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-   -   "How did anyone think that was a good idea?" (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=891554)

Pantastic 03-12-2020 09:12 PM

"How did anyone think that was a good idea?"
 
TV shows and movies are made by a large number of people collaborating, so there are usually some checks and balances on really bad ideas percolating to the big or little screen. What are some of the things done in TV and Movies that you can't believe they managed to think were a good idea? I'm not talking about things like replacing an actor because the original one left or things that were just executed badly, I'm looking for things that are so bad it seems like everyone would realize it would flop but for some reason it happened anyway.

For example, one of the attempted spinoffs from the Babylon 5 TV show Legend Of The Rangers came up with a really bizarre-looking idea for a fire control on a spaceship, where the gunner would be suspended in midair and would control the guns by punching and kicking at enemy ships. It was a weird, goofy-looking, grossly impractical setup, and I just don't see how anyone thought hovering kung fu spareship fighting complete with screaming was going to come off looking good to an audience, even back in the early 2000s. Here's a clip of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZapAjjTDbh4 , digging up this clip for another thread is what prompted me to post this one.

Peanuthead 03-13-2020 03:22 AM

My Mother The Car. Probably the most inconceivable, absurd, POS to ever sail across the public airwaves

Derleth 03-13-2020 08:32 AM

Most SNL movies, simply because most SNL skits can't be spun out into a full film and still remain amusing, and that should be obvious. For every Blues Brothers there's an It's Pat, for every Coneheads there's a Night at the Roxbury, for every Wayne's World there's a The Ladies Man or Stuart Saves His Family. And Blues Brothers 2000 was sad for reasons unrelated to it being an SNL movie.

Telemark 03-13-2020 08:53 AM

Counterpoint: Sharknado

Icarus 03-13-2020 09:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pantastic (Post 22186799)
TV shows and movies are made by a large number of people collaborating, so there are usually some checks and balances on really bad ideas percolating to the big or little screen. What are some of the things done in TV and Movies that you can't believe they managed to think were a good idea? I'm not talking about things like replacing an actor because the original one left or things that were just executed badly, I'm looking for things that are so bad it seems like everyone would realize it would flop but for some reason it happened anyway.

For example, one of the attempted spinoffs from the Babylon 5 TV show Legend Of The Rangers came up with a really bizarre-looking idea for a fire control on a spaceship, where the gunner would be suspended in midair and would control the guns by punching and kicking at enemy ships. It was a weird, goofy-looking, grossly impractical setup, and I just don't see how anyone thought hovering kung fu spareship fighting complete with screaming was going to come off looking good to an audience, even back in the early 2000s. Here's a clip of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZapAjjTDbh4 , digging up this clip for another thread is what prompted me to post this one.

For every show that makes it on the air, there are literally hundreds of pilots that are written, cast, and filmed, and don't make it.

I think some times the decision makers are not thinking in terms of what they like, but in terms of what they imagine some strawman audience would like. Much of the TV industry at the top is coastal urban educated upper-middle class people making shows for the rest of America, so you can imagine there is often a disconnect.

But as to your example of the marionette kung-fu fighter, well, that is just one aspect of show rather than the whole story. I can only imagine a late night creative session going off the rails - "What if they have a cat with laser beam eyes? Or OR OR a guy (giggle) who hangs by wires and uses kung fu moves to fight spaceships! THAT WOULD BE AWESOME! No, really guys. We have to do that!"

Hermitian 03-13-2020 09:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Telemark (Post 22187469)
Counterpoint: Sharknado

See, that is what makes it hard. If quality was the only indicator of success, this would be a lot easier.

Crane 03-13-2020 09:32 AM

"Whatever flips your Bic" (Dick Martin)

puddleglum 03-13-2020 10:29 AM

The Madonna Guy Ritchie remake of Swept Away. The original is about a rich lady and a sailor who get marooned on an island and he beats and rapes her until she falls in love with him. It is probably one of the most sexist movies ever made, and is only thought of as a classic because it is supposed to be an allegory of marxist class conflict.
How they thought a remake would be appropriate after the fall of the USSR and the introduction of feminism is mystifying.

KneadToKnow 03-13-2020 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hermitian (Post 22187538)
See, that is what makes it hard. If quality was the only indicator of success, this would be a lot easier.

