Saturday, January 4, 2014

Readers' Write (2): Discuss... Bad Episodes of Good TV Shows

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's Discuss is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, the Discuss category is for narrow topics.  For example, in the past we've started conversations on topics such as the Sub-Mariner, Animal House, and the Captain America television movies.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

David B. wants to Discuss -- really bad episodes of good TV shows.

35 comments:

david_b said...

I happened to take yesterday afternoon off from work, so I came home and felt a whim to watch episodes from the generally less-liked 2nd year of Space:1999. These episodes were generally less-intellectual than the first year, more 'dumbed-down' as many have said. In other words, some REAL stinkers.

A more light-hearted discussion today, but my topic is classic Star Trek 'Spock's Brain' stinkers of favorite sci-fi shows. Face it, every great show has it's terrible turn more suited to stay in the closet.:

- The ones you pray no one is in the room when it comes on,

- The one you audibly groan when it's announced, OR

- The one which is so BAD, is too good to pass up.

Every show has one, well, ok some have a couple, or perhaps in the case of 'Dallas', a whole year (with Bobby ending up in the shower)...

Examples to share are 'Spocks Brain', perhaps even 'The Great Vegetable Rebellion' from Lost in Space. These also happen to be noteable episodes that even the cast cringe when mentioned at conventions. Even the Star Wars Christmas Special is fair-game.

"Oh..., how the mighty hath fallen.."

What say you..?

david_b said...

Ahhh, sorry to share that Phil Everly passed on at the ripe age of 74 in LA yesterday.

Love his records with brother Don and always enjoyed their McCartney-penned 'On the Wings of a Nightingale," back in '84.

A sad day indeed.

Matt Celis said...

Star Wars Christmas Special = still superior to Episodes I, Ii, and III. Those are so awful I haven't seen more than half an hour of each. I tried to watch after DVRing them...ended up deleting them all.

Spock's Brain is awesome, what are you on about?

Lost in Space has good episodes? I don't dislike that show, but I wouldn't ever call it good. Cheesy, yes; goofy, yes; fun, yes; good...no.

So what's up with Charlie's Angels having Jaclyn Smith's character get shot in the head in 3 different episodes and energing without a scratch? Dunno about you, but if I got shot in the head 3 times in 5 years, I'd look for another line of work!

William said...

That episode of Happy Days where the Fonz jumps that shark and… wait a minute.

david_b said...

Matt, actually 'agreed and agreed'. I never watched Episodes I&II (they just SOUND terrible), then one night over in Kuwait I decided to try Episode III, I was THAT BORED.

Uggh. I should have stayed bored.

Referencing my 'prequel comments' a week ago, I never have any interest in 'em because they typically thin out any rich history my imagination already filled out 30some years earlier (certainly don't need to watch some hollywood production 'connect the dots' just to have another blockbuster cashcow...). I just like to tease my cousin who, whenever he touts how better SW is than Trek, I like to knock him down a few pegs with mention of Carrie Fisher singing about Life Day. Reportedly George Lucas has an yet-unfulfilled dream of taking a sledge hammer to each and every video copy of that Special.

Also agreed on 'Brain'... It's actually one of my all-time favorite episodes, but not exactly 'City on the Edge of Cheesy Melodrama' (er, Forever..).

LIS: I'd say nearly every episode after the first couple of B&W episodes were all cringeworthy. What's more fun is the background on filming this particular episode: Guy Williams and June Lockhart were both written out of the next few episodes because they couldn't stop laughing on the set.

Matt Celis said...

From what I saw, the "prequels" also show Lucas was full of it when he claimed to have all these stories planned out in advance. For instance,slaves on Tatooine?! Since when? And Vader seems to have no particular interest in the planet where his dear mother died a slave besides? Not to mention it's clear in Episode IV that Darth Vader was never intended to be Luke's father, nor Leia Luke's sister... certainly Lucas would have put the kibosh on the Marvel comics that contradicted those things if he had it all worked out already.

Matt Celis said...

City on the Edge of Overrated with a Plot that Could be for Any SciFi Show and Deemed Classic Trek Only because a Famous Name Wrote It.

Edo Bosnar said...

