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Old 01-14-2010, 11:56 PM   #1
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Thumbs down NBC's Biggest Prime-Time Disasters

Since Jeff Zucker’s reign at NBC, the network has produced a string of duds including Joey and Coupling. VIEW OUR GALLERY of their biggest flops.

Once a breeding ground for quality series (The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Frasier, ER, Law & Order), NBC has been on a downward spiral for nearly a decade. Once Friends ended in 2004, the network’s Thursday night “Must-See TV” schedule withered away without any ratings powerhouses to replace it. In October 2006, after witnessing the success and relative little cost of Fear Factor, NBC decided to replace all 8 p.m. scripted series with reality shows. No other networks followed suit.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:56 PM   #2
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Emeril
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: Seven episodes (2001)

Body Count: Emeril Lagasse, Sherri Shepherd

With his two hit Food Network shows and a handful—well, two—catchphrases, putting Emeril Lagasse in front of the cameras seemed like a recipe for success for NBC’s 2001 lineup. During his first year as NBC Entertainment’s president, Jeff Zucker advocated for the sitcom, which featured the chef starring on a fictional cooking show, even calling for a reshoot of the pilot after a critical drubbing. “We wanted to catch lightning in a bottle,” said Zucker. Unfortunately, not even a reimagining of the series, including the addition of Robert Urich in his last television role, could save the “BAM!” man from turning into a bust and the show was yanked after seven episodes.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:57 PM   #3
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Joey
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: Two seasons (2004-2006)

Body Count: Matt LeBlanc, Drea de Matteo, Jennifer Coolidge

Jeff Zucker is credited with dragging out Friends for an extra year with bloated contracts for the show’s six regulars, but after the Central Perk crew went off the air in 2004, NBC began to scramble for its next big sitcom. They didn’t look very far—Matt LeBlanc reprised his role as lovable but dim Joey Tribbiani pursuing his acting dream in Los Angeles. Initially slotted in at Friends’ old time slot (Thursdays at 8 p.m.), the show premiered to decent ratings, but was moved around during its two-season run and became a creative disaster. Even Kevin Bright, the only Friends producer to join the spinoff, blamed NBC executives and the studio for ruining the show. Joey died in 2006, proving the network couldn’t survive with just one friend.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:58 PM   #4
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Father of the Pride
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: 14 episodes (2004)

Body Count: Voiced by John Goodman, Cheryl Hines, Carl Reiner

Despite a very nice pedigree—the show was produced by DreamWorks—Father of the Pride became one of the peacock network’s most embarrassing flops of the last decade. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, viewers were barraged by ads for the puzzling CGI show revolving around the white lions of Siegfried & Roy’s famed Las Vegas show. Unlike a cheap reality-TV show bomb, this huge failure took an enormous amount of time and resources. Each episode cost over $1.6 million and nine months to animate. Zucker took the stage the following year at the upfronts and readily admitted that NBC “stunk up the joint” on Tuesday nights. No hits that year, combined with the series finales of Friends and Frasier, marked the beginning of the end. NBC went from a roar to a whimper, dropping from first to fourth place in the ratings.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:58 PM   #5
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Knight Rider
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: One season (2009)

Body Count: Justin Bruening, Deanna Russo

Although Ben Silverman was helming the prime-time lineup when the Knight Rider reboot geared up in 2008, Zucker was the man behind the scenes filled with quiet faith in another embarrassing misfire. The short-lived 2008 series was developed after a much-hyped television movie proved there was still an audience eager to watch talking cars. (Zucker hailed the miniseries’ ratings as the best for a TV movie since 2005.) But even Val Kilmer’s voice as K.I.T.T. couldn’t draw audiences, and after handsome newcomer Justin Bruening proved he was no David Hasselhoff, the new Knight Rider was canceled after one season.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:59 PM   #6
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Kings
Image: NBCU Photo Bank NBC via AP Images

Lifespan: 13 episodes (2009)

Body Count: Christopher Egan, Ian McShane, Sebastian Stan

Reports put the price tag of the Kings premiere near $10 million, yet only 6 million people watched the epic drama’s first episode last March. Most critics praised the allegorical “King David” story set in the 21st century as “bold and daring” and Ian McShane (Deadwood) was widely hailed in his role as King Silas Benjamin. Yet after the network botched the show’s marketing, they had little faith in the show, banishing it to Saturday nights after only four episodes. At a cost of four million per episode, NBC had little choice but to cancel another expensive failure.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:00 AM   #7
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Coupling
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: Four episodes (2003)

