Word came down over the weekend that “The Paul Reiser Show,” had been cancelled after only two episodes, due to poor reviews and dreadful ratings. It wasn’t a huge surprise: It wasn’t a very good show; NBC had very little faith in it (the network pushed back its premiere nearly a full television year); Paul Reiser is not exactly popular, having disappeared from television and film after the end of “Mad About You”; and the debut episode was the lowest-rated in-season comedy debut ever on NBC, scoring only 3.4 million viewers. (The time slot will be occupied by “The Office” reruns for the rest of the season).
Given the time and money put into a scripted series, it takes a particularly nasty brand of heinous to get yanked that quickly. But, two episodes is not the quickest a scripted television series has been pulled off the air. There are quite a few reality (“The Hasselhoffs,” “Secret Talents of the Stars”) and variety (“The Osbournes Reloaded”) shows that were aired but pulled after only one episode, but my research only reveals seven scripted network series that were pulled after airing only one episode.
I actually remember two of them, both of which were reviewed for the site (“Quarterlife” and “Emily’s Reasons Why Not”) before they were shitcanned.
Emily’s Reasons Why Not: A 2006 sitcom starring Heather Graham, based on a novel of the same name. Allegedly, ABC had committed to the show before even reading a script. The episode pulled down 6.2 million viewers (or nearly three million more than “The Paul Reiser Show”).
Anchorwoman: The 2007 partially scripted series about a bikini model in the newsroom aired on Fox in 2007 and starred former “Barker Beauty” Lauren Jones. It drew 2.72 million viewers.
South of Sunset: The 1993 private detective series on CBS starred Glen Frey (of The Eagles). The one episode didn’t even air in the entire country, as it was preempted on the West Coast by a Malibu fire.
Quarterlife: This was actually a fairly decent show that aired on NBC in 2007 created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the creators of “Thirtysomething” and “Once and Again.” It was initially a popular web series that NBC purchased to air during primetime. It’s one episode drew 3.1 million viewers, the worst rated show in the 10:00 slot on NBC in 17 years.
Lawless: All I know is that it aired on Fox in 1997, it was a private detective series, and it starred football star Brian Bosworth. I can’t imagine why it was cancelled.
Co-Ed Fever: A 1979 frat-house comedy that aired on CBS and attempted to capitalize on the popularity of “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” It was the third such frat comedy that season (none of the three landed a second season). It starred Heather Thomas. And although it was cancelled after only one episode, the dorm set was reused for “The Facts of Life.”
Public Morals: Steven Bochco, who was already notorious for the quickly cancelled “Cop Rock,” produced this sitcom about a group of detectives, which included Donal Logue. One character, John Irvin, a gay administrative assistant, had even been imported from another Bochco show, “NYPD Blue.”