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)
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
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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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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 (October/November)
10/04 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Christmas Special (Colorized)
10/04 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #1 (Colorized)
10/11 - Dr. Ken - Season One
10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Series
10/11 - Nurse Jackie - Seasons One and Two
10/11 - Weeds - Seasons One and Two
11/01 - Schitt's Creek - Seasons One and Two
11/08 - Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season
11/08 - Your Family or Mine - Season One
11/15 - Community - The Complete Series
11/15 - The Lucy Show - The Complete Series
11/15 - The Mindy Project - Season Four
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Friday, December 2
Last Man Standing - "Precious Snowflakes" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mandy chooses local-celebrity Mike as the speaker for her business school’s graduation. After learning that the school requires his speech to be PC and micro-agression free, Mike decides whether or not to play by the rules. Meanwhile, Eve’s friend Cammy (Sarah Gilman) is home from college, bragging about how fantastic her new life has been, leaving Eve feeling slightly fruitless and discouraged.
Dr. Ken - "D.K's New Girlfriend" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When D.K. overhears Allison complain about him overstaying his welcome, he decides to move in with his girlfriend of three weeks. Meanwhile, Pat wants Dave to pretend he’s his adopted son; and Allison is convinced Molly wants to talk about something when she suggests they do a spa day, but the tables turn when Molly is the one doling out the advice.
I Love Lucy - "I Love Lucy Christmas Special" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL features “The Christmas Episode” and the newly colorized “Lucy Gets in Pictures.” Both were colorized with a vintage look, a nod to the 1950s period in which the shows were filmed. The main titles and end credits of the two episodes are seamlessly combined into one set at the beginning and end of the hour, with no interruption between the episodes.
“The Christmas Episode” finds the Ricardos and Mertzes decorating Lucy and Ricky’s Christmas tree and reminiscing about how their lives have changed since the arrival of the Ricardos’ son, Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux). Flashbacks recall the night Lucy tells Ricky she is pregnant, the time Lucy shows up unexpectedly as part of a barbershop quartet and the day Ricky and the Mertzes rehearse taking Lucy to the maternity ward.
“The Christmas Episode” was first broadcast on CBS in December 1956. The episode was not included in the series’ long history of rebroadcasts, first on CBS Daytime and later in syndication. Thought to be lost, CBS rediscovered the episode in 1989.
In the newly colorized “Lucy Gets in Pictures,” Lucy’s lifelong dream of appearing in a motion picture seems to have come true when Ricky arranges for her to play a showgirl in a new musical. Unfortunately, the enormous feathered headdress she is expected to wear as she descends a staircase proves to be too cumbersome. After numerous mishaps on the stairs, the musical’s frustrated director (Lou Krugman) decides to make a change.
“Lucy Gets in Pictures” was originally broadcast Feb. 21, 1955, and was an immediate favorite not only of viewers, but of Lucille Ball herself. She restaged the famous headdress scene, again with Krugman, in the 1962 CBS special, “Opening Night,” and in 1965 in a slightly modified form, this time with actor Danny Thomas, in her second CBS series, “The Lucy Show.”
Liv and Maddie: Cali Style - "Cali Christmas-a-Rooney" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Maddie gets upset that she can't be in Wisconsin for Christmas, so Liv helps cheer her up.
Girl Meets World - "Girl Meets a Christmas Maya" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
As Christmas approaches, Riley gets excited to celebrate her favorite holiday, but for Maya, the holidays only bring back unhappy memories from her childhood.
Bunk'd - "How the Griff Stole Christmas" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The holidays arrive at Camp Kikiwaka with everyone in good spirits -- except for Griff.
Friday, December 2
- Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Watch Chelsea on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- John Goodman (Roseanne/Normal, Ohio) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Andrew Rannells (Girls/The New Normal) - Andrew is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men/The Powers That Be/Bosom Buddies) - Holland chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) - Melissa appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall stops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Scott Patterson (Aliens in America) - Scott is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Kevin Quinn (Bunk'd) - Kevin appears on People Now at 8:30am.
- Miss Piggy (The Muppets) - NBC's Today catches up with Miss Piggy in the 10am hour.
- Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent/Someone Like Me) - Gaby appears on Chelsea on Netflix.