It is not only blockbusting Hollywood movies that have huge production budgets. Often the producers behind some of TV’s biggest shows have pockets just as deep as those financing films on the big screen.
Sometimes it is worth the risk and a huge budget results in great TV, see Game of Thrones, but other times the risk definitely does not pay off. TV has its own John Carter, R.I.P.D, or Battlefield Earth levels of failure and we will outline some of them.
Not THAT Battlestar Galactica, this Battlestar Galactica ran from 1978 – 79 and was a colossal flop. Attempting to cash in on the success of Star Wars, released just one year prior, ABC plowed truckloads of cash into the show. Costing the network a huge $1 million per episode at the time, they took a big risk trying to make a success of it. Despite initially gaining good reviews, the show ran out of steam after the first few episodes and never lived up to the billing. The show left ABC licking their wounds and was axed after just one season.
Who would have thought a show about trains would be unsuccessful? Trains are great, they take us places and transport cargo but don’t necessarily make for exciting TV. NBC shoveled a lot of coal, sorry, money, into this project in 1979 but failed spectacularly. The show was set on a ‘Supertrain’ that housed shopping centers and even swimming pools, it was meant to be the height of luxury. They used pricey models to replicate the train in motion, but unfortunately several broke down including one that crashed. In a bid to save the show, the network threw more money at it by tempting huge stars like Van Dyke and Tony Danza to feature but ultimately canceled it after just nine episodes.
Father of the Pride
Dreamworks filled cinemas across the world with their animated hit, Shrek. Trying to get people on their couches rather than in theatres, 2004’s Father of the Pride was a show Dreamworks hoped would be hugely popular. NBC threw a lot of money into the project, with episodes costing as much as $2.5 million to produce, and with 15 episode aired, this was a costly failure. Many complaints were received about the show because parents felt the show was inappropriate for children. The show followed the lives of Siegfried and Roy’s famous white tigers, but unfortunately one of the tigers attacked Roy on stage in real life not long before the show aired which did not help its cause.
Critically panned and labeled as one of the worst TV shows of all time, it is no surprise to see 2007 musical drama Viva Laughlin feature as one of the most expensive flops in TV history. CBS hoped that Hollywood megastar Hugh Jackman would be enough to boost the ratings, but the show ended up in the TV show junkyard. The show ran for only two episodes and lost advertisers left, right, and center before the network buried it forever. They are probably still having nightmares about the whole thing.
These shows have the unwanted honor of being some of US TV’s biggest flops, something their respective networks must look back upon and simply shudder about. With the increasing number of us binge-watching TV shows like nobody’s business, there are bound to be plenty of new expensive flops for us all to sit back and laugh at in the future.