Gone in 13 Episodes (or Less!)

We’ve talked about this before, how back in the olden days, if you wanted to be a true geek, you had to work at it. You had to catch a show on its first run, because often it didn’t get a second. Shows that got canceled after a single season or less didn’t get syndicated; it generally took 100 episodes to make a show viable for reruns; notable exceptions include Star Trek (79 episodes) and The Prisoner (17 episodes). There was no home video, no on-demand, no streaming; if you missed it, you missed it. That meant that if a show looked at all like it was going to push any of the nerd buttons–sci-fi, fantasy, horror, superheroes, or just goofy as hell–you had to sit down and watch the damn thing when it aired or never get a second chance at it.

Of course today we live in a world where shows that vanished after a handful of episodes are now turning up on Blu-Ray, or MeTV, or at least on YouTube, so that even the most obscure flops can have a second life. I am genuinely surprised at how many quirky flop shows are available on Amazon for you to purchase (which nets me a few pennies when you do, so go crazy).

It’s been my gift (and curse) that I seem to remember hundreds of terrible TV shows that only aired for half a season and dropped into the abyss half a century ago. I can’t tell you what my bride asked me to pick up after work tonight, but I sure as hell can tell you who starred in A Year at the Top 42 years ago, because that’s how the blob of electric jello in my skull works. If I have to know this crap, so do you.

So let’s look at some of these flops, in descending order by number of episodes…

All That Glitters (65 episodes, but only 13 weeks)

Norman Lear came up with this bizarre soap opera — or possibly satire of a soap, it’s hard to tell — which riffed on a clever notion; what if all of human history had favored women instead of men? What if, from the day Adam got them kicked out of the Garden, women were the leaders and rulers, and men the subservient supporting players? The show ran five days a week, but for whatever reason, it didn’t click with viewers. But before it disappeared, it produced a hit song. Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” was written for the show, intended to be a torch song sung by a lovelorn guy who feels rejected by the woman he loves. Barbra Streisand then recorded it and drained it of all the sarcasm and comedy.

When Things Were Rotten (13 episodes)

I mentioned this show in my tribute to the late Dick Gautier; it was Mel Brooks’ first pass at the Robin Hood legend, almost 20 years before Men in Tights. In true Mel Brooks fashion, it’s delightfully absurd and often stupid; at one point, Robin competes in an archery tournament against “Sir Ronald of MacDonald and his Golden Archers,” while on another occasion, a poacher, convicted of poaching (eggs), is boiled for three minutes. The cast is terrific, and Brooks was able to bring in guest stars like Dudley Moore, Lainie Kazan, and Sid Caesar. I’m not sure it ages well, but it’s in many ways better than Brooks’ later version of the story. Bernie Koppel, Dick Van Patten, and Hee Haw‘s Misty Rowe have choice roles as Friar Tuck, Alan-A-Dale, and Maid Marian.

Duck Factory (13 episodes)

Jim Carrey plays a hopelessly naive aspiring cartoonist who comes to Hollywood to get into animation based entirely on a misunderstanding. He had submitted some art samples to his favorite animation studio, and got back an insincere letter that included a vaguely encouraging comment like “if you ever make it to Hollywood, drop by the studio,” which he mistook for a job offer. He arrives at the studio just after the boss has died, and discovers that his hero was something of a monster, universally hated, and his studio is going to shut down. When he is the only person willing to speak at the animator’s funeral, his comments inspire the trophy-wife-widow to hire him and keep the studio open, so this goofy kid is suddenly the boss. The supporting cast included Jack Gilford. All thirteen episodes are up on YouTube, so catch them before they get deleted.

Run, Buddy, Run (13 episodes)

Jack Sheldon (Johnny Carson’s long-time trumpet player and occasional comedic foil, perhaps best known as the singing voice for several episodes of Schoolhouse Rock, including “I’m Just a Bill”) plays a hapless schlub who happens to be in the wrong steam room one day, and overhears two nefarious characters talking about “chicken little”; they discover he’s there in the fog, and he realizes he needs to run for his life, without ever really knowing what it is he knows that’s so dangerous. Each episode finds Buddy in a new city, trying to find some safety in anonymity, inevitably being found out and taking it on the road again. Run, Buddy, Run was a clever parody of the plethora of “man on the run” shows that were all the rage in the late 1960s, starting with The Fugitive and running all the way through to The Incredible Hulk.

