Mr. TV: Stale Stuffing

Time sure flies, doesn’t it?  It seems like only yesterday I was compiling the ’07 TV  list of the 10 worst shows on television—past and present—just in time for Thanksgiving. As always, there are several new entries this season, plus some classic gobblers, that are just begging to be included in Mr. TV’s annual compendium of TV Turkeys.      

Let’s begin with Do Not Disturb, a “comedy” Fox thankfully put out of its misery after three episodes this fall. If you thought ABC’s Carpoolers with former Crossing Jordan star Jerry O’Connell was bad last season, it looked like an Emmy winner compared to this bomb with O’Connell as an egotistical general manager of a hotel run by Niecy Nash (of Reno 911 fame). The only thing missing from Nash’s sassy character lines was a reprisal of Jimmie “J.J.” Walker’s signature ’70s “Dy-No-Mite!” You have to wonder why Fox would green light a series with a character so severely stereotyped.  

Also on Fox (moving to 7 p.m. Sunday) is a non-scripted reality/competition called Hole in the Wall. This little dollop of stale stuffing pits two teams of contestants trying to contort themselves though odd shapes in a moving wall. Apparently, Hole in the Wall is a big hit in Japan. Their programming tastes are very different than ours!

Since I don’t want Fox to think I am picking on them, let’s move to ABC and Opportunity Knocks, a hyperactive game show where gushing host JD Roth came knocking at a family’s front door in “Anywhere, America,” compelling  them to compete in their own backyards. Roth then proceeded to pepper the family with questions about their lives to see how much they knew about each other as obnoxious neighbors cheered them on. Had Opportunity Knocks not been canceled, I would have warned the nation against answering the front door until it was. Talk about a domestic terrorist!

MyNetworkTV is on a ratings roll thanks to the arrival of Friday Night SmackDown from The CW. But Flavor Flav sitcom Under One Roof, with the rapper as a former convict who moves in with his wealthy conservative brother’s family, makes the show it rips off, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, look like Shakespeare.

Another so-called current comedy on our list is NBC’s Kath & Kim, the migraine-inducing remake of the Australian hit about a selfish mother (Molly Shannon) whose life is turned upside when her equally annoying grown daughter (Selma Blair) moves back in. Since the recipe for success for any sitcom is having at least one character you can relate to, Kath & Kim will go down as one of the most mean-spirited comedies in the history of television.

Speaking of really bad sitcoms (put child services on speed dial), there was a short-lived ’07 comedy on Fox called The Winner about a 34-year-old man who becomes best buds with, gulp, a 13-year-old! The Wonder Years this wasn’t! Also pushing the “show-me-on-the-doll” envelope was a ’02 comedy on CBS called Bram and Alice, with Alfred Molina as a nasty author who discovers that his writing assistant is his daughter. Mixed among the canned laughter was the creepy sexual tension between the two. And this wasn’t even the ’70s!

Proof that some characters should never have their own series was Abe Vigoda who, playing dilapidated detective Phil Fish, worked well in small doses on classic ABC sitcom Barney Miller. While you can’t blame a network for trying, the premise of a 56-year-old man and his whiny wife deciding to become foster parents to five troubled youths in Fish was muddled and tense. While I am normally a sucker for any show with kids, I like my TV kids clean and smart-alecky, not dirty and angry.