Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bad TV: The Very Best of the Very Worst

1995, undated later edition, from Delta
Craig Nelson
Bad TV: The Very Best of the Very Worst
Bought new for $9.95
Very worn paperback

This is in a way an update of Kevin Allman's TV Turkeys (1987), which Nelson lists in the Sources, but the approach is very different.  Allman has a few pages on each show, but Nelson covers many more programs, with capsules that are sometimes only a sentence or two.  He also rates every show from one to six TAMMIs (for Three Mile Island).  The book seems to go only up to '93, so the description for Misfits of Science, just like Allman's, doesn't mention Courteney Cox landed Friends in '94 and by the end of the first season it was #9 in the ratings.

Nelson, like other writers on bad media (or BAD as some of them like to capitalize it) sometimes has a case of the cutes, but overall I found his style pleasant.  The book is less dated than I expected, partly because it's mostly looking back two to forty years.  But check out this intro for the chapter on "The News, Sports, Newslike, and Pseudosports Nominees:  "If this book had been published ten years ago, this category wouldn't exist.  Until very recently there was a mere handful of BAD sports and news programming...."  Within five years, reality TV would change the whole game.

Lily Tomlin's front-cover review says, "As with the Bible, everybody should own at least one copy of Bad TV-- It's such a funny book."  No, I don't know if she's saying the Bible is funny.  This book isn't hilarious, but it's mildly amusing.  I don't agree with the ratings system entirely-- is David Lynch's On the Air (1992) really the worst show ever?-- but it's hard to argue with The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (also shown on the front cover) as the worst in its category.

The book also contains the worst movies you're likely to see broadcast on TV, with Frankenhooker (1990) winning that category.

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