Saturday, October 25, 2008

25 Cheesiest Syndicated TV Series

I've seen episodes of only two of these. I'd never even heard of most of them.


Anonymous said...

I've heard of around 10, but I'm not sure I actually made it through an entire episode of one.

And I like cheesy.

Benjie said...

Sadly, I must admit to having seen at least one episode of about half of these. Granted I was overseas for the timing of many of them and "syndicated" is the only way to get TV you can understand. Can't admit to being a real fan of any of them--though I have a friend who still doesn't miss "Baywatch" in syndication if he can help it.

Randy Johnson said...

I think I've seen at least one episode of seventeen. A couple I've never heard of myself.
By the way, the Conan was godawful. I made it through two or three episodes before I said WTF and gave up.

Todd Mason said...

I've seen at least one episode of each of these, with the possible exception of was my job, for a while, to ride herd on this kind of programming so that the American Publick's right to accurate listings could be met. However, EW continues to underwhelm...this list manages to miss sad contemporaries to most of these, which effloresced in the years after Paramount's syndicated division really took off (ARSENIO HALL, STAR TREK sequel series, FRIDAY THE 13TH THE SERIES, and the continuing success of ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT) and BAYWATCH, HERC and XENA proved that others could do as well, at least commercially. Indy stations, or eventually those in the early years of Paramount and Time Warner's eventual networks (now collapsed into the CW), loved having something that could challenge the (other) networks that wasn't local sports.

But for cheese, while almost nothing could beat BAYWATCH NIGHTS, the following winners are among my choices:

DR. SIMON LOCKE, later known as POLICE SURGEON (no relation to THE AVENGERS)

DUSTY'S TRAIL, GILLIGAN'S ISLAND done even worse in a WAGON TRAIN context. For those who thought F TROOP a bit too sophisticated.

STRANGE PARADISE, an attempt at DARK SHADOWS ripoff dealing with voodoo and such rather than vampirism.

THE D.R.E.A.M. TEAM, more action-packed models, who in this case report to President Martin Sheen, the same year THE WEST WING debuted. Sheen perhaps the only actor to play two US Presidents simultaneously in weekly serials.

SMALL WONDER, perhaps the worst of the five no-budget sitcoms NBC foisted on its owned-and-operated stations very briefly in the 1980s...only this thing, about a robot girl, and the ever so slightly less dire SHE'S THE SHERIFF survived long enough to be inflicted on much of the populace.

POLTERGEIST: THE LEGACY Companion series to THE OUTER LIMITS revival, and a goofy X-FILES ripoff if not nearly as bad as BAY NIGHTS. Slightly more ridiculous than the more blatantly Canadian X-F ripoff PSI FACTOR. Of course, by being watchable, both POLT and PSI were ahead of most episodes of THE OUTER LIMITS revival...

...and the syndicated version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE revival, which in its turn was a work of genius when compared to the UPN revival recently repeated for no good reason on the Ion network.

POLT had as little to do with the film series as FRIDAY THE 13TH the series did with its namesake, but both were not only better than the film series, not saying much, but better than the utterly dismal FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES, saying nothing at all.

PETER BENCHLEY'S AMAZON was at least as dull as any of the adventure hours on EW's list, and more poorly acted than most.

And there were two versions of CONAN syndicated over two seasons as a single package, one I vaguely remember as German, the other Yank, both indeed, as Randy notes, extra terrible.

FAME, like BAYWATCH a refugee from NBC, was perhaps the most annoying syndie drama in US history. And then it was revived.

The ITC import THE CHAMPIONS was aggressively dumb, which I realized even as a kid, though I enjoyed it... I did the atrociious Japanese cartoon duo of KIMBA and SPEED RACER.

More disappointing was the 1970s Brit horror anthology import THE EVIL TOUCH. Managed to be worse than the US network series GHOST STORY/CIRCLE OF FEAR, which is saying something.

And while the non-animated SUPERBOY, in both iterations in the 1980s, was pretty cheese-encrusted, I had a sneaking affection for the second version.

And, of course, there was DIVORCE COURT, in the 1960s the progenitor of all the damned "true court" shows we're still plagued with...including its unkillable revival...

And all the syndie aggro fests, the worst of which might still be THE RICHARD BEY SHOW, though only THE JENNY JONES SHOW afaik actually got anyone killed, more in the JOE PYNE mode than following the DONAHUE template that really set up their niche.

And then there was THE RICHARD SIMMONS SHOW, which we can all be grateful to have survived.

Unknown said...

Wow, Todd. You deserve a raise for watching those, only a couple of which I've ever heard of (Dusty's Trail, Divorce Court). I never saw any of them.

Brent McKee said...

They seem to be casting a pretty wide net and a pretty broad definition of "Cheesy." I've seen bit of a lot of these shows, full episodes of a few of them, and I was a fan of shows like Hercules, Xena, and Andromeda, and I'm only ashamed to mention being a fan of Andromeda.

Todd Mason said...

Even ANDROMEDA had decent episodes. And Lexa Doig.

I deserve a raise anyway, Bill...and some of that stuff I saw well before my employement, of course...nothing I saw in work-related circumstances quite as painful as FAME or SIMMONS (or as gaspingly unintentionally funny as THE REAL WORLD OF TAMMY FAYE [Bakker]). I note that the commentors on EW's site who aren't simply pushing porn sites mention some other losers, and defend the JACK OF ALL TRADES/CLEOPATRA 2525 duo.

TEKWAR, after all...though I'm also mildly fond of TOTAL RECALL 2070.

Never have seen some of the more minor Ziv TV syndie pioneer drama such as WHIRLYBIRDS, though I have seen a bit of HIGHWAY PATROL and SEA HUNT, their two big hits. And, of course, the campy and straighter episodes of the Reeves SUPERMAN.

Ah, but we mustn't forget, in this context, MR. ED.

Unknown said...

I can almost feel the wrinkles on my brain smoothing out.

Todd Mason said...

Indeed. And work-related de-crenulation is the only excuse I have for forgetting THE STARLOST and UFO, but particularly THE STARLOST, in this context.

(And THE 700 CLUB, it's own evil kettle of fish.)

Benjie said...

Todd is an Iron Man. I don't know whether he could get a raise for watching all that froth, but at least he deserves a medal.

Anonymous said...

I remember Small Wonder. The kids I babysat regularly loved that show so I watched it almost every week.

I can still hear Vicky's voice if I think about it long enough.


Todd Mason said...

If you think watching them might be a pain, try keeping up with their schedules, particularly when more than half of them were all on simultaneously in the late '90s.

As were the two of the worst, BEASTMASTER and MORTAL KOMBAT, not quite bad-funny enough to be entertaining.

And in the who cares dept, it was MyNetworkTV rathe than Ion who reran the UPN TWILIGHT ZONE recently. I'm sure it's cheap. And Martin Sheen in THE D.R.E.A.M. TEAM might just've been the UN Secretary General or some such rather than the US President.

Cap'n Bob said...

Ten, if you define watching as looking at a show for 30 seconds, saying "bleep this bleep," and changing channels.