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12 Great TV Shows That Had Lame First Seasons

By / 10.15.13

The Daily Show

Pictured: Not Jon Stewart

Pictured: Not Jon Stewart

If you heard “the first season of The Daily Show” and pictured a young Jon Stewart, you have already forgotten that the show was originally hosted by Craig Kilborn and was more or less a 30-minute knock off of SNL’s Weekend Update. In his penultimate episode in 1998, Kilborn did a torch-passing interview with Stewart and in between making jokes about his height, asked Stewart what changes could be expected. Stewart replied, “Changes? By God, this is The Daily Show, man! Why don’t I just draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa for God’s sake!” But clearly, over the last 14 years, he has changed the format, dropping the “5 questions” interview style to more serious talks with politicians and newsmakers. The opening segment also switched from one-off jokes about the day’s headlines to more in-depth segments on specific issues. It seemed to pay off because the show has given birth to stars like Steve Carell, Ed Helms, and Stephen Colbert while managing to win something like 16,000 Emmys.

The King of Queens


People love to look down their snobby little noses at The King of Queens which is unfair given that the show was always good for a few chuckles, usually in the form of food jokes. (Kevin James is a bit overweight, if you haven’t noticed.) The show’s stigma might date back to the growing pains of the series’ first season when it didn’t even have a proper theme song. Characters were shuffled in and out until the lamer ones were eventually given the axe, like Carrie’s half-sister, Sara, and Doug’s suupah New Yawwk tawwkin’ buddy, Richie, who musta went off and gotten some pizza and nevah came back, eh? Ayy, fuggedaboutit.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

At least the clothes have aged well.

At least the clothes have aged well.

The problem with the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that every episode was a one-off. It was just Buffy and pals fighting a new monster every week like the Scooby Doo gang. (It’s worth mentioning that in addition to Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar also played Daphne in the Scooby Doo movie.) After some new regular characters like Spike and Angel were introduced, the show became a proper series and the plots became deeper and stopped magically resolving themselves each week to start fresh the following week like a vampire Etch-A-Sketch.

South Park

If we only knew how much more offensive it would get from here.

If we only knew how much more offensive it would get from here.

South Park’s early appeal was that it was largely considered offensive and pissed off parents everywhere with episodes about things like anal probes, a talking Christmas poo, and Cartman’s dirty slut mom. But over the last 17 seasons, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have seemed intent on making those early episodes look like Sesame Street by comparison. Parker and Stone continue to pound hot button issues and relentlessly poke unsuspecting celebrities on a weekly basis. So while an Ethiopian exchange student may have been offensive in 1997, South Park is now on to bigger topics like murder porn.

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