10. "Daddy Dearest" (1993): Swing With Don Rickles
Michael: This one appears to be taking full advantage of the so-called "swing" music craze of the 90s. Remember when Brian Setzer was on "The Simpsons"? Yeah, me neither. Let's zoom in on the neurotic expression on Richard Lewis and oh, hey, his dad Don Rickles. Don looks well. Is he still alive? I'm assuming that this show is about Don and Richard starting a swing band and living in New York.
Sarah: If this show didn't have a "no wire hangers ever" joke in it somewhere, I would be very surprised.
11. Angel Falls: Out West With Samantha
Sarah: Not actually a TV show so much as a weekly, 45-minute-long commercial for Ambien which featured Kim Cattrall on a horse slowly ambling through a sun-kissed meadow, singing songs from The Best of Bread.
12. "Hearts Are Wild" (1992): Don't Fear The Pepperman
Michael: Stock footage of Vegas in "Hearts Are Wild"! Oh my god. It seems to be a post-apocalyptic story about the last man on earth wandering around Vegas on his motorcycle. WAS THERE A SMILING DISEASE IN THE 90S?
Sarah: Nothing reveal's a network's lack of faith in a show quite so well an opening sequence that clearly cost less than a hundred dollars to produce. Nevertheless, "Hearts Are Wild," I want the world I know that I would have had faith in you. I mean, any show that stars the eternally underrated Catherine Mary Stewart (of Night of the Comet and The Apple) has to be great—and Jon Polito as Pepperman, no less! I assume that, if Jon Polito is exposed to minerals from his home planet, he becomes Pepper Man. I leave it to you to decide what powers that comes with.
13. "Scorch" (1992): We Need More Shows With Puppets
Michael: AH. IT'S A DRAGON! NAMED SCORCH. OH GOD. DID WE LEARN NOTHING FROM THE HORRORS OF "ALF"? Good lord. This might be the best theme song ever. Scorch is real messy. So messy that he slept a hundred years. Scorch is a dragon. NEVER FORGET THAT. Oh my god. Now he goes out of his cave and the world he knew was gone and all of his friends are dead. This is sad. Brenda Strong? I predict that Scorch wears sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt at some point. CAUSE HE'S EDGY! Oh wait. He got hit by lightening and is now going to eat a man and his daughter… Well. Whatever.
Sarah: I have a tape of the figure skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics somewhere that features a promo for this—so it makes perfect sense, to me, to blame this show's lack of success on Nancy Kerrigan, and by extension the fact that we don't make shows about puppets anymore. The more I think about it, the more I think that more puppet-oriented shows would fix all our TV problems. Imagine how much better "Girls" would be if it was about puppets having angry puppet sex with each other, rather than humans. The more I think about this, the more I feel I'm really on to something.
14. "Fish Police" (1992): They're Fish, And They're Police
Sarah: This title is so lazy it actually makes my head hurt.
Michael: Remember when Tim Curry was in all of the cartoons of the 90s? "Mighty Max." "Tiny Toons." "Pirates of Darkwater." "Talespin." "Darkwing Duck." "The Legend of Prince Valiant." "Capital Critters." "Eek! The Cat." It's like the animation industry said, "Well fuck it. Let's put all our eggs in this guy's basket!" Why do fish need police anyway? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH CRIME IN FISH CITY? WHHHYYYYYYY. And why the fish prostitutes?
Sarah: Obviously the fish prostitutes are responsible for the fish crime. Let's blame it on the lady fish, as always.
Michael: Wait. "If New York is the melting pot than Fish City can only be described as the Bouillabaisse." So many things wrong with that. So. The fish are aware that we eat them. What if they start policing us? OH GOD. I'M A MURDERER.
Sarah: John Ritter's narration (in character as "Inspector Gil"…sigh) reminds me a bit too much of the narration in Bladerunner. Of course, Inspector Gil actually IS a cold fish.
15. "Getting By" (1993-1994): Shirley, What Happened?
Sarah: In this groundbreaking show, Cindy Williams and Telma Hopkins play an interracial lesbian couple attempting to raise a ridiculous number of children. The show went off the air when Cindy and Telma's real-life love affair turned sour, and Cindy turned up on the set of "A League of Their Own," gabbling incoherently and asking for "Laverne." It was during this episode that she began her tumultuous and ill-fated love affair with Sam McMurray.
16. "Billy" (1992): California California California
Michael: "That's me. Billy McGregor." Well, it's a show about a Scottish guy in America. There's his passport. Wait. They let Billy Connolly teach at a community college in California? And juggle? And… and… my head.
Sarah: I love the way Billy Connolly says "California" so much that it almost definitely guarantees I would be this show's most avid fan if it were on today.
Michael: I love it when theme songs are just someone clearly stating the premise of the show. Oh look. His visa expired and now he has to get married. CITIZENSHIP DOES NOT WORK THAT WELL, TV. Marie Marshall? Sarah, a relative?
Sarah: "My ex-husband left me with three beautiful children, and whole closet full of neon weathergirl blazers!"
Michael: Oh good. The Johnny Galecki seal of approval.
Sarah: And again with the lazy sax solo. How long do you think this show lasted before making a haggis joke? Four minutes? No more than six, right?
17. "The Powers That Be" (1992-1993): Capitol Comedy!
Sarah: It retrospect, it seems like a terrible idea to bank on a show that attempts to find humor in everything that's wrong with America…but look at how much success "Two and Half Men" enjoyed!
18. "Nightmare Café" (1992): Diner at the Edge of Time
Michael: WE PROMISE YOU THAT THIS IS JUST LIKE "THE TWILIGHT ZONE." PROMISE. HE'S NOT FREDDY KRUEGER. PROMISE.
Sarah: I can't tell if this is a boring anthology show or a boring show about a small town beset by giant worms or randomly appearing vortices, or—possibly—the best show of the 90s. I also have to wonder where the synthetic panpipe solos that used to grace TV themes went, as I, for one, miss them.
19. "Mann and Machine" (1992): Not Actually About Michael Mann
Sarah: Yancy Butler hadn't really found her instrument yet.
Michael: A SHOW ABOUT A SEX ROBOT. MANN AND MACHINE. MANN AND MACHINE FIGHT CRIME. MANN AND MACHINE. GET IT?
Sarah: And now for a show that combines a terrifying voice shouting at you (is is possible that Officer Barbrady is doing the voiceover?), the music from that one scary yoga tape I have, and a barely not-nude CGI woman. On second thought, I take back all the disparaging remarks I made about recent television. I don't want to go back to this.
Previously: The 17 Best Failed TV Shows Of The 80s (As Judged By Their Openings)
Michael Magnes is the number one fan of "Fish Police," and enjoys putting little police and prostitute uniforms on his clownfish. He is currently recording an album with Brian Eno and tweeting about it here.
Sarah Marshall is still sitting shiva for Jerry Orbach.