Bearcats! (13 episodes)

All I really remembered about this show is that it was about two guys wandering the WWI-era Wild West in a 1914 Stutz Bearcat, which remains an awesome car. But a quick perusal of the IMDB fills in the gaps: Rod Taylor and Dennis Cole are mercenaries for hire who solve problems. The gimmick is they never quote a price up front. “If you have to ask how much, you don’t need them badly enough.” They do the job in exchange for a blank check and fill in a number afterward based on how difficult or dangerous the job was. The show got slaughtered in the ratings by The Flip Wilson Show, partially because it hit a lot of the same notes as the more traditional western Alias Smith and Jones. There was a Hanna-Barbera DePatie-Freleng rip-off cartoon called The Houndcats, because of course there was.

The Chicago Teddy Bears (13 episodes)

After Hogan’s Heroes ended, John Banner, AKA Sgt. “I Know NOTHING!” Schultz, went looking for a new gig. He settled on The Chicago Teddy Bears, apparently figuring that the Chicago gang wars of the Prohibition era would be a chock-full of wacky setups for comedy; of course, coming on the heels of a hit sitcom about a Nazi prison camp, this might have been a reasonable assumption. Banner plays Uncle Latzi, a German immigrant who co-owns a Chicago speakeasy with his nephew Linc (Dean Jones);  Linc’s cousin Nick (Art Metrano) is a would-be mobster bent on taking over the joint, but naive Latzi can’t believe his nephew could be anything other than a nice boy. Marvin Kaplan and Jamie Farr round out the cast.

Barbary Coast (13 episodes)

After Star Trek and before he found a new career in self-satire, William Shatner had a couple of other TV series, one of which was Barbary Coast. The show was set in the 1890s and took place in the notoriously lawless section of San Francisco that gave the show its title. Shatner plays Jeff Cable, a federal investigator who operates out of the back room of the casino owned by his con-artist pal, Cash Conover, played by Doug McClure (Dennis Cole played the role in the pilot). Fighting against homegrown gangsters and foreign spies,  The two engaged in byzantine plots that usually involved Cable disguising himself and going undercover while Cash ran a scam on someone, in a series that felt very much like a mash-up of Mission: Impossible and Wild Wild West (the TV shows, not the movies).

Masquerade (13 episodes)

Rod Taylor plays Mr. Lavender, the head of a covert operation organization called Operation Masquerade, in which Kirstie Alley and Greg Evigan are CIA agents who manage ordinary citizens recruited for their specialized skills to carry out spy missions. Critics at the time described it as a cross between Mission: Impossible and The Love Boat, the latter primarily because every episode involved a different cast of guest stars playing the dilettante agents.

Braindead (13 episodes)

This show, which you can watch on Amazon Prime right now, perfectly captured the political zeitgeist of 2016. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a struggling documentary filmmaker whose brother happens to be a Democratic congressman; while reluctantly working in his office, she stumbles upon the fact that alien insects are eating politicians’ brains and turning them into extremist whackjobs. Tony Shalhoub kills it as a right wing congressman who goes full Trumpanzee as a result of brain-bugs. The best part? Each episode’s “previously on…” recap is sung by Jonathan Coulton.

Fantastic Journey (10 episodes)

What do you get when you throw the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, alternate dimensions, time travel, extraterrestrials, pirates, and a mysterious island into a TV show? This mish-mosh of a series is what. Fantastic Journey seems to have been systematically undermined by conflicting demands from the studio execs. Characters were randomly added and dumped, plots took arbitrary sudden turns, and subplots were abandoned in mid-stride. DC Fontana tried like hell to make something that made sense, but it couldn’t get past the tenth episode. Roddy MacDowall gets to go full Roddy MacDowall playing their version of Lost in Space‘s Dr. Zachary Smith.

