6. Galactica 1980
After the cancellation of the much-loved original 1979 Battlestar Galactica TV show, fans organised a massive letter-writing campaign to get the show back. Ever heard of the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for"? This campaign bought the show a reprieve of sorts. ABC decided to revive it, but with a much-reduced budget, forcing Glen A. Larson and Donald P. Bellisario (who would later create Quantum Leap) to make some drastic changes. After toying with a time travel aspect they ended up setting the new series 30 years after the original and had the Colonial Fleet discover Earth.
All the original cast were dropped with the exception of Lorne Greene - who instead wore a terrible fake beard presumably in the hope that nobody would recognise him - and Herb Jefferson. Starbuck and Apollo were gone, and gone with them was the space-based drama with Vipers battling Cylons. Instead what we got were cardboard cut-out heroes Dillon and Troy having fun on Earth with their ridiculous invisible flying bikes. And oh, the kids. From the incredibly irritating super-powered kids disguised as scouts who are sent by Galactica to Earth, to the awful child genius Doctor Zee (think the Milky Bar Kid with a calculator), this show had more loathsome kids that any other SF show ever. Fans just wanted the old show back, instead they got Galactica 1980. Even a late guest appearance by Starbuck couldnt save this show. It was cancelled after just ten episodes.
5. Demons (2009)
The BBC proved with Doctor Who's 2005 reboot that the UK was ready for home-grown, engaging and family-friendly fantasy TV. ITV's first real attempt at dethroning the genre king aimed to combine a smorgasbord of genre influences (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Bram Stoker, Merlin, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and more) with a starry cast and a weekly dose of kung-fu tactic stunt work. The actual result, however, typified the mainstream assumption that all you need is an enormous, buzz-erupting marketing campaign and some flashy CGI to keep fantasy fans happy.
Get past the hype and you'd have had to contend with some utterly daft and repeatedly recycled plots, a pantomime tone, some truly woeful character and costume design (the less said about Mackenzie Crooks Mighty Boosh-ish prosthetic snozz, the better), and an array of well-known UK actors suffering from a collective bout of phoneitinitis (Richard Wilson, the aforementioned Crook), and a terminal case of ridonkulous accentius, courtesy of a bizarrely Yankee-afied Philip Glenister. If the Van Helsings really were alive and well in the modern day, we have a feeling it wouldnt just be vampires theyd want to hunt down. ITV executives, you've been warned.
4. Swamp Thing (1990-93)
After a modestly successful movie and a terrible sequel, the decision was made to create a Swamp Thing TV show, presumably because the creature suit was available and some people will watch any old crud. What followed was a camp marathon of bad acting, clichd, disjointed plot lines and lame stories. Episodes were even aired out of order, which caused what little plot there was to make even less sense. The show was created on a minuscule budget and it shows everywhere, from the terrible effects, fake swamp set, to a Swamp Thing suit which seemed so cumbersome that any fast movement or fight scene looked ridiculous.
At least the show didnt try to take itself too seriously, that would have made things even worse. Amazingly enough Swamp Thing has managed to get quite a cult following. This isnt because its so bad its good. Its because its so bad it needs to remembered so that it can never happen again.
3. Krod Mandoon And The Flaming Sword Of Fire (2009)
Its a brave person who names a TV show something so easily nicknamed "crud". In this case, it was not just brave but foolhardy. Pitched as comedy in the vein of Mel Brooks meets The Princess Bride, this short-lived sword and sorcery series highfalutin aims were somewhat scuppered when it emerged that it starred, erm, that bloke off EastEnders and Matt Lucas. The action focused around a rag tag band of freedom fighters, led by the titular Mandoon, and whose sole female recurring character was Aneka, a pagan warrior who used sex as her weapon, in cringeworthy "comedy" fashion.
Whether you'll enjoy the humour can pretty much be predicted by whether you laugh at jokes about masturbation, dogs sniffing their balls and the ruler of the land being called Emperor Xanus (the x is pronounced as a "Z" - say it quickly). Reassuringly most people apparently dont, and the show didn't get picked up for a second series.
2. Crime Traveller (1997)
Undoubtedly, part of Crime Traveller's bad reputation comes from what it's not. In 1997 Doctor Who was recovering from its drunken one-night stand in America. The TV movie had come and gone, leaving a TARDIS-shaped hole in the hearts of British viewers. But putting fan bitterness aside, Crime Traveller is still diabolical. Everything about it screams of British TVs mid-'90s timidity, from the soap opera casting (smarmy ex-EastEnder Michael French and Sue Johnston in full-on shouty matriarch role) to the parochial nature of most of the crimes. Slade is, predictably, a maverick detective who uses unorthodox methods to get results (itd be nice if, for once, there was a series about a detective who uses entirely routine methods to get results) while his companion, scientist Holly, spends most of the series looking alternately hacked off or bored.
Worst of all for science fiction fans, the rules of time travel made no sense - for example, the time machine never travels into the future because, "You cant travel into something that doesnt exist." Despite all this, Crime Traveller did reasonably well for the BBC, with all eight episodes achieving decent ratings. Alas for Jeff Slade, a curly-haired chap by the name of Jonathan Creek was just weeks away from making his debut. The success of that show, combined with the arrival of a new Head Of Drama, and writer Anthony Horowitzs own admission that he found it a tough show to write, meant that the crime traveller travelled no more.
1. Flash Gordon (2007)
When the most recent TV incarnation of Flash Gordon was first announced it was pitched very much as a contemporary version of a much-loved comic in the vein of Smallville, complete with alumni Eric Johnson in the titular role. What we ended up with was a multi-universe Dawsons Creek, with a side order of terrible CGI. The space opera adventures were replaced with budget-friendly dimensional gates which transported characters from a bit of America that looked suspiciously like a Canadian forest to a bit of Mongo that looked suspiciously like a Canadian forest.
The various realms of Mongo - so gloriously weird and wonderful and lurid in the comics and the 1980 film - are here all cheesy outfits, wobbly scenery and ropey green screen. The dialogue and acting was so painful to endure that you at times youd rather pull off your own ears and use them as a blindfold to ensure you didn't have to see or hear anything more. The worst episode concerned a disease which would kill you if you became too happy; sadly the resolution didn't involve the characters discovering that watching an episode of their own show was an antidote that would last a lifetime. Annoyingly, while it started out so bad it was funny, about halfway through the first season it discovered a level of dull-almost-competence that actually made it even more unwatchable. They even ditched the Queen soundtrack. There are no redeeming features here at all. None.