Crap! The 22 Worst Episodes of Great Shows – Part 3

Crap

Yes, ladies and germs, the long-awaited threequel is finally here. We’ve got five more entries for you to feast your little eyeballs on and groan.

For those of you just tuning in, and for those of you who’ve forgotten, you can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

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15. The Sopranos 4×03 “Christopher”

You might be surprised to find a show as consistently excellent as The Sopranos on this list, but no show is infallible (except possibly The Wire), and the better they are, the lower the lows can appear to be.

The show’s fourth season is probably the most divisive of all. People who dislike it often cite the shifting the focus from mafia life to family drama as the root of the problem. I didn’t mind. I’ll eat that shit up. The season finale, “Whitecaps,” is one of the best episodes of the entire series and undoubtedly Edie Falco’s finest work.

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that “Christopher” sucks. You’d think that with an episode written by Michael Imperioli and entitled “Christopher” you’d be in for some serious drama involving, well, Christopher. Was his drug problem going to spiral further out of control? Would he find out that Adrianna was feeding information to the FBI?

Hahahahaha, no. Fuck no. No, this episode’s about Christopher Mothergrabbing Columbus. A bunch of Native Americans are protesting the Columbus Day parade, and our very-Italian mob characters find that more than a little aggravating. They feel it’s an insult to their heritage to not be allowed to celebrate a long-dead sailor with poor orienteering skills.

It’s a tedious fucking episode full of dickwaving about Italian-American pride and Native American pride, and ziti recipies. By the end of the episode, I’m usually sitting on my couch glaring at the TV with intense hatred, willing everyone on screen to burst into flame and die a fiery death.

And then I feel bad because Bobby’s wife dies near the end of this one.

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This is a picture of Spock, as brainless as the episode we’re about to discuss.

14. Star Trek 3×06 “Spock’s Brain”

The Star Trek franchise is going to be a repeat offender on this list, but let’s kick things off with “Spock’s Brain,” representing the original series.

Star Trek‘s third season was problematic to begin with, and very nearly didn’t happen. In its original run, the series’ ratings were always rather poor, thanks in no small part to NBC not having the slightest clue what to do with it, and moving it to an awful timeslot. By the end of Season 2, Gene Roddenberry had left the series in frustration, and it only came back for a third year under a new producer because of fan outcry.

The production team’s heart just wasn’t in it anymore, and it shows. The plots became more and more hokey and thin, the actors were looking bored, and Star Trek was just no longer the same show that had attracted writers like Robert Bloch or Harlan Ellison in its first season.

And “Spock’s Brain” is the worst of it. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a bunch of aliens steal Spock’s brain, and the Enterprise has to go get it, lest Mr Spock remain a vegetable.Yep.

They manage to track the missing brain down to a planet where the men are savage cave people roaming the surface, and the women lead civilized lives of comfort in an underground city. Also, all these women are about as intelligent as a teaspoon. They’re meant to have childlike minds, but I’ve met five year olds less vapid than this lot.

So, they’ve stolen Spock’s brain and hooked it into their city’s computers to run the place, because they’re too goddamn moronic to look after themselves. Uh huh.

These twats are so stupid, they don’t even know what a brain or a spaceship is (Brain and brain! What is brain?), and yet somehow they managed to abduct Spock and steal his brain. That’s…Well, it’s just plain embarrassing for a man who so highly values his logic and intelligence. Sure, it’s revealed that the retarded ladies have a magic colander they put on their heads that temporarily grants them the intelligence of a normal person, but still.

McCoy manages to stuff Spock’s brain back into his cranium by augmenting his medical knowledge with the magic colander, and everything is as it was, and then we get a Moral of the Day spiel about gender politics and how both sexes need each other and blah blah blah.

This whole production was a mistake from the word go. The script is awful both in concept and in dialogue. The dumb bitches are so irritating that I think I chipped a tooth from clenching my jaw so hard, and the Enterprise crew ought to be fucking ashamed of getting outwitted even for a second by these broads. If that wasn’t enough, the show’s reduced budget is on full display here, giving us a visual feast of drab scenery, silly costumes, and even worse-looking gadgetry. It’s dull, it’s annoying, and it’s a pathetic effort from one of the most influential science fiction series of all time.

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13. Lost 2×12 “Fire + Water”

Ah, yes. The first of two entries from Lost. Maybe it’s a little lazy to have two episodes from the same show, but they’re both so very awful and more than deserving of their spots on this list.

Not everyone likes Lost. Despite the huge success it was initially, many viewers grew impatient and began to wonder if the writers had any idea where they were going with any of this. For my money, when seen beginning to end, it stands up as a great bit of television… with a couple of ugly spots.

One of those ugly spots is called “Fire + Water.” During the second season, and roughly the first half of the third, there’s no arguing that Lost was spinning its wheels. With no definite end date, the producers had no idea how long they’d have to keep the show going, and so the pace slowed to a crawl. Major plot points were doled out conservatively, and you’d go a long while with not much of anything happening, leading to episodes full of weirdness for weirdness’ sake. Usually stories that are born out of stalling for time and not any kind of logical plot reason don’t work, and “Fire + Water” is no exception.

Charlie starts having fucked up, religion-flavored visions telling him that he has to save the baby. How or from what, no one ever says. He interprets this to mean that he’s got to save Claire’s ugly-ass child Aaron. After learning that resident drug lord turned priest Mr Eko is building himself a bamboo church, Charlie decides that he’s got to baptize the stupid infant. He asks Claire about it, and she and Kate dismiss the idea like any rational people would, but Charlie’s determined to get the job done.

