2014 was an incredible year for television, but for every great story told on the small screen -- there are at least ten awful ones. I've listed a few of the year's frustratingly bad shows here.
Ever since 'Lost' upped the ante for what can be done on television, things have gotten really interesting and production budgets and creative possibilities have soared. That also means that the potential to make a giant turd is much higher as well. I don't watch every TV show, but of the ones I have watched this year -- these were the worst.
Maybe it's because I grew up in a time when 'Saturday Night Live' was actually funny, but I still watch most new episodes of SNL and have for years now. I can honestly say that the current season has been the worst I've ever seen. It is incredible that such a talented cast (seriously, I think all of them are likable and really funny) can be so consistently awful. I don't know if it's the writers or the chemistry that sucks, but they need to figure it out ASAP!
Note: This sketch was so bad when it aired, SNL actually edited it to remove several awkward moments and flubbed lines before posting it online.
Oh, 'Boardwalk Empire.' We had some great times, didn't we? Like every season when you would kill off our favorite characters until we were left with, well, nobody to root for. This was a great show that began to sag a little bit in the fourth season. Its final season was way too flashback heavy and slow-paced for as short as it was. They should have called it "Bored-Walk Empire." The final outing would have been better delivered in a four episode sprint to the finish line instead of 8 episode crawl. It did wrap up the series in a satisfying way (as satisfying as a show like that could, anyway) but the final leg of the trip there was rather dull. By the way, the fake teeth on Young Nucky (seen below in one of many boring flashbacks from season 5) were hilarious.
As far as clip shows go, MTV's 'Ridiculousness' is the worst. Rob Dyrdek is so boring as a host he actually takes away from the funny clips on the show. Maybe he should leave the comedy to the comedians like Daniel Tosh and Joel McHale and stick to doing his Lunchables web show.
Every Reality Show Except Bar Rescue and Ink MasterEverywhere
If Jon Taffer isn't yelling "shut it down!" or there aren't egomaniacs tattooing against each other for money -- I'm not interested. Thankfully, the appeal of reality TV has soured in recent years. I hated the ratings domination reality programs once enjoyed and I am so glad that people are finally losing interest that garbage. "Reality shows" are all scripted... that's just a fact. Calling them "realistic" is like calling Taco Bell "authentic Mexican cuisine." They will always be around because they're inexpensive to produce, but thanks to sex-offender loving Mama June and that racist duck guy -- networks have become more wary of who they let become the face and mouthpiece of their brand. Except MTV... they'll pick 10 of the worst people you've ever met, put them in a house together and then move each one of their psychotic exes in. Have they learned nothing from sister-station VH1, whose '____ of Love' shows ended with a contestant beheading his model girlfriend? Seriously, MTV is going to get somebody killed.
A lot of people will tell you that 'Gotham' is awesome. These are all people that are lying to themselves because they really want to like the show. I am a huge fan of Batman and also wanted this to be good. I forced myself to sit there through this half-baked concept for a show that doesn't know what tone it's going for week after week. Is it gritty like Christopher Nolan's Bat-iverse, weird and dark like Tim Burton's or campy like the 1960s TV show? The answer is that it takes the worst elements of all three to create a show that is utterly pointless and terribly written. The cringe-inducing dialogue is almost as bad as the acting and constant over-nudging of the audience to remind them things like, "Hey, this Edward Nygma guy is going to be The Riddler later on, watch him tell a riddle" and so on. I don't fault the actors for the poor performances though, the show has such an identity crisis that no one would know how to play this thing right. 'Gotham' is burning through the rogues' gallery way too fast and introducing characters that have no business being in the Batman universe yet. They should just 86 this failed experiment and give us what we really want -- a Batman show. 'Arrow' has given us the template on how a gritty TV version of Batman could be done... and done well. That would be the best show on television, as I would argue that 'Arrow' is right now. Enough with this backstory on the villains that you never wanted or asked for, give Batman fans the show we deserve and the show that we need. 'Gotham' gives us neither... unless you've been dying to see young Bruce Wayne have a food fight with a young Catwoman.
Any CBS Comedy w/ a Laugh TrackCBS
CBS comedies are the only ones not getting cancelled. While NBC and other networks continue kicking incredibly smart and funny shows like 'Community,' 'Parks and Recreation' and 'Happy Endings' to the curb, these moderately entertaining cookie cutter sitcoms remain strong with the old folks that watch CBS. You know what the one major formatic difference between the first few shows I mentioned and the CBS comedy line-up is? CBS has a laugh track on all of their stuff so you know where the jokes are. Next time you watch 'Big Bang Theory,' just listen to how forceful those laugh tracks are. It sounds like the audience is being held at gunpoint by a man with a "laugh or die" shirt on. We get it. They're dorks... it's hilarious. This is the sort of trend that makes me think we're headed for the world 'Idiocracy' hinted at. "Get ready for 'Ass: The TV Show' coming to CBS this fall!"
This adaptation of Stephen King's novel started out strong in Season 1, so CBS decided to extend its planned one-season-only format into a frustratingly bad show with no end in sight. The combination of unlikable characters, nonsensical plot twists which are always explained away with "because the dome" and characters who do little more than explain what is happening make this one an unusually special experience. Unfortunately, it's on CBS and the high ratings will continue thanks to old people falling asleep during 'NCIS' reruns and leaving their TV on.
This show had major pacing issues in its first season, but the final few episodes (particularly the finale) were so strong that it brought me back for season 2. What a piece of s--- that turned out to be! Since the book it was based on was completely mined by season 1, they had to go off-book and make up a new chapter for these characters. Too bad it included bloody non maternal-breastfeeding, werewolf-vampire threesomes and ***SPOILER-ALERT*** a flying lizard-bat creature living in a human's skin... GTFO of here, Eli Roth! There's a reason Netflix decided to end this s---show with a 6 episode final run.
American Horror Story: Freak ShowFX
My love-hate relationship tipped way closer to the latter with its current season. Perhaps Ryan Murphy has run out of horror stories to tell... because this looks an awful lot like one of his other shows -- 'Glee.' The "re-do a new song every episode" stuff got old really quick and, thankfully, stopped in recent episodes. Why a show set in the 50s has characters performing songs by David Bowie, Fiona Apple, Nirvana (particularly puke-tastic, unnecessary and seen below) and Lana Del Rey is beyond me. On top of that, they ***SPOILER ALERT*** killed off one of the creepiest characters in television history (Twisty the Clown) far too soon, leaving us with a bunch of unlikable characters that love to have long, pointless conversations that lead to long pointless flashbacks. Also, what the f--- is going on with Kathy Bates' accent? It's like Kentucky Irish blended with Wisconsin... it's just laughably bad. Also, this is by far the gayest show on television. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be gay-centric shows on TV, but they're shoving it in our faces, literally. The gay relationships/situations are not handled gracefully, believably or in a way that is respectful of the gay community... some of it actually has more of a rape-y 'Deliverance' vibe. Hell, maybe that's what they're going for. Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett chew so much scenery that I haven't made it through an episode awake in my last 5 attempts. And who decided to devote a full episode to the backstory of a C-list (at best) character like Pepper? I don't care about any of the characters on this show and that never makes for a good viewing experience.