The Ashton Kutcher-produced series "The Beautiful Life," a scripted drama about the seamy side of modeling, is the first casualty of the new fall TV season. After airing only two episodes, The CW announced Friday it was pulling the series starring Mischa Barton and that production had ceased.
The debut episode lost about 60 percent of the audience of its lead-in, "America's Next Top Model," while the second episode only attracted 1 million viewers. For now The CW looks to be filling the newly vacant timeslot with encores of the revamped "Melrose Place," a show also receiving dismal ratings. One hit the network does have is "Vampire Diaries," which has been performing well and continues to build its audience.
So, which show is getting the axe next? Based on their weak premieres, the likeliest candidates seem to be Amy Poehler's "Parks and Recreation" and Jenna Elfman's new sitcom, "Accidentally on Purpose." And though it's highly unlikely FOX will yank fan favorite "So You Think You Can Dance," its lackluster ratings will probably relegate it back to the summer (where it belongs, obviously).
Clearly it's tough being a new show in the overcrowded fall TV lineup. A freshman series is much more likely to be canceled than get picked up. But it must be embarrassing to be the first cut. The producers of last fall's first canceled comedy, "Do Not Disturb," publicly apologized "for being the perpetrators of such bad television."
Check out these other perpetrators of bad TV that met with a quick demise:
Last year Christian Slater joined the ranks of movie stars -- including Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, and Kiefer Sutherland -- who've turned to the small screen for leading roles. In "My Own Worst Enemy" Slater played a secret agent living a double life, and we thought he was insanely good in the dual role. The subtle differences between his portrayal of a suburban dad and a trained assassin were impeccable. Sadly, the script and story line were not, and the show was canceled after nine episodes. Christian is back this fall for another go with Jerry Bruckheimer's new crime drama, "The Forgotten." We're crossing our fingers that this one sticks around.
The "Seinfeld" curse is notorious. Until Julia Louis-Dreyfus' hit "The New Adventures of Old Christine," none of the show's alumni had found prime-time success after the beloved series about nothing went off the air. Not that Julia hadn't had her own failure with 2002's unfortunately named "Watching Ellie." But the "curse" officially began in 2000 with "The Michael Richards Show." Proving once again that playing a wacky neighbor like Kramer does not necessarily transfer into starring-role success, the quirky detective series was canceled after eight weeks. But it was "Seinfeld" castmate Jason Alexander who is most noted for his fall flops. His 2001 self-improvement guru sitcom, "Bob Patterson," ran for just five episodes - did network execs really think we were going believe George Costanza as a self-help guru? And 2005's "Listen Up" proved that no one bought him as a sports radio DJ either.
"Coupling" was another classic example of American TV capitalizing on the success of a British show. The series ran from 2000 to 2004 in the U.K. to rave reviews and even higher ratings. Then along came U.S. producers who watered it down, made some bad casting choices, and sucked all the joy out of it. The highly anticipated series (which was supposed fill the void left by the end of "Friends") was about three thirty-something couples and their daily trials and tribulations. It was shut down after four episodes. The only good thing to come from "Coupling" was Jay Harrington. Watch for him on Season Two of "Better Off Ted" in January.
William Shatner could read the phone book, and we'd watch. We love the guy. So when we heard he was going to host a new "Deal or No Deal"-style prime-time game show, we were psyched. Surely, with Shatner's personality, a show that included 13 Million-Dollar Dancers who would spontaneously boogie with Captain Kirk and what seemed to be an easy road to big bucks (contestants only had to answer six questions correctly), the show had to be a hit. No, it wasn't (and please stop calling us Shirley). "Show Me the Money" only ran for three weeks.
We LOVE Hugh Jackman. And we LOVE musicals, but even we thought "Viva Laughlin" was a very bad idea from the start. The musical murder mystery series revolved around Ripley Holden (Lloyd Owen), a businessman who ran a casino in Laughlin, Nevada (the poor man's Vegas), and the murder of his ex-business partner. Occasionally, he and the other characters, including Jackman and Melanie Griffin, broke out into song. Of course, as fans of musicals, we like that, but here's where they lost us, and apparently a huge segment of the viewing audience: the actors were just singing along to contemporary songs. Yes, that's right. The recorded song was played, and Melanie and Hugh would sing along. No original music, no stars singing to new recordings, you could literally hear Mick Jagger's vocals on "Sympathy for the Devil." Oh, and the lame plot and dialog didn't help either. It was canned after two episodes. The New York Times called it the "worst show in the history of television." Ouch.
Not all fading rock stars can transform themselves into respected actors the way that Jon Bon Jovi and Little Steven Van Zandt have. But you can't blame a guy like Glenn Frey for trying. Why anyone thought an audience would want to watch the former Eagle play a private detective is beyond us. Execs might have thought Frey was hot, but apparently he was not as hot as the Malibu wildfires that pre-empted the West Coast airing of his "South of Sunset" pilot. The show was canceled after two episodes, though the final five were ultimately aired on VH1 the following year.
Rumor has it, ABC network execs committed to "Emily's Reasons Why Not" without even reading a script. They thought they had the next "Sex and the City" and that Heather Graham ("Boogie Nights" and "Anger Management") was a shoo-in for the next movie actress-turned-TV star. They believed in it so much they spent millions on advertising and were convinced it would be the break-out show of the season. Then they pulled the plug on the show after one episode aired. And all that promotion? Well, there was so much of it, and the series ended so quickly, that there were still magazine articles and cover stories about it after the show was already off the air.
In 1979, everyone wanted to cash in on the "Animal House" toga party, so all three networks introduced frat sitcoms. ABC brought us "Delta House," NBC introduced "Brothers and Sisters," and CBS launched "Co-Ed Fever." "Delta House" came with the added cache of being a direct spinoff of "Animal House" and starred several of the film's cast, including Dean Vernon Wormer, Flounder, and D-Day. Yet with all that going for it, the series lasted just one season. NBC threw its post-Super Bowl viewers at "Brothers and Sisters" to try to guarantee an audience, but that sitcom also only lasted one season. But the real loser in the battle of the frats was "Co-Ed Fever." Starring Heather "The Fall Guy" Thomas and Alexa "Pretty in Pink" Kenin, the show was pulled off the air after the first episode.
The TV biz is hard. You can be one of the most successful producers of all time and still have one of the most notorious flops of all time - or even two of them. Take Steven Bochco, for example. The guy created "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law." But he also brought us the musical police station drama "Cop Rock," which ran for only three episodes. And while it may be his most famous flop, it's not his most embarrassing ones. In 1996, Bochco created a sitcom called "Public Morals" about the New York City vice squad (always funny). Amid affiliates' refusal to air the pilot, CBS aired a different episode as the series premiere... and finale. The other 12 episodes that had been shot remained on the shelf. There was one enduring success resulting from the show: the series' main character, John Irvin, resurfaced nine years later and enjoyed a successful run in another Bochco hit, "NYPD Blue."