Exactly. For every George Lucas ca. 1976 there's an Ed Wood ca. 1958.

zoid 03-13-2020 10:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pantastic (Post 22186799)
Here's a clip of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZapAjjTDbh4 , digging up this clip for another thread is what prompted me to post this one.

Jesus that was painful

lissener 03-13-2020 10:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Derleth (Post 22187445)
Most SNL movies, simply because most SNL skits can't be spun out into a full film and still remain amusing, and that should be obvious. For every Blues Brothers there's an It's Pat, for every Coneheads there's a Night at the Roxbury, for every Wayne's World there's a The Ladies Man or Stuart Saves His Family. And Blues Brothers 2000 was sad for reasons unrelated to it being an SNL movie.

FYI Stuart Saves His Family is another exception: it was directed by Harold Ramis, who also did Groundhog Day and Caddyshack. It's worth your attention. It has heart and depth behind the comedy.

Superdude 03-13-2020 10:55 AM

How about a remake of "What Women Want" told from the other side?

I present "What Men Want."

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7634968/

Kent Clark 03-13-2020 11:14 AM

In 1993, ABC gave Paula Poundstone her own variety show. It aired on Saturday nights (mistake 1.) Unfortunately, I can't find a clip of it, so you'll have to settle for this review of Epsiode 2.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Variety
Show’s looniness hits its peak as Poundstone, in the studio, interviews via satellite four economists who are riding spinning cups at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and who shout out answers to her questions such as “Should the government regulate private business?” (Lest things even approach seriousness, a barbershop quartet sings as they also ride the spinning cups.)

As a Halloween treat, Sam Donaldson reads from Maurice Sendak. (“I don’t know how we tricked Sam Donaldson into this,” Poundstone later wonders.)

There was no Episode 3.

Gatopescado 03-13-2020 11:22 AM

Who Greenlighted Hogan's Heros?

74westy 03-13-2020 11:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Peanuthead (Post 22187192)
My Mother The Car. Probably the most inconceivable, absurd, POS to ever sail across the public airwaves

You say this because you're not Canadian and never saw The Trouble With Tracy.

RealityChuck 03-13-2020 11:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kent Clark (Post 22187754)
In 1993, ABC gave Paula Poundstone her own variety show. It aired on Saturday nights (mistake 1.)

I saw the first episode, which was very uneven. The problem most of the show was ad-libbed, which meant a lot just fell flat.

WildaBeast 03-13-2020 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Peanuthead (Post 22187192)
My Mother The Car. Probably the most inconceivable, absurd, POS to ever sail across the public airwaves

I haven't actually seen an episode of My Mother the Car, but just as counterpoint was the premise really that much more absurd than say Mr. Ed, or Bewitched?

Telemark 03-13-2020 12:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gatopescado (Post 22187779)
Who Greenlighted Hogan's Heros?

Well, since it's (mostly) based on "Stalag-17", an Academy Award winning picture, based on a successful Broadway play, that was proposed as a TV series a few years earlier, it makes a bit more sense. The translation to comedy certainly stands out as an interesting choice.

WildaBeast 03-13-2020 12:14 PM

Missed the edit window, but for my nomination, I pick The Greatest American Hero. Years ago there was a bit of a revival in interest in the show, and one of the cable networks (maybe SyFy?) ran a marathon of all the episodes. I tuned in to a few thinking it might be fun in a kitschy, "so bad it's good" kind of way. It wasn't. It basically just felt like a bad 1980s cop show that happened to include a superhero.

Derleth 03-13-2020 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lissener (Post 22187700)
FYI Stuart Saves His Family is another exception: it was directed by Harold Ramis, who also did Groundhog Day and Caddyshack. It's worth your attention. It has heart and depth behind the comedy.

And there was a whole SNL skit "selling" a book full of Caddyshack quotes so you could pretend you'd seen it.

I'll check it out.

iiandyiiii 03-13-2020 12:56 PM

Wow was that punching-lasers-in-space clip from the OP ridiculous. I'm surprised that's not a GIF meme to signify nonsensical flailing at big problems.

dorvann 03-13-2020 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 74westy (Post 22187801)
You say this because you're not Canadian and never saw The Trouble With Tracy.

Neither compare to the stupidity of a sitcom with Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun as main characters. Their neighbors are a Jewish couple!!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heil_Honey_I%27m_Home!

Peanuthead 03-13-2020 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildaBeast (Post 22187878)
I haven't actually seen an episode of My Mother the Car, but just as counterpoint was the premise really that much more absurd than say Mr. Ed, or Bewitched?

