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The 25 Shows Fox Won’t Be Calling Attention to at Its 25th Anniversary

Photo: Trench Shore/WireImage (Celebrity Boxing), FOX

Later this month, Fox will mark its 25th anniversary with a clip-filled special paying tribute to its biggest hits, but the network’s official silver anniversary is today. It began its first prime-time broadcast on April 5, 1986; after a short promo film featuring the famed 20th Century Fox fanfare, Fox aired the premiere of its very first series, Married … with Children. It was developed under the working title Not the Cosbys, and the show spoke to Rupert Murdoch’s desire to upend the traditional Big Three broadcasters with fare that was louder, younger and more interesting than what was currently on the air.

Over the quarter century that followed, Fox would launch a slew of successful shows, from populist hits like Beverly Hills, 90210 and American Idol to critical faves that also drew big ratings, such as The Simpsons, House, and The X-Files. But Fox’s penchant for experimentation has also resulted in a whole bunch of … less successful efforts. Stuff that was weird (a nuclear holocaust comedy!), offensive (adoptees compete to find their birth father, The Chevy Chase Show), and just plain forgettable (two words: Karen’s Song). There will be plenty of love for Fox’s best later this month, but today, Vulture has decided to honor Fox’s rebel spirit with a look at some of its less well-remembered shows: twenty that fall into the categories of “bizarre,” “bad,” or “baffling”, and five that were actually kind of good, but never broke through. Get as comfortable as Al Bundy on a couch, grab a Duff beer, and join us as we sing “Happy Birthday” to what’s arguably Murdoch’s best contribution to society. 

Three years after Women in Prison vanished, Sperber found herself sentenced to another awful Fox comedy about bawdy women. In this case, they weren’t in prison; no, they were all just zaftig and zany. It was like Mike & Molly, minus Mike, plus 63 percent more jokes about ice cream sundaes.
What if a nuclear war destroyed all but six people in the world, and those six lived together in a farm house and tried to start a new civilization? Why, hilarity would ensue, of course! Or so thought the Fox suits who bought the pitch for this post-apocalyptic “comedy” starring no one you would recognize except for Sex and the City’s Evan Handler. In the final episode Fox aired — a very special Christmas edition — Stuart Pankin played a widowed Santa Claus, still bummed because Mrs. Claus and his elves didn’t get to the North Pole shelter in time. Ha ha, grieving Santa and nuclear fallout!
Darnell is good friends with Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss, but that didn’t stop him from ripping off his buddy’s best idea. In this creepy dating show, a woman tried to find true love from a group of masked men. (Because if there’s one thing that Fox taught us early with Married … with Children, it’s that you shouldn’t judge people by their looks.) And just to cover all of his “how do we lure in the curious viewer?” bases, Darnell got Monica Lewinsky to host. The first episode was a hit, but viewers didn’t like what they saw when the curtain was pulled back and ratings for subsequent episodes dropped quickly.
The 25 Shows Fox Won’t Be Calling Attention to at Its 25th Anniversary