Friday, August 20, 2010

Blog Book Review - Sitcom Bombs: A Guide to the Most Forgettable TV Comedies; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 23, 2010)

Today we have a special book review for fans interested in sitcoms that flopped so badly they lasted for less than six episodes. See my Blog Book Review of Sitcom Bombs: A Guide to the Most Forgettable TV Comedies:

Sitcom Bombs: A Guide to the Most Forgettable TV Comedies

Sitcom Bombs: A Guide to the Most Forgettable TV Comedies (CreateSpace, $12.95) is Rick Irvin's look at over 140 situation comedies that disappeared from TV almost as quickly as they appeared. Before Friends, in what situation comedy flops did Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Perry appear? Which sitcoms were canceled after only a single episode? What sitcom bomb was described by one critic as "Will & Graceless"? Which Oscar-winning actress made her TV series debut in a comedy that lasted just four episodes? The answers to these questions and other fascinating facts are found in Sitcom Bombs: A Guide to the Most Forgettable TV Comedies. From A.E.S. Hudson Street to Zorro and Son, from comedies about a talking dog and a 1300 year-old dragon, to shows featuring a bisexual Abraham Lincoln and a gay congressman, Sitcom Bombs describes sitcoms that lasted for less than six episodes, who created and starred in them, and what became of the actors and creators after their shows were canceled.

The book begins with a brief introduction which defines a sitcom "bomb" and why so many shows fail. They aren't necessarily the worst reviewed by critics. Most are canceled because of low ratings. The process of how a new show is put on the air is detailed. Each show goes through a filtering process and is tested before audiences. Some of the terms used in the book, such as burn-off, hiatus, network, prime time and TV season are described. Sources of the cast, crew and number of episodes of each series are listed. All of the shows detailed in the book actually aired on a broadcast or cable network for at least one episode. Many shows never even make it past the pilot stage. A few have episodes ordered and shot but never make it on air.

Only two sitcoms from the 1950s and 1960s qualified under the criteria of lasting five episodes or less (excluding burn-offs). When the ratings system began, national ratings were released six weeks after airing. Series would typically air for at least thirteen weeks before a decision to cancel or continue was made.

Each of the remaining chapters cover a season from 1974-75 to 2008-09. A Season at a Glance section notes the top-rated sitcom, Emmy winner for best comedy series, new sitcoms lasting more than a full season, new sitcoms lasting more than five episodes but not more than a full season, and new sitcoms lasting five episodes or less for that particular season. The premiere date and network for each failed sitcom profiled is listed. A short summary of each show is provided. The creators, producers, and why the show was canceled are noted. There are many interesting trivia facts provided on the production of the series, as well as some behind-the scenes details. Finally, there are updates on what some of the cast members and crew went on to do after their sitcom failed. Each show gets 5 or more paragraphs.

The series that the book covers include the following:

