Remember the classic Mel Brooks’ movie, THE PRODUCERS, where two crooked producers sought for the wrong script, the wrong actors, the wrong director, etc. to make a sure fire flop, well guess what, between Sep 14, 1965 and Sep 6, 1966, for 30 outrageous episodes, one of the worst possible TV shows of all time was aired that featured the worst possible script and the worst possible actor.
Jerry Van Dyke really wasn’t very good as an actor when he was young, but in his late years he seemed perfect in the ABC comedy, COACH. But, in MY MOTHER THE CAR, Jerry Van Dyke was little more than the no-talent brother of Dick Van Dyke. In this simply awful show he plays a bumbling lawyer who purchases a 1928 Porter(actually a customized Ford) which is supposed to be his mother, Gladys, who talks to him through the car’s radio. Certainly it was a terrible premise with the worst possible actor, but the show was so bad that I actually enjoyed watching it as a kid, simply to laugh at how bad the show was. It was a real hoot!
Believe it or not, AMT model kits actually had a model kit of this awful short-lived show, which is no doubt a real collector’s item these days.
This show was so bad, that a 2002 TV guide issue actually rated this as the second worst TV show ever aired, with only Jerry Springer being viewed as even worst yet. That’s quite an accomplishment.
While some younger viewers like myself were actually entertained by MY MOTHER THE CAR, due to it’s sheer awfulness, most serious critics continued to attack the show for years after it’s cancellation as an example of the worst possible TV show ever to air.
Strangely, the writers and producers of this five alarm turkey actually survived to produce some well respected TV shows in later years. Allan Burns and Chris Hayward who produced this awful show, later produced far better TV with THE ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE SHOW, THE MUNSTERS and GET SMART. Further, Allan Burns was also later responsible for THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, LOU GRANT and RHODA, all proving that it’s possible to have life after producing the worst possible TV show ever imagined.
While most bad TV shows are quickly canceled or forgotten, MY MOTHER THE CAR actually survived for one full season, which gave many critics more time to despise it, and remember it when they want to write poison pen articles about the very worst that TV has to offer.
The show is so bad that the producers wanted no part of the show in later years, and allowed it to slip into the public domain, meaning that some really cheap dvds of the series exist in royalty free versions. And there’s even some t-shirts available for sale over on Ebay for anyone brave enough to want to show his support for the what is widely viewed as just about the worst TV show ever aired.
What Ed Wood did to the motion pictures, MY MOTHER THE CAR pretty much did to TV, producing something so bad that it lives on years later as a big joke.