1960s Sitcoms: From Pretty Bad To Outrageously Awful

The 1960s is the decade that brought TV magic, with beloved sitcoms such as The Munsters, The Addams Family, and Bewitched. But with the good comes the bad, and the decade was chockfull of sitcoms that were canceled before viewers even got a chance to learn the main character’s name.

60s sitcoms like My Mother the Car and Occasional Wife were such odd stories, viewers tuned out, forgetting the series completely, while Turn-On was canceled after just one episode, one of the biggest flops in TV history. Take a gander; you might recognize some of these not-too-stellar TV 60s sitcoms.

The Flying Nun Wasn’t Liked By It’s Own Star

The Flying Nun
ABC
ABC

Starring Sally Field, the ABC series The Flying Nun ran from 1967 until 1970, airing 82 episodes. Following the story of Sister Bertrille, a 90-pound nun from Puerto Rico who because of her weight has the ability to fly with the winds, the bizarre premise of the series captured people’s attention, but critics were never fond of it.

The star of the show didn’t even want to take on the ridiculous part. During an interview with O, Field said, “I didn’t want to do it. I was trying to figure out who I was, but I knew who I wasn’t: a flying nun.”

The Ugliest Girl in Town Was Compared To Cancer

The Ugliest Girl in Town
ABC
ABC

Critics thought The Ugliest Girl in Town was distasteful back when it aired in 1968, and, honestly, it’s a bit distasteful now! The series follows Timothy Blair, a man who often gets mistaken for a woman, so he decides to become a female model in London. Critics weren’t too thrilled with the storyline.

James Doussard of The Louisville Courier-Journal even went as far as saying the pilot episode was “as humorous as terminal cancer.” At the same time, Howard Pearson, TV editor for the Deseret News, called it “a tasteless production from the start.”

The Pruitts of Southampton Was Rightfully Canceled After One Season

The Pruitts of Southampton
ABC
ABC

In 1966, ABC tried to produce a female stand-up comic sitcom, much like that of I Love Lucy; they failed, miserable. The product the studio came up with was The Pruitts of Southampton, starring Phyllis Diller. No one was particularly infatuated with the show, though, which showed when the episode “Little Miss Fixit” aired, and producers opted to change the entire title.

Now dubbed The Phyllis Diller Show, the hope was that people would tune in to watch Diller, one of the most popular actresses of the time. It didn’t work. The show did so poorly in the ratings that it was canceled after one season.

The Hathaways Might Be The Worst Show Of All-Time

The Hathaways
ABC
ABC

Arguably one of the strangest shows to come out of the 60s is The Hathaways. Starring Peggy Cass and Jack Weston, the show follows their characters as they live life as the “parents” of three chimpanzees. Lasting only one season, the show’s ratings were so low that ABC had to wildly promote each episode just to gain viewers.

In their book Watching TV: four decades of American television, television critics Harry Castleman and Walter Podrazik called the series “possibly the worst series to ever air on network TV…The scripts, acting, and production were horrible, and the premise itself was utterly degrading to both the audience and the actors.”

Turn-On Was Turned Off Before Episode One Finishes Airing

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ABC
ABC

Now known as one of the biggest flops in television history, the 1969 show Turn-on wasn’t canceled after one season but mid-way through its first and only aired episode. Apparently, basing an entire sketch series off rapid-fire risque jokes with no accompanied laugh track was not favorable with ABC’s target audience.

WEWS-TV didn’t even return to the show after its one and only commercial break, instead opting to send ABC an angry telegram, saying, “If your naughty little boys have to write dirty words on the walls, please don’t use our walls. Turn-On is turned off, as far as WEWS is concerned.”

The Jackie Gleason Show Lost Steam Because Of Waistlines.

The Jackie Gleason Show
CBS
CBS

After hosting one of the worst shows on CBS, You’re in the Picture, Jackie Gleason decided to do something drastic. He went ahead and revamped the show, renaming it to The Jackie Gleason Show and making it more of a variety act rather than a game show. The series lasted for four seasons but quickly went downhill for a very specific reason.

The show’s jokes heavily relied on its actors’ weight, so whenever someone went on a diet or changed their appearance, ratings plummeted. Honestly, if a show’s backbone is over-weight people, it might not be that good anyway.

