In a year populated with the good, the mediocre, and the just plain atrocious, my annual feast of TV Turkeys is a veritable smorgasbord of bad content. This year the "honorees" include a game show with a creepy undertone, a family drama with good intentions that was never fully developed, a sitcom that truly will make you feel bad, and that guy named Tony who is better fitted in a taxi cab or as a live-in housekeeper.
As always, this latest batch of 10 is listed from the 10th worst to the biggest fiasco. But, don’t fret…the best of the year will be coming in my next column.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Gobble! Gobble!
10. "The Good Cop" (Netflix)
Defined as a police comedy, this male odd couple, both named Tony, featured Tony Danza as a former cop who moves in with his son, played by Josh Groban, as a by the book detective in the NYPD. Naturally, Tony Sr. managed to get tangled up in the younger Tony’s (aka TJ) cases, and what resulted was solving crimes that were as generic as anything you would see on USA ("Monk," in particular) or, at present, on one of the Big 3 broadcasters. Since Netflix is synonymous with creativity, I would leave this type of "comfort food" storytelling to one of the other outlets.
Interesting footnote: This is the fifth time Tony Danza was featured as a character named Tony in a regularly scheduled series. First was comedy "Taxi" from 1978 to 1983, followed by sitcoms "Who’s The Boss?" (1984-92), "Hudson Street" (1999-96) and "The Tony Danza Show" (1997-98).
9. "Megyn Kelly Today" (NBC)
Last year I chastised NBC for hiring the cold and political Megyn Kelly to sit in the warm and fuzzy "Today" show chair. This year, I commend the network for cutting its ties with Kelly after her latest racist remarks. My only regret is it took 14 months to do so. And my future hope is that no other outlet will hire her. While Kelly’s reported $69 million contract buyout sounds pretty darn appealing, I would rather live my life as Joe Ordinary than with a reputation like Kelly’s.
8. "Take Two" (ABC)
In this obvious clone of "Castle," this time with the gender roles reversed, Rachel Bilson was Sam Swift, an actress who loses her fiancé, has a meltdown, and ends up in rehab to avoid jail time. Sixty days sober and in search of a career comeback, she ends up pairing with a hunky private investigator (Eddie Cibrian) to research playing a P.I. in a movie. This sends the pair into a series of cliched and preposterous cases, with an undertone of a sexual chemistry between the two that simply did not exist. There was no heat on "Take Two" this past summer.
7. "American Woman" (Paramount Network)
In this slice of monotonous nostalgia, miscast Alicia Silverstone was featured as an unconventional mother struggling to raise her two daughters amid the feminist movement in 1970s Los Angeles. This single-camera dramedy, based on the childhood of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Kyle Richards, was not funny and unusually tame. And there was not single character, Silverstone as Bonnie Nolan included, we could feel comfortable with or interested in. Note to Ms. Richards: stick to your reality career.
6. "Camping" (HBO)
Deviating from their focus on the millennial generation on "Girls," executive producers Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner have shifted to Gen-Xers confronting various forms of midlife crisis (including David Tennant as a 45-year old named Walt and Jennifer Garner as his obnoxious and controlling wife Kathryn). Considering this was the return of Garner to a regularly scheduled television series (following critically acclaimed "Alias"), the expectations were high. But, minus any solid laughs in an arena with characters simply unappealing (Garner, in particular), avoid "Camping" and stay in a hotel.
Interesting footnote: "Camping" co-star Juliette Lewis was more interesting to watch in her guest role on the series-premiere of ABC’s "The Conners" as a similarly drug-induced character.
5. "Here and Now" (HBO)
Described as a ensemble family drama, the intentions were good behind this short-lived Alan Ball drama, which featured Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter as the parents of four children – one biological and three adopted from Liberia, Vietnam and Columbia. But "Here and Now" felt unwieldly and unfocused, with not enough emphasis on how these diverse individuals interacted living under one roof in these turbulent times. And those characters we did get to know were not necessarily anyone we would want to spend our time with. Thankfully, "Here and Now" came and quickly went.
4. "Child Support" (ABC)
Considering the fountain of accolades Ricky Gervais has received in his career ("The Office," "Extras" and "Derek," to name a few), not to mention Fred Savage on classic sitcom "The Wonder Years," you have to wonder what they are doing on this inane kiddy-populated game show. Savage, as host, asks a series of questions to adult contestants. If wrong, the camera shifts to Gervais in what looks like a creepy conference room asking a group of adorable tots if they know the answer. If a kid gets it right, the adult player stays in the game.
Minus his adult beverage at his former "Golden Globe Awards" hosting gig, Gervais seems wildly out of place on "Child Support," as does host Fred Savage. I mean, does Gervais even like kids?
3. "The Alec Baldwin Show" (ABC)
Here’s an idea. Let’s position the man known for his public brawls, Alec Baldwin, in an hour of one-to-one talk including one conversation, in particular, where perennial fame seeker Kim Kashashian explains why she is now more satisified being a wife and a mother. All together now…Oh puh-leease!!!
2. "Living Biblically" (CBS)
I get it. "The Big Bang Theory" is a huge hit for CBS, so to appease star Johnny Galecki in his production deal with the network along came this painfully unfunny tale of the moral quandaries of a film critic named Chip (Jay R. Ferguson) who decides to follow the Bible’s instructions after his best friend suddenly dies. His pregnant wife Leslie (Lindsey Kraft) – surprise, surprise -- is an atheist and unimpressed with his new direction. And that sets the stage for jokes not even a cranked-up laugh track can snag a chuckle from. Snore!
1. "I Feel Bad" (NBC)
It is bad enough when we first witness frazzled mother and career woman Emet Kamala-Sweetzer (Sarayu Blue) stepping barefoot into vomit in her home after another long day in her office populated with clones from "The Big Bang Theory." But when you name a show "I Feel Bad," this opens the door to people like myself writing how bad it felt after watching this generic sitcom fizzle. Note to NBC: Maybe executive producer Amy Poehler does not have the Midas touch after all.
"Dancing With the Stars Juniors" (ABC), "Happy Together" (CBS), "Heathers" (Paramount Network), "Krypton" (Syfy), "Life Sentence" (CW), "Magnum, P.I." (CBS), "Our Cartoon President" (Comedy Central), "Rel" (Fox)