TV Shows That Failed Despite Having a Super Bowl Lead-In
When a TV network believes in a new show and wants to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible, they air it directly after the Super Bowl. However, not all series benefit from this advantageous position. Some are so bad, even a Super Bowl lead-in can't prevent a mid-season cancellation. Here are six shows that premiered after the big game but flopped.
1. 'Brothers and Sisters' (NBC, 12 Episodes: January 21, 1979-April 6, 1979)
Synopsis: Set at "Crandall College," Brothers and Sisters followed three cut-ups causing trouble in their fraternity. In the pilot, Zipper (one of the bros) bets his entire tuition that he can lure sorority babe Suzi Cooper into his bedroom by midnight (classic Zipper). Footage is tough to come by, but there's a short promo above.
Why the Network Thought It Would Work: Even today, studios insist on flogging Animal House's horse corpse, so it's no surprise that the networks gave it a try when the flesh was still fresh. In 1979, three separate fraternity-themed shows made it onto TV: ABC's Delta House, CBS's Co-Ed Fever, and NBC's Brothers and Sisters. All three premiered within weeks of each other, but Brothers and Sisters had the coveted time slot immediately after Super Bowl XIII.
Why It Flopped: Besides the fact that it was terrible? Market over-saturation didn't help, even though the competition wasn't exactly strong. Rival show Co-Ed Fever lasted only one episode, despite the fact that it featured a motorcycle-driving octogenarian house mother.
2. 'MacGruder and Loud' (ABC, 14 Episodes: January 20, 1985-April 30, 1985)
Synopsis: Malcolm MacGruder and Jenny Loud are tough, fast-talking L.A. cops, and the only thing they love more than arresting bad guys is kissing each other (that's because they're married). Marriage is against LAPD policy, so MacGruder and Loud have to sneak around under the suspicious Sergeant's nose. In the pilot, we see the two cops get hitched in Vegas, a scene that hints at the realistic and snappy dialogue viewers would come to expect from M&L:
MacGruder: "Can you hurry it up? She's pregnant."
Loud: "I'm not pregnant! Well, not yet..." [Looks lovingly into MacGruder's eyes]
Priest: "I now pronounce you man and wife." [Saxophone blares]
A side note: There is so much saxophone in this show. I don't know if they got a good deal on a studio musician or something, but the music whines throughout every episode.
Why the Network Thought It Would Work: It was an Aaron Spelling show, and he had a track record of producing huge hits like The Mod Squad and Charlie's Angels. It also sounded like a combination Cagney and Lacey and MacGyver, so they probably hoped viewers would get confused.
Why It Flopped: America just wasn't ready for a TV show that tackled the pressing moral and legislative issues of married police officers. The saxophone didn't help, either.
3. 'The Last Precinct' (NBC, 8 Episodes: January 26, 1986-May 30, 1986)
Synopsis: Can't get enough Police Academy? Well, what about Police Academy 2? Still want more? Then stuff your mind-hole with The Last Precinct, a comedy about misfits from a (you guessed it) police academy.
Why the Network Thought It Would Work: Police Academy worked! Police Academy 2 kind of worked? Why don't we barf this out into the world before they make a third and see if it sticks.
Why It Flopped: America was a little Policy Academy'd out by the time this Adam West-led sitcom hit the air. Even with the help of a lead-in from the most-watched Super Bowl ever featuring one of the most beloved teams of all time (the '85 Bears), The Last Precinct was doomed from the start.
4. 'Grand Slam' (CBS, 6 Episodes: January 28, 1990 – March 14, 1990)
Synopsis: Grand Slam was about Hardball and Gomez, two San Diego bounty hunters. That's all I got. It's like the show was scrubbed from the earth. The above clip, which is in Hungarian, is pretty much the only evidence of Grand Slam's existence.
Why the Network Thought It Would Work: Perhaps they considered Grand Slam a natural extension of Miami Vice, which was cancelled the previous year.
Why It Flopped: I have no idea. Frankly, the show looks awesome, even in Hungarian. I mean, Hardball and Gomez eat those peppers and—WOWZA, THOSE ARE SPICY. They can't find any water so they have to break into a woman's house and drink out of her goldfish bowl, but—uh oh!—she has a gun. Holy moly, how are Hardball and Gomez going to get out of this jam? I'd gladly watch nine seasons of Grand Slam.
5. 'The Good Life' (NBC, 13 Episodes: January 30, 1994-April 12, 1994)
Synopsis: John Caponera played John Bowman, a man who works at a lock company in Chicago, has a family, and, um, that's pretty much it. Drew Carey also works at the lock company and occasionally stops by the Bowmans' house, so there's that. Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, they have a dog.
Why the Network Thought It Would Work: NBC found success hitching their wagon to Jerry Seinfeld, so they thought they could do it again with another stand-up comedian, John Caponera.
Why It Flopped: Watch the episode above. It's like a tired sitcom trope menagerie. They Dr. Frankenstein'd the body parts and organs of a dozen other lame mid-'90s comedies and created this hideous, evil monster.
6. 'Extreme' (NBC, 7 Episodes: January 29, 1995-April 6, 1995)
Synopsis: James Brolin operates a search and rescue team in the Rockies. Judging by the intro, there is extreme rock climbing, extreme BASE jumping, extreme rafting, extreme sex, extreme helicopters, extreme snowboarding, extreme hot tubs, and extreme guitar riffs.
Why the Network Thought It Would Work: This was 1995, the era of X-Games, Reebok Pumps, Dan Cortese, and Sonic the Hedgehog. If you weren't extreme and rockin' a tight bandana while rollerblading and listening to Collective Soul, then you were worse than dirt.
Why It Flopped: Probably wasn't extreme enough.