Rango Was Way Too Repetitive And Pointless

Rango
ABC
ABC

The 1967 western show Rango didn’t make it past the first season. Airing a total of 17 episodes, inept Texas Ranger Rango was taken off of ABC’s roster. In 2002, TV Guide listed the short-lived show as one of the TV Guide’s 50 Worst Shows of All Time, and it’s not hard to see why.

Repetitive and silly, one IMDb user spells out the reason for the show’s cancelation nicely, saying, “Everything [Rango] touched went wrong, causing all kinds of trouble at the outpost. Every time he screwed up his c.o. would foam and rave, to no avail, of course. Tedious and repetitious, this could not be amusing to anyone.”

My Mother The Car Is Just As Weird And Awful As The Title Implies

My Mother The Car
NBC
NBC

One of the strangest shows to come out of the 60s was My Mother the Car. Airing for a grand total of 30 episodes, the series tells the story of an attorney, David Crabtree, who realizes his deceased mother is reincarnated into a used car. Needless to say, the show was given savage reviews from both the critics and viewers.

In a 1993 People magazine interview, star Jerry Van Dyke said, “I became known as the guy who did the worst show in the history of television.” The show’s gimmicky talking car concept didn’t pay off like NBC thought it would.

The Tammy Grimes Show Couldn’t Last The Month Of September

The Tammy Grimes Show
ABC
ABC

Starring Broadway star Tammy Grimes, The Tammy Grimes Show aired its first episode on September 8, 1966, and its last episode on September 29, 1966. Revolving around the life of spendthrift heiress Tammy Ward, the “organized disaster” of a show only lasted four episodes before being canceled.

During an interview, a year after the cancelation of the show, executive producer William Dozier said, “It was the wrong idea for the wrong person at the wrong time. Movies were not for Mary Martin; television was not for Tammy Grimes.” Long story short, Grimes was better seen in-person and not on the TV screen.

You’re In The Picture Led To A Public Apology From Its Host

You're In The Picture
CBS
CBS

The CBS game show You’re in the Picture only aired for one episode in 1961. The “guess which scene you’re in” concept received such negative reviews that the following Friday, host Jackie Gleason stripped the set down and issued a formal apology to everyone who bared witness to what is considered one of the biggest flops in television history.

During the apology, Gleason said, “There’s nothing here, except the orchestra and myself… We have a creed tonight, and the creed is honesty…. Last week we did a show that laid the biggest bomb—it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute.”

The Beverly Hillbillies Ran For 9 Seasons But Critics Hated It

The Beverly Hillbillies
CBS
CBS

Even though The Beverly Hillbillies ran for nine seasons, critics were not amused by the on-screen family. After striking oil and becoming millionaires, the Clampett family packs up their home in the Ozarks and gets ready to live life like the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.

While the series was popular among viewers, critics couldn’t stand sitting through the episodes, with The New York Times calling the show “strained and unfunny.” After 274 episodes, CBS’ advertisers pressured them to rethink their audience, as they wanted more hip and rural-themed shows. As a result, the concept of The Beverly Hillbillies was frowned upon and canceled.

Dennis The Menace Was Hated By Parents But That’s Not Why It Was Canceled

Dennis The Menace
CBS
CBS

While the sitcom Dennis the Menace was very popular with kids when it aired in 1959, the character couldn’t have been more annoying to older viewers. Lasting four seasons, the series about a young boy who does nothing but gets into trouble got old pretty fast, especially when his antics had him bad-mouthing his parents.

Luckily for people who were over Dennis’ menacing ways, the show was canceled in 1963 directly after the fourth season finale. The cancelation wasn’t due to ratings, but rather because lead actor Jay North was becoming too old to play the young boy Dennis.

Occasional Wife Was A Very Short-Lived Hit

Occasional Wife
ABC
ABC

According to fans, Occasional Wife was nothing special and even boring at times. The show’s premise was a bit strange, even for the 60s, with a man being so pressured by his boss to get married that he winds up asking some random bag check girl to pretend to be his wife.

The show started out having fairly good ratings, landing in the number 18 slot in the Nielsen ratings. The positive reviews didn’t last long, though, and the show quickly dropped down to number 64. Not being able to compete with ABC’s more popular shows, the Occasional Wife was canceled after one season, in 1967.

