Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Show That Launched a Thousand Turds.

I've received a number of emails from those who feel that My Mother the Car - while bad television - is not even in the running for worst TV show ever. Some of you offered up your own suggestions as on shows you feel take those honors. One such email mentioned the spin-off show, Mrs. Columbo, as perhaps the biggest stinker to ever grace the boob-tube. True, this late-seventies whodunit staring Kate Mulgrew was truly terrible, but for my money, it doesn't rank amongst the truly rank.

But this email mention of Mrs. Columbo got me thinking: what one television show has been responsible for spinning off the most crap? Certainly Happy Days comes to mind. Anything staring Erin Moran is bound to suck. For my money, though, the largest pile of televised crap came from one of the most-popular series ever, M*A*S*H. While for the most part a very good sitcom, M*A*S*H serves as the ultimate proof that once Hollywood has a successful vehicle, you can bet your sweet bippy that they're gonna milk that cow until the teats offer up nothing but air. And then they'll try to sell the air!

All told, M*A*S*H offered up a total of five spin-offs, and with the exception of one (okay, maybe two), they all well and truly bombed. You doubt this assertation? Then read on, friend:

In 1975 Filmation Cartoon Studios wanted to get in on the M*A*S*H franchise, and offered up a Saturday morning kid's show called M*U*S*H. The show was a dog...literally. Cartoon dogs based in an army hospital in the great white north, this show featured characters like "Coldlips", "Colonel Flake", and "Major Sideburns". Ugh. Kids should have never been subjected to this crap.

What could be better than a television sitcom about an Army field hospital in the Korean War? How about a series about Nurses - with breasts - stationed in an Army field hospital in the Korean War! So it was that on January 16, 1978 CBS aired the pilot for The Fighting Nightingales. As if to underscore that viewers would get a lot of T&A with their jokes, studio execs cast Adrienne Barbeau in the lead role of Major Kate Steele! The review in Variety had it right when it wrote, " long yawn."

From 1979 until 1986 CBS ran a show called Trapper John, MD. While based upon the M*A*S*H character of the same name, there wasn't really any overlap. As a matter of fact, it was only in the pilot that another M*A*S*H character (Hawkeye) is mentioned. The show ran for 151 episodes. A lot of people liked this show. I was not one of them.

When it was collectively decided by cast and crew that it was time to pull the plug on M*A*S*H, there were four actors who would not go silently in to that good night. Harry Morgan (Col. Potter), Gary Burghoff (Radar O'Reilly), William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) and Jaime Farr (Max Klinger) decided that there was still gold to be mined in them thar hills, hence the television show, AfterMASH. It ran on CBS from 1983 until 1985. The fact that it ran for 30 episodes is proof that enough viewers believed in fool's gold.

1984 saw yet another troll in the M*A*S*H waters, this time with a pilot vehicle for Gary Burghoff, aka Walter "Radar" O'Reilly. Luckily for us, CBS never picked up the series...but did see fit to broadcast this pilot once as a 'Special Presentation'. Luckier still were those viewers fortunate enough to live on the west coast...where W*A*L*T*E*R was preempted by the Democratic National Convention. I'm sure that viewers their found Walter Mondale a helluva lot more funny than W*A*L*T*E*R.

Talk about a crap fest. Am I missing one? If so, please let me know.

And don't you miss out on!

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