Quark (8 episodes)

Buck Henry tried to apply the Get Smart treatment to Star Trek, but he was a couple of decades too early; the show premiered a week before Star Wars opened, and audiences weren’t ready to laugh at science fiction yet. Nonetheless he loaded it up with gags that were either groan-provokingly dumb (“He’s over there by the roddenberry bush…”) or too hip for the room, like the character of Jean/Gene (Tim Thomerson), a transmute who vacillates between being male and female, riffing on gender stereotypes. Quark (Richard Benjamin) is the captain of an intergalactic garbage scow with a motley crew of oddballs, and they constantly get shoved into missions far above their pay grade.

Future Cop (8 episodes)

Future Cop aired virtually simultaneously with Holmes & Yoyo (13 episodes), followed by Mann & Machine (1992, 9 episodes), Total Recall 2070 (1999, 22 episodes), and Almost Human (2013, 13 episodes). rebooted on NBC two years later as a TV movie called Cops and Robin. All of these shows have essentially the same premise, in which a human police officer is assigned an android partner, but this one is best remembered as the subject of a lawsuit by Harlan Ellison and Ben Bova, because the network swiped the premise from their short story, titled “Brillo”. (For those of you too young to get it, “Brillo” is a riff on a bit of ’70s slang; back then, it was hip to refer to police as “the fuzz”; Brillo is a brand of steel wool, which is metal fuzz, and the android cop is metal fuzz, and you know what, it’s a terrible joke not worth the time….)

Sable (7 episodes)

Boy, was I stoked when this show was announced in the pages of Jon Sable, Freelance. Boy was I whatever is the opposite of stoked when I actually saw it. The TV show managed to completely reverse every clever thing Mike Grell had put into the series; in the comic, Sable is a mercenary who masquerades as a children’s book author, wearing a fake mustache, glasses and blond wig when he has to appear as B. B. Flemm, but his real identity is Sable. In the show, this subversion of the genre trope is discarded. Sable’s complicated relationships with the women he works with, his editor and artist, are turned into standard TV soap opera or played for comedy. They turned a terrific comic into just another detective show, but with added dumb. The whole thing is up on YouTube if you want to subject yourself to it.

A Year at the Top (5 episodes)

Greg Evigan and Paul Schaffer inadvertently sell their souls to the devil to become rock stars in this show from Norman Lear. They quickly discover that they will only be stars for a year and then will be consigned to hell unless they can find some way to negate their contract. Yes, B.J. & the Bear was actually a step up for Evigan. Paul Shaffer actually left SNL for this series, but I guess it worked out okay for him in the end. The show was stupid even for a sitcom, but Paul Shaffer’s parody of Elton John was amusing, and Gabriel Dell clearly had the time of his life playing Satan’s idiot son.

The Phoenix (4 episodes)

Back when I was in the drama department of Citrus College in Azusa, there was a bit of talk about local boy made good Judson Scott, who played Joachim, the young lackey to Khan in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. It looked like the guy was on the way; he had a unique look and he could act. After his Star Trek stint, he landed this TV show, which went a scant 4 episodes, and then was relegated to little guest parts for the rest of his career. I never met the guy, but I think he may have deserved better than this.

Once a Hero (3 episodes)

This one aired in 1987, but only three episodes made it to broadcast; a fourth was advertised but never aired. Seven episodes were reportedly filmed and may possibly have been aired outside the US. Today they seem to have disappeared.

The series played with some cliches of the comics, best illustrated by the difference between the Superman TV series of the ’50s and the Superman movies of the ’70s and ’80s. The premise is a simple one; Abner (Milo O’Shea), an aging cartoonist, creator of a long-running comic book called Captain Justice (Jeff Lester), is starting to lose his edge. He’s repeating plots, going through the motions, and his character is the kind of one-dimensional paragon of virtue that made the Superman of the 1960s such a boring guy. The comic company wants to cancel the title, and within the comic itself, the characters are starting to notice that they are stuck in a rut. Finally Captain Justice breaks through the Forbidden Zone to enter the real world. In the real world, Captain Justice has no powers, but he still attempts to fight crime anyway. He inspires Abner to reinvigorate the strip, while neighbor and snoopy investigative reporter Emma Greeley tries to figure out what’s going on. And of course Emma is a single mom whose son is friends with the cartoonist, he knows the truth about Captain Justice, and he has to hide the facts from his mom. Naturally Emma is attracted to Brad Steele (Captain Justice’s civilian identity), but the real complications begin when Brad’s comic book girlfriend Rachel (Dianne Kay) crosses over to the real world; she looks just like Abner’s late wife, and he can’t handle it.

