It’s time for another round of awful decisions from talented people! Hold onto your butts for a fun-filled four entries chronicling the moments when even the best series go horribly wrong.
For those of you just tuning in, you can read Part 1 here, and for those of you who either don’t care or are all caught up, cast your eyes down yonder.
19. Quantum Leap 4×08 “The Wrong Stuff”
For those of you who don’t know what Quantum Leap is, let alone what’s a Bakula and why you should have one, the basic premise is that Scott Bakula is this scientist…..
Scott Bakula is this scientist who invents a time travel machine, but something went wonky and now his consciousness is time traveling by “leaping” from person to person, guided by some unknown force. Sharing their body for a time to put right what once went wrong and all that rot. Sam and his holographic friend Al from mission control solve the problem and he leaps again, into somewhere and someone new.
While Sam could only leap to times within his own lifetime, it did mean that the show was able to have great variety and every week was completely different. He got to be a rock n roll DJ, an elderly black dude in the 1950s, a private eye, a retarded dock worker that Michael Madsen is being mean to, even sex therapist Dr Ruth. Seriously. Scott Bakula has been in drag more times than any other TV leading man I can think of.
But not in “The Wrong Stuff.” He’s not a man or a woman in this one. No, he leaps into the body of a holy hell goddamn motherfucking chimpanzee. We’re already barreling down the road to hell at mach three with that hideous development alone, but it doesn’t stop there.
See, Sam’s leaped into the body of a Space Chimp. You know, back when they shot monkeys into space instead of people to see if they’d liquify or whatever? Well, Sam’s been sent to this time to save the life of his partner-chimp by stopping the scientist from performing lethal tests on him. Cue tired and pat animal rights wankfest.
Quantum Leap is a great show, kids, but if you happen to catch this one, run the fuck away.
18. Farscape 2×04 “Crackers Don’t Matter”
This another episode I know I’m going to be in the minority on. “Crackers Don’t Matter” is a fan-favourite and was well-received critically, it’s just that I have no idea why. Farscape is a wonderful series full of clever writing, engaging characters, and a truly bizarre and alien universe, due in no small part to the Jim Henson Company’s excellent puppet and animatronic work.
While piloting an experimental module spacecraft, John Crichton is sucked down a wormhole and emerges on the other side of the galaxy – just as a ship full of ex-convicts are escaping their Peacekeeper captors. Crichton falls in with the cons, having accidentally killed the Peacekeeper commander’s brother, and they set sail for the Uncharted Territories to hide.
One of the the things that set Farscape apart from the rest of the late 90s sci-fi boom was just how fucking odd it could be. I mean, this is the show that would later have an episode that was almost entirely a Loony-Tunes style cartoon going on in Crichton’s head.
Unfortunately for us, “Crackers Don’t Matter” is the first of Farscape‘s weirdo episodes. It was written in a hurry, and was a bottle episode, confined to pre-existing sets only. It may have sent the blueprint for some hilarious shit later down the line, but the first one came out kind of misshapen.
The crew of the living ship Moya has been on the run from Scorpius for a while now, and hires a blind engineer to install cloaking technology. In order to retrieve a necessary component, they must brave a patch of pulsars to pick a peck of pickled peppers and procure the piece from the planet posthaste. The pulsars cause the crew to start behaving irrationally and they become paranoid and turn against each other.
It’s supposed to be a fun romp with some more intense moments sprinkled in, but it just ends up being irritating. Much of the “comedy” falls into my least favorite category: characters running around from place to place screaming at each other. This being Farscape it’s been jacked up to ludicrously hyperactive levels and it just never stops. I think I still have a damaged tooth somewhere in the back of my face-hole from grinding my teeth so hard while watching this.
Hyperactive, zany, nonsensical happenings that fall flat are never fun to sit through. I’m already miserable by the time the episode culminates in Crichton smearing smelly green shit all over himself and dressing up like Link from The Legend of Zelda before charging into battle like a retard. I love the series, and I love just how out-there it could be, but this one just doesn’t work. On paper, it sounds kind of awesome, but the execution is such that I’d have more fun taking a sledgehammer to my own skull.
