The annual “Worst of the Year” post is back for the third year!
Each year, there are hundreds of series that debut. Within those hundreds of new series, a few go on to become hits, many fall in the middle of the pack, and some are slammed by critics and viewers alike. I’ve paid attention to all the new shows that have debuted, and selected my picks for the ten worst new broadcast shows, and the ten worst new cable. Without further adieu, my list for the ten worst new broadcast shows of 2014.
10. Hoping to find a new comedy hit, CBS ordered Bad Teacher to series. Based on the mediocre movie starring Cameron Diaz, the show was another CBS attempt at the single-camera comedy genre – and it fell flat. Chicago Sun-Times Lori Rackl described Bad Teacher as “Decent material to mine for laughs in a two-hour movie, but it wears thin on a weekly basis.” The show debuted to a solid 7.8 million viewers for its late-April premiere. By the time episode five rolled around, however, only 4.3 million viewers will still watching. CBS pulled Bad Teacher from the schedule, only to have it return as a summer burnoff on Saturday nights – yikes! Each episode averaged under 1.6 million viewers, and it quietly ended its run in July.
9. Imagine a game/comedic show where two teams of celebrities have to create comedy sketches while completing obstacles. FOX took that imagination and made it reality with Riot, one of the worst shows in television history. As is the case with many shows on these lists, critics were not too kind to Riot: “Riot proves too liberal with its misses”, said Brian Lowry of Variety. To be honest, when the series premiered, I actually thought it was a police procedural (I hadn’t seen any advertisements for the series until it debuted). Viewers were probably hoping for something else too. The premiere of Riot earned a paltry 1.3 million viewers – one of the lowest premieres in network history. FOX would air a total of four episodes before pulling the plug on Riot.
8. One of the worst new dramas of the season (and maybe ever) hailed from ABC and executive producer Sofia Vergara. Killer Women was a series about a female Texas Ranger. The big selling point of the show was that all the crimes were committed by women, yes…really. The Boston Herald compared Killer Women to a “straight-to-DVD action film” while The Hollywood Reporter deemed it “shoot-me-now bad.” Airing in the difficult Tuesday 10 o’clock timeslot, it was no surprise that Killer Women struggled. Less than 4 million viewers tuned into the premiere episode, with viewership slipping in subsequent weeks. After a handful of episodes, ABC pulled Killer Women from the schedule and replaced it with another dud.
7. No network is better at giving us crappy sitcoms than ABC. One of their worst efforts was Mixology, a series that took place in the course of one night at a bar. Each episode followed a handful of characters as they meet for the first time. ABC had high hopes too (why?!) and gave Mixology the lead in of Modern Family…because you know, the series have so much in common. The general consensus on Rotten Tomatoes called Mixology “uninteresting” with a “forgettable cast”. So when Mixology finally debuted, it was no surprise that viewers avoided it like the plague. Only 5 million viewers joined in on the “fun”, with its performance one of the worst in the post-Modern Family timeslot. When episode 13 finally aired, most of the audience had already disappeared. ABC officially cancelled the series in May.
6. Next up on the list is another ABC comedy. Manhattan Love Story followed a new couple and showed us what the two were thinking about each other. In September, I called the premise “one of the most annoying of the season” and critics agreed. The Hollywood Reporter called it “sexist and stupid”, Salt Lake Tribune deemed you would be yelling “shut up!” at the television, and Philadelphia Daily News gave it the title of “one of the more annoying pilots of the season.” A little more than 4.7 million viewers watched the first episode, but ratings quickly dwindled. Three weeks later, a mere 2.6 million viewers were still watching this dreadful comedy. Thankfully, however, ABC saved us from the misery and yanked Manhattan Love Story from the airwaves.
5. Okay, I promise this is the final ABC comedy on the list. In my analysis before the premiere of Selfie, I hailed it as “the most annoying new show of the season” and deemed the entire premise “irritating.” The premise of the show followed a woman who tries to make friends in real life after realizing her online friends may not be enough. Again, critics agreed that the show was not good. Joanne Ostrow of the Denver Post declared Selfie as a show where the “premise wears thin.” Similar to Manhattan Love Story, Selfie struggled to find an audience, despite a solid promotional push by ABC. Kicking off with 5.3 million viewers, Selfie was left on the air for a few weeks longer than Manhattan Love Story, but the ratings were more of the same. Selfie earned the show its cancellation stripes when it averaged a mere 3.2 million viewers later in the month.
