The history of television is a fearsome winnowing-down process. Each year, dozens of new shows debut, very few of which will catch on with the public and earn a second season or more. As the years go by and more and more new shows appear, those one-season wonders of the past are forgotten, forever consigned to the pop-culture junk heap. So what becomes of TV’s broken-hearted? In many cases, they wind up at Gilmore Box, a YouTube channel devoted to showcasing the opening credit sequences of unsuccessful sitcoms. The channel is a veritable library of failure, a vast warehouse of dashed hopes, ruined careers, and shattered dreams. Here, for instance, is the title sequence from Chicken Soup, the much-hyped series that was supposed to cap Jackie Mason’s showbiz comeback. Spoiler: It didn’t. Mason recovered as a live performer, but TV success eluded him.
Adapting hit movies into weekly series seems to be a dicey proposition at best. For every success like M*A*S*H or Alice, there seemed to be 10 flops like Bustin’ Loose, Nothing In Common, and Baby Boom.
Nestled among all these losers are occasional cult favorites, like the fondly remembered, proudly misanthropic Dabney Coleman vehicle, The “Slap” Maxwell Story.
Many of the clips at Gilmore Box are from ’80s sitcoms, which is not surprising considering that the channel’s “About” page carries a plug for Bob Leszczak’s book, Single Season Sitcoms Of The 1980s. Sometimes, these Reagan-era shows allow for glimpses of stars in their formative years. Produced by Gary David Goldberg of Family Ties and Spin City, the short-lived Sara featured Geena Davis, Bill Maher, Alfre Woodard, and Bronson Pinchot. With that cast, how could it miss? Yet, miss it did.
Gilmore Box even managed to dig up the opening credits for one of the most infamous sitcoms of all time, Shaping Up, a spoof of the fitness fad starring Leslie Nielsen. Surprisingly, this bomb was created by two legends of television comedy, Ken Estin, whose writing credits include Taxi and Cheers, and Sam Simon, who co-created The Simpsons. If Gilmore Box proves nothing else, however, it shows that anyone can fail in television. Pedigree means nothing. Ratings mean all.
[Thanks to reader Jeff Clinton for the tip.]