Every now and then, a sitcom comes along that isn't just forgettable, it's unforgettably bad. We aren't saying we can do better, mind you, we're just saying that it's unbelievable that some comedies progress through multiple stages of development and make it to TV screens while still being irredeemably awful. The latest show to make us shake our heads is The Paul Reiser Show, which is all about Paul Reiser's real life, something that hasn't been very interesting since Mad About You (or even, arguably, My Two Dads). And while there have been bad television shows since the birth of the medium, we're going to focus on the ones that are still freshest (and therefore still painful) in our collective memory. Editor's note: After reading the premise of each of these, insert the words "Hijinks ensue."
10. Accidentally on Purpose
Premise: An older movie critic gets pregnant after a one-night-stand with young slacker.
Tropes: Love triangle, life change, Scottish friend.
Why It Failed: This was Jenna Elfman's second attempt to recapture the magic she bottled in Dharma and Greg, but as she grows less quirky and more crotchety, it gets less believable to watch people fighting for her affection.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 18
9. Worst Week
Premise: A man with awful luck undergoes mishaps while proposing to and marrying his pregnant girlfriend.
Tropes: Shotgun wedding, life change, Kurtwood Smith.
Why It Failed: It might seem like we hate pregnancy, but we mostly hate mishaps and misadventures happening to someone because they're supposed to, and not organically out of that person's actions.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 16
8. Gary Unmarried
Premise: A recently divorced working-class man looks for love and clashes with his ex-wife over their two teenage children.
Tropes: Life change, ex-spouse issues, precocious kid.
Why It Failed: While essentially a male-centric, less funny New Adventures of Old Christine with a dose of How I Met Your New Mother, it was hamstrung by Jay Mohr's lunkhead character, as well as terrible writing.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: A whopping 37.
Premise: A downsized CEO has to move his family to his wife's small-town Virginia home.
Tropes: Fish out of water, wacky in-laws, rich people problems.
Why It Failed: While Kelsey Grammer's character seems to have missed out on the generous severance packages given others of his ilk, it's still hard to sympathize with a former executive, especially one who still acts like a pompous a-hole. At least on Back to You, he was a jerk with a job.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 10 (five unaired)
6. Encore! Encore!
Premise: An injured opera singer moves in with his mother and sister at the family vineyard.
Tropes: Life change, fish out of water, rich people problems.
Why It Failed: Nathan Lane is often too big for the stage, or the movie screen, so to put him on TV is asking for trouble. He's great in guest roles, but spending every week with an opera-singing Lane got old fast.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 13
Premise: Four men with very different home lives become friends through carpooling.
Tropes: Group of friends, not-so-smart kids, sex-obsessed character who is Jerry O'Connell.
Why It Failed: I don't know which was worse: being trapped in a car with these four pre-set character types, especially when they sing along with the radio, or actually stepping out of the car to visit them at their home or office.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 13
Premise: A blonde-bombshell party girl takes a job at book store to reinvent herself.
Tropes: Fish out of water, sexy co-worker, life change.
Why It Failed: Despite the fact that Pamela Anderson was pretty much playing herself, her performance still wasn't good enough to support this lame workplace comedy that telegraphed its jokes about how hot Anderson was and criminally wasted Christopher Lloyd's time.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 19 (five unaired)
3. Romantically Challenged
Premise: A single-mom attorney juggles her career, motherhood and dating.
Tropes: Life change, group of friends, single parent.
Why It Failed: Alyssa Milano is a pretty famous TV face, so it was sad that she was inserted into an incredibly formulaic sitcom about four friends investigating the overexplored territory of one-night-stands, single motherhood and light bondage.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: Six (two unaired)
Premise: Neanderthals living among homo sapiens in the modern day deal with their prejudices and cultural differences.
Tropes: Culture clash, group of friends.
Why It Failed: Just because an idea works in a 30-second Geico commercial doesn't mean that it will work in a 22-minute sitcom. And beyond the makeup effects, there was something even more disturbing about a caveman among modern humans used as a metaphor for racial tension.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: 13 (seven unaired)
1. Do Not Disturb
Premise: The wacky goings-on among the employees at a New York City hotel.
Tropes: Workplace comedy, sex-obsessed character who is Jerry O'Connell.
Why It Failed: Thank God this awful, predictable, usually not funny show got cancelled as quickly as it did. Not only were we spared more episodes about office hook-ups, plus-size modeling and hotel management, but the cast was able to move on to better projects: Jesse Tyler Ferguson went on to join Modern Family, Dave Franco went on to join Scrubs, Niecy Nash went back to reality television and Jerry O'Connell went on to play... yet another sex-obsessed character on yet another show. Our only regret was that it wasn't cancelled before the Audrina Patridge episode.
Number of Episodes Before Cancellation: Five (two unaired)
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