I watched Once a Hero because (a) it was superhero material, of which there was precious little available, and (b) because it co-starred Caitlin Clarke, the actress who was so good as Valerian in Dragonslayer, playing Emma. She really tried here, bringing sincerity to her role that was vital to selling the central conceit, just as she had made the threat of a dragon seem real in her previous role. Here she was very much a real world Lois Lane.

Ultimately, the show was the fatal mix of poor production, corny writing, and an unsustainable premise, and it was canceled after the third episode.

The unaired fourth episode sounds like it would have been a hoot. The plot: A movie studio is making a big-budget film version of Captain Justice, but the poor washed-up has-been who played the character on TV years earlier is eking out a living making personal appearances in costume at conventions and car shows, so they sue him to “protect the brand”. Eventually he crosses the Forbidden Zone into the fictional world and discovers he has Captain Justice’s powers there. This episode, which is obviously inspired by the similar lawsuit against Clayton Moore brought by the makers of The Legend of the Lone Ranger, even went so far as to cast Adam West as the has-been actor just to be a little more meta.

Stick Around (1 episode)

Before he landed on Taxi, comedian Andy Kaufman made appearances on many comedy and variety shows as his “Foreign Man” character, who eventually became Latka Gravas. One of those appearances was a pilot for a sitcom, Stick Around, in which Kaufman’s Foreign Man is an android servant to a 21st century Yuppie (that’s ’80s slang for “Young Urban Professional” for you youngsters) couple. The pilot was broadcast in 1977, but it didn’t sell. It lives on at YouTube, so you can watch it above.

Believe it or not, I have barely scratched the surface of this topic; Here’s a collection of about a dozen-and-a-half ’70s flops, most of which I had completely forgotten about or never even saw before. (Like I said, we used to have to work at it to catch these shows.) This list is just the detritus that stuck in my head for all these years. I have a whole second list of equally oddball shows that made it past the 13 episode line. Maybe next time.

 

 

37 Comments

  1. tomfitz1

    Of this list, I’ve seen SABLE and BRAINDEAD.

    Like you, I was kind of disappointed with the SABLE treatment of Mike Grell’s JSF.

    But, BRAINDEAD was funny. It perfectly describes the current state of the Rebublican Party and the WH Administration. To a tee.

    1. Alaric

      My vague recollection is that Phoenix was about an extremely humanoid alien who had pretty much every kind of new-age-y super power you can think of (telepathy, pseudo-scientific energy channeling, etc.) who traveled the world helping people. That and Future Cop are the only two series listed here I remember watching.

  2. I have seen sooooo many of these. I would dispute Roddy McDowell being Dr. Smith, though: while he affects a cynical outlook, it’s a cover for a disillusioned but good guy.
    Mann and Machine was a better show than Future Cop but the opening pilot movie did a good job demonstrating the effectiveness of an android cop. Plus I love Ernest Borgnine.
    Three more shows I’ve seen:
    Kindred the Embraced was the 1996 TV version of Vampire: The Masquerade. Despite being saddled with C. Thomas Howell as the token human, it was a lot of fun. And Brigid Brannagh as one of the undead was first-rate eye candy.
    Daybreak was a 2006 13-episode show featuring Taye Diggs as a guy caught in a time loop. He has to use it to clear himself of a murder frame and save his girlfriend, while constantly worrying that the time looping would end too soon. It was good — I actually started subscribing to Netflix so I could get it on DVD.
    2005’s Reunion ran 9 episodes. Which was infuriating because it was a season-long plot and the characters we needed to resolve the plot hadn’t even been introduced. The premise was that someone had been murdered at a high school reunion, so the show jumped back to graduation and each episode was set one year after the previous one.
    1994’s Dead at 21 was MTV’s first scripted series. A teenager discovers the reason he’s so smart is that he has an implanted computer chip that will kill him when he turns 21. He hunts the guy who designed the chip; a federal agent assigned to cover up the research project hunts the kid.

