Stupid Tuesday Questions, slow-mo train wreck edition

A little while ago while flipping through the channels in search of Low Entertainments, the Better Half and I stumbled upon the film “Abandoned,” starring the late Brittany Murphy.  Sadly, it was Ms. Murphy’s last role, and while she was no Hepburn (either of them) she deserves to be remembered for something better than that.  A more appealing role to remember her by would be her delightful voicing of Luanne Platter on the under-appreciated gem “King of the Hill.”

But this post is not about Brittany Murphy.  It’s about that movie, which was awful.  For psychological reasons too murky to fathom, occasionally the Better Half and I will find ourselves unable to stop watching programs that are utterly devoid of redeeming qualities.  This one was among the worst.  Horrible acting (including wretched work by once-famous actors like Mimi Rogers and Dean Cain, as well as by the star).  Preposterous plot and stupefying writing.  Production values that probably cost less than some of my better pairs of pants.

Watching this cinematic drek-fest, the question that kept popping into my head was “How on earth did this get made?”  My only guess is that halfway through filming the producers threw up their hands and decided to give the world yet another example of the sunk costs fallacy.

So, here’s this week’s question — what have you most recently seen that begged to have the plug pulled?  What book should have been pulped before it was ever printed?  What show should have been canceled before they even shot the pilot?  What movie isn’t worth the electricity to power the projector?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze. I was a very disappointed seven-year-old.

  2. Wagon’s East. John Candy’s death was certainly tragic in any event, but making that movie?

    Thankfully, they released Canadian Bacon later, making is last (released) movie a good one.

    • Thor was a lot of fun. Unlike Will I found Green Lantern tedious.

    • I’m with Burt. Thor worked quite well but GL was lame. Marvel seems to have a better run of things in terms of converting their heroes to the big screen.

  3. I’m still agitated when I remember The Crow: City of Angels.

    The first movie was oh-so-very-good. (I think it may have been the first decent comic book film since the 1988’s Batman.)

    The sequel was oh-so-very-bad. It was not just bad, but confusingly bad. As they say, it wasn’t a movie you watched: It was a movie that happened to you.

    • I happened across the third Crow movie last night. It certainly wasn’t the first, but didn’t actually seem as bad as the third. What I saw of it, anyway. Yeah, Crow II was bad.

      • Eep, I should mention that I saw all of 10-15 minutes of it. There was no decent 10-15 minutes in CoA, which is why I assume that Salvation was better.

  4. The recent GOP debates and the Island of Dr. Moreau. Although the latter is much more enjoyable o watch.

    • You know my feelings about that movie. My favorite aspect is that, at any point you can pause it and state aloud “It is metaphysically impossible for this movie to get worse. It has reached the platonic ideal of badness,” resume play and witness it getting even worse.

      • How about “Boys From Brazil”? Or “Marathon Man?”

        Dr. Saunders, just think–in 48 hours you’ve gone from a pediatrician to Internet Enigma! Stay from interviews–mystery is always better than reality and you’ve really got people shaking their head in disbelief. It’s quite clever, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t soon get agents calling you. You’re hot Dr. Saunders–time to grab the bull by the horns and wrestle him to the ground. What if you were presented with a choice–continue being an awesome pediatrician or give up the practice of medicine and have a life full of endless fame and fortune.

    • Elizabeth, you seem like a lovely, erudite and interesting woman. Hope you stick around awhile–we males need all the “civilizing” we can get. I’ve often thought that should, for some unknown reason, all males die off because of some disease only they could get, what would happen to the opposite sex. They’d miss us terribly, but eventually adapt fairly well. Males however, forget it. We would kill each other off and not survive a single generation. It’s all about conquest and turf. And intelligent design. How can one be a theist and not believe in intelligent design? Did the primordial soup just accidentally come with a brain? The universe is exceedingly fine-tuned for life. A rogue atom here and a rogue atom there and all of a sudden the universe collapses within itself. Try again? It doesn’t appear that is a viable option. Imagine getting all this on one roll of the dice. Is it even possible to calculate the odds?

    • Yeah, but from your description it seemed kind of amazing in its awfulness. (Which is how I feel about “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” an appallingly bad film rendered awesome by the depths of its inexorable badness.)

  5. This thread could go on forever.

    Films: We recently had the misfortune to watch “Beginners”. 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but what a load of twaddle. A waste of Ewan McGregor (probably miscast but I am not a good judge of such things); the French actress in the female lead was charmless; the whole thing was teeth-achingly inane. Only redeeming feature was Christopher Plummer.

    And don’t get me started on “The Adventures of Tin Tin”; that was a real clunker. Oh, the burdens of parenthood.

    Books: I never saw the movie of “Shutter Island”. That was because I had already read the book. FSM, what a piece of crud. Absurd plot with the obligatory potboiler thriller plot twist; a plot twist that is a flimsy get-out for the ridiculous plot, and one of the hoariest of cliches – it’s all the fantasy of a lunatic. One of those cases where you think, on each page, why am I reading this? But you carry on in hope that there must be some redeeming feature to come. I won’t be making that mistake again. Mr Lehane. The deus ex machina was like having somebody crap in your mouth after eating toilet roll for an hour.

  6. Mike Myers’ version of The Cat In The Hat. Worse, believe it or not, than even Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Thank God my son is growing up.

    • A friend once showed “Beverly Hills Chihuahua II” to the assembled children at a party.

      Thank goodness it only took four days or so for the kids to forget about *that* one.