4. The CW has been home to some awful reality concepts. None were worse than this summers helping of Famous in 12, brought to us by the people over at TMZ. The goal of the show was easy, use social media to turn an average family into a famous brand (think Kardashians). TMZ pushed the series hard on its website, but viewers didn’t seem to care. The premiere episode logged 610,000 viewers – bad even by CW summer standards. The CW stuck with the show for a few more weeks, and yet ratings continued to slip. When the fifth episode aired, viewership dropped to 470,000 viewers, below repeats of CW programming. The CW agreed with the poor viewership and yanked the experiment a few weeks early. When you’re a summer series on The CW and get cancelled early, you know its bad!
3. With a mere 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, critics have not been too kind to SNL veteran John Mulaney’s first take at a scripted sitcom, Mulaney. Take a look at reviews for the new sitcom, and nearly every critic lashes out at the series for being a blatant (and god awful) ripoff of Seinfeld. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said Mulaney was “Seinfeld-like in design, not results”, and TV Guide called it an “embarrassing misfire.” In fact, Entertainment Weekly chose Mulaney as the fourth worst show of 2014. Despite airing behind still-potent Family Guy, Mulaney could not shake the terrible reviews it had received. The series premiere episode clocked 2.3 million viewers, easily one of the worst premieres of the season for a scripted series (and maybe ever?). For some reason, FOX let Mulaney air in the 930 timeslot for five weeks before shifting it to the 730 timeslot. It would only last a few weeks before moving up to the 7 o’clock half hour. In its new timeslot debut in late December, a minuscule 994,000 viewers showed up to continue watching. At the time of this writing, there are still five episodes left to air, and for whatever reason, FOX is willing to show them.
2. I went back and forth on which show should be declared the worst and which would be second worst. In the end, I decided to flip a coin because both are truly awful. Coming in at number two is FOX dating series I Wanna Marry Harry. In this latest awful FOX series, 12 women competed for “Prince Harry”. Little did the women realize “Harry” was simply an impostor. Simply put, FOX tried to recreate the magic of Joe Millionaire, which aired nearly ten years prior. To the surprise of no one, expect maybe FOX, I Wanna Marry Harry was a train wreck nobody wanted to watch. Premiering behind American Idol, only 1.9 million viewers tuned in – yes, behind American Idol!!! When episode four aired less than a month later, ratings dropped to an abysmal 990,000 viewers (and 0.4 demo). FOX had enough of its Joe Millionaire rehash and pulled the plug. The remaining episodes aired on Fox NOW and Hulu, but I doubt anyone cared enough to watch.
Worst New Broadcast Series in 2012 – Work It
Worst New Broadcast Series in 2013 – Ready for Love
1. If a show like I Wanna Marry Harry was bad enough for second place, which show was so awful it earned the number one spot on my list? The honor for 2014 goes to Utopia, the $50 million reality series production brought to us by FOX (of course). Based on the Dutch version, Utopia placed 15 men and women in isolation as they attempted to build their own society. The contestants were scheduled to remain in isolation for one year. FOX was so high on the series they gave it two hours on their fall 2014 schedule – an hour on Tuesday and another on Friday. Unfortunately for FOX, Big Brother and Survivor had already been doing what Utopia wanted to be for over ten years. In addition, critics and viewers were not interested. Rob Owen, of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, slammed Utopia, saying “FOX executives could have saved substantial production costs and achieved basically the same boring result by filming 14 randy monkeys in a cage containing only 10 bananas.” The two hour debut, airing behind The OT on Sunday night, brought in 4.6 million viewers (2.0 demo). Moving to its regular night just two days later was not kind for Utopia, with only 2.5 million viewers (0.9 demo) watching. Ratings continued to fall, forcing FOX to slim back on Utopia – leaving its sole hour on Friday nights. Returning post-World Series, Utopia would air for only one more episode before FOX cancelled the series nearly nine months early. Sorry FOX, but nobody was asking for Utopia in the first place.