We like to rag on television networks for having no originality, particularly after they barf out the latest reality talent show, sitcom spinoff or procedural crime drama. But when they attempt to get creative, the results can be even worse.
Yeah, we're looking at you, The Neighbors.
Sometimes weird ideas for TV shows result in massive hits. A wisecracking alien crash-lands into a suburban home and is adopted by the family? Sounds ridiculous, yet ALF ran for four seasons. A dramedy about an army hospital in the Korean War? Could have been dreadful, yet M*A*S*H is remembered as one of the best shows of all time.
But sometimes these bad ideas bomb, and bomb hard. Despite solid ratings for the pilot episode - driven perhaps by relentless advertising during the Olympics - we'd be surprised if The Neighbors finishes a full season. Someone forgot to tell them a comedy about a neighbourhood of aliens masquerading as humans requires, you know, laughs.
And buzz about CW's Beauty and the Beast, debuting Oct. 11, suggests it might be the worst new show of the season. Or maybe ever. Just because a weird idea worked once (in the late '80s version starring Linda Hamilton) doesn't mean it will work again.
Here's what happens when nobody stands up to a network executive's dud of an idea: terrible shows make in onto TV, then get cancelled before the first season is done. Here are a few classic "what were they thinking?" stinkers.
Supertrain (1979, NBC)
The pitch: "It's The Love Boat... on rails!"
The show: Supertrain was the most expensive TV series ever produced at the time, in part because of the elaborate sets and scale models built of the nuclear-powered, cross-country train. The series bombed and lost a staggering amount of money for NBC.
The result: Went off the rails after nine episodes.
Galactica 1980 (1980)
The pitch: "Nerds are still mad Battlestar Galactica got cancelled. Let's make a new series! Except set it on Earth in the present day so it doesn't cost us as much. And have new characters no one cares about."
The show: The original Galactica wasn't exactly cheese-free, but this thing was absolutely swimming in fish-out-of-water fromage, cringeworthy dialogue and a maddening lack of cool special effects.
The result: Blasted to atoms after 10 episodes.
Life With Lucy (1986)
The pitch: "Lucille Ball is a legend. Sure, she's 75 and hasn't done a TV show in 12 years, but if we give her complete creative control over a sitcom she'll knock it out of the park!"
The show: Life With Lucy was such a critical and ratings disaster that a devastated Ball never again did another TV series or film.
The result: Retired after eight episodes.
Cop Rock (1990)
The pitch: "People love police dramas. And people love music. Let's combine them into one show!"
The show: Hill Street Blues meets Broadway musicals. Or Law & Order: Glee Unit. However you look at it, having people break into song and dance numbers in the middle of an otherwise straightforward police drama was exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.
The result: Arrested after 11 episodes.
The pitch: "People really love those GEICO commercials with the cavemen. Know what would be great? A whole series about them!"
The show: People did love the cavemen... in 30-second commercials. Stretched over a half-hour sitcom, the well-spoken Neanderthals in the modern world were about as funny as petrified dinosaur turds.
The result: Extinct after six episodes.