV series, the show was a train-wreck mish-mash that included musical acts, an ongoing skit featuring profanity-spewing kids dressed up like Ozzy and Sharon, and a regular bit in which Ozzy sprayed the audience with foam from a fire hose. The first episode was originally slated to run for an hour, but was cut down to 25 minutes once Fox executives realized how awful it was, and it was never seen again.

 

Quarterlife (2008)

In the midst of the 2007-’08 Writers Guild strike, TV networks were desperately in need of content, and looked in places as far afield as Canada and the Internet. Online series were gaining popularity, and NBC seized on this teen drama from thirtysomething scribes Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick. The eight-minute episodes were edited into TV length, but the show kinda sucked. TV strike-starved viewers weren’t that desperate and NBC yanked its Internet experiment after the first episode received ridiculously low ratings.

 

Secret Talents of the Stars (2008)

Who knew Star Trek‘s George Takei could sing country music? Or that country singer Clint Black was a closet stand-up comic? The bigger question: who cares? The answer: nobody, which is exactly who watched this dopey reality show in which D-list celebrities competed in a talent competition to showcase abilities well outside those that made them famous.

 

Anchorwoman (2007)

This bizarre combination of scripted comedy and so-called reality was neither funny nor real, and viewers chose to avoid the single episode broadcast about former WWE Diva/Price is Right model Lauren Jones trying to become a news anchor at a small Texas TV station.

 

Emily’s Reasons Why Not (2006)

Created by Suburgatory‘s Emily Kapnek, this Sex and the City rip-off starred Heather Graham as a ditzy woman with a crappy love life. I recall being in L.A. when the show was cancelled after its first episode and chuckling over the realization that the numerous billboards promoting Emily throughout the city far outlasted the show itself.

 

Who’s Your Daddy (2005)

A woman who was given up for adoption as a child meets 25 men, one of whom is her birth father. If she can correctly identify him, she wins US$100,000. After the pilot landed in fourth place, Fox threw in the towel — but didn’t officially cancel the show, instead calling the first episode a “special” and declining to air the remaining five episodes.

 

South of Sunset (1993)

Glenn Frey was a hot property in the late ’80s, partly due to being one of The Eagles but also thanks to his well-received acting debut as a drug-smuggling pilot on Miami Vice. In South of Sunset, Frey played a low-rent Los Angeles PI, but the pilot had the misfortune of airing during a spate of California wildfires and was pre-empted throughout most of California for news coverage. Disappointed with the ratings, CBS never aired the remaining five episodes.

 

Turn On (1969)

Cancellation after a single airing is bad enough, but being cancelled in the middle of your debut episode is a whole other level of failure. And that’s exactly what happened with this quirky Laugh In rip-off (created, ironically enough, by Laugh In creator George Schlatter) that coasted on the groovy, psychedelic comedy wave of the late ’60s.  I once interviewed Tim Conway, who was the first — and only — episode’s guest host, and he hilariously recounted how the network, nervous about the show’s edgy content, actually cancelled the show mid-episode after the owner of an affiliate station went on the air to apologize to viewers after the show’s first commercial break instead of airing the rest of the episode.

 

You’re in the Picture (1961)

Sadly, all traces of this quickly aborted game-show atrocity appear to have been eradicated from YouTube, but You’re in the Picture remains one of the weirdest footnotes in television history. Hosted and created by The Honeymooners‘ Jackie Gleason, the game involved various celebrities sticking their heads through one of those gimmick-photo boards, with Gleason giving each person clues as to what scene was being depicted until they finally guessed. It that sounds like a stupid idea for a game show, it was, and the reviews were scathing. The following week, viewers who tuned in were met with Gleason sitting in a bare studio, sipping from a coffee mug (he called it “chock full ‘o booze”) as he apologized hilariously and profusely for the rest of the half hour. “Last week we did a show that laid the biggest bomb —  it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute,” quipped the Great One. “You don’t have to be Alexander Graham Bell to pick up the phone and find out it’s dead.” You’re in the Picture may have been a disaster, but the apology was a huge hit and the ever-resourceful Gleason turned the vacant timeslot into a talk show. The Jackie Gleason Show lasted a few months before it too was cancelled.