The Unwatchables

I promised myself I’d never watch Firefly. Not because I thought I wouldn’t like it – quite the opposite in fact – but because I knew that if I started watching it in the knowledge that it had been cancelled after just one season – ripped from the loving breast of the small screen all too soon – I would probably never get over it.

Of course, eventually my curiosity and a total lack of things to watch got the better of me and I watched it. Needless to say, the scars inflicted by the injustice of it all are barely healed to this very day. I spent about 48 hours after I finished the series totally despondent, barely able to rise from my bed. I still haven’t seen Serenity – the film sequel to the show – I’m saving it as a comfort blanket, the reassurance I am yet to completely run out of Firefly to watch.

But of course, for every show unjustly cancelled before its time (and there are ever more and more of them these days) there are a good number of TV offerings which were rightly drowned in the bath tub to end their sorry runs before they could cause any real damage to themselves or others. This piece is in memory of those shows.

Who can forget such classics as Heil Honey I’m Home! – axed after one episode – which depicted that notoriously family friendly character, Adolf Hitler and his partner Eva Braun living next door to a Jewish couple they just can’t get along with, in the heart of British suburbia no less! Oh the hilarity that must have ensued!

Thankfully this show was from that mysterious dystopia known as the past, where attitudes and cultural norms were different, and therefore we can’t judge it by the same parameters we would today in our modern, progressive society. Wait, hang on what was that? It was aired in 1990! What the fuck were they thinking!

Another show famously did one better than Heil Honey in failing to even get to the end of its first episode before being cancelled. Aired on the Australian Nine Network in 1992 – owned by mogul Kerry Packer, a man considered egregiously brash and vulgar in a market where his main competition was Rupert Murdoch – Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos was axed midway through its freshman airing when Packer caught a glimpse of it at a dinner party. So offended was he by the content that he phoned in and demanded ‘that shit’ be taken off the air immediately. The network then quickly cited technical difficulties and cut abruptly to a rerun of Cheers.

So what was this shocking content featured in the show? Well – amongst other things – a child groping a Kangeroo’s scrotum, a man lifting a barbell with his penis, an elderly woman removing an envelope from a stripper’s undergarments with her dentures. Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture.

Coming in at two episodes aired (although it was never strictly cancelled so for all we know the concept may be lying dormant, waiting for a Channel 5 pickup for when they finally take Big Brother out behind the paint sheds) is Celebrity Boxing. Aired on FOX in 2002, Celebrity Boxing featured D-list celebrities beating the ever living crap out of each other for the enjoyment of the great unhosed. Fighters included Screech from Saved by the Bell, Vanilla Ice, a medal winning Belarussian gymnast and Joey Buttafuoco, a New Jersey auto body shop owner who rose to fame when his 17 year old mistress shot his wife in the face. Continuing his long tradition of showing the utmost respect to women, Buttafuoco fought female wrestler and porn star Joanie “Chyna” Laurer.

“So offended was he by the content that he phoned in and demanded ‘that shit’ be taken off the air immediately.”

After giving Laurer a swollen eye, Buttafuoco won the bout by a slim judge’s verdict. I think we can all agree that this not only confirmed Joey as a winner, but also a real god damn class act, and not a mendacious, oleaginous, witless sleaze-ball like everybody previously thought he was.

Just as a little bit of trivia, Laurer was actually a late edition to the billing, with Buttfuoco initially due to fight a fellow by the name of John Wayne Bobbitt, who was – in the loosest sense of the word – a celebrity because of an incident in which his wife cut his penis off with a knife. He was scratched from the bout after he was charged with physically abusing his new wife, depriving the world of that much needed ‘Scumbag Royale’ we were all asking for.