Jewish World Review August 2, 2002 / 24 Menachem-Av, 5762

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Some fond memories of worst TV shows | TV Guide has once again invited public outrage (remember 1980 when it ran cover stories of "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat" only five months apart?) by publishing a list of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time.

Those who enjoy confrontations between 300-pound Transvestite Cellists with Commitment Problems (and who doesn't?) will be shocked and disappointed to learn that "The Jerry Springer Show" was named the No. 1 worst show of all time. My opinion on "The Jerry Springer Show" is this: Sure, the show encourages levels of rage so high that there is a very real possibility the participants will kill each other, but I do not feel that this outweighs the good the show does in terms of bringing us up to speed on the issues facing goat-worshipping dwarfs who stalk nympho supermodels.

The second worst TV show of all time is even more perplexing. "My Mother the Car," arguably the finest new show of 1965 that featured a talking car, was described by TV Guide as "a vintage wreck on the highway of bad television." I disagree. Starring Jerry Van Dyke and the voice of Ann Sothern, "My Mother" is still fun to watch if you've been drinking heavily or have had a recent head injury. And I challenge anyone to say it's worse than "Bob Patterson."

The third worst show is not actually a show but an entire schedule of football games. The XFL was supposed to bring more excitement to professional football by "relaxing" certain rules, such as the rule that the offense cannot use firearms, except on fourth and long. In hindsight, I don't understand why this league failed.

Fifth on the list of worst shows is "Hogan's Heroes." (CBS rejected -- unwisely, I think -- the alternative title, "Those Wacky Nazis!") The star of the show was supposed to be Col. Robert Hogan, played by Bob Crane, but I was always far more interested in Sergeant Schultz, played by John Banner. The whole point of the show was to wait for Schultz to utter his famous line, "I know no-thing!" after which the viewer was free to spin the dial to "Green Acres" or "F Troop."

Only TV would have the nerve to depict the Nazis, the architects of the Holocaust, as a bunch of lovable, bumbling cartoon characters. Can we look forward to a modern remake of this 1965 classic featuring Jon Stewart as Osama bin Laden, Gary Coleman as his bumbling lieutenant, John Walker Lindh ("The camel, boss! The camel!") and Sam Waterson in the role of clever, witty and let us not forget sexually irresistible George W. Bush?

I've got to admit that I blinked and missed many of TV Guide's nominees for the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time. Sadly, I never had the pleasure of watching "Hee-Haw Honeys," "The Ugliest Girl in Town" or "Homeboys in Outer Space."

However, I did destroy several layers of brain cells in 1967 and 1968 watching "The Flying Nun," starring Sally Field. (Connoisseurs of really bad shows will recall that Field starred two years earlier in the seminal "Gidget," the TV show responsible for bringing the name "Moon Doggie" into the public consciousness.) For those of you who weren't around in 1967 or whose years of counseling have allowed them to forget, Field played Sister Bertrille in a convent in Puerto Rico. Wearing a hat that resembled the wings of a white, celibate albatross, Sister Bertrille floated above San Juan on the trade winds, contemplating good deeds. ABC did the best deed of all by pulling the plug after two seasons.

(Rick Mitz, author of "The Great TV Sitcom Book," described "The Flying Nun" as "a cross between 'The Sound of Music' without the music and 'Superman' without the man.")

Clearly, TV Guide's list of the 50 Worst Shows of All Time will stir debate among some and bring back a lot of unpleasant memories for many more. If you never saw any of these shows, don't despair. Even worse ones will be along soon.

(Check out the complete list of Worst Shows at

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune