2001: Black Scorpion
Back in 2001, the Sci-Fi Channel took a chance on a new show they hoped would be a hit: Black Scorpion. The storyline centered around protagonist, Darcy Walker. This bad-ass lady was a police officer by day, but by night, she donned a black leather getup (complete with an uncomfortable looking waistline and unflattering mask) to become the crime-fighting superhero, Black Scorpion. One look at the promotional photo and you can probably figure out why the show only managed to scrape out one season. Let’s just say the quality of the script writing and performances matched the quality of the photo. While it seems this may have been the intention of the show—aiming to capture that elusive “so bad it’s good” subset of fandom—they failed dismally.
According to Michael Farkash, a writer for The Hollywood Reporter, “[Black Scorpion] suffers from banal and repetitive dialogue, weak comedy, obvious puns and no plot surprises to speak of. In other words, it’s trying to recreate the campy tone of the old ‘Batman’ TV series. Mix that up with real martial-arts battles and plenty of explosions.”
2002: That ’80s Show
Given the heights of popularity that were reached by That 70s Show, it’s safe to say the creators of That 80s Show thought the success of their spin-off was in the bag. Fans of That 70s Show will remember the insane levels of hype that were created around the show that promised to give us a whole new decade of laughs. However, on its release in 2002, That 80s Show failed dismally in its attempt to live up to the high expectations produced by the hype. Neither the plot nor the characters had any direct connection to That 70s Show. All it took was the name and the basic concept of offering a trip down memory lane in order to celebrate and poke fun at the past.
While this concept worked fantastically in That 70s Show, it just didn’t work with fans a second time around. James Poniewozik of Time magazine wrote, “80s is full of unlikable stereotypes who were already well-parodied cliches two decades ago.” The San Francisco Chronicle added to the attack, explaining, “the new show takes a wispy idea and stretches it past its limit, leaving no laughs, no character development, and certainly no impetus to watch again.”