As we prepare for Thanksgiving feasts, it is time to reflect on turkeys, TV style—the worst of the worst on the small screen. With a veritable feast of mediocrity in 2016, we begin our Top 10 with a returning favorite gone bad and end with a remade favorite that flops on its face. (We welcome you to chime in with your TV turkey picks in our comments section.) Gobble! Gobble! And Happy Thanksgiving!
10. "American Horror Story: Roanoke" (FX)
We get it: producer Ryan Murphy loves blood and gore, so the excessive violence in this latest chapter in anthology "American Horror Story" was not surprising. But what started out as the spine-chilling tale of a troubled couple (Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Sarah Paulson) being terrorized in a haunted colonial farmhouse took a strange turn when we learn the characters are actually actors filming a docuseries called "My Roanoke Nightmare." What originally was presented as a scripted story about a couple tormented by the supernatural is now supposed to be a "real" one. The switch left this viewer feeling like he wasted valuable time investing in a storyline that no longer existed.
9. "Pure Genius"
The genius in the title is Augustus Prew, tech billionaire philanthropist James Bell, founder of Bunker Hill, a state-of-the-art hospital that takes on medicine's most challenging cases at no cost to its patients. Dermot Mulroney is Dr. Walter Wallace, who joins the hospital after being sacked for administering experimental chemotherapy to an eight-year old cancer patient. And, together, this anything-but-dynamic duo tries to buck the system in often predictable storylines. Since Prew's Bell is also suffering from a rare disease that will leave him free of memory within a few years, there might have been a "very special episode" had there been subsequent seasons. Thankfully, though, CBS has announced it will end production after 13 episodes.
8. "American Housewife" (ABC)
OK, I admit it. "American Housewife" is getting better. But when you feature one barfing scene and two glimpses of dear ol' dad sitting on the bowl in the pilot (the second time in front of his precocious young daughter) there is only one place to go, up. The show follows a typical ABC sitcom formula, Katy Mixon ("Mike & Molly") and Deidrich Bader ("The Drew Carey Show") are parents to three kids: the underachiever, the overachiever and an adorable but strange little tyke. This time, however, the setting is snooty Westport, Connecticut where chubby Mama Katie is the third fattest woman in town. So, instead of any character development, the brunt of the cheap jokes focus on Katie's excess weight and how she just does not fit in the world of skinny Westport women. Unfortunately, she is not the only who feels uncomfortable.
7. "Maya & Marty" (NBC)
Hoping to revive interest the variety sketch comedy format, NBC decided the time was right for a primetime show hosted by "Saturday Night Live" alums Maya Rudolph and Martin Short. Maya and Martin didn't overlap during their "SNL" tenure and they didn't appear together all that much in this mish mash of bad sketches and uneventful musical performances, so the pairing made no sense. Not even guest appearances from familiar "SNL" faces—Jimmy Fallon, Larry David, Kate McKinnon and Tina Fey, to name a few—could inject much laughter in this season one oddity.
6. "Telenovela" (NBC)
Set behind the scenes of a goofy telenovela called "Las Leyes De Parion," series star Ana Sofia (Eva Longoria) is in a quandary. She does not speak Spanish, she has a new boss ("Chuck's" Zachary Levi), the former star of the series (Alex Meneses) is intensely jealous, and her despised ex-husband Xavier Castillo (Jencarolos Canela) was recently hired as her co-star. Oh, and did I mention there is also an evil twin and stereotypical gay male best friend? Given the nature of telenovelas, it is no surprise Longoria, who also executive produced, opted to go broad here. But, unlike that other show in primetime using the telenovela format, The CW's "Jane the Virgin," there was no depth to the characters and nothing likable about any of them, Longoria included.
5. "Notorious" (ABC)
Based on real-life criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and "Larry King Live" news producer Wendy Walker, Piper Perabo is Julia, producer for a popular TV newsmagazine, and Daniel Sunjata is Jake, an oily attorney. She will do everything it takes to create the perfect stories for her viewers. And he will go to any lengths to make his clients look good in court. Of course, these two will eventually go "all the away" as the sexual tension rises. But since ABC wisely trimmed the season from 13 to 10 episodes, and "Scandal" returns to the time slot on Jan. 19, we thankfully will be spared that romantic moment.
4. "The Great Indoors" (CBS)
Considering how badly CBS has squandered the lead-in support from "The Big Bang Theory" over the years—remember "$#*! Dad Says," "The Millers" and, more recently, "The Odd Couple?"—this year, CBS was hoping an explorer named Jack ("Community's" Joel McHale) who finds himself employed for a website publisher would generate more interest. His staff is a group of millennials, nerds included, a concept the network obviously presumed would be a good fit following Sheldon and Leonard and company. But what makes "The Big Bang Theory" click are the characters we have come to know and truly like over the years. And what makes "The Great Indoors" must-flee TV are the tired and predictable millennial versus Generation X clichés. There is absolutely nothing funny here. And, unfortunately for CBS, the ratings for the show reflect it, faring no better than past attempts to follow "Big Bang" with another comedic hit.
3. "Feed the Beast" (AMC)
Based on the Danish drama "Bankerot," "Feed the Beast" is focused on two friends, one a recovering alcoholic (David Schwimmer as Tommy) and other fresh out of prison (Jim Sturgess as Dion), who decide to pursue their dream of opening an eatery in their home town of the Bronx. Downing in a sea of troubled waters, Tommy is still mourning the death of his wife a year after she was killed in a hit-and-run car accident that was witnessed by his young son, who has been silent ever since. Dion is free but in debt to the Polish mafia. Oh, and he is also battling a cocaine addiction. Too complicated and too grim, what was missing from this menu was a cast of characters we actually cared about and situations that were interesting.
2. "Rob & Chyna" (E!)
Unlike his more famous sisters, Rob Kardashian does have a legitimate entry on his resume, the runner-up spot on the 13th edition of "Dancing with the Stars." This time, news that he and Blac Chyna were expecting their first child resulted in this new docuseries on E! We have pushy "Momager" Kris Jenner to thank for that. With plenty of guest appearances by the Kardashian clan, the focus was on Rob feeling inadequate, Rob walking out of the relationship, Chyna not knowing who the real father was, and other scripted doings, reality style. Now parents to baby daughter Dream, this latest entry in the Kardashian library is the typical Kardashian rubbish headlined by the least interesting member of the clan. My suggestion to Rob: put back on those dancing shoes!
1. "Fuller House" (Netflix)
A spinoff of the 80s ABC sitcom "Full House," the revival puts oldest daughter D.J. (Candice Cameron Bure) center stage. With a full-time job and three small boys, D.J. Tanner-Fuller is now the family member without a spouse in need of parental assistance. Like Papa Danny (Bob Saget) in the original, who gets some help from a "Full House," D.J.'s friends and family come to the rescue: her single sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and her smarmy best buddy Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), who is divorced with a comically smart-mouth teenage daughter of her own.
With generic jokes, life lessons and warm-and-fuzzy moments aplenty, not to mention the ongoing guest appearances by Saget, John Stamos (Uncle Jesse), Dave Coulier (Joey), Lori Loughlin (Rebecca) and Scott Weinger (Steve), this "Fuller House" is the same TV crack addiction the parent series was. Only this time those grown-up Olsen twins have wisely jumped ship. How rude!