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Poll: Good Show, Bad Episode

Even someone as perfect as me has to admit that not everyone is perfect. (My kindness is part of my perfection.) And TV shows are one of the best examples of a lack of perfection. The frantic pace of production, the difficulty of maintaining a balance between stand-alone episodes and mythological arcs, and even just plain bad luck can affect a good television show’s consistency.

Luckily, we love our shows enough that we’re comfortable discussing their flaws as well as their virtues. And now we have a place to do so: right here in this poll. Nominate the worst episode of a good TV show you can think of, and if any clear winner loser emerges, we’ll announce it in next week’s Doux News.

In the meantime, have fun with the snarky joy. And remember: we criticize because we love.


  1. I think this almost has to be a Buffy episode. I'm a huge fan of the show and I watched the whole thing several times. So I know what kind of almost physical pain some of those really terrible episodes can give you.

    I'm currently thinking about two episodes which in my opinion are the worst of the whole show (which does makes them incredibly terrible). Those are season ones 'I Robot You Jane' and season twos 'Bad Eggs'.

    As it seems like I can only nominate one episode I will go with 'Bad Eggs' because even though season two has some bad episodes, the whole season is great and it has some of the best stuff the show has ever done in it. And that's essentially what this poll is about right?

  2. My vote goes to a Supernatural episode from season 1 Bugs (closely followed by The Benders) I just remember it being an awful episode with a big old continuity error at the conclusion to the episode!

  3. Battlestar Galactica - 'Black Market'. An episode so bad that Ron Moore came out and apologised for it right after it aired.

  4. The only show I care enough and remember well enough to comment on is Buffy, and mostly I find season 1 to be painful to watch. At least "Bad Eggs" have the Gortches brothers. I nominate "Teacher's Pet."

  5. My mind immediately went to Buffy too, but I think I'm going to have to agree with Anon. "Bugs" was pretty terrible. And not just because of the bugs.

    migmit - "Heart of Gold" is definitely my least favorite episode of Firefly, but I don't think it was all that bad.

  6. Nearly all the shows I enjoy have multiple terrible episodes (especially Buffy, Angel, and Supernatural). But as I looked over the list of Featured Shows for the site, the following episodes immediately sprang to mind for some beloved shows: The X-Files - 'Space'; Farscape - 'Jeremiah Crichton'; Lost - 'Stranger in a Strange Land'; and Battlestar Galactica - 'Black Market' (that one would have sprung to mind even without Mark's vote, just an awful episode). I also agree with migmit that 'Heart of Gold' is a notable black mark for Firefly. It's not just a "least favorite" for me; I actively dislike it.

  7. I, too, have much love for Buffy. But I hate, "Go Fish". Yuck.

  8. For Buffy "I robot you Jane" just doesn't work..
    Angels "She" has endearingly crap dancing by Wesley but not much else was good about it.
    "Fear her" was a dreadful Doctor Who episode..

  9. The most infamous of all bad episodes - Spock's Brain.
    (or is that too obvious?)

  10. Well, I'm good for stating the obvious (see picture above), so
    "Bad Beer" is my favorite worst episode of "Buffy."

    Just not entertaining. A trial to sit through. As I recall, the show got a grant or something to make a message episode. "Students shouldn't drink alcohol. It's bad." Ergo, this crap episode.


  11. I'm with Anonymous and sunbunny. Supernatural is the bomb, but "Bugs" was a bomb.

    In terms of The X-Files, "3" is my least favorite by a wide margin. I will have to bribe myself with a nice glass of wine when we get to it in the reviewing process soon.

    For The West Wing, it would have to be "The Long Goodbye." As much as I love CJ, I don't like that episode.

  12. Hmm. While I agree that "I Robot, You Jane" is a lame first season style misfire, I think "Dead Man's Party" is one of the only episodes of Buffy I openly despise. It was utterly horrible how her friends and mother treated her.

    For Angel, I'd have to go with "The Thin Dead Line". That was a rubbish piece of crap if I've ever seen one. It wasted a potentially good plot about zombie cops for some hackneyed racial commentary.

    Supernatural: Definitely "Bitten". It was Supernatural's attempt at a found-footage horror movie and instead of "Chronicle" it was low-rent "Paranormal Activity".

    For Smallville, and I am one of those few people who believes Smallville became a pretty great show in its second half, I'd have to say "Power" from Season 8 because of Lana Lang completely destroying everything the series had been trying to do so far.

    Alias: There were a good few, but I'll have to go with the Season 4 premiere "Authorized Personnel Only", which hit the reset button one too many times, undoing a potentially great twist from the previous finale and generally backpedaling to a Season 1 style status quo, assassinating character development and plot all around.

  13. As I was going through my list of truly bad episodes, it occurred to me that I've reviewed all of them. Isn't that sad?

    There are several contenders for worst Buffy episodes, but no one has mentioned the one I dislike the most: "Listening to Fear". A snot monster from outer space. Enough said.

    Supernatural has so few truly bad episodes. While I share the general dislike of last season's Chronicle ripoff, "Bitten", I'm going to have to go with "Bugs". It's first season, it's stupid, it's about bugs.

    Agreed that "Black Market" is the worst episode of Battlestar.

    Although "Spock's Brain" is notorious, it's so bad that it's sort of fascinating to watch, like a train wreck. For worst Star Trek episode, my vote is for "Plato's Stepchildren". When Ben and I rewatched and reviewed the series recently, it was the only episode I simply couldn't make myself sit through until the end.

    Torchwood: "Meat". Gagworthy.

    Highlander: "Mountain Men". There is also an argument that can be made for "Archangel", since it features the worst decision the producers of the show ever made.