* 1952-53 - Doc Corkle
* 1966-67 - The Tammy Grimes Show
* 1974-75 - The Texas Wheelers
* 1975-76 - Ivan the Terrible
* 1976-77 - Ball Four, Mr. T and Tina, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, The Kallikaks, A Year at the Top
* 1977-78 - The Sanford Arms, The Harvey Korman Show, A.E.S. Hudson Stret, Another Day, Roller Girls, Free Country
* 1978-79 - Waverly Wonders, In the Beginning, Apple Pie, Co-Ed Fever, Flatbush, 13 Queens Boulevard, Highcliffe Manor, Dorothy, Hanging In
* 1979-80 - Working Stiffs, Struck by Lightning, Me and Maxx, The Six O'Clock Follies, Semi-Tough
* 1980-81 - Checking In, Park Place
* 1981-82 - Maggie, Herbie, the Love Bug, No Soap, Radio
* 1982-83 - Ace Crawford, Private Eye, Baby Makes Five, Zorro and Son
* 1983-84 - It's Not Easy, Shaping Up
* 1984-85 - Dreams, The Lucie Arnaz Show
* 1985-86 - Melba, Fathers and Sons
* 1986-87 - Better Days, Harry, Roxie, Take Five
* 1987-88 - Trial and Error, First Impressions
* 1988-89 - Nearly Departed, Nick & Hillary
* 1989-90 - The People Next Door, Singer and Sons, Molloy
* 1990-91 - You Take the Kids
* 1991-92 - Teech, Princesses, Scorch, On the Air, Arresting Behavior
* 1992-93 - Frannie's Turn, Laurie Hill, Home Free, A League of Their Own, Dudley, Black Tie Affair, Cutters, The Boys, The Building, The Trouble with Larry, Tall Hopes
* 1993-94 - It Had to Be You, 704 Hauser
* 1994-95 - Wild Oats, The Martin Short Show, Daddy's Girls, The Office, Bringing Up Jack, My Wildest Dreams
* 1995-96 - If Not for You, Too Something, Misery Loves Company, Champs, Buddies, Aliens in the Family, Local Heroes, My Guys
* 1996-97 - Party Girl, Lush Life, Common Law, Love & Marriage, Public Morals, Pauly (a.k.a. The Pauly Shore Show), Life....& Stuff
* 1997-98 - The Tony Danza Show, Built to Last, Over the Top, Ask Harriet, Style & Substance, House Rules, That's Life, You're the One
* 1998-99 - Costello, The Brian Benben Show, The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, Everyting's Relative, Katie Joplin
* 1999-2000 - The Mike O'Malley Show, Work with Me, Love & Money, Brutally Normal, Grapevine, Battery Park, Talk to Me, M.Y.O.B.
* 2000-01 - Tucker, The Trouble with Normal, Some of My Best Friends, Go Fish
* 2001-02 - Danny, Bob Patterson, Imagine That, As If, The Random Years, My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central), Beware of Dog
* 2002-03 - Bram & Alice, On the Spot, Regular Joe, The Pitts, Lost at Home, The O'Keefes, Charlie Lawrence
* 2003-04 - Luis, Coupling, The Stones, Come to Papa
* 2004-05 - Life on a Stick
* 2005-06 - Kitchen Confidential, Emily's Reasons Why Not, Crumbs
* 2006-07 - Happy Hour, Twenty Good Years
* 2007-08 - Welcome to the Captain, The Return of Jezebel James
* 2008-09 - Do Not Disturb, In the Motherhood

Appendix A lists sitcom bombs by network and by the quarter in which they premiered. It's interesting to see that CBS has had the most flops with 57. An amazing 19 of those aired on Wednesdays between 8:00 and 9:00 PM. Appendix B lists sitcom bombs by time slot category. They are listed in categories by back-to-back failures, lead-in bombs, bottom-of-the-hour bombs, tryout bombs, and burn-offs. Everything in the book is carefully sourced, with a complete bibliography in the back of the book. All sitcoms bombs are conveniently listed alphabetically in the Index section. The only thing missing that would have been nice to have would be an index by actor, creator or producer.

There have been many books chronicling some of the best TV sitcoms in history, but books on some lost and forgotten or just plain terrible sitcoms are a recent trend. You've likely seen at least a few of the more than 140 sitcoms that are profiled in this book. Many of these shows were easily missed on the schedules and gone within a few weeks. I probably have only seen episodes of about 20 of them. Some have occasionally shown up on TV Land or on Bravo's Brilliant but Canceled series. Some of my favorite sitcom bombs are Working Stiffs with Jim Belushi and Michael Keaton, Crumbs with Fred Savage, Jane Curtain and William Devane, and Kitchen Confidential with Bradley Cooper, John Francis Daley, Jaime King, Bonnie Sommerville, John Cho and others. Crumbs and Kitchen Confidential deserved to have longer runs. They were never really given a fair chance due to unrealistic ratings expectations or poor scheduling.

Fans of short-lived sitcoms from the 1970s through the 2008-09 season will be sure to enjoy this book. It makes for some interesting reading and will be one that you will want to add to your TV reference library. The book is well researched, organized in a convenient style, and provides some interesting insight why these series were canceled. There are many interesting production and behind-the-scenes trivia facts provided, although there are no photos included. For all of the sitcom hits producers like Norman Lear, Gary David Goldberg and Chuck Lorre have had, it's interesting to read they've had their share of sitcom bombs. Another interesting trend to see from reading this book is all the trouble that CBS has had with sitcoms on Wednesdays nights at 8-9PM. I think CBS has finally wised up after all these years and has scheduled sitcoms on Thursdays this season.

What are your all-time favorite or least favorite sitcom bombs? Discuss on message board.

