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TeeVee Awards '02: Worst Half-Hour Show

Here at TeeVee headquarters (which is more a state of mind than a physical location, or at least that's we tell Monty when the rest of us are at some big TeeVee banquet), we know a thing or two about bad television shows. We devote big sections of our big, juicy chess-club brains to encyclopedic knowledge of shows that more sensible people took one look at and immediately forgot. You know, shows like Shasta McNasty and The Secret Diaries of Desmond Pfeiffer.

So when it came time to pick the worst half-hour show of the year, there was no shortage of nominations. You might have forgotten about Bob Patterson and Inside Schwartz, but we're practically professionals here, and it will take years of therapy for us to even think about forgetting them. Normally, this decision is filled with acrimony and bitterness, where our usual witty repartee breaks down to something along the lines of "Oh yeah? You're a Harsh Realm! So there!"

But this year, we all looked at the year and came to the same decision: Baby Bob was the worst half-hour show of 2001. It had a concept so bad that by the time we were convinced it was a real show and not an imaginary invention to illustrate the Platonic ideal of badness, it had already burned off its initial order, been acclaimed as a minor hit, and been renewed as a midseason replacement. But its first appearance on the air lasted long enough that even now, we're afraid that all the self-hypnosis tapes in the world won't let us block the memory from our minds.

The idea behind Baby Bob was that there was this baby, right? And his name was "Bob." And he -- wait for it -- talked.

That's right, it was a talking baby. And that's pretty much as far as the joke went. We managed to watch one or two episodes (because sometimes, it's important to watch the absolute worst show available), and none of us can recall the baby ever saying anything amusing. The show apparently relied solely on the incongruous nature of a talking infant for laughs.

Except that talking babies aren't funny. Sure, it's diverting for a moment to see their lips move, but after that all you've got is a vaguely disturbing special effect. And, more to the point, it's a special effect that was already overused several years before the show made it to the airwaves. So instead of the audience goggling in awe at the magical talking baby, people just end up being reminded of that talking chihuahua we all got sick of awhile ago.

It didn't help Baby Bob any that there was already a show with a talking baby on the air. And on Family Guy, which is normally happy with the cheapest joke available, the talking baby is also a genius. And an evil genius at that. The talking babies of entertainment history, by which we mean the stars of the first two Look Who's Talking movies, all had gimmicks. If you're willing to pretend that "being the voice of a celebrity, except in the second movie, which also had Gilbert Gottfried" constitutes a gimmick, that is. And we admit that it isn't much of a gimmick, but it's better than Baby Bob, which comes a mere thirteen years later, and didn't even have that.

Okay, there was one innovation that Baby Bob introduced: when its baby talked, people could hear it. This wasn't one of those deals where Bruce Willis gets to smart off in voice-over and only the audience can hear him; this was a show where a family had to deal with the wacky complications of finding out that their baby talked.

Except, again, that the complications weren't all that wacky. If you sat down for an hour and thought about the comedic implications of a baby that could talk, we're pretty sure you'd come up with something better that "Bob's parents use him as a spy to find out the lowest price two art gallery owners will take for a painting, but their scheme does not go as planned." Incidentally, we don't know why that last part is even in there; television schemes never go as planned. People on television shows who hatch zany plots should have noticed that by now; ever since Lucy Ricardo failed in her five-hundredth attempt to join Ricky's band, it's been pretty clear that the more complicated your scheme is, the less likely it is that it will work. It's just how sitcoms work.

So, let's recap. Baby Bob is a very bad television show. It got on the air because some CBS executive lost a bet. Then people inexplicably started watching it. Now we occasionally wake up screaming and lose all ability to write clever sentences about basically uninteresting television shows.

So here's to you, Baby Bob! You suck!

Additional contributions to this article by: Monty Ashley.


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