#3. Thanks (1999)
In 1999, CBS started airing a show about pilgrims trying to survive their harsh life in the New World called Thanks. For some reason, it was a comedy.
Thanks took place in 1621 and followed the misadventures of the Winthrops, a Puritan family living in a colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The family had just survived their first winter, and far from glossing over the horrors of settler life, the show seemed to wallow in them. The original press materials actually read:
"Now, along with their fellow settlers, they must decide whether or not to remain in the uncivilized New World and face yet another year of disease ... and each other. But don't be fooled: It's Puritan fun."
So if you think it's hilarious to watch stern, severely religious people die of syphilis and hypothermia, just say "Thanks!"
Characters on the show included the standard idiot relief, Cotton, played by the future Dean Pelton from Community, and Cloris Leachman as the horny Grammy Winthrop, who was always hitting on younger men and telling her grandchildren bawdy stories about being violated by pirates ...
"Because you can't spell 'clitoris' without good ol' Cloris!"
One of the show's very first lines was "It's a beautiful day. People are airing out their clothes, dragging out their dead." There was constant mention of the "50 percent mortality rate" within the colony, and how fellow settlers frequently died in terrible ways. Which is kind of OK: We're down with black comedy. But aside from a few morbid mentions, that is not the tack that Thanks took: The show hinged on all of your standard sitcom elements, like the befuddled dad, the wacky neighbor and the rebellious teenage daughter, and its formulaic jokes played to a canned laugh track. It was a dismal, morbid, tense situation paired with default wacky sitcom shenanigans; it was basically Married With Children if the show took place in Auschwitz and Marcy was a Nazi ...
Actually, that sounds amazing. Bring back Thanks, you soulless network bastards!
#2. A Dog's Life (1979)
On June 15, 1979, ABC aired a pilot for a TV series called A Dog's Life. Everything stupid you just assumed about the show from that title? That is all 100 percent accurate. In fact, if anything, your stupid assumptions would be tastefully understated compared to the reality: A Dog's Life was a sitcom where all the characters were dogs, as played by actors in cheap-looking dog costumes. You can watch the entire episode here, if you loved Cats but hate cats.
Shockingly, A Dog's Life was the brainchild of renowned Emmy Award-winning producer Norman Lear, whose previous work included All in the Family, Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons. And once he was done producing all of those thoughtful explorations of family and race, he got friggin' hammered and crapped out a sitcom that opened on four people in dog suits doing a musical number.
Which is more poorly choreographed than a dance number involving a real dog.
The protagonist in A Dog's Life was an old dog named McGurk, played by Barney Martin, and all the action took place in the backyard of his owner's home.
"You know why no one had really heard of me before Seinfeld? This."
McGurk's love interest was the next-door neighbor's dog, Iris, the mother of a young pup named Camille, whom the producers decided to make "the slutty one."
We're afraid to look up the arrest records for this show's writing staff.
That's right: A whole roomful of people sat down at some point in history and not only greenlit a sitcom about actors in shitty dog costumes, but they requested -- nay, demanded -- that one of them have prominently highlighted tits. It was immediately canceled, of course, because the world is not as bad a place as it seems sometimes.
But at other times, it totally is! Because A Dog's Life wasn't the only talking-dog-themed sitcom ever produced ...
#1. Poochinski (1990)
In 1990, NBC greenlit a pilot for Poochinski. The series starred Peter Boyle as your stereotypically gruff, no-nonsense cop, Poochinski, and his pet bulldog. While the idea of a grizzled police officer teaming up with a dog to solve crimes may sound labored, Turner and Hooch rocked, and Peter Boyle was a pretty gifted comic actor, so maybe he could turn the premise aro-
They just killed off Peter Boyle. Seven minutes into the program.
But don't worry, Boyle's still the main character of the show! He's going to stick around, because his soul is immediately transferred into his pet bulldog ...
You may recognize this as the exact method by which Chucky was created.
... aaaand it looks like this:
Truly, death would have been a kinder option.
Hey, hold on! Put the matches down! We know, we know: It's a perfectly natural knee-jerk response, but burning your monitor won't actually purge that thing-which-should-not-be from the annals of history. Just calm down. It's actually not as bad as you think once you see it in motion:
It is oh so very much worse.
Poochthulhu up there winds up partnering with a younger cop named McKay and they both spend the run time of the show working together to track down Poochinski's killer while spitefully spitting one-liners about crotch sniffing and drinking out of the toilet right into the audience's unsuspecting faces.
"Crotch! Haha, it's a dog-eat-dog world! It's raining cats and dogs out there! Screw humanity!" -TV executives
Poochinski was promptly canceled just as soon as the pilot aired, but the network learned a very valuable lesson from the experience: Always use the buddy system, because it is totally possible to write, produce and turn around a complete pilot before the cocaine has a chance to wear off.
Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row.
For more ridiculous ideas Hollywood crapped out, check out 9 Absurd Movie Premises That Actually Happened and The Pitch Meeting Behind The Worst Movie Idea Ever Approved.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Actors Who Went Through Physical Torture for Stupid Movies.