One-screening wonders


Seven shows that were cancelled after just one episode. Or in the case of one of them, a third of an episode 

Heil Honey I’m Home!
(1990) Back in the early 1990s, this Nazi comedy was commissioned by satellite television channel Galaxy, part of British Satellite Broadcasting. The premise was Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun happily living together in suburbia until Jewish neighbours, the Goldensteins, move in. It was presented s a ‘lost’ sitcom from the 1950s and, stylistically, it spoofed comedies of that era with exaggerated expressions and raucous applause when a character appeared on screen. But whichever way you look at it, Heil Honey I’m Home! was still Hitler complaining about the Jews next door. Seven additional episodes were recorded prior to the pilot’s transmission, but to this day remain unseen. The only ever screened episode is available (at the time of writing) to view on, and even 16 years later it’s still considered one of the most controversial programmes ever to have been screened in the UK. However, Geoff Atkinson, who wrote the series, went on to become a successful comedy writer for political satirist Rory Bremner.

The Will (2005)
After the success of The Bachelor, the producer Mike Fleiss tried to recreate the trick with reality show The Will. The idea was a multi-millionaire from Arizona called Bill Long gathered together 10 of his friends and family, and made them compete in a set of challenges so they could inherit his huge ranch. Amazingly, his sons agreed to take part and compete against old Bill’s friends for the right to inherit what many would see as their birthright. Of course, there was no guarantee that 73- year-old Bill would pass any time soon, but the show itself died a death after just one episode and was pulled – not because of poor taste, but due to very low ratings. The following Saturday, the network replaced it with a re-run of Cold Case. The remaining five episodes were eventually shown in New Zealand while the rest of the world could watch the macabre series on In2TV – a free Internet entertainment service provided by America Online.

Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos (1992)
It was meant to be an adult-themed spin-off of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, but instead of people falling over and cats chasing their own tails, it was full of sexually-explicit content. The station owner and outspoken billionaire Kerry Packer was so offended by the show when it went out he called up the TCN-9 channel and ordered them to ‘get that shit off the air’. The producers were in no position to disagree the big boss. The screen immediately cut to a ‘technical difficulties’ message and then on came old episodes of Cheers to fill the airtime. Back in the studio, the stunned and confused audience were told to go home and the show’s entire staff, including presenter Doug Mulray, were fired on the spot and banned from the network. It was meant to last 90 minutes, it was on screen for a total of 34 minutes, including advertising breaks. That’s what happens when powerful station owners don’t like what’s being shown on the network.

Public Morals (1996)
NYPD Blue was such a success, its creator Steven Bochco had the bright idea of making a sitcom about the NYPD’s vice squad. Filmed in the same way, with single camera shots and occasionally shaky viewpoints it contained partial nudity and swearing. The character of Administrative Assistant John Irvin came over from NYPD Blue leading some people to believe it was a politically incorrect, comedy spin-off, but it received dreadful reviews and never returned. Mostly because they forgot to include any decent jokes and relied on shots of men’s butts instead of a plot. There had been 13 episodes filmed but 12 of them remained unaired in America, although they were shown on ITV in the UK (who’ll frankly show anything) in the post-midnight slot to a largely disinterested audience. Despite it being a huge flop, the director, Andy Ackerman, went on to direct episodes of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Emily’s Reasons Why Not (2006)
It was meant to be Heather Graham’s triumphant lead role in a sitcom for the ABC Network, but turned out to be a big fat turkey. You may have seen it over here on the Paramount Channel and we previewed it back in May, but it was a costly error in the States. ABC and Sony had reportedly spent millions promoting it with adverts on TV and radio as well as billboards across key cities. The rumours are that the network committed itself to the comedy on the basis of the mild success of the book it is based on and the fact it was being portrayed as a clone of Sex And The City, but hadn’t even read a single script. It was so lame, despite six episodes having been filmed that after the first one was aired the entertainment president of the station decided it was poor and unlikely to improve. The axe fell.

South Of Sunset (1993)
People like detectives. People like the country/rock band The Eagles. The Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy film 48 Hours was successful. So why not get Glenn Frey of The Eagles to play a Beverly Hills private eye in a series based on 48 Hours, thought American network CBS. The results told us why not. The premiere had a 6.1 Nielsen rating, which was at that time the lowest autumn debut in major network history and it became the first domestic series to be pulled off the air after one episode in over 20 years. Frey himself was not too surprised. In fact, he told Penthouse magazine, ‘I went to read for the part because I couldn’t wait to meet these people who thought I could do it. This whole thing was morbid curiosity. What kind of loose cannons and desperate people have decided to try me? Acting is not something I’ve pursued. These things just keep falling into my lap.’ Amazingly, producers were prepared to take a chance on Frey’s limited acting skills one more time when he appeared in the film Jerry Maguire. And then again in TV series Nash Bridges a year later.

Turn On (1969)
Generally regarded as one of the biggest TV flops of all time, this 1969 sketch show from the producers of Rowan And Martin’s Laugh In, was described by the creators as ‘visual, comedic, sensory assault involving animation, videotape, stop-action film, electronic distortion, computer graphics – even people’. As that description hints at, it was a strange creation even at the best of times, even by way-out 1969 standards. The main presenter was a disembodied computer voice (which is actually quite ahead of it’s time – Max Headroom would be a hit doing just this 16 years later) but mostly it was just poor jokes in bad taste, or even no jokes at all. Some local stations pulled the show midway through the broadcast and when the sponsors pulled out, it was never screened again. For more on this oddbod piece of TV, this article is worth reading.


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