Body Count: Jay Harrington, Lindsay Price, Rena Sofer

Jeff Zucker was still the Entertainment President when one of the biggest bombs of the decade was detonated. The network’s attempt to position the American version of Coupling as the sex-obsessed successor to the Friends throne, complete with a six-person cast in their thirties, was a blatant failure. Steven Moffat, who wrote the original U.K. version, didn’t mince words about why his show failed overseas. “I can answer it with three letters,” he said. “N, B, C.” “If you really want a job to work, don’t get Jeff Zucker’s team to come help you with it because they’re not funny.”
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:01 AM   #8
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American Gladiators
Image: NBCU Photo Bank NBC via AP Images

Lifespan: Two seasons (2008-2009)

Body Count: Hulk Hogan, Laila Ali

NBC has a habit of looking backwards to try and find future successes. In 2008, they brought back American Gladiators, which had a memorable run in syndication from 1989 to 1996 featuring patriotically dressed gladiators jousting and playing games like “Powerball.” Variety called the remake “just cheeky enough to look fresh again” but said the producers also “ratcheted up the volume and stupidity factor.” Hulk Hogan hosted the show, which was a runaway hit with 12 million tuning in to the premiere. Audiences tuned out after two seasons of watching Hellga and Hurricane show up their amateur competitors and everyone wished the network had left well enough alone.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:01 AM   #9
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LAX
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: 13 episodes (2004-2005)

Body Count: Heather Locklear, Blair Underwood

Another high-profile, A-list flop. Airports can be one of the most stressful places in the world, so why would anyone want to watch the inner workings of California’s most disorganized place in prime time? Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood, two stars usually charming in their own shows, engaged in will-they-or-won’t-they banter for an hour every week. The stars were great, but no one wants to watch two people argue on a tarmac. LAX became a prime example of one of NBC’s prime faults—totally forgettable dramas.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:02 AM   #10
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Crusoe
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: 13 episodes (2008-2009)

Body Count: Philip Winchester, Mia Maestro, Sam Neill

Crusoe, an adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s classic Robinson Crusoe, premiered during a year that saw one of NBC’s worst lineups ever (Knight Rider, Kath & Kim, and Christian Slater’s My Own Worst Enemy). Filming in England and South Africa bloated the budget and NBC was hoping to recoup their losses for the adventure-heavy drama, but the “hokey and poorly paced” show was summed up as “a collection of people you don't recognize spouting words that sound fancy but are mostly trite.” After only seven episodes, NBC banished the show to Saturday nights (its ratings were skewing toward an older demographic) where the stranded island-dwellers limped along to the story’s final conclusion.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:04 AM   #11
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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: One season (2006-2007)

Body Count: Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson, Nate Corddry, Steven Weber

Even before it aired, Studio 60 had the most buzz of the 2006 season. The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin was behind the wheel as its creator and executive producer, and critics praised the show months before it premiered. It marked Matthew Perry’s post-Friends return to the network as the head writer and executive producer of a sketch comedy show, but the show appeared too self-referential for some and the ratings took a nosedive. The media, once so enamored with the fast-paced dialogue, quickly soured on the show, and Entertainment Weekly named it the worst of the year. And it also caused some collateral damage: Studio 60 stole the thunder of the far superior 30 Rock, which debuted the same year with the same premise (a show-within-a-show) and probably slowed it from catching on with viewers more quickly.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:04 AM   #12
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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: One season (2006-2007)

Body Count: Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson, Nate Corddry, Steven Weber

Even before it aired, Studio 60 had the most buzz of the 2006 season. The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin was behind the wheel as its creator and executive producer, and critics praised the show months before it premiered. It marked Matthew Perry’s post-Friends return to the network as the head writer and executive producer of a sketch comedy show, but the show appeared too self-referential for some and the ratings took a nosedive. The media, once so enamored with the fast-paced dialogue, quickly soured on the show, and Entertainment Weekly named it the worst of the year. And it also caused some collateral damage: Studio 60 stole the thunder of the far superior 30 Rock, which debuted the same year with the same premise (a show-within-a-show) and probably slowed it from catching on with viewers more quickly.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:05 AM   #13
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Andy Barker, P.I.
Image: Everett Collection

Lifespan: Six episodes (2007)

Body Count: Andy Richter, Clea Lewis, Tony Hale, Conan O’Brien

Years before NBC screwed over Conan, they were busy… screwing over Conan. Longtime wingman Andy Richter played the starring role of an accountant-turned-detective in the forgettable sitcom Andy Barker, P.I. in 2007. Critics were middling about the single-camera show, which was probably only a blip on the radar for most—except executive producer Conan O’Brien. Perhaps the redheaded funnyman should have taken the show’s cancellation as a warning of things to come.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:06 AM   #14
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http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-a...ime-disasters/
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:22 AM   #15
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I'm surprised Inside Schwartz and Union Square didn't make this list.
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