As part of its 50th anniversary, TV Guide compiled two lists. One was the top 50 best shows of all time. The other was the top 50 worst shows of all time. The Van Gogh-Goghs noticed that left a lot of shows unaccounted for.
We are here to present to you the 50 most averagest shows of all time. These shows are not bad and they aren't good. They're of no real merit whatsoever.
Remember these shows? Of course you don't. No one does. These shows served one purpose in your life: passing time. You watched these shows because it was too hard to sleep, you didn't have the strength to hold a book, to generate noise, no one else was home, or beacuse they came on between two shows that were actually good.
To make our list, a show couldn't have been so good that any one of us could actually remember a complete episode. If any of us could answer the question, "Hey, what was the best 'Equalizer' ever?" the show was off the list.
The Top 10 Most Average:
- Trapper John, MD (1979-1986) The promise of a cool reunion kept us glued to this M*A*S*H spin-off. We waited and waited for Hawkeye, Major Burns, or at least Colonel Flagg to show up for a prostate exam, but we got nothing. While "After M*A*S*H" relied TOO heavily on its M*A*S*H connections and hence, was bad, "Trapper John, MD" minimized them into nothing and turned out the blandest of the bland. It is quite appropriate that our most averagest show ever is a spinoff, with Pernell Roberts being the THIRD and blandest actor to play the role of Trapper John (after Elliot Gould and Wayne Rogers).
...calling Dr. Average...
- Benson (1979-1986) This long-running sitcom about a butler/chief-of-staff/lieutenant governor had the best chance of climbing out of this list. But even sharing a name with a Van Gogh-Gogh wasn't enough to make us forget how easily the mind wandered during episodes. Fun fact: Fellow 50 least-memorable show "Growing Pains" also featured a Gold sister!
- Tic-Tac-Dough (1978-1986) How do you make tic-tac-toe interesting? Well, that's impossible. But at least host Wink Martindale showed the world how we could love a low-res dragon graphic.
- Hunter (1984-1991) Second only to "Webster" in the category of "Shows featuring a former pro football player that you'd watch when nothing better was on." First in the category of "Shows featuring a former pro football player that you'd watch, but still keep flipping to make sure that nothing better was on."
- Good Morning America (1975-present) Placement on this list is meant in no way to malign Good Morning America, which certainly fills its role as the background noise and images to accompany your bleary weekday morning awakening ritual. It's your first taste of human speech and appearances to prep you for a full day of human contact. But beyond that, who gives a rat's rectum about it? Precious few. The greatest factor in the show's mediocrity is it seems to be a tepid knockoff of NBC's Today show-- a fact best illustrated by the two shows' movie reviewers:
Today had the shockingly cartoonish Gene Shalit. Good Morning America has a similar, but far more lackluster mustachio'd reviewer, Joel Siegel. Siegel, like the whole of the show itself, feels like a cheaper, less inspired knockoff of an original. Granted, I'm not sure if Gene Shalit is something you'd like to see first thing in the morning, but there it is.
The show's only break from mediocrity was during the 1970s and 1980s when David Hartman was host, because he was as close to a live-action Bullwinkle as the world may ever achieve.
- Empty Nest (1988-1995) The name never seems to trigger people's memory. But if you say "it's the show that Joe Isuzu was on," you may actually get people to remember it.
- Profiler (1996-2000) So generic you barely notice there were TWO different profilers during the course of the series -- a blonde one and a red haired one. They could have saved the money spent on the second actress and just hired a voice over artist to rerecord new audio over the old episodes. No one would have ever known.
- Step By Step (1991-1998) Friday night television at it's averagest. The whole series is a Patrick Duffy/Suzanne Somers blur. Not the two's finest work (Dallas, Three's Company); not their worst (Man from Atlantis, She's the Sheriff).
- Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988) While in school in Boston, I remember watching this show to spot inconsistencies. Like the time when he barked into an archaic portable phone that he was in Western Mass. while the camera tried its best to hide the Charlestown monument clearly visible in the background. Errors I remember. Plots? Not a one.
- Nash Bridges (1996-2001) Don Johnson's investments must have soured after "Miami Vice." Giving him a regular paycheck is the only reason we could think of for why this San Fran cop drama lasted as long as it did.