Plenty of absurdity going around back then wasn't there?. We can add The Flying Nun to the mix too.

Darren Garrison 03-13-2020 01:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildaBeast (Post 22187906)
Missed the edit window, but for my nomination, I pick The Greatest American Hero. Years ago there was a bit of a revival in interest in the show, and one of the cable networks (maybe SyFy?) ran a marathon of all the episodes. I tuned in to a few thinking it might be fun in a kitschy, "so bad it's good" kind of way. It wasn't. It basically just felt like a bad 1980s cop show that happened to include a superhero.

I doubt 44 episodes would be concidered a "flop." (And I wouldn't concider GAH "bad" so much as "good.")

digs 03-13-2020 01:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren Garrison (Post 22188110)
I doubt 44 episodes would be concidered a "flop." (And I wouldn't concider GAH "bad" so much as "good.")

Yeah, it seems like it'd be horrible, but the personalities of Ralph* and Agent Maxwell* saved it. Robert Culp was so self-important as he chewed a lot of scenery. Perfect for a great just-over-the-top FBI agent.




*WHY the hell do I remember these things, and not important stuff?

RioRico 03-13-2020 02:01 PM

Anything by Lars von Trier.

Skywatcher 03-13-2020 02:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Peanuthead (Post 22187192)
My Mother The Car. Probably the most inconceivable, absurd, POS to ever sail across the public airwaves

Ironically, Jerry Van Dyke turned down Gilligan because he thought the island was too strange.

msmith537 03-13-2020 02:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dorvann (Post 22188018)
Neither compare to the stupidity of a sitcom with Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun as main characters. Their neighbors are a Jewish couple!!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heil_Honey_I%27m_Home!


But then you also have JoJo Rabbit and The Producers.

Or a movie like Tropic Thunder where 90% of it is Robert Downy Jr in blackface.



A lot of ideas seem like they should be stupid or offensive or at least simply unfunny, but for some reason they end up working.

Darren Garrison 03-13-2020 02:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 22188187)
But then you also have JoJo Rabbit and The Producers.

And Look Who's Back.

Scoobysnax 03-13-2020 02:31 PM

Cop Rock?

The show only lasted 11 episodes and the cast broke the fourth wall in the final episode to sing with the crew.

zoid 03-13-2020 02:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scoobysnax (Post 22188221)
Cop Rock?

The show only lasted 11 episodes and the cast broke the fourth wall in the final episode to sing with the crew.

This - painful to watch even for a moment

NDP 03-13-2020 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Peanuthead
My Mother The Car. Probably the most inconceivable, absurd, POS to ever sail across the public airwaves

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildaBeast (Post 22187878)
I haven't actually seen an episode of My Mother the Car, but just as counterpoint was the premise really that much more absurd than say Mr. Ed, or Bewitched?

Well, there's absurd and absurd. When My Mother the Car debuted, one TV critic commented the joke wasn't the show's premise but the fact a show with that premise was green-lit by a major TV network thereby making it one joke less than a one-joke show. Amazingly, many of the writers for My Mother the Car went on to create and write some of best-regarded shows of the 70s and 80s like Barney Miller and Mary Tyler Moore (e.g., James L. Brooks got his start on the show).

Anyway, I've said this before but, from the hindsight of more than 50 years, one can't avoid thinking drugs were behind the show's production, placement on NBC's schedule, and popularity among a small cult of viewers during its run. The premise of "My Mother the Car" seems like the product of an LSD trip, its approval by the networks suggests a decision made after too many martinis, and the fact enough people watched it to keep it alive for one season suggests there was already a segment of the viewing public that liked to watch TV while "herbally enhanced."

Skald the Rhymer 03-13-2020 03:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zoid (Post 22188260)
This - painful to watch even for a moment

I must disagree. I loved Cop Rock from the first episode and I still miss it a little.

RealityChuck 03-13-2020 03:28 PM

The Secret Life of Desmond Pfeiffer. A sitcom about a Black butler of Abraham Lincoln who was the one who ran the White House. Lincoln was shown as an absolute dolt. Everyone hated it.

Loach 03-13-2020 04:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 22188187)

Or a movie like Tropic Thunder where 90% of it is Robert Downy Jr in blackface.

He’s not in blackface, he’s a dude playing the dude, disguised as another dude!!