Reviewed by Todd
(4/5 stars)

To purchase this book, click below and help support

It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars (but we won't cover movie stars like Tom Hanks or John Travolta, since they won't be talking about their past sitcoms likely), so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
For the week of August 23-27, 2010, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! So get your DVR's (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

Monday, August 23, 2010
  • Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?/Married with Children) - Catch the gorgeous Christina on a July 27 repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live at 12:06am on ABC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Nick on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC!
  • Ted Danson (Cheers/Becker) - Catch Ted on a repeat from Last September of The Ellen Degeneres Show, so check your local listings for time and channel.
  • Betty White (The Golden Girls/Hot in Cleveland) - Watch Betty on a repeat from February of The Bonnie Hunt Show, so check your local listings. Free Elka!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Catch Steve on a repeat of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:35am on NBC.
  • Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) - Watch Selena on a repeat of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:35am on NBC.
  • Todd Bridges (Diff'rent Strokes) - Todd shares the revelations that contributed to his fall from stardom on this repeat from April of The Oprah Winfrey Show, so check your local listings for time and channel.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
  • Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?/Married with Children) - The lovely and pregnant Christina appears on the Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Catch Steve on a July 8 repeat of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Catch Sofia on repeats of Jimmy Kimmel Live on CBS at 12:06am and The Rachael Ray Show (check your local listings).
  • George Lopez (George Lopez) - Watch funnyman George on a repeat of The View on ABC at 11am.
  • Michael J. Fox (Family Ties/Spin City) - Catch Michael on a repeat of LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your local listings for showtime!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
  • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Watch Bryan on this repeat of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:35am on CBS.
  • Connie Britton (Spin City) - Catch Connie on a repeat of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC at 12:35am.
  • Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?/Married with Children) - Christina will be everywhere this week. Watch her on a new Lopez Tonight at 11pm on TBS.
  • Tina Fey (Family Ties/Spin City) - Catch the funny lady Tina on a repeat of LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your local listings for showtime!
  • Mark Ruffalo (Cougar Town) - Watch Mark on a repeat from March of The Bonnie Hunt Show, so check your local listings.
Friday, August 27, 2010
  • Terry Crews (Are We There Yet?) - Catch Terry on this repeat of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:35am on CBS.
  • Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Watch Larry on a repeat of LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your local listings for showtime!
  • Ashton Kutcher (That '70s Show) - Catch the king of Twitter Ashton on a repeat of LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your local listings for showtime!
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days) - Watch Henry on a July repeat of The Wendy Williams, so check your local listings for showtime!

Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this Friday feature! We do listen!

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, October 21

Last Man Standing - "Trick or Treat" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It’s Halloween and the Baxter family is excited for their annual party, except for Mike who’s reluctantly tasked with choosing the theme. In hopes of turning everyone against the holiday, Mike decides that maybe if the whole family has to dress up like each other they’ll end up making fun of one another. Eve dresses up like Mandy and Mandy dresses down like Eve, Kristin and Ryan swap roles, and Mike shows up to the party as… Donald Trump!? The impersonating turns into bickering but in the end, the Baxters come together to support Vanessa as she learns that she’s being laid off.

Dr. Ken - "D.K.'s Korean Ghost Story" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
On Halloween, Allison is disappointed the holiday doesn’t seem to scare Dave anymore, meaning her little boy is growing up, perhaps too fast. But that might change after D.K. tells a scary Korean gwishin (ghost) story. The Park family, as well as the gang at Welltopia, bring the story to life playing the various gwishins.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Jack" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Marcus deals with the loss of one of his former teammates.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 17)

Friday, October 21

  • Matthew Perry (The Odd Couple/Go On/Mr. Sunshine) - Watch Matthew on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Joey/Friends) - Matt is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah talks about Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1:15pm.
  • Lindsay Sloane (The Odd Couple/The Stones/Mr. Rhodes) - Lindsay visits Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) and Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Tom and Ron will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian talks about King Cobra on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Netflix's Good Girls Revolt on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Jennifer Grey (Red Oaks/It's Like, You Know...) - Jennifer joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) and Jason Biggs (Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Thomas and Jason are guests on Chelsea on Netflix.
  • Marisa Tomei (A Different World) - Marisa appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Paul Reiser (Red Oaks/Mad About You/The Paul Reiser Show) - Paul is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.