17. South Park 10×05 “A Million Little Fibers”
“A Million Little Fibers” is South Park‘s take on the whole A Million Little Pieces fiasco. Remember that? The guy writes his memoir about being an addict at rock bottom and Oprah gushes over him, but then it comes out that he fabricated all of it? Yeah, that.
The episode focuses on Towelie, which is logical enough, I suppose. He lost his job because he was high all the time, and he gets the idea to write a hard-hitting autobiography about his experience. No one wants to publish a book written by a towel, so he poses as a human and the book becomes an overnight success and he’s invited onto Oprah’s show.
Towelie is too weak a character to pin an entire episode on. He just is. He’s a one-trick pony there to provide some drug humor, and that’s okay so long as he’s got the four boys or someone else to play off of. Here, he has to carry the story on his own and he’s just plain not that interesting. Honestly, by minute five, you’ve already seen his entire repertoire.
It seems as though Matt Stone and Trey Parker were well aware of this, so we also get a second plot featuring Oprah’s oddly British vagina (Mingey) and asshole (Gary), who are feeling abandoned because Oprah’s work ethic means that she doesn’t have the time to play with them anymore. They conspire to get Oprah fired from her show, I guess so she can lay around all day jerking off, and it eventually escalates into a hostage situation with Mingey brandishing a gun at a crowd of armed police officers.
Parker and Stone have said themselves on the DVD commentary for this episode that it was a case of trying to do two different things in one and accomplishing neither goal very well. As I’ve already said, the Towelie plot is weak, and frankly it’s a pretty obvious road to go down regarding A Million Little Pieces. Oprah’s twat waving a gun around is somehow both strange and dull. The hostage plot feels like it goes on forever, and much like Towelie, within a few minutes you’ve already heard all the jokes and the episode just wanders around in circles before it finally ends.
16. Twin Peaks 2×11 “Masked Ball”
Back in 1990, the question on many a TV viewer’s lips was “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Twin Peaks had become a huge hit, even with its short, eight-episode first season. There really was nothing else like it at the time, and its serialized, eerie murder mystery with tinges of the supernatural took the television world by storm. It is the prototype for all the long-form myth-arc based shows that came later. It was, and still is a landmark series. If not for Twin Peaks there would have been no X-Files or Lost.
It was also a few years ahead of its time. Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost had not intended to reveal the identity of poor young Laura’s murder until the very end of the series. It was the show’s Big Question; the one that kept everyone tuning in every week and generated endless discussion and fan theories.
At the time, this was simply not done. Most ongoing series were more or less episodic affairs, and the folks at ABC became worried that the audience would lose patience and interest from having to wait so long for answers, and demanded that Laura’s murder be wrapped up.
Under much protest answers were given in the first half of the second season, and unsurprisingly the series lost a lot of its drive and viewers. It recovered eventually, delving into the supernatural elements of the mythology and introducing a compelling new villain, but in between was a truly sorry stack of episodes.
“Masked Ball” is the worst of the lot. Being a serial, many of its problems are present in episodes before and after, but this particular episode is kind of the nadir. The show just had no idea what to do with itself, and fell back on storylines that varied between weird for weird’s sake or soap opera character plots.
“Masked Ball” deals with:
- Major Briggs disappearing in the woods, seemingly abducted by aliens
- Special Agent Dale Cooper getting into trouble with his superiors
- A amnesiac grown woman who thinks she’s a teenager trying to bang an actual teenage boy
- David Duchovny turns up as a transvestite FBI agent called Denise. (Actually, that alone is worth the price of admission)
- The owner of the town mill having an affair with the sheriff
- James Hurley, Twin Peaks‘ very own teenage biker, taking a break from his motorcycle road trip to help an old cougar fix her car. She seduces him an he has to deal with her husband
I’m sorry, but what the fuck. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another series derail quite like this. Plenty of shows lose steam or let the plot get away from them, but this is really an example of a show that no longer has any gameplan whatsofuckingever. By the time they finally got their shit together it was much too late and the series got the axe. It hurts my heart that such a beautiful series didn’t get to finish telling its story, but after several weeks of shit like this, I can understand the decision.
Come back next time for entries 15-11!
Did your favorite show do something awful? Let us know in the comments.