The Rest of the Average:
- Coach (1988-1997) Remember when you were watching college football with your dad, and some coach was yelling and screaming, and you turned to your dad and said, "I bet you $20 someone could make a really funny sitcom about guys like that?" You owe your dad $20.
- Becker (1998-present) Jeeziz, does anyone watch this? What the hell's it about anyway? Sam Malone is a doctor here, right? With a new hairpiece and a stethoscope? Is that it? I only really know about this show because the studio they shoot it in is right near a place that has really good gyros. And there's a big "Becker" billboard outside the studio, which is visible from inside the restaurant by looking out the window directly above the poster with the blonde woman eating a gyro that says something about how they taste better when they're pronounced "yee-ros." You know the poster I'm talking about, probably much better than this daringly nondescript show.
They put the 'non' in 'nondescript'
- Wiseguy (1987-1990) Maybe this one wasn't mediocre. Maybe it was just badly plotted, but watching this mob show, it was always so easy to disengage from the plot and think how you really needed to do those dishes.
- Lou Grant (1977-1982) Researchers at Pasadena City College discovered Lou Grant lasted five seasons because viewers failed to notice they weren't actually watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- Televised Games of the Milwaukee Bucks (1968-present) - Okay, the Lew Alcindor years were fairly entertaining, but taking the package as a whole, the Bucks on TV is roughly comparable to someone flicking your earlobe a couple of times.
- Growing Pains (1985-1992) Family Ties without the nuance.
- Who's the Boss? (1984-1992) This Tony Danza vehicle is about as stock and ordinary a sitcom as one can get. Normally, the phrase "Tony Danza vehicle" signals either a guaranteed mega-hit or a garishly customized Porsche, but in this case neither is accurate. The women in the show are perhaps the only notable part, describing as they do an interesting spectrum of age and appearance: At one end is Mona, the mother of the blond woman who's name escapes me, but who is a main character. Mona is clearly aged, and her alarmingly skull-like face and skeletal frame drives home the point about the transitory nature of beauty and the loss of youth better than countless books on the subject. In the middle is that main character woman, solidly middle-aged and of reasonable attractiveness, certainly nothing to telex home about, but by no means hideous. She is a woman we've seen innumerable times, in innumerable places. And, finally at the other end is a young Eva Savalot, what's her name, um, the Teen Steam videos girl, crap, uh, oh, right, Alyssa Milano. Yes. The full bloom of youth and beauty, and, to a horny 13 year old boy flipping channels, the sole reason to even be aware of this show.
Hey...there was a little boy in the show too?
- Kate and Allie (1984-1989) I think most people who saw this show thought they were watching "Cagney and Lacey," and wondering when all the cop shit starts. I just read a paragraph on an information site about this show and now I know more about it than I ever did. And I still don't care. But, I once saw Jane Curtain in a Blockbuster's in Brentwood, and she seems like a lovely woman. Oh, and my research suggests this show never had any hot mom-on-mom action, either.
I think this picture is from the episode where they dabbled in cannibalism.
- Scarecrow and Mrs. King (1983-1987) Sexy suburban housewife gets entangled in the world of international espionage. Plus, her mom baked cookies! Man, don't spies get all the luck?
- Father Dowling Mysteries (1989-1991) Tom Bosley from "Happy Days" and Ricky Nelson's daughter. People didn't watch this show, they sat and reminisced about the 50's for an hour.
- Boy Meets World (1993-2000) The "boy" grew up in front of us on TV for seven seasons and all we can think to call him is "Fred Savage's little brother."
- Crazy Like a Fox (1984-1986) Dad was a private eye, Son was a lawyer. They righted wrongs, fought injustice, blah blah blah. This show and "Murder She Wrote" comprised the famous CBS Sunday Night Life-Sucking Juggernaut that your grandfathers probably warned you about.
- Hotel (1983-1988) Much like an actual hotel, this show provided a largely ignorable background while you did more interesting things with your time. Apparently based on an Arthur Hailey novel (which must have read like washing machine instructions, based on the show), Hotel was set in an upscale San Fransisco hotel called the "St. Gregory" (wasn't he the patron saint of lavish tedium?) where various guests came and got involved in plots revolving around that main hotel guy with the hair and the fancy duds (James Brolin) and the raven-tressed woman (Connie Selleca) and probably a rose on a piano keyboard and some champagne and other cheesy 'classy' shit like that. It was kind of like a big, boring, immobile "Love Boat" with room service.