    La Femme Nikita: "Abort, Fail, Retry, Terminate" Same comment as "Archangel", above. And of course, the notorious "Four Light Years Farther", the result of a lot of bad decisions on the part of the producers. It was so bad that it sparked huge fan outrage and forced them to bring the series back for an abbreviated fifth season, just to fix it. Now that's bad.

    I could go on, but maybe I'd better stop here. :)

  14. Don't forget that epically bad "Nikki and Paolo" episode of Lost. (Remember...the random one that centered on these 2 people from some reality show who were supposedly on the plane/with the rest of the lostaways the whole time. Both were dead at the end of the episdoe. Complete waste of time!)

  15. While I agree with most of what's being said here I did notice one note able absence. The episode "Love & Monsters" of Doctor Who was the one example of a really bad episode in a very good show that immediately sprung to mind.

  16. Highlander and Archangel, wow, that brings back memories of sheer awfulness. And Mountain Man. Of course one could argue that most of season 1 was crap; the show got only watchable after it moved to Paris.

    Beer Bad has deserved its ridicule, terrible episode. But for me things like Wrecked are worse offenders, I hated the "Magic is an addiction" nonsense.

    And of course the last season of Lost where they threw everything that happened before into the wood-chipper.

  17. I can't hate Listening to Fear, because it has the scene where Buffy is doing the dishes with the happy music and she starts crying. Heartbreaking.

    I can hate Where the Wild Things Are, though. And I do. I also agree on Wrecked. The episode was bad, but the even bigger problem was that it had so many bad consequences for the following episodes. Ugh.

    I'd also like to point out the episode of Downton Abbey where Matthew randomly started walking again. Come on show, when you make a decision you need to stick to it!

  18. For Angel, I agree with "She". It starts off with that marvelous party, with the dancing that is recapped in the closing credits. But the rest is... ugh.

    For Buffy, I agree with "Bad Eggs".

    I disagree with "Beer Bad". It isn't great, but in my opinion people are acting like the episode is taking serious something that it is having fun subverting (the "message"-type episode). There are two Xander quotes which I take to heart: (1) "Beer bad! Beer bad... What the hell am I saying?" (2) (too loud and bombastic) "Nothing can defeat the penis!".

  19. I would definitely agree with "She," but it DOES have some really great moments. The dancing! The Dennis/Angel bonding! WES!

  20. I agree with Mark, I can't completely hate "Beer Bad" because of "Nothing can defeat the penis!"
    No, I'd have to say "Where the Wild Things Are" for Buffy, but now that I think about Supernatural, I can't believed no one mentionned "Route 666". I still think that racist ghost truck thing was quite stupid.
    It's actually nice reflecting on the bad episodes of our favorite shows, it keeps it all in perspective.

  21. "And of course the last season of Lost where they threw everything that happened before into the wood-chipper."

    I guess that was season seven, because nothing remotely like that happened in season six.

  22. Supernatural - Bugs
    Buffy - Bad Eggs

    Both excellent choices.

  23. I feel almost the opposite to Billie - I find 'Plato's Stepchildren' awful but in an entertaining way, whereas 'Spock's Brain' was just horribly, horribly bad. Similarly Voyager's 'Threshold' is awful but quite fun, whereas 'Fair Haven' and 'Spirit Folk' are almost unwatchably terrible.

    I hate The X Files' 'Home'. I know a lot of people love it, but it's probably the only episode I won't re-watch. It's just too nasty.

    Sticking with the criteria of which one I wouldn't want to re-watch, I'll nominate The West Wing's 'The Debate'. Maybe it's the British in me, but an out-of-date fictional Presidential debate just doesn't do it for me. (Though I love Frost/Nixon, so it's not impossible to do this sort of thing well - but that was a real event, and the issues were huge).

    I've never watched Buffy's 'Seeing Red' because I hate the plot developments, but for sheer badness I'd agree with 'Listening to Fear' - except for that one scene where Buffy breaks down and cries while doing the dishes, which was brilliant. So my vote goes to the preceding episode, 'Glory' - the one with the really bad giant snake. (Not the second season really bad giant snake. The fifth season one!).

    There are quite a lot of Doctor Who episodes I don't like I'm afraid, but 'Fear Her' probably deserves the gong (though I'm not a fan of 'Love and Monsters' either).

    If I had to choose just one, it would be a tricky choice between 'Spirit Folk', 'Home' and 'The Debate'. Since a lot of people like 'Home' and nothing The West Wing does is quite that bad, it'll have to be 'Spirit Folk' I think.

  24. Juliette, the episode is "Shadow". Actually, I like both “Shadow” (in spite of the lame monster) and “Listening to Fear” (there are a couple of great scenes, and the snot monster does creep me out).

    I’m not fond of “Gone”. It's the kind of episode I'd never show to a friend if I wanted to convert them to Buffy. Although based on this latest rewatch I doubt "Gone" is worse than “Teacher’s Pet” or “Inca Mummy Girl”. Boy, “Inca” was supremely boring.

  25. I don't think that any of BtVS episodes is exceptionally bad, but I think the worst of them is "Triangle". The troll was extremely lame, and even as a plot device to give Xander an impossible choice he was pathetic.

  26. Dexter has several bad episodes too (or the entire season 6) but Nebraska was really bad.

  27. The last season's finale of True Blood was a shame too.

  28. Thanks Lamounier - I had a feeling 'Glory' wasn't quite right! Too many single-word ep titles...

  29. Buffy: Where The Wild Things Are. It's the only episode I consistently skip on rewatches. Wrecked is pretty awful too.

    The West Wing: I find Access unspeakably dull. I appreciate it was a bit of an experiment, it's just an experiment that failed badly.


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