On the subject of Star Trek, "Spock's Brain" is certainly not one of the best episodes, but it's not THAT bad, either. Two episodes that kind of make me cringe are "Patterns of Force" (the one with the Nazis) and "A Piece of the Action." In and of themselves, they're actually quite enjoyable, but the explanations for why these societies came to adopt the culture and/or political systems from specific periods in Earth's history were just a little too ridiculous. This is particularly the case in "A Piece of the Action," in which they read this big book about Al Capone's Chicago in the 1920s and decided to run their entire planet like that. Right.

Redartz said...

I'll take a slightly different tack here and submit the 1967 Spider-man animated series. As with many such shows of that era, it was often silly.Yet it had great music and did feature numerous good episodes, some adapting classic stories from the comic. Unfortunately the later episodes from the Bakshi studios declined precipitously. There was an episode in which our hero captured the villain in a room of frozen custard. Even as a child, I wondered why he didn't simply use his webbing? Then there was the "Devious Doctor Dumpty". They should have stuck with the Kingpin and the Vulture...

Doug said...

Edo, I've not seen that episode of Trek, but it reminds me of the FFs where the team goes to a Skrull homeworld where they're all gangsters. That idea was revisited in the Avengers/FF Annuals we reviewed two summers ago.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, wow, I can't believe you've never seen "A Piece of the Action." Like I said, it's not a bad episode - if you can get past the utterly risible prospect that an alien culture would completely copy 1920s Chicago (down to the lingo), it's actually pretty amusing. Also, it's where Kirk invented the card-game fizzbin, which, apparently, some people actually play.

William, as for jumping the shark, sometimes there are entire series that basically have a "jumped the shark" concept, yet still got produced and aired, i.e., "Joanie Loves Chachi."

J.A. Morris said...

Every episode of Buffy after Dawn arrives. Dawn=Cousin Oliver.

Every episode of Happy Days after Richie and Ralph leave (which is being charitable, since the show hasn't aged well, unless you feel nostalgia for the 70s).

I think Spock's brain is hilarious. I'll never forget watching that as a kid, my father & I laughed our asses off over that episode!

Doug said...

Edo --

Well, if I never came out of that closet, I will now. I can probably count on one hand the number of complete episodes of Star Trek I've ever seen! And no, I don't dislike the show -- quite the contrary, it's been on my to-watch list for say, 40 years!!

When I was little, it was on TV in reruns. Can't-miss TV for me, though, was Batman and Lost in Space. Star Trek was on around the same time of day, but the kids next door weren't into Trek so whenever it came on it was playtime! No one in my family was ever into comics or scifi, so unlike JA I didn't have any sort of "role model" to steer me towards it. And over time, for whatever reason, I just never watched it. I don't apologize, but I don't have any explanation either.

Furthermore, I loved $6 Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica, the POTA TV show, Greatest American Hero, etc. The mind boggles...

Doug

Garett said...

A Piece of the Action is one of the best Trek episodes! I agree the premise is silly, but I suppose they had to take advantage of any wardrobe/props they could with their low budgets. I also liked Patterns of Force--something wild about nazis and Trek together. Perhaps there should be a discussion on favorite Trek episodes? Doug it's hard to believe you haven't seen Star Trek with all the other things you've read and watched! Seems to me the Corbomite Maneuver episode is overrated.

Doug said...

Not to hijack David's topic, but how many of our readers are getting in on this wonderful winter weather over the past week? South of Chicago, we're expecting 8"-12" of snow in the next 24 hours (we already got 4"-5" on New Year's Day), followed by a high on Monday of -14 degrees F. Not sure everyone subscribes to global warming theories, but I'd read that one potential characteristic was weather extremes...

Doug

Graham said...

I stopped watching Happy Days after they basically started ignoring the fact that it was set in the 50's and early 60's, with Potsie and Chachi wearing then-modern hair styles, Mr. C's 70's glasses, and Joanie's perm. Then Fonzie got the middle-age spread going on. When the actors don't even want to go through the motions, then why should I?

Humanbelly said...