  3. Donmilliken

    This was a fun read. I’ve only seen the most recent of these shows, Braindead, but I’ve heard of most of them. Braindead was a pretty good show and my understanding is the creators had three more seasons planned out with the alien brain bugs invading Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood. I have mixed feelings on that. Subsequent seasons might have been good or it might have turned out that the show’s satirical premise couldn’t sustain multiple season and the show ending with one season of a more or less complete story might have been for the best. We’ll never know.

    That Once a Hero show kind of reminds of another very short-lived sitcom whose name I can’t remember. It was about the creator of a Far Side like syndicated comic strip whose characters randomly come to life, causing chaos. It obviously wasn’t a very good show, but however old I was when that show dropped, I loved the idea of it but never got to watch a complete episode for whatever reason and then it was gone. It might have only lasted a couple episodes before cancellation.

    As for weird shows that lasted more than 13 episodes, my brain’s full of ’em. So many half-remembered shows from the 90’s. I hope you get around to writing another article like this or possibly several. I’ve always been weirdly fascinated by short-lived genre or oddball tv series.

  4. Mark.Rouleau

    I will once again mention Q.E.D., the proto-steampunk, Edwardian era show from the very early eighties. 6 episodes, three of which featured Julian Glover (!) as the villainous Dr. Kilkiss. For the record, that has to be the best villain name this side of the James Bond movies.

    And, for Greg Hatcher, many of the sets were re-used for the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series. Not surprising, as John Hawkesworth was the creator for both series.

  5. Edo Bosnar

    I’ve heard of several of these, but I only actually watched two of them, both when they first aired: Phoenix and Quark. I also watched the pilot of Barbary Coast when I was in high school – it was aired as TV movie on a Sunday afternoon. I was later surprised to learn that it was short-lived series.
    Anyway, I was probably too young at the time (9) to be watching Quark, but I did anyway (mainly because my older brother watched it, too). Even back then I didn’t take my budding SF fandom too seriously, and enjoyed the satirical take on the genre. Last time I watched it was a few years ago, and I can say that I still love that show.

    One show that I sometimes think nobody remembers but me, and which I mentioned in the comments on this blog several times already, is the five-episode sketch comedy show No Soap, Radio. Sometimes I think that one should have become a cult favorite like Police Squad.

    And another short-lived series I remember really liking back when it aired in 1982 is Q.E.D. starring Sam Waterston as the abrasive titular scientist/inventor Quentin E. Deverill. The whole whopping run of six episodes is up on YouTube. I recently watched three of them, and I can say they didn’t hold up for me. Q.E.D. is no Quark…

  6. humanbelly

    Wow– No mention of the Patrick Warburton live-action TICK series here? 7 episodes, I believe? It was. . . a perfect show. That the ever-inept programmers at FOX Network didn’t know how to promote or schedule responsibly. Truly an all-time favorite– not an obscure gem, in our book.

    OH! Annnnnd how about FIRELY, then? 13 episodes (then a movie), wasn’t it? That seriously is one of the best Sci-Fi series ever produced– it’s tragic brevity is largely what keeps it from making most lists, I imagine.

    Of the ones discussed above, I caught a few:

    WHEN THINGS WERE ROTTEN was, I’m sorry, just an awful show. A huge & totally unexpected fumble on Mel Brooks’ part. The comedy was excruciatingly forced and unoriginal. Ugh.

    QUARK— should have been funnier. It too was noticeably trying too hard, IIRC.

    Loved DUCK FACTORY, although it was pulled just a couple of episodes after I’d noticed it existed. Am I remembering that it had a really unfortunate time slot?

    BEARCATS and BARBARY COAST were both middle-of-the-road, gimmicky shows that were hard to follow, plot-wise.

    FANTASTIC JOURNEY had a pretty good cast of familiar TV faces– but man, it lost me after 2 or 3 episodes ’cause, as mentioned, there was NO COHESIVE LINEAR PLOT being adhered to. It reminds me, of all things, of Marvel’s short-lived SKULL THE SLAYER series.

    Heyheyhey– there was also a TV series spin-off of ANIMAL HOUSE— remember?