- The Pretender (1996-2000) Quantum Leap without the time travel, body swapping, or funny cigar chomping sidekick.
- Major Dad (1989-1993) This seemed to always be on just as I was heading out to go drinking. I blame Gerald McRaney for my inflamed liver.
- Drexell's Class (1991-1992) This show was based around the idea that Dabney Coleman would be playing a mean-spirited asshole. What? Dabney Coleman? An asshole? Poor Dabney Coleman. He ALWAYS played an asshole. That's just what he did. Only this time, he was an asshole teaching a class, and, collectively, America didn't give a crap. This was an early Fox show, and didn't last long, once Fox realized that they could get by easier filming cops kicking the snot out of people and getting drunker and drunker audiences for "Married with Children."
Dabney Coleman, career asshole.
- Love, Sidney (1981-1983) I love Tony Randall. And, according to this show, Tony Randall loved men! I think this was one of the first mainstream shows to deal with a gay main character; but, apparently, they dealt with it in such a boring way no one remembers anything about it. I do remember that this show had the comically- named Swoosie Kurtz in it, I think. Based on the internet research I skimmed, thy never mentioned anything about Sidney being gay (in hopes older, letter-writing right wingers would just miss it) and the only episode anyone seems to remember is one where Sidney got shot in the face with some spray paint. I think the most important thing about "Love, Sidney" I found while researching was that another show that begins with 'L' is "Lucan," about a 20 year old boy raised by wolves! I bet he fought crime!
I thought they said he was gay!
- My Two Dads (1987-1990) Two men sleep with the same woman. Good so far. She has a kid and doesn't tell either one who the real father is. Okay, there's potential conflict- I'm still hooked. Everyone gets along wonderfully. I've lost interest, but I've also lost the remote and the TV Guide so I'll stick it out and hope they have a flashback scene to the three-way that happened on the magical night of conception.
- The Fall Guy (1981-1986) Stuntmen stomping bad guys not enough for you? Then how about the theme song, "The Unknown Stuntman", sung by Lee Majors himself? We get goosebumps every time we hear it.
- Blossom (1991-1995) Her best friend's name is Six? Meh. She discovered Joey Lawrence? Oh, thanks. Listen, sunshine, you are nothing but a Punky Brewster wannabe. Buzz off, be-OTCH!
- Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982-1983) How did this show come to pass? Our guess is that some executive from ABC, as he was leaving a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" matinee, turned to his wife and said the only thing missing from that movie was a one-eyed dog.
- Evening Shade (1990-1994) Burt Reynolds! Ossie Davis! Why wasn't this better?
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1968-1970) A extremely well tempered ghost hits on the hot young widow with two kids on some of the blandest sets ever created. And aren't ghosts supposed to be ghosts because they either died grisly deaths or have unfinished business? I don't call polite banter with a mother of two "unfinished business." Well, at least he didn't come back as a car.
- Hardcastle & McCormick (1983-1986) Some old guy and some big haired punk fight crime blah blah blah. But then the punk jumps into THE CAR- The Coyote X! The low slung, custom built sports car that can be driven UNDER an 18-wheeler. Most of the show was simply killing time until the appearance of the car. The rest of the show was retired Judge Hardcastle's personal "star chamber" approach to justice, typical of Reagan's America.
- Jake and the Fatman (1987-1992) If you're watching "Jake and the Fatman," and someone asks you what you're watching, the only appropriate response is "television." This show was just pure television-- generic cop show, with an immobile, obese prosecutor and his leg man out running around solving crimes. I think they later moved to Hawaii, in a very TV-type move. Jake and the Fatman. Running around, solving crimes in the big city. Yep. I bet they had a favorite lunch hangout, too. But I don't remember. Oh, and this show was a "Matlock" spin-off, which should give you all the information you need.
Damn, that IS a fat man!
- The Big Valley (1965-1969) Hell, might as well watch it, "Bonanza" isn't on.
- The Equalizer (1985-1989) If they'd gone with what was undoubtedly the pitch ("Think of this an old guy beats up on whippersnappers -- it's "The Sunshine Boys meets the A-Team!") this may have been more memorable. Instead, it's merely the answer to a trivia question (What TV show theme song was written by former Police drummer Stewart Copeland?)
