Encore podcast: A Very Short History of TV Shows with Very Short Histories

What can you say about a TV show that dies after just one episode? We can think of a few things. Here’s a look at some of the most notorious examples, including a show that forced Jackie Gleason to apologize to America, a “Laugh-In” ripoff that was cancelled midway through its only episode and a sitcom about the home life of the Hitlers. Here are their stories — their pathetic stories of massive, embarrassing failure.

Silverman's Travels

If you were watching American network TV in the 1970s and early 1980s, what you were watching had probably been touched by Fred Silverman. Over a 20-year period, Silverman had an unprecedented run as chief programmer of all three networks -- CBS, ABC and NBC. His successful programming choices led to his reputation as "the man with the golden gut," but his downfall came when he had to program against his strongest adversary -- himself.


"The Crapshoot for Half a Billion," Tommy Thompson, Life, September 10, 1971

"TV's Man for All Networks," Lawrence Van Gelder, The New York Times, January 21, 1978

"NBC's Super Freddie Misses the Train," Jack Egan, New York, May 14, 1979

"A Troubled Season for NBC Chief Fred Silverman," Arthur Unger, The Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 1980

"Fred Silverman," Rip Rense, emmys.com

"The Fall and Rise of Fred Silverman," Geraldine Fabrikant, The New York Times, June 5, 1989

What We Laughed At

My brother Steve and I sit down and talk about the comedians we enjoyed as kids, mostly on "The Ed Sullivan Show," like Jackie Vernon, Myron Cohen and Henny Youngman. We also talk about discovering "new" comics like Richard Pryor and George Carlin and more contemporary comics such as Brian Regan and Mike Birbiglia.