10 ’80s Sitcoms That Were the Worst and Lasted Only One Season

10 ’80s Sitcoms That Were the Worst and Lasted Only One Season | Society Of Rock Videos

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The 1980s was a booming decade for sitcoms, with over 200 shows produced. Unlike today, where streaming services provide a platform for countless series, back then, network airtime was the only showcase for these shows. This meant that to be noticed among the vast array of offerings, a sitcom had to be truly outstanding. Despite this, there were numerous shows, some of which were remarkably good but still ended after just one season. This wasn’t always due to their quality. Often, it was a matter of too many options on network schedules or behind-the-scenes disagreements. Other times, a poor time slot led to dismal ratings. Unfortunately, many of these short-lived gems aren’t easily accessible for streaming today.

Herbie, the Love Bug (1982)

This family-friendly sitcom featured the beloved Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, who had a mind of its own. The series followed the adventures of Jim Douglas and Herbie, continuing the magical escapades from the films. The show maintained the light-hearted atmosphere that made the movies popular, focusing on the camaraderie and sometimes chaotic relationship between a man and his sentient car.

Unfortunately, “Herbie, the Love Bug” was never intended to be much more than a short series. After a mere five episodes, the journey of Jim and Herbie came to an end in a wholesome conclusion that saw them parting ways as Jim decided to sell Herbie for the sake of starting a family. The show’s final episode provided a fitting conclusion to this brief revival of a cinematic favorite.

Goodtime Girls (1980)

Set during the Second World War, “Goodtime Girls” delivered humor infused with historical context as it explored the lives of four women dealing with the challenges presented by the war, such as a shortage of available men and housing. The mix of situational comedy with period-specific issues offered a unique experience amongst the sitcom landscape of its time.

Though promising, the show suffered from an unfavorable time slot, airing after “Happy Days,” which didn’t help retain viewers. Contending with high expectations and struggling to establish its identity against such an established lead-in, “Goodtime Girls” ultimately did not catch on with audiences and was canceled after just thirteen episodes.

Jennifer Slept Here (1983 – 1984)

“Jennifer Slept Here” brought a unique twist to the sitcom genre by blending humor with a ghostly presence. The show featured Ann Jillian as the ghost of a former movie star who helps a teenage boy adapt to his new home, which once belonged to her. This supernatural sitcom managed to earn an Emmy nomination, showcasing its potential and the quality of its performances.

Despite its innovative premise, “Jennifer Slept Here” found itself in a tough spot, competing with highly successful shows during the same time slot. Audience fragmentation meant that the show couldn’t secure the ratings needed for renewal. After an all-too-brief run of just thirteen episodes, the series came to an end, leaving viewers to wonder what spectral hijinks could have been had it continued.

The Brady Brides (1981)

“The Brady Brides” was an attempt to recapture the charm of the original “The Brady Bunch” by focusing on the married lives of sisters Jan and Marcia Brady. Fans of the original series were initially enthusiastic about seeing their favorite characters in a new setting, navigating the ups and downs of life as young wives. However, the transition from family sitcom to marital comedy proved less successful than hoped.

The show’s inability to deliver the sort of humor that viewers cherished from “The Brady Bunch” was its undoing. Additionally, the performances, which were often criticized as rigid, tarnished the Brady brand. The result was an unfortunate cancellation after just ten episodes, which showed that not all spinoffs could match their predecessors’ cultural impact or appeal.

Police Squad! (1982)

“Police Squad!” offered a deadpan parody of police procedural dramas and is remembered for its wry humor and absurdity. It introduced the deadbeat detective Frank Drebin, portrayed by Leslie Nielsen, and laid the groundwork for the successful “Naked Gun” film franchise. The series was praised for its witty dialogue and slapstick comedy. However, it was also ahead of its time, requiring viewers to pay close attention to catch the jokes and visual gags.

The creators of “Police Squad!” later remarked that the show’s innovative approach may have contributed to its early cancellation, as the network felt it demanded too much of its audience’s attention in a landscape dominated by more straightforward comedies. The entirety of “Police Squad!” spanned just six episodes, and despite its briefness, its legacy endured, giving birth to a beloved series of comedy movies.

Baby Boom (1988)

“Baby Boom” attempted to translate the cinematic success of the film with the same name into a televised format. It centered around J.C. Wiatt, a career woman who inherits a baby and must balance her professional life with newfound motherhood. The series explored themes of work-life balance and gender roles, hoping to resonate with audiences who were experiencing similar life challenges.

One of the critical issues with the series was the absence of Diane Keaton, who starred in the film and gave a memorable performance. While the sitcom aimed to capture the spirit of the movie, the decision not to use a laugh track and the discrepancies in casting led to a disconnect for viewers. After just 13 episodes, “Baby Boom” could not sustain the interest needed to survive in the competitive TV network landscape of the ’80s.

Living Dolls (1989)

Providing a glimpse into the lives of young models trying to break into the fashion industry, “Living Dolls” was a spinoff of the successful sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” The show featured Halle Berry in one of her earliest roles, as well as Leah Remini, and aimed to tackle both the comedic and dramatic aspects of the modeling world.

Despite an attractive cast and the initial interest due to its connection to a popular parent series, “Living Dolls” suffered from a string of recasts and negative reviews that ultimately overshadowed its content. The behind-the-scenes issues and critical reception proved too much for the show, leading to its cancellation after just 12 episodes.

It’s Your Move (1984)

“It’s Your Move” starred a precocious Jason Bateman as a high school con artist whose schemes are consistently thwarted by his neighbors. The show was smart and exhibited a sense of humor that was sly and often subversive for its time. It had considerable critical acclaim and displayed a potential that hinted at a long-running series.

Unfortunately, it was up against the immensely popular “Dynasty,” which left “It’s Your Move” struggling in the ratings department. With audiences flocking to their soaps, the sitcom didn’t stand much of a chance. After 18 episodes, the network decided not to renew it for a second season, even though it was well received by those who did tune in.

Life with Lucy (1986)

Lucille Ball returned to television with “Life with Lucy,” where she portrayed a widowed grandmother who inherits her husband’s half of a hardware store and begins to work with her daughter’s family. Reprising her physical comedy and slapstick routines, the series was an attempt by Ball to reconnect with a new generation of viewers while maintaining the comedic style she had been known for.

Creative control issues and the reluctance to modernize her comedic approach were significant factors contributing to the show’s failure. Audience expectations had evolved, and “Life with Lucy” seemed to be a throwback rather than a step forward. Consequently, the show failed to resonate with the ’80s viewership and was canceled after just 13 episodes, despite the legacy of its star.

The Duck Factory (1984)

“The Duck Factory” offered an intriguing premise centered around a young animator, played by Jim Carrey, joining a cartoon studio. The workplace comedy sought to explore the quirks and creativity of the animation business, and Carrey’s comedic talent was evident even in this early role.

Despite its potential and Carrey’s dynamic performance, the show struggled with network disagreements and a lack of strong promotion. The industry politics and competitive environment of television at the time meant that the show didn’t receive the support it needed to flourish. “The Duck Factory” lasted for only 13 episodes before the curtains were drawn on the series, but it served as a steppingstone for Carrey’s subsequent rise to fame.

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