In this time of holiday cheer, we've uncovered a few lumps of TV coal. For this year's final Throwback Thursday, we're looking at promos for five of the most notoriously awful programs to ever air on television. It's relatively easy to pull together a promo for a show that is terrific, but how does a network market a complete disaster?
Any discussion of TV's biggest flops needs to begin with ABC's Cop Rock, the Steven Bochco-produced drama from 1990 that dared to answer the question no one had asked: What if Hill Street Blues had been a musical? Well, here's your answer:"It's a totally new form of television"—that was canceled two months later! (I'll admit, I liked the show more than most, even if it was a discordant mess.) Next up is Manimal, a short-lived NBC action-adventure series from 1983 about a shape-shifting doctor who could turn himself into any animal. The slogan: "Man-O-Man-O Manimal."The promo promised the show would "thrill America"; America asked for a refund. Audiences had the same response three years later, when ABC coaxed Lucille Ball back to TV for her sole sitcom flop (and sadly, final show), Life with Lucy, which lasted only two months. The promo was so desperate to remind audiences of I Love Lucy that it even recycled her old theme song.Speaking of unwelcome TV returns, it's time to revisit Chevy Chase's 1993 late-night talk show, The Chevy Chase Show. The premiere's overwrought promo promised "an unpredictable hour of comedy, music and surprises."Surprise! It was canceled a month later, and Fox hasn't attempted another late-night talk show since. In 2012, these catastrophes were joined by a new entry to TV's Hall of Shame: ABC's midseason sitcom Work It, which tried to make the mythical "mancession" a reality—in the most embarrassing way possible. Three decades after Bosom Buddies, someone (cough, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee) thought a comedy featuring men crossdressing badly was a good idea:As atrocious as that promo is (it's no coincidence the word "desperate" keeps flashing), the actual series—which aired for just two weeks—was far worse.