    HB

    1. Edo Bosnar

      Yeah, the cult classic status is why Police Squad also doesn’t fit into the category of shows being discussed here.

      But yeah, I remember Delta House, too. Given my age, I actually watched that show before I ever saw Animal House. And speaking of, who remembers Brothers and Sisters, a similar frat-humor sitcom inspired by Animal House? It clocked in at 12 episodes in 1979 and I think I watched most of them.

    1. I’m one of the few people who remembers the nine-episode Brady Bunch Hour. The premise was that ABC picked the Brady family to star in a TV variety show. Hilarity did not ensue. Easily the worst of the many Brady spinoffs, but also the most forgotten.
      Of course, if anyone does remember it besides me, it’s probably someone on this blog

        1. humanbelly

          It was horrifically bad– and not even true to its own premise. While half-watching one evening, I caught a quip where Mike makes some reference to having “all these kids”, and Mom Brady knowingly smirks, “Well, you know you had SOMETHING to do with that. . . “– clearly implying that they were both the natural parents of the whole brood. “Fictional” scenario or not– this was just a cynical play for a cheap joke about overly-fertile parents. . . ugh. . .

          HB

          1. Le Messor

            That… that’s right in the theme song!
            Which is one of those songs everybody knows, even if they never watched the show!
            Agh! Ugh!

            Missing the point is one of the horriblest crimes a remaketoolbootdoover can do. (See various incarnations of The Addams Family. Or, better yet, don’t.)

  7. Louis Bright-Raven

    Okay, I remember Barnaby Coast, Future Cop, The Phoenix, Quark, and Sable. I may have seen Fantastic Journey, also. The only one I can remember liking when it originally aired was The Phoenix.

    I also remember seeing ads for BrainDead, but I could’ve sworn it aired on CBS. (Ah, it did originally, you just happened to mention it being on Amazon, so I was thinking it was an Amazon original, which confused me since I don’t have any of those pay to watch networks.) Frankly, from the ads it just looked incredibly banal to me, but then I’m so fed up with the U.S. political scene and the general stupidity of the American people that any attempt at satire or comedic presentation of it is pretty much destined to fail, and truthfully I’m just not that much of a TV person.

  8. Of these, we have QUARK, BARBARY COAST, FANTASTIC JOURNEY, and FUTURE COP here on DVD. QUARK and BARBARY COAST hold up pretty well, and once Roddy McDowall joined FANTASTIC JOURNEY it got to be a pretty good show. That it got three retoolings over the course of its first four episodes has to be some kind of record.

    The interesting thing about FANTASTIC JOURNEY is that everyone working on it seemed to really like it and want it to succeed. Jared Martin seemed especially wistful about it. He said the original idea was really clever, because the premise was that on this island there were zones of time. So you could be fighting Blackbeard’s pirates in one zone, flee, and zap! you’re in the 25th Century zone shooting it out with alien invaders or something. He said if they’d let them run with that idea, and kept the show’s original title, FANTASTIC ISLAND, audiences might have connected with it better.

    I am surprised MASQUERADE got thirteen episodes. I was sure it was canceled after three or four, which is all I ever saw. I adored that show and loved the idea of recruiting citizen help. UNCLE was built on that idea too, though I think they lost the thread of it; each week an ordinary person would get swept up into the world of super-spies and mad scientists and somehow that ordinary person ended up being key. What MASQUERADE really was, to my way of thinking, was a proto-GLOBAL FREQUENCY. Another pilot I adored, based on one of my favorite comics. To this day I have never forgiven the CW for going with SUPERNATURAL instead of GLOBAL FREQUENCY… though I guess it was the right call, and John Rogers went on to give us LEVERAGE and THE LIBRARIANS, so it all worked out. But I still want at least four seasons of the GLOBAL FREQUENCY TV show…. produced by Rogers. Michelle Forbes as Miranda Zero was just so perfect. Sigh.

    1. Edo Bosnar

      Not to sidetrack this discussion too much, but I recently read Global Frequency for the first time and was honestly a bit underwhelmed. I think out of the 12 issues, I thought only about three of them contained really strong stories. The rest were pretty standard shoot ’em ups (or punch ’em ups).
      However, I do really love the underlying concept, and Miranda Zero and her girl in the chair are pretty awesome characters. I can definitely see it being turned into a really strong TV series. (In fact, so many of the stories in the comic series looked like storyboards for a cinematic or TV production.)