Quote:

Originally Posted by Telemark (Post 22187903)
Well, since it's (mostly) based on "Stalag-17", an Academy Award winning picture, based on a successful Broadway play, that was proposed as a TV series a few years earlier, it makes a bit more sense. The translation to comedy certainly stands out as an interesting choice.


The writers of Stalag 17 sued the producers of Hogan’s Heroes for infringement and lost. You and I may feel one was based on the other but a judge disagreed.

NDP 03-13-2020 04:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 22188360)
The Secret Life of Desmond Pfeiffer. A sitcom about a Black butler of Abraham Lincoln who was the one who ran the White House. Lincoln was shown as an absolute dolt. Everyone hated it.

That show's show's premise was only the second reason why I hated it. My main objection was it was an unauthorized and badly executed knock-off of Blackadder the Third. I think even if the show had held on for a little longer, it would've been sued out of existence by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis.

Telemark 03-13-2020 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Loach (Post 22188443)
The writers of Stalag 17 sued the producers of Hogan’s Heroes for infringement and lost. You and I may feel one was based on the other but a judge disagreed.

I'm aware of the lawsuit.

But it was based on Stalag 17.

Melbourne 03-13-2020 04:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NDP (Post 22188456)
That show's show's premise was only the second reason why I hated it. My main objection was it was an unauthorized and badly executed knock-off of Blackadder the Third. I think even if the show had held on for a little longer, it would've been sued out of existence by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis.


The idea that you can just take a successful English show and convert it to an American show while keeping only the jokes, sometimes completely misses the point.

Darren Garrison 03-13-2020 05:03 PM

Just thought of a classic: Theodore Rex. (Link is to the whole movie, if you dare watch it.)

Noelq 03-13-2020 05:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer (Post 22188346)
I must disagree. I loved Cop Rock from the first episode and I still miss it a little.

Same here. Some of the songs were very touching. I'm wondering if network pressure killed it more.

CairoCarol 03-13-2020 06:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildaBeast (Post 22187906)
Missed the edit window, but for my nomination, I pick The Greatest American Hero. Years ago there was a bit of a revival in interest in the show, and one of the cable networks (maybe SyFy?) ran a marathon of all the episodes. I tuned in to a few thinking it might be fun in a kitschy, "so bad it's good" kind of way. It wasn't. It basically just felt like a bad 1980s cop show that happened to include a superhero.

Small aside: back when that show was on the air I happened to sit near the star, William Katt, on an airplane flight. Damn but he was full of himself. He was sitting next to an attractive young woman and he would not stop talking at her, bragging about how he was a glamorous actor. All I could think was "dude, not sure you have that much to brag about. Also, you're sitting coach, which kind of suggests you aren't as famous and wealthy as you're trying to present yourself."

Morbo 03-13-2020 06:23 PM

Cavemen, a short-lived sitcom featuring the GEICO Cavemen.

Ukulele Ike 03-13-2020 06:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CairoCarol (Post 22188706)
Small aside: back when that show was on the air I happened to sit near the star, William Katt, on an airplane flight. Damn but he was full of himself. He was sitting next to an attractive young woman and he would not stop talking at her, bragging about how he was a glamorous actor. All I could think was "dude, not sure you have that much to brag about. Also, you're sitting coach, which kind of suggests you aren't as famous and wealthy as you're trying to present yourself."

Scary that he thought he could pull it off with that haircut sitting on his head.

And hey! I like My Mother the Car.. Check out an episode or two on YouTube and judge for yourself. (Avery Schreiber is always fun to watch)

installLSC 03-13-2020 08:18 PM

Sextette, a sex farce about a woman who is irresistable to men played by...
a 84 year old Mae West.
Pink Lady, a variety show from 1980. Let's count the errors here
--Variety shows are virtually DOA and hoplessly unhip by this time
--Lead artists are virtually unknown in the U.S.
--The director hates the show
--And oh yeah, the lead artists don't speak English. At all.

txtumbleweed 03-13-2020 08:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Melbourne (Post 22188542)
The idea that you can just take a successful English show and convert it to an American show while keeping only the jokes, sometimes completely misses the point.

Coupling was a comedy written by Steven Moffat that ran for 4 series and 28 episodes in Britain. There are several entertaining and innovative episodes.

NBC thought it would be great to Americanize the show, shorten the scripts and censor the jokes. Coupling lasted barely a month.

