TV shows are a lot like a first date. You can usually tell within the first couple of minutes whether or not things are working. Maybe the date is moving a little slowly. Maybe you felt like you’ve been on this particular date before. Or maybe things get super weird once you realize you’re on a date with Hitler.
Okay, that metaphor got away from us, but the point stands. Here are five shows rightfully canceled after just one episode.
1. Heil Honey I’m Home!
In the early 1990s, the Cold War was cooling down and world’s love affair with ripped jeans was heating up. Amidst all this drama, one writer thought to himself, “You know who always used to make me laugh? Hitler!”
On September 30th, 1990, British television aired the sitcom Heil Honey I’m Home! starring Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun (as characters, not actors). The pilot episode revolved around the couple’s attempt to prevent their neighbors (the Goldensteins) from interrupting a dinner with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. The show was meant to lampoon Britain’s policy of appeasement leading up to World War II as well American television in the 1950s which would “embrace any idea, no matter how stupid.”
Despite best intentions, Heil Honey I’m Home! is considered one of the worst shows of all-time and has been called “the world’s most tasteless situation comedy.” It was canceled after just one episode, but planned future episodes centered on the Hitlers plotting to kill their Jewish neighbors. Jesus Christ.
From David Blaine to Derren Brown, shows about illusionists used to be all the rage (side note: why are so many magicians “DB”s?). In 2015, British hypnotist Peter Powers tried to capitalize on this trend and crafted his own show for Australian television called Mesmerised.
In the pilot, Powers tricked a man into marrying an alpaca, because nothing says family fun like spitting on the laws of Gods and men. The network pulled the show off the air after only one episode.
3. Who’s Your Daddy?
As a baby, TJ Myers was given up for adoption, a process that can be a hard for everyone involved. So it should come as no surprise that one day someone woke up and thought to themselves, “How can I exploit this sensitive subject for ratings?” The answer was Who’s Your Daddy.
The premise was simple. Myers was placed in a room with 25 men, who all claimed to be her biological father. Each week, Myers would eliminate contestants until only one remained. If that man was her dad, then she got $100,000 and a joyous reunion. If not, then the guy would get the cash. So it was basically The Bachelor, but with slightly less emotional manipulation.
Because of protests from adoptive families and adoption rights groups, the show was canceled before even airing an episode. However, the story has a fairy tale ending as Myers was reportedly able to correctly identify her father, earning herself $100,000 and a happily ever after.
4. You’re in the Picture
Hot off the success of The Honeymooners, comedy legend Jackie Gleason attempted to send his career bang, zoom straight to the moon with a game show called You’re in the Picture. The show was essentially “20 Questions,” but with a depressing twist. Whoever won got a CARE package donated to West Berlin in their name.
The show received such negative reviews that it was canceled almost immediately, but the story doesn’t end there. The next week Gleason used the same time slot to personally apologize for the show. He called You’re in the Picture “the biggest bomb in history,” adding that “it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute.” That’s right, You’re in the Picture was so bad Gleason had to call on one of the great atrocities in human history just to apologize.
Ironically the apology actually got better ratings than the show itself, leading to the successful Jackie Gleason Show.
5. Manchester Prep
Hardcore fans know that Cruel Intentions starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Reese Witherspoon was an adaptation of the French novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses (probably a rip off of Les Cousins Dangereux), but did you know that in 1999, FOX ordered a prequel series called Manchester Prep? If you think that sounds like a terrible idea, then congratulations, you’re not a FOX executive.
The show was canceled before it even aired, mainly because the central plot involved teenagers trying to do each other. However, not to let a good show go to waste (or even a bad one for that matter), the show’s creators decided to double down on the teen sex angle. They added a couple of nude scenes and released the material as the straight to DVD Cruel Intentions 2.
Philosopher George Santayana once wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In 2015, Business Insider reported that NBC had ordered their own Cruel Intentions TV series.
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