Several television shows are canceled after one episode, quickly removed from the broadcast schedule, or development is halted after their web series. Such rapid cancellations are extremely rare and usually arise from a mix of extremely negative reviews, low ratings, radical or controversial content, or events beyond the network’s control.
Pilots, which are premiere episodes produced primarily for network executives to review as potential series; ‘backdoor pilots,’ which are pilot episodes shot in such a way that they are aired as regular episodes of another series; and feature-length television movies produced to be broadcast as either an extended premiere episode, if picked up as a series, or as a separate television film are specifically excluded from such a list.
After deciding not to develop a series, the pilot was either presented as a television movie or televised as a television movie. The date the episode aired, any criticism, and what happened to the show when it was canceled are all listed in chronological order.
Carnival of Dennis James (October 31, 1948)
The CBS television network broadcasts a wide range of programs. The Dennis James Carnival featured a range of vaudeville-style acts under the guise of presenter Dennis James trying to save his uncle’s carnival. The show garnered mostly negative comments, and its sponsor, General Electric, was dissatisfied with the carnival atmosphere.
Whose Property Is It, and Whose Isn’t It? (June 25, 1951)
In a panel quiz show hosted by Phil Baker, four celebrity panelists competed to determine which of three male applicants was married to which of three female competitors. This sitcom replaced The Goldbergs, which was canceled after producer Gertrude Berg refused to let blacklisted actor Philip Loeb off the hook. While one source classified the presentation as a television pilot, recent news sources confirm that it was a series that was canceled by its sponsor after only one broadcast.
Turn-On was an ABC variety comedy series that premiered on February 5, 1969, and was a racier version of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The show enraged broadcast officials as well as advertisers, who rapidly viewed it as inappropriate due to its strong sexual and political comedy.
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