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5 Randomly Selected Awesomely Bad Shows Available for Netflix Streaming

September 6, 2011

I am not one for shallow browsing of streaming titles; I like to go deep. When I say deep, I mean past the mockbusters, straight to what I call The Titles of Last Resort. Here are five you don’t want to miss!

Persons Unknown

Nothing like a show with an intriguing premise – a sort of retread on themes explored on The Prisoner – without the dialogue, acting chops or plot to sustain it. The production values trick you into believing you’re watching a triumph of dramatic television, but those production values only highlight everything else that’s gone terribly wrong here. The characters are stock, their plight (trapped in a town they can’t leave for reasons that aren’t immediately explained to the viewer) not nearly as compelling as producers would like you to believe. Let me get this straight: you wake up to find yourself trapped in a retro glam styled hotel, are served delicious foods, have all your needs met, don’t have to work and you want to LEAVE. Xena, please. SIGH ME UP FOR THAT SHIT TODAY.


Frankly, I’m just happy when I get into a cab that doesn’t smell like other people’s BO. So I could never dream stepping into David Morse’s cab, only to find out in addition to taking me from A to B he’ll also help me solve all my problems with criminals ranging from deadbeat dads to gambling boss who expect you to honor your debts! What a bargain. CBS’s Hack – which co-stars Andre Braugher! – strives for a Spencer For Hire/Hill Street Blues sweet spot, but never manages to get any where close to even approximating the worst aspects of either show. The first episodes are okay, albeit a bit schmaltzy. There’s a marked decline in narrative quality (and tropes a go go); by the sixth episode we’re in solid “awesomely bad” territory. Morse and Braugher are at their usual best, which is why watching everything else be XENA awful around them is so compelling. This show is so awesomely bad, I used to call friends in the middle of the night just to talk to them about it.

Vanishing Son

I wanted this to be the joint. You know I did. The paucity of Asian faces in leading roles means ATTENTION MUST BE PAID to Vanishing Son. But from the tinny Casio keyboard (on the slow rock setting) to the stilted dialogue to the slow pitch narrative, this The Fugitive/Highway to Heaven (sans the god stuff) hybrid is all kinds of awesomely awful. Russell Wong is a great lead and an even better good sport as he acts his way through plots even Walker, Texas Ranger producers would reject as cheesy. Truth be told, it’s bad in the exact way that Walker is bad, which is of course, why I love Vanishing Son so much.

Canterbury Law

Blame the writers’ strike or the fact this was not the right law show for Julianna Margulies for her short lived FOX show, which was cancelled two months after it premiered. Personally, I blame the acting and the weariness of lady lawyer shows on FOX for the demise of this melodramatic drama, which required all its actors go to the Al Pacino “shout to show emotional intensity” school of acting. It’s basically Harry’s Law but with a thin lead.


Before Private Practice the name Taye Diggs used to be synonymous with the phrase “short lived series”. Between him and Paul Blackthorne neither talented actor could keep a show on television longer than about ten minutes. This short lived FOX show asks the question, “what if 24 and Groundhog’s day had a baby?” and audiences responded with a resounding: “who cares!”. It doesn’t help that a smattering of well loved familiar FOX alums populate the show or that the acting is not really terrible. The time loop and its subsequent plot holes will have you chunking things at your television screen, while wondering how long did it take Kiefer to teach Diggs how to strain his neck in steely resolve like that.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2011 2:01 pm

    Russell Wong is a great lead and an even better good sport as he acts his way through plots even Walker, Texas Ranger producers would reject as cheesy.

    I did, in fact, LOL at this line. I will have to pop a bag of corn and give these a watch some time!

  2. September 6, 2011 2:06 pm

    Hack and Vanishing Son are the real standouts. In each case both leads are troupers. I kind of love it when the lead is great and yet the show is still terrible.

  3. September 6, 2011 4:15 pm

    To me, Vanishing Son resembles nothing so much as Kung Fu, new and improved with 50% more Asian.

  4. September 6, 2011 4:42 pm

    Vanishing Son was painfully aptly named.

  5. September 7, 2011 12:02 pm

    Well it’s true, I’ve seen none of these shows, but I am happy to know they are available on instant in all their awful glory! You had me at “The Prisoner” comparison for Persons Unknown. And Hack sounds pretty great/bad?

  6. September 7, 2011 3:52 pm

    Persons Unknown is confounding. It’s like three different shows in one and only one of those shows is actually interesting. (hint: the one with the people in that mysterious town).

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