Let's see-- I'm going to go 'WAY back for one example: The DRAGNET radio program (RADIO, mind you)had a very well-known episode called "The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas" which is quietly horrifying, wrapped in despair, and resolves in an utterly unbelievable, unsatisfying and unbearable fashion. Dragnet was a great radio program (and I've always been fond of the two original television iterations, too), but this oppressively heavy-handed cautionary tale has one little boy accidentally kill his best friend w/ the rifle he got for Christmas and then try to cover the accident up while everyone searches for the missing kid. The parents are distraught, but the entire episode has an unrealistically detached emotional tone across the board. Ultimately, (in an effort to show there are no hard feelings-???) the parents give the surviving boy all of their dead son's Christmas presents. I think. . . I think this was Jack Webb's idea of "warm & fuzzy" under the given circumstances, as it was a Christmas episode. I cannot listen to this horrible episode whenever it plays around Christmas time. I know they made a television version as well, and I can't bring myself to watch that either.

In the modern era-- I'll cite Buffy, but I'm not at all in the hate-Dawn camp, as I think Michelle Trachtenberg's delightful performance managed to save what otherwise could have been a show-killing device (still plenty dubious, make no mistake). No, pretty much the whole second half of the final season was just awful, culminating in one of the worst series finales I think I've ever seen. Characterizations simply gone or ignored; characters behaving like parodies of themselves; writing that clearly relied on cliches rather than true thoughtful interplay-- ultimately a complete abandonment of what had made the series so good for at least four of its seasons.

HB

Matt Celis said...

Sunny and mid- to upper-70s here.

Matt Celis said...

I thought Buffy went downhill once they went to college.

david_b said...

Regarding Trek episodes (hoping some folks would mention awful episodes for Next Gen and later Trek..), I don't find anything wrong with the more light-hearted 2nd Season episodes. The REAL stinkers for me were the ones which either had 'no heart' or just came off terrible.

Ones that come to mind are 'Alternative Factor', 'Obsession', 'The Omega Glory', 'And the Children Shall Lead', among others.

The original Battlestar Galactica had 'Greetings From Earth', an otherwise OK episode if it wasn't for Bobby Van and Ray Bolger as slapstick/dancing robots.. Uggh.

I won't even venture into the insipid Galactica 1980.

Buck Roger's 2nd year anyone..?

Agreed with J.A. and Graham on 'Happy Days': Like Eric and Kelso on 'That '70s Show', once Ritchie and Ralph left, the show's producers decided to 'contemporize' the show, ruining any residual charm. There was simply no reason to watch any longer.

Cousin Oliver, indeed.

david_b said...

Oh, and for you '66 Batman fans, most of the pre-Batgirl episodes were good.

The REAL stinkers came in the 3rd year with Yvonne Craig. She was gorgeous, but by cutting the story-telling time by half (going from 2-parters to single episodes) they eliminated what worked in the first year so well, like the balance between Aunt Harriet scenes and better story development. Add to both terrible scripts and cut budgets, bad ratings due to market/media over-saturation had ended things quickly.

J.A. Morris said...

One of the worst Next Gen episodes I can think of is 'Genesis'. It's a final season episode, the crew starts to de-evolve into lower forms of life.

Anonymous said...

It's a balmy 24 degrees Celsius down here in Trinidad - that's 76 degrees Fahrenheit to you guys up there. Brrrr! Hope the cold hasn't adversely affected anyone of you all.

Doug, I am shocked that you have never seen A Piece of the Action. Sure, it's not Trek's finest hour, but it does have a cheesy charm. Wanna see Spock dressed up like Al Capone? Check. Kirk inventing a non-existent card game, the aforementioned fizzbin? The Enterprise crew interacting with people who look and talk like they came straight out of a 1930s Chicago gangster movie? Check and check!

Seriously, I read somewhere (probably in Starlog) that the real reason they wrote this episode is that Paramount wanted to utilize its exiting sets, hence the gangster angle.


- Mike 'life unscripted' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Doug, there was a funny scene from that F.F. comic you mentioned, where the Thing got abducted to the Skrull planet to fight in the arena, where all the Skrulls dressed and looked like gangsters and molls from the Prohibition Era.
A Skrull looking exactly like Edward G. Robinson walks up to Ben Grimm and tells him they don't like uppity aliens.
The Thing replies, "I didn't figger to win any popularity contests in this dump."
That's classic Ben Grimm, there!

Garett said...