Which he does by starting a fire in the middle of the night, and while everyone’s distracted, he abducts Aaron and wades into the ocean with him. Wat. Locke sees all of this and beats the crap out of Charlie. A lot of fans point out that unnecessary violence like that is out of character for Locke, but let’s face it: by now, we all want to knock Charlie’s teeth out too.

The rest of the episode is mostly concerned with Locke suspecting that Charlie’s using heroin again; and given his behavior, it’s not a bad guess. We also get some flashbacks to Charlie’s rock-star days, when the band is falling apart because drugs. It’s boring as sin, and it’s nothing more than a rehash of previous Charlie flashbacks anyway.

Ooh, but it turns out, Charlie really wasn’t on drugs again and Claire and Aaron get baptized. Uh. Yeah. Yeah, okay. Fine. Whatever. Why do I like this show, again?

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Kristen Bell prepares Zachary Quinto to deal with having your show cancelled.

12. Heroes 3×08 “Villains”

Fuck me. What can you say about Heroes? It had a brilliant first season, became a worldwide success, and drew in a lot of viewers who’d grown impatient with Lost. Then everything fell apart.

The writers’ strike led to the already floundering second season to be cut short, and instead of continuing the arc they’d planned, the writers washed their hands of it, and started Season 3 with a whole new volume, “Villains,” no matter how little story sense it made.

While improvement would be made in the fourth and fifth volumes of the series, “Villains” is the absolute nadir of the show. The writers room had become this insane madhouse of bullshit, full of goofy-ass fuckclowns.  Each script seemed to change the story and ignore prior events whenever they felt like it. Sylar is good now. No wait, he’s not. No, he’s actually a Petrelli brother. No, that was a lie. Now he’s in love. No, actually he’s not. Now he’s an anti hero. Now he’s mean still. Nathan is evil again too. Or is he? Maybe? Let’s kill any remaining season two characters as quickly as possible. But characters we like? They’ll never die. Magic eclipses. Magic blood. Easy. So what if we killed off our precog comic artist in Season 1? Let’s keep leaning on the paint the future crutch to generate stories! Character development? What’s that? Let’s just keep putting our characters through the same beats over and over and over and over…. Contradicting our own previous episodes? No problem! No one will remember Season 1 or even what happened last week. It’s not like our DVDs were bestsellers or people like to TiVo things. Pfft, who needs a plan?

The episode “Villains” from the volume “Villains” is probably the lowest point in the show’s history. Hiro goes on a wacky paste vision quest to eighteen months in the past, where he witnesses selected events that lead to the current state of affairs.

This time frame places “Villains” six months before the first season, and therefore partly concurrent with that season’s flashback episode “Six Months Ago.” “Villains” tries unsuccessfully to interweave with some of the previous episode’s events, but it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Many of the characters behave wildly different than what they should have been like at the time, some people have abilities they shouldn’t have yet, and still other characters appear when they shouldn’t. So many of the events of this episode, given established canon, logically cannot be.

Any writing staff worth their salt should know that, and it’s very probable that they did and just didn’t give a fuck anymore. To me, “Villains” represents the point where Heroes completely abandoned any pretense of respect for its audience or internal consistency.

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11. CSI 4×05 “Fur and Loathing”

CSI often likes to visit the sexual fetish well for story ideas. I guess it makes a certain degree of sense. Vegas is often called Sin City, and kink and fetish is easy shock value. How well these subcultures are actually handled depends largely on the writer. Sometimes it’s done well, like the lovely recurring dominatrix Lady Heather, other times not so well. “Fur and Loathing” is one of those not-so-well episodes.

The CSI team is investigating the body of a man in a raccoon suit who’d been run over by an eighteen wheeler. But! Then there’s another fursuited body discovered. What could have killed HIM? Cue dramatic music, smash cut to “Who Are You?” Once enough screen time’s taken up by picking through fibers and jizz stains and DeviantART accounts, the trail leads us to a furry convention.

Everyone at this convention’s got their fursuits on and are being their fursonas and are having a great big orgy. And Grissom, usually a pretty open-minded guy, stands there in the middle of all this with the most exasperated facial expression I’ve ever seen, trying in vain to break up the yiffing. William Petersen was probably clairvoyant and basing his performance on the faces of everyone who was forced to watch this dreck. It turns out the dead furry died from overheating in their fursuit during a mass yiffing or something. It’s……kind of terrible.

I’m not a furry myself. I don’t really get it. And that’s okay. But, as always, when you’re writing about any kind of specialized area, doing your research should always be the first thing on your to-do list. CSI failed to do that in a mad rush to poke fun at people they don’t understand so they can be all edgy and shit. Actual furries can be a little oversensitive about their fandom, and you’d best believe that when this episode dropped they were pissed. And for good reason. It’s an laughably uninformed portrayal of a niche subculture and, yes, in some cases, fetish.

To make matters worse, it’s simply not a good story. Not a whole lot happens, and what does happen isn’t interesting. It’s not some seemingly unsolvable mystery the team has to crack, or even one with clever, unexpected twists. The evidence leads us down a pretty straight path from A to B and where we end up isn’t any kind of shock.

I think the writers expected that the bulk of the entertainment value would be seeing the regulars dealing with people they find a little weird. That might’ve worked if the script was anywhere near witty or interesting. Yawn.

Come back next time for entries 10-6!

Did your favorite show do something awful? Let us know in the comments.