          1. I saw that a while back and yes, Forbes is awesome. I doubt I’d like the source comic as Warren Ellis never works for me.
            Mission Impossible occasionally recruited amateurs outside the usual core team: an acrobat one episode, a virologist in another.

  9. John King

    Not ebvery American show makes it to the UK so, of the listed shows, the only one I saw was Fantastic Journey (and I noticed that Jared Martin was given a more normal tuning fork when on War of the Worlds)

    though I did watch Homes and Yoyo
    and the Houndcats (and I still remember the theme song)

    One weird short lived show I remember watching was Neat and Tidy: Adventures beyond belief – in which a man goes on the run after mistakenly
    thinking he had accidentally killed someone and joins a woman who’s also running due to her Mafia relatives and they get pusued by odd characters (soundtrack by Elvis Presley)

    And it my be worth mentioning StarHyke – a space comedy series starring Claudia Christian which went straight to DVD because it was so bad that no network wanted to show it

    1. That was a catchy theme song.
      Neat and Tidy sounds a little like the short-lived Johnny Bago, about a small-time goombah framed for murder and on the run in a Winnebago. A really good parody of The Fugitive and its countless knockoffs that included a run-in with Elvis (faked his death and hit the road in his own RV).

  10. Jeff Nettleton

    I’ve been watching Quark, this past week, at home. It’s a bit shaky at first; but, improves with each episode, to the point it is pretty good, when the axe fell.

    I just recently talked about Masquerade (and Codename: Foxfire and Cover Up) in a piece and spy movie and tv. I enjoyed it, for what it was and Rod Taylor really brought it up. I don’t recall specifics of episodes; but remember it as an entertaining show.

    Sable had one redeeming feature and that was Rene Russo. Star Lewis Van Bergen was also Willie Garvin in the ill-fated Modesty Blaise tv pilot, starring the ever wooden Ann Turkel (not that Van Bergin was anything to write home about). Sable very nearly starred Gene Simmons, of KISS. I always thought it was perfect for a movie, with Mel Gibson, back when the comic was coming out.

    I would throw out Otherworld, where a family passes through a dimensional gate and ends up in a parallel world, with a repressive regime. It was an interesting concept that never really got a chance to get going. It was part of the long chain of sci-fi shows with a Fugitive template.

    You could also add Cliffhanger, the NBC attempt at doing old serials. It featured three segments: Dracula (aka Curse of Dracula), The Secret Empire and Stop Susan Williams. All of them start in what seems to be the middle of the story, to give you the feel that this thing is another chapter in the serieal; but, it was actually a first chapter to introduce the characters. Dracula was set in modern San Francisco, with Dracula teaching history courses at a university, a Van Helsing descendent hunting him, whose female partner has fallen under his spell. Drac was played fairly well and it had a decent romantic angle. Secret Empire was a remake of the Gen Autry serial The Phantom Empire, with an advanced underground civilization, but in the Old West, rather than the Modern West of Autry’s adventure. mark lenard was the dictator who ruled the underground world. Also featured Peter Breck, of The Big Valley. Stop Susan Williams had Susan Anton investigating a conspiracy to create a new power in the world, via some cataclysmic event, targeting world leaders. It was the weakest of the three, thanks to a vague plot and poor acting from Anton. Drac was fully completed; but they axed the show and didn’t broadcast the final episode with the conclusions to Secret Empire and Stop Susan Williams. It was shown internationally, though, which is how fan copies ended up with the whole thing.

    1. I loved the Modesty Blaise pilot much more than you did. I wish it had gone to series.
      Part of the problem of Otherworld (I saw several episodes) was that with the whole family along it got very Father Knows Best (Dad always sees the right thing to do). Another was that they’re passing through multiple oppressed regions of the Empire, but they never help anyone except themselves — believable, admittedly, but I don’t watch shows like this for believability.
      Cliffhangers was a lot of fun, except Stop Susan Williams.

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