TV Critic’s Corner

The worst TV of 2016

David Spade in “Roadies.”
David Spade in “Roadies.” PAUL SARKIS/Showtime/Showtime

I hate to be negative. OK, I lied. I like to be negative sometimes, to get all the gooey schmaltz, shrill laugh tracking, and bad acting out of my system. So here is a list of some of my least favorite viewing experiences of the year, to contrast with my best list.

You will not see any election-related material. I tried to stick to scripted TV, and new scripted TV in particular. Plus, there would be too many “worst” election moments to fit in this column, from the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debates and Jimmy Fallon’s Trump hair fluff to that “press conference” with Clinton accusers.


What many of the entries on this list share is that they’re derivative in some way — a remake, a sequel, or a lazy effort to recapture the glory of some other show. I’ve listed them in no particular order.

“Crisis in Six Scenes” (Amazon)

This was bad in its own right, and then worse because it promised to find Woody Allen using the medium of TV to expand his characterizations. The six episodes — about the 1960s — comprised some of the most lazily written, uninspired, dashed-off comedy I’ve seen in a while, with poor performances by Allen, Miley Cyrus, and Elaine May.

“Maya & Marty” (NBC)

This wasn’t unbearable, but it was so much less entertaining and creative than it should have been, given the combined talents of Maya Rudolph and Martin Short. The sketch writing was hit or miss, but mostly miss, a bit like “Saturday Night Live” leftovers. And the NBC self-promotion was irritating.

“MacGyver” (CBS)

Hey, let’s reboot yet another 1980s icon and see if the public bites, even if they’ve already rejected, among others, “Uncle Buck.” This one was a particularly obvious effort to “presell” a show by using a familiar title. It was also flat, poorly acted, absurdly youth-ified, and pointless.


“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” (CBS)

The cast wasn’t the problem with this spinoff, although “CSI: NY” alum — and Oscar nominee and Emmy winner — Gary Sinise really ought to get out of the franchise business. The xenophobic-toned show, in which the team saves Americans in other countries, mixed in fear of foreigners with the franchise’s usual grisly horror, and nothing good came of it.

TIE: “Kevin Can Wait” and “Man With A Plan” (CBS)

They were both awful in the same schlocky ways, as they played into gender stereotypes, ran on easy one-liners, and essentially mimicked the most mediocre sitcoms out there. CBS announced a reboot of “The Honeymooners” last week, but it seemed redundant since these two dated shows were already on the schedule. On the upside, they’re both better than “2 Broke Girls.”

A courtroom scene from “Notorious.”
A courtroom scene from “Notorious.”Kelsey McNeal/ ABC

“Notorious” (ABC)

Definitely not Hitchcock. This one was a Shonda Rhimes wannabe that made cynical hash of journalism and the law. Stars Daniel Sunjata and Piper Perabo aimed for chemistry, but wound up seemingly both bland and disturbing at the same time.

“Roadies” (Showtime)

Dang. I had hopes for this one, a drama about a rock band’s road crew from “Almost Famous” writer-director Cameron Crowe. But the cutesy characters, with Luke Wilson doing an oddly out-of-place Jimmy Stewart, and the obvious story lines got in the way.

Dishonorable mentions: “Rush Hour,” “Divorce,” “Damien,” “Game of Silence,” “Dice”


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.