We're sitting at -25C right now, with the strong wing putting us at -38. Chilly day even for Edmonton! :)

Anonymous said...

Hold tight, Garrett, we're all in this together.
It could be worse, if we've learned anything from Game of Thrones, there could be zombies on horseback out there.
I'm assuming there aren't.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I meant, "I'm hoping there aren't."
If it get's much colder in South Dakota, it might end up looking like a John Carpenter movie.
I'm only sorry I never got around to buying that flamethrower I didn't get for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

My first reaction to the topic was the Fantasy Island episode where Roddy McDowell was Mephistopholes. He was dressed as the opposite of Mr Roark, all black to Roark's all white. It just seemed so out of character for the show. I've read on the internet that there was a sequel but I don't remember seeing that one, or I have and I've put it all together in one big memory. In keeping with the Fantasy Island episode, the Knight Rider one where Hasselhoff played duel characters, the good Michael and the evil Russian (with mustache). That is definitely one I love watching but I have to be alone. The Star Trek episode with the gangsters is the one where Spock has to keep his hat on the whole time to cover his ears! I loved it!!!

It could be worse question - at what temperature do we have to stop worrying about zombies? Is there a point where it now becomes so slow that they can no longer function? Has there been a zombie movie set during the winter?

The Prowler (from the old Spider-man Crawlspace).

Anonymous said...

Not SLOW cold the word should be COLD.

The Prowler (from the old.........ahh you know)...

Edo Bosnar said...

J.A., totally agreed about "Genesis" - that has to be the most ridiculous and cringe-worthy episode of TNG. There's a similarly bad episode of Voyager, in fact it's my vote for worst and stupidest of that series, called "Threshold," in which Paris and later Janeway start 'evolving' super-fast, eventually turning into mindless creatures that look something like a cross between catfish and salamanders. WTF?

As for the weather here in Croatia, it's been unseasonably warm. Whereas about this time last year I was literally thigh-deep in snow, for the past 2 weeks temps have been in the 50s (F), and skies mostly overcast with occasional light rainfall. I don't miss the snow, but I really wouldn't mind some nice, normal freezing temperatures right now. This is just weird...

Anonymous said...

Prowler, my friend, if art and literature have taught us anything about zombies, white-walkers, or vampires, it is that they are immune to severe cold.

Unlike my car battery. (rimshot, and goodnight)
M.P.

Redartz said...

The winter weather party is just getting started here in Indiana: forecast up to 14" of snow, high wind and temps of -21 by Monday morning. Looks like a good day to stay inside and catch up on some reading...no sign of White Walkers here yet, but we are watching.

Matt Celis said...

Season 3 suffered from two huge problems: 1/2 as much time to tell the story and twice as many characters to fit into that time. All the stories seem like unfinished sketches. They still have their moments and Yvonne Craig is just a dream to behold, but it's very sad to see the sharp decline of my favorite super hero show.

david_b said...

Granted, LIS may have been cringe-worthy for most of it's duration, but lord-help-me, I LOVE that Space Pod from Year 3.

Just used my $50 Amazon gift card from Christmas for the 2009 copy of Magical Mystery Tour CD and that beautiful Moebius LIS Space Pod..:

http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Space-Pod-Finished-Moebius/dp/B0069FI3E0/ref=sr_1_2?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1388964827&sr=1-2&keywords=lost+in+space+pod

A HUGE Apollo LEM fan, it's such a cocky-lookin' little spacecraft.

Edo Bosnar said...

All right, just thought of one more, also Star Trek, this time DS9. First, I should say that I generally disliked the excessive use of the holodecks to generate stories in any of the Trek series, but I truly despised that Vegas night club in DS9 with the self-aware holographic lounge lizard. And there was that one episode when some kind of sub-routine or computer virus - which played out as a mobster taking over the night club - threatened to wipe out that program (big loss) and for some reason the entire DS9 crew had to go into the holodeck in period costumes to save the day. That was bad enough, but then in the end Sisko belts out a song with the lounge lizard - truly the most cringe-worthy moment in any Star Trek episode I've ever seen.
Also pretty bad was another episode of DS9 in which the station's crew plays a baseball game against a bunch of Vulcans in the holodeck (where else?).

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