Ranchoth 03-13-2020 09:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pantastic (Post 22186799)
Here's a clip of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZapAjjTDbh4 , digging up this clip for another thread is what prompted me to post this one.

In all fairness, that scene would probably look pretty cool if it were in an anime with a decent budget and art direction.

Also in all fairness, the Aegis defense system developed for the US Navy since the 1970s is capable of automatically tracking at least 100 targets simultaneously, and automatically engaging an unstated but "multiple" number of targets.

The hovering Kung Fu VR gunner is capable, by my count, of firing at no more than four targets at once. Five if you work in head-banging. Perhaps six, if you work in vigorous butt-shaking.

Asuka 03-14-2020 02:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ranchoth (Post 22189002)
In all fairness, that scene would probably look pretty cool if it were in an anime with a decent budget and art direction.

Also in all fairness, the Aegis defense system developed for the US Navy since the 1970s is capable of automatically tracking at least 100 targets simultaneously, and automatically engaging an unstated but "multiple" number of targets.

The hovering Kung Fu VR gunner is capable, by my count, of firing at no more than four targets at once. Five if you work in head-banging. Perhaps six, if you work in vigorous butt-shaking.

Seven if the gunner was a male

Asuka 03-14-2020 02:32 AM

I'd nominate "Tammy and the T-Rex" since someone else mentioned Theodore Rex.

It's a simple but effective premise done many times before, a hjgh school student literally bullied to death comes back to life and gets vengeance on his killers. The elephant in the room though is for whatever reason the writers thought the hook that would make this different is introducing a mad scientist (Bernie from Weekend At Bernies) who uses the dead student's brain (Paul Walker) to implant into his T-Rex robot for literally no reason stated in the film. So now a robot T-Rex with Paul Walkers brain decides to both get revenge on his killers and also get with his high school sweetheart (Denise Richards) as well. Not only is the story entirely bizarre and nonsensical, it has GIGANTIC tonal shifts, for example in one scene the T-Rex literally trips some bullies with his comically oversized foot. Then in the immediate aftermath decides to squish the bullies underneath his feet in a scene not played for laughs at all. There's scenes with Denise Richards and her gay friend doing all sorts of wacky things to hide the fact they're taking care of a giant dinosaur in their backyard, only to have scenes where the T-Rex gorily dismembers people like something out of the Carnosaurs movies. These shifts were so jarring they wound up significantly cutting down the gore and marketing it as a PG-13 wacky teen comedy as opposed to the R rated blood soaked horror film it had originally been intended as. They actually re-released the original R rated cut a few months ago, and seeing the original actual gore makes the opposing comedy bits even more shocking.

Senegoid 03-14-2020 04:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by installLSC (Post 22188887)
Sextette, a sex farce about a woman who is irresistable to men played by...
a 84 year old Mae West.

I attended the premier showing of that with a date in San Francisco. Apparently Mae West in her later years became something of a campy cult thing among the gay community, which is what most of the audience was I think.

Mae West herself appeared on stage in person for that. Accompanied by six hulking buff oiled body builders. She and they walked out on stage, she waved to the audience and said hello while the body builders all stood around flexing their muscles. Then she walked off. That was the whole appearance. One may suppose that most of the audience were more interested in seeing the body builders. Both in the movie and on stage, Miss West was heavily, massively, profoundly, almost grotesquely, made-up.

I don't recall the movie itself being particularly bad or good. Just utterly forgettable.

Senegoid 03-14-2020 04:21 AM

Doctor Dolittle, the 1998 movie starring Eddie Murphy as Dr. Dolittle.

All I really remember from the movie is that it was a compendium of toilet humor and butt jokes. The Wikipedia article for the movie says it was "received warmly by audiences who praised its humor and thematic profundity. It has become a cult classic in recent years due to Murphy's performance, despite receiving mixed reviews from film critics upon release." Sorry, I don't see that.

I thought it stank because it was just a bunch of crude humor. It had essentially no connection whatsoever with the Doctor Dolittle of the Hugh Lofting books, beyond being a doctor who could talk to animals. The characterization was utterly unrelated to the Doctor of the Lofting stories; the regular cast of the Doctors animals wasn't there (no Polynesia, Jip, Gub-Gub, or any of the others); and it was set on contemporary San Francisco.

Time Magazine agreed with me. In their annual list of "Top Ten (and one worst)" of everything in the year, they gave it the distinction of being the worst movie.


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