One-Season Clunkers

SHOWS THAT DESERVED TO CRASH AND BURN

Not all shows are cancelled unfairly. Here are a few that we were happy to see the back of…

GALACTICA 1980
1980 (duh!)
10 Episodes
Created by: Glen A Larson

It might sound like sacrilege to say out loud but we’re going to say it anyway: the original series of Battlestar Galactica was rubbish. Entertaining rubbish, but rubbish nevertheless. Quite how it was spun off into a 21st century series that became one of the greatest shows in TV history baffles us, but it happened, and we’re grateful. What we’re NOT grateful for is the show that came in between – Galactica 1980, which was spun off from the original Battlestar after ABC decided it couldn’t afford to make a space-set series any longer. Bringing the Galactica to Earth seemed like a good (read: cheap) idea at the time but it really, really wasn’t. It was like taking a western and setting it in a farmyard in Devon.

With barely any of the original cast making it to Earth, nonsensical plots and utterly dreadful FX, Galactica 1980 didn’t so much kick off the ’80s as it limped into them. Truly, galactically awful.

MANIMAL
1983
8 Episodes
Created by: Glen A Larson

Here’s a handy hint for anybody who wants to make a TV series: before you come up with a concept, make sure you will be able to afford to carry it on for more than one episode. Manimal hit upon the stonking idea of casting Simon MacCorkindale (who no doubt Tip-Ex’s the show off his CV to this day) as a crimefighter who can change into animals just by thinking about it – great stuff! Except NBC didn’t give the show any budget to speak of, it was filmed on a schedule that didn’t allow for lengthy FX set-ups and, oh yes, it was 1983 and the FX were terrible.

Never has the sight of a man morphing into a snake been so tedious. BY later episodes morphing was out completely (except in stock footage) and MacCorkindale would change by, say, walking behind a pillar and emerging as a horse.

And as for the plots… What plots?

EARTH 2
1994-95
21 Episodes
Created by: Michael Duggan, Carol Flint, Mark Levin

Even if you’ve never seen this show, chances are you might recall Langly in an episode of The X-Files announcing that he was going to, “hop onto the internet to nitpick the scientific inaccuracies in Earth 2”. Getting a shout-out by a Lone Gunman was probably its finest hour, to be honest, because Earth 2 was really, desperately poor.

It was pretty – shot in the wastelands of New Mexico, it really doesn’t look like any other show before or since – and it had a great premise: a bunch of colonists sent to a new planet crash-land and have to fend for themselves in a brave new world. But it also had whiny characters, repetitive scripts, an absolutely ridiculous guest-star arc from Tim Curry and, worst of all, KIDS. Two of the buggers, with one of them doing something naughty every single week until you just wanted to throttle her for being so dense.

We’d have shot it ourselves after the first two episodes if only we’d had a gun.

YOUNG HERCULES
1998-99
50 Episodes
Created by: Robert Tapert, Andrew Dettman, Daniel Truly

Somehow the star of this prequel to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys went on to be nominated for an Oscar – but that’s the only shining light in this drab series consisting of 50 (yes, 50!) 30-minute episodes. Focusing on, you guessed it, young Hercules (Ryan Gosling) as he hangs around with his buddies and learns to be a hero in ancient Greece, it was preachy and moralistic, aimed solely at kids.

What really made it a waste of time, however, was how unnecessary it was – just one of the many shows spun-off the Hercules formula, from Xena to Cleopatra 2525. The world really didn’t need more slapstick fun filmed in New Zealand, and its death was a mercy killing.

CRIME TRAVELLER
1997
8 Episodes
Created by: Anthony Horowitz

You might have noticed that we’ve focused on American shows for our One Season Wonders list – that’s because the only British show we could think of that shouldn’t have ended after one year was Ultraviolet, and that wasn’t technically cancelled; it ended because the creator wanted to move on. Fair enough.

We don’t want to be left out, though, so we’ve found a show that lasted for one series that we were glad to see the back of. It’s the tale of a time-travelling cop solving crimes using fierce (ahem) logic and clever (cough) plotting. This is what prime-time Saturday night telly used to look like before Doctor Who came back.

So, yes. Crime Traveller. BIG PILE OF PANTS.

Flash Gordon
2007-8
21 Episodes
Developed by: Monkeys (apparently)

A show that had cancellation written through it like a stick of Blackpool rock, Flash Gordon was a show with a "kick me" sign pinned to its backside. A cheap, braindead de-invention of the classic space opera cliffhanger serials, it replaced spaceships with cheaper "stargates", turned Ming the Merciless into Ming the Civil Servant and spent 21 episodes trying to make a water shortage sound exciting. The Hawkmen were blokes in coats that they flapped a bit, Zarkov became the comedy sidekick and Dale had a permanent expression that was somewhere between inflatable sex doll and empty plate. It started off so bad it was funny, but soon just became boringly derivative and offensively slapdash, with special effects that could be sued under the Trades Description act.

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