- VEGA$ (1978-1981) What's the difference between a private eye investigating the death of a New York pimp and the death of a Las Vegas pimp? The PI is at odds with the Las Vegas PD and not the NYPD. Clever.
- Voyagers! (1982-1983) Bland hunk Jon-Erik Hexum travels through time with a brass dingus the size of your fist! He fixes history, so events happen the way they do. Uh, I thought that this was the definition of "history." But that's not enough for a show, he must have a smart aleck kid sidekick! Then Hexum accidentally kills himself with a gun loaded with blanks. The end. True story!
- Our House (1986-1988) Wilford Brimley starred in this one. He went on to hawk oatmeal. That just about says it all, doesn't it?
- Knots Landing (1979-1993)
I think the most incredible thing about this "Dallas" spinoff was that it lumbered on and on for fourteen years of frosted hair, rouged cheekbones, and bad writing. Apparently the show was about these neighbors on a cul-de-sac in a little California town, capitalizing on America's craze with no-outlet streets. The neighbors were of the nosy, horny, conniving, often villainous type as portrayed again and again on shows like "Dynasty" and "Melrose Place" and "Falcon Crest" (who only didn't make this list because it once starred former Prince-girl Apollonia). In short, the same crap you've seen before and will see again, only lots, lots more of it, producing what might be the greatest ratio of videotape to lack of interest outside of the restaurant-employee training world.
Hubba, hubba, hubba.
- Private Benjamin (1981-1983) You know, this wouldn't even be on this list if they put more cameras in the showers.
- Mike Hammer (1984-1987) Ah, Stacy Keach. The bad man with the girl's name who ended up in prison for something or other. That's what I remember about "Mike Hammer." The show was a detective show based on the Mickey Spillane novels, which I'm sure are full of that great hard-boiled, grab-the-dame-by-the-wrist-and-pour-yourself-some-whiskey-from-the-bottle-in-the-file cabinet kind of crap that we all know and love. The 1984 TV show just didn't seem to get it. I guess. Not that I can remember anything about this show, which is why it's here in the first place. I think the problem was trying to do a '40s style film noir show that took place in the mid-80s. Sure, they gave Stacy Keach a fedora and surrounded him with blousy babes, but K-Cars and bad guys wearing Walkmen just don't cut it for noir. Perhaps the most 80s thing about this ostensibly 40s-style show was that Keach was busted for cocaine possession in London and everything kind of died from there.
Is it just me, or does he look crosseyed?
- High Rollers (1974-1976, 1978-1980, 1987-1988) A young Alex Trebek hosted this game show, where contestants answered 4th-grade-level trivia and rolled dice. Sounds like a night of rolling craps with Cliff Clavin.
- Hooperman (1987-1989) The most I can remember about this John Ritter vehicle are two scenes: 1) There was once a street shot that looked like it was shot in the same place where Kung Fu Joe got brutalized by police in "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka;" 2) In one episode, the titular Hooperman rinsed his head in a toilet bowl tank.
- Goodnight, Beantown (1983-1984) This pioneering Boston-based show paved the way for such mediocre masterpieces as that show about the redneck who followed his sister to Boston.
- Frank's Place (1987-1988) Tim Reid finally steps out of Simon & Simon's shadow and alas, shows us that he can't carry a show on his own. But he did get to address important racial issues, like blacks lighter than the color of a paper grocery bag who look down blacks DARKER than the color of a grocery bag. Well, I guess the klan laughed.
- The Education of Max Bickford (2001-2002) Take one college professor, make him defeated by the world and utterly broken, multiply that by a factor of misery and contempt, and then give that to Richard Dreyfuss to "act out." The hour-long show usually consisted of a 11-minute plot and 49 minutes of old Pizza Hut commercials.
- Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1992-1997) Guy lives with two women. Wackiness ensues. Or it did on "Three's Company." Maybe the lack of straight guys pretending to be gay made this show so easy to read during.
- The White Shadow (1978-1981) This show, about a white basketball coach at an predominantly African-American high school, actually received some critical acclaim, and probably doesn't deserve to be on this list. It comes down to this being a show about gym. We failed our gym classes. Consider this payback.
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