  7. Though I could spend a lot of time naming offensively bad TV shows and movies that should never have been made, I also have a real soft spot for them. When the future wife and I first started dating, we somehow got sucked into Paradise Hotel, a marvelously horrific reality TV show that, normally, neither of us would ever watch. We’re still mildly wistful of that show, even though we both know just how bad it was.

    For the past few years, TBS/Peachtree TV has been a great source of crap. Meet the Browns is especially notable here – my three year old starts to cry and yells, “no, no, turn it off, turn it off” when even an ad for the show come on.

    Then again, thanks to that station, I have watched The Wood at least four times, and Comrades of Summer at least twice. Horrible movies though they are, I just can’t quite quit them.

    Obviously, I’m deeply conflicted. I think I’ll go listen to some LFO.

  8. “The Majestic.” Because the only thing more awful than Jim Carrey trying to be funny is Jim Carrey trying to be serious.

  9. Not recent, but:

    Back before Letterman started at CBS [1], instead of a late-night talk show, they did late-night cop/detective shows, a different one each day of the week. My favorite was called Dark Justice. It was about a judge who wanted to be tough on crime, especially after a car bomb meant for him killed his wife [2], but who constantly had to let criminals off on technicalities. When that happened, he would get together his gang, consisting of

    * Himself with shoulder-length hair (on the bench we covered it with a short-hair wig.) [3]
    * A hip, young black guy.
    * A pretty young blonde detective. (She was as convincing a detective as Zach Braff would be a Navy SEAL.)
    * A middle-aged bartender played by Dick O’Neill who, uniquely among the cast, could act.

    The gang would run an elaborate sting intended to bring the miscreant to justice. Generally, though, some unforeseen mishap would occur and he would die gruesomely instead. Which is really just as good. This was possibly the worst show on TV. I never missed it.

    1. I told you it wasn’t recent.
    2. This was also before Monk. (But after cough drops.)
    3. Why, Miss Jones, without your glasses …

    • Oh yes, late night TV is a wonderful thing, Mike.

      Anyone else watch Hyperion Bay, starring Mark-Paul Gosselar?

      And then there was High Tide, starring Rick Springfield and Yannick Bisson (who I’ve always thought of as the Canadian Luke Perry) as orphan brothers who run a detective agency. Gold. Frickin’ gold.

  10. “Ah, Zombies!”

    It’s a great concept for a film. What could be better than a film from the perspective of zombies who don’t realize they’ve become zombified and are mystified by the way everyone’s reacting to them? In this case, a poke in the eye with a sh*t-covered stick. I defy Dr. Saunders to sit through this film, which has the worst dialogue and the worst acting of any movie I have ever seen in my life. I can sit through a lot, but this one I turned off after 15 minutes, knowing that I’d just made the wisest choice about the use of the next hour and a half of my time that I’ve ever made in my life.

    Also, Moulin Rouge. I’ve tried three times. I just can’t take it.

    • “What could be better than a film from the perspective of zombies who don’t realize they’ve become zombified…”

      You’re talking about The Program, right?

    • “…the worst dialogue and the worst acting of any movie I have ever seen in my life.”

      For me both of those honors go to Teenage Caveman, but they must cancel each other out or something, because overall, it was a pleasant experience.

  11. The “Doom” novelisations. Not the movie–the video game. Which actually started out pretty well, and halfway through the first book you can see the authors realize that no matter how well they write they’re still writing the novelization of “Doom”, and they just say “the hell with it” and start in on this poorly-read nerd’s idea of a noir parody.

    “We opened the door to the next room, and inside were five imps, four demons, three spectres, two cacodemons, a partridge, and a pear tree. I’m kidding about the partridge and the pear tree.”

    • I had a classmate that had one of those. He thought it was awesome. But everything he described to me about it sounded terrible, chiched, and… well… as you describe it.

      • See, if you’re twelve and you’ve never really experienced parody, it’s hilarious. (As I said elsewhere, this was why I liked Spaceballs so much the first time I saw it.)

        For me, when the second book presented the IRS as being the demons’ fifth column on Earth, that was a real watershed moment in my life. It was the first time that I decided not to continue reading a series of books I didn’t like. And, when you consider that I had read the entire “Mission Earth” series, that’s actually saying something.

        • For me, when the second book presented the IRS as being the demons’ fifth column on Earth, that was a real watershed moment in my life.

          Duh. Everybody knows it’s The Phone Company.

  12. I keep remembering “Wild in the Streets” with Shelly Winters, Christopher Jones and somehow Richard Pryor. The OWS folks seem to
    be following the script from this movie which just seemed all wrong to me in 1968.

  13. As a fan of James Bond films, i was initially elated to find them released in boxed sets. Then I found that some of them were actually real stinkers. Case in point: Diamonds Are Forever. Nothing more than paid advertisment for the DeBeers company. That Sean Connery agreed to do such a thing almost made me weep.

      • My skin crawled so hard I was afraid it was going to rip right off my body and escape out the patio door.

        I cannot conceive of what the writers were thinking when they penned the filth. If I were trying to cast homosexuals in the worst conceivable light I don’t know if I could do better than that show did. It’s like, in attempting to be ultra hip or something, they circled entirely around the spectrum and started spewing out loathsome tropes about gays that’s make a raving homophobe blush in inadequacy.

        I cannot reccomend avoiding it enough.

  14. Somehow my wife got me watching “Rock of Love”. Horrid, horrid show, yet I couldn’t stop watching!

    I watched “Lost in Austen” with my mom. Ghastley series, but it did turn me on to one thought: Jane Austen wanted to ridicule society at the same time she desperately wanted to be of it.

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