Sometimes TV networks, producers, or actors do something so stupid, it makes you ask: What the heck were they thinking? In that spirit, we decided to take time out to honor (if you want to call it that) television’s biggest bombs and blunders. We’re talking the decisions both bad (hey, let’s give Felicity a haircut!) and bizarre (XFL, anyone?). And at the top of our list: NBC’s decision to put Jay Leno at 10 p.m. It destroyed not only five hours of primetime programming, but also the local newscasts that followed. However, the floppage of the move doesn’t even stop there: The Tonight Show ratings with Leno’s replacement at 11:35, Conan O’Brien, also took a 50 percent dip. And NBC’s attempt to remedy the situation was just as ugly—asking Conan to move back a half-hour to 12:05am so Jay could return to 11:35. Conan refused and negotiated an exit settlement that UPDATE has just been signed. His last show as Tonight Show host will be Friday, Jan. 22 with guests Tom Hanks and Will Ferrell. (For the latest on Conan and Jay, make sure to check out our Hollywood Insider blog. )
So, what other fantastic flops crack our top 50 list? Well, we’ll give you a few hints:
There’s a slavery-set sitcom, a drama with policemen periodically breaking into song, and a variety show with hosts that barely speak English. (Can you name all three?) And there are plenty of boneheaded career moves as well. How about a network canceling a show that would go on to become the most popular series in the entire world? Or actors who bolted shows for movie careers that never panned out? And guess who passed on the role of Grey’s Anatomy’s McDreamy? It’s a celebration of dashed dreams and incredible ineptitude. It’s also the only place in the world you are likely to find the words “Coy and Vance Duke” on a top 50 list of anything. So rev up the General Lee and jump on in!
For more coverage of TV’s 50 Biggest Bombs Ever pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands January 22.