The 5 Worst TV Shows of the 1980s
5 “One of the Boys”
Who would believe that a show starring Dana Carvey, Nathan Lane, Meg Ryan and Mickey Rooney would only last a single season? Well, that’s how bad “One of the Boys” was. Debuting and getting canceled in 1982, this show was developed before these heavy-hitters—except Rooney, of course—had made it big. The premise revolves around Oliver (Mickey Rooney), a senior citizen who leaves his retirement home to live with his grandson (Dana Carvey) at college. Wow, amazing concept! Not. “One of the Boys” was named as one of the worst television shows of all time by “TV Guide,” and it really deserves the honor.
4 “Small Wonder”
Imagine you could build the perfect robot. Surely everyone would choose a small, pre-adolescent girl wearing a red and white dress. No one would choose such a robot, and that’s just one reason why “Small Wonder” (1985 to 1989) bombed as a television show. The show centers around Ted Lawson, an engineer who builds a Voice Input Child Identicant (V.I.C.I.), which is an android designed to help the physically challenged. Instead of giving it away to do that noble task, Ted takes it home and pretends it’s his real daughter and his family, which includes an actual human child, has to go along with it. If this doesn’t send you screaming from the room, know that V.I.C.I. also has super strength, speed, intelligence, and zero emotion, and she sleeps in a closet. It’s a small wonder this show aired as long as it did.
“Manimal” (1983) was about this guy who can change into animals because he studied ancient Tibetan or African—some kind of old technique no one’s heard about—to learn what divides man and animal and how one might smash that something together. With his godlike powers, Manimal, aka Dr. Jonathan Chase, helps pretty Detective Brooke Mackenzie solve mysteries and such. This guy could be any animal on the planet, and yet he always seemed to choose a hawk or a panther. Sometimes, if the budget allowed, he’d change into a third animal, but it was usually a cheap one, like a horse or a bear. This show was so bad it got the ax after just eight episodes.
2 “The Greatest American Hero”
Ralph Hinkley, a high school teacher, is given a powerful red suit by aliens during a class trip to the desert, and thus begins the horror that is a television show titled “The Greatest American Hero” (1981 to 1983). Hinkley uses the awesomely powerful suit, which he can barely control, to fight bad guys. Viewers never find out why the aliens chose Hinkley, and no one can explain how a show full bad actors with a cheesy, hole-filled plot lasted three seasons.
1 “Bosom Buddies”
In “Bosom Buddies” (1980 to 1982), Tom Hanks plays a man who dresses as a woman so he can live in a ladies-only apartment building. Things don’t get much worse than that, not even “The Da Vinci Code.” Enough said.