Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Was This The Worst Show of the '90s?

While looking at the Spinoff/Crossover site, I came across this page about a 1997 show called Meego, which the author provocatively calls "The worst show of all time." I thought I had seen or at least heard of all the cheesy shows from the Miller-Boyett factory, but I missed this one, which ran after Family Matters when it moved to CBS in 1997-8 (and started, of course, with two crossover appearances by Urkel). He makes a pretty convincing case for its horribleness:

It was a cross between Alf and Charles In Charge. Start crying now. But allow me to expand on that description. Meego starred Perfect Stranger's Bronson Pinchot as Meego, a nanny who was really a space alien with magical powers watching over a family of kids that included Jerry Maguire's Jonathan Lipnicki.
....
If you are a fan of Meego and I have grossly offended you I am very sor... oh heck I can say it. I'm NOT sorry. IT WAS MEEGO FOOL!!!


By this point, Miller-Boyett had actually changed its name to Miller-Boyett-Warren, having absorbed half of the Bill Bickley/Michael Warren team that wrote and produced most of its shows. (Bill Bickley, apparently sensing that the bottom was about to fall out of the cheesy family comedy market, had retired.) CBS picked up the M-B shows that ABC had dropped, plus this new one, and tried to go head to head with TGIF.

I remember at the time I was still watching Sabrina (in its second season) and would sometimes check out the other supernatural comedies ABC ordered in a desperate attempt to cash in on the success of Sabrina, Al Jean and Mike Reiss's Teen Angel and Michael Jacobs' You Wish, but I never watched a moment of Meego, presumably because I wasn't watching Family Matters either.

Anyway, Meego was clearly a CBS attempt to pull a Sabrina by doing a supernatural comedy of their own, and M-B did their usual thing, borrowing heavily from previous shows they'd been involved with (Mork and Mindy, Perfect Strangers). As always, they put together a decent supporting cast (including Michelle Trachtenberg, available after the cancellation of The Adventures of Pete & Pete). But the title sequence is terrible, and the theme song kind of sounds like a Mork knockoff too.



I phrased the subject heading as a question because, having never seen a full episode of this series, I have no idea if it really was the worst show of its era. It seems like a good candidate, though, based on the few clips I've seen. One clip appears to be from an episode where the teenage boy uses some kind of alien gizmo to force a girl to like him. And then the Valuable Lesson is that people should like you for who you are, whereas the Valuable Lesson should be that this character is basically a rapist.




I'm so disgusted by that clip that I will stop there. So I have no desire to see more of this to find out if it's truly the worst show of the '90s, but at the very least, I think it's clearly worse than You Wish or Teen Angel or any of the other Sabrina ripoffs.

10 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Well, since both SMALL WONDER and NIGHT HEAT had finally expired in 1989, it is quite possible that this was the worst dramatic series to be broadcast in the US in the 1990s. It certainly has the cast, premise, and creative team to make a strong claim, I agree.

zgeycp said...

You mention the death of the family comedy - has anyone pinpointed exactly when that kind of cross-demographic appeal became unfashionable among North American networks?

These days it's impossible to sell them a show "for everyone", and the Family genre has come to mean "aimed at children but tolerable for parents".

I've been trying to figure this out on my own, but my family has never had cable so I have a very limited knowledge base on which to draw.

Loren said...

My exposure to Meego is limited to those two clips, but I would still be impressed if it could challenge "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" for worst TV show of the 1990s. The first episode of that series is available on YouTube, and it plays as if someone had actually set out to make the worst television show possible.

Ken said...

This was easily the worst show of the era. I remember when I lived in the UK in 2001 they would re-run it at like 2am for some reason.

Todd Mason said...

Well, there were a few syndicated dramatic shows in the '90s that challenged MEEGO and PFEIFFER (and any number of abysmal sitcoms on all the networks but particularly the newer ones), such as THE D.R.E.A.M. TEAM and PETER BENCHLEY'S AMAZON and, really, both CONAN THE BARBARIAN series (two failed series were packaged as a two-season set...one of the two was Geman)...but MEEGO might well, minute by minute, come out worst.

VP81955 said...

The "Sabrina" ripoff is pretty evident; the high school hallway looks as if it was magically cloned from the teenage witch's Westbridge High. (Heck, even in 1997 there was some sort of variety in high school architecture; you'd think a set designer would know that.)

What's sad is that, while "Sabrina" had declined noticeably from its superb initial season (thanks in part to the departure of creator Nell Scovell), it still towered over "Meego" and the other fantasy sitcoms conjured up in the fall of '97.

Todd Mason said...

zgeycp's plaint isn't unfair, either...the last actually good show that I've seen that seemed appropriate for both small children and adults in more or less equal measure was ABC Family's apparently cancelled MIDDLEMAN...though Disney/ABC's KIM POSSIBLE is close in appeal, if doing a more kidsy lean with the balancing act.

Todd said...

zbeycp: I spent a lot of time working on an article about this at my old newspaper job, and I talked to network execs and TV historians. Basically, the introduction of separate TVs for kids decimated the ratings for big family sitcoms in the late 90s/early 2000s, as Disney and Nickelodeon swept up that kid audience and pretty much kept them all to themselves. The success of cross-family shows like American Idol suggest that family sitcoms could come back in a big way if someone made a good one, but the networks have pretty much stopped trying.

Todd said...

Also, Jaime, Meego was truly, truly awful, though I don't know if it's the worst of all time or even the worst of the '90s. There were a good number of awful UPN sitcoms in the '90s.

zgeycp said...

Thanks, Todd! I'm working on a paper on a related subject, so I'll try and look into this and see what shape the thing takes!