The Second Hundred Years Was Praised For Thankfully Being ‘Only A Half-Hour Long’

The Second Hundred Years
ABC
ABC

The Second Hundred Years was ABC’s high-concept show, meaning the story’s very likely never to occur in real life. After being frozen in ice for 67 years, a man is thawed out and returns home to a changed world and an elderly son. It should have been an interesting premise, but the show slowly but surely found a home in the bottom 25 television programs.

Clay Gowran of the Chicago Tribune even went as far as saying that the best thing about The Second Hundred Years is “that it’s only a half-hour long.” With consecutively poor ratings throughout its run, the show canceled after one season, in 1968.

My Favorite Martian Couldn’t Develop Interesting Storylines After Season 1

My Favorite Martian
CBS
CBS

The CBS sitcom My Favorite Martian was a kid favorite when it first aired in 1963. For 107 episodes, viewers watched as journalist Tim O’Hara goes around disguised as “Uncle Martin” the Martian. Unfortunately, the storyline became redundant, and people became bored with the show’s premise.

Starting off with positive ratings during the first season, the story quickly dropped during its second season and soon fell out of favor with viewers once the third season came around. The series was canceled due to a lack of interest in 1966.

Gilligan’s Island Became A Cult Classic But Annoyed Viewers When it First Aired

Gilligan's Island
CBS
CBS

While the 1964 series Gilligan’s Island has since become a cult favorite, the series’ ratings weren’t too stellar by the time it was canceled in 1967. Following the story of seven castaways, each episode portrays their drastic attempts to escape the island. Many of which are foiled by the clumsiness of the title character, something viewers tired of quickly.

Even so, after three seasons, the series was quickly and quietly canceled to make time for a fan-favorite western series Gunsmoke. The cancelation took many people, including the actors, by surprise. Ratings were slowly going down, so the time-slot switch made sense.

F Troop Couldn’t Was A Summer Filler Show For Good Reason

F Troop
ABC
ABC

If it tells you anything about the series, Australia, Italy, and Ireland used F Troop as a filler series during the summer months because people would be on vacation, and television ratings would drop anyway.

The slap-stick western comedy surrounding the misfits of the US Army didn’t do too well in the United States. According to several viewers, the character-based comedy is funny at first but then becomes extremely old. F Troop only aired for two seasons before its cancelation in 1967.

I Dream Of Jeannie Was Anti-Feminist Even By 1960’s Standards

I Dream Of Jeannie
NBC
NBC

While I Dream of Jeannie was steadily popular throughout the 60s, it was never a ratings hit. The story consisted of Astronaut Tony Nelson crashing on a deserted island only to find a magic lamp housing a genie who automatically falls in love with him. It’s not hard to see why critics weren’t overly fond of the “yes, master,” series.

The anti-feminist messages throughout the series landed the show with a solid 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. A score that would most likely be less if shown to viewers today. After five seasons, I Dream of Jeannie was canceled in 1970 due to its low ratings.

The Baileys of Balboa Was A Comedy That Wasn’t Funny

The Baileys of Balboa
CBS
CBS

The Baileys of Balboa follows the story of the Bailey’s, a family who lives in the town of Balboa and operates a charter boat at their local marina. Of course, more than one conflict arises with the Bailey’s and their wealthy neighbors.

Unfortunately for CBS, the conflicts weren’t enough to keep people interested in the show, even though they were meant to be comical. Jack Gould of The New York Times said, “the script was a strained and mechanically rendered narrative.” After one season, 26 episodes, and consistently low ratings, The Baileys of Balboa was swiftly canceled.

My Living Doll Was A Cool Concept With Bad Storytelling

My Living Doll
CBS
CBS

Even though viewers enjoyed the strange concept of My Living Doll, ratings were never great. The story follows the tale of Dr. Bob McDonald, a psychiatrist who has a very interesting patient, a life-like android who is trying to stay out of the hands of the military.

While the series had the makings of a successful series, it was canceled after one season of 26 episodes. Never ranking in the Top 30, critics such as Cecil Smith were not fans of how cluttered the show seemed to be. Smith said, “a fairly amusing show that in a season less cluttered with comedies might be outstanding.”