As CBS and “American Idol” have proven, great ratings don’t equate to intelligent programming. But this isn’t a new phenomenon: terrible shows have been hits throughout TV history, especially before the rise of cable gave viewers more choices. Here are the ten worst abominations to crack a given year’s top-20 highest-rated shows.
#10. “Too Close for Comfort”
Oh my God, that title text. Look how wacky the word “close” looks. I bet it’s conveying that there are too many people living in that red house. It’s amazing that “too” wasn’t written as “2” and “for” as “4.” Prince should get on that. Here’s what I don’t understand: that house is actually a duplex, with mother and father living on one floor, and their two daughters on the other. That’s almost the opposite of too close; if anything, they’ve got too much room. Producers must have realized this when the changed the show’s name to “The Ted Knight Show” for its sixth and (shockingly) final season.
#9. “Good Morning, Miami”
I don’t remember the exact reason why, but a screener copy of “Good Morning, Miami” was sent to my home in late 2001, maybe early 2002. I was 13 years old at the time, and thought it was awesome to receive a VHS copy of a show that hadn’t been on the air yet. I got to control TV! A little card came with the pilot episode, asking my mom and I to send our thoughts about the show after watching it. Twenty-two painful minutes later (which evidently involved a nun, if the picture above is to be believed), we ejected the video from our VCR and literally stomped on it until the thing was in a thousand pieces (literally stomped, figuratively a thousand pieces). The show was that bad. That should have been their motto: “Good Morning, Miami: Boot Stompingly Bad!”
[Editor’s note: I watched several episodes of this solely because the cast included the unstoppably adorable Ashley Williams and a hot Cuban chick. My tastes were formed pretty early.]
#8. “Mayberry R.F.D.”
Like “Frasier,” but with even fewer laughs! When “The Andy Griffith Show” ended in the spring of 1968, viewers were left without the charming tales of small-town folk, like that great episode where Opie gets a job in a grocery store, but gives it to another boy who needs it more. But in the fall, “Mayberry R.F.D.,” featuring nearly every character from “Andy Griffith” minus, um, Andy Griffith, aired, with plots involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Civic Youth Day. Not only was it a cheesier spin-off of a spin-off (“Andy” originated from “The Danny Thomas Show”), it was depressing; America was undergoing a cultural revolution in 1969, but millions were still at home, watching a show about the good ol’ days, where black people and long haired rock ‘n’ rollers didn’t exist.