Revisiting some of the worst TV clip shows ever put on celluloid
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
Occasionally, a TV show will break from its format and do something different. Sometimes, it can be a high concept episode—like a musical episode. Other times, it can be a fully-animated episode. But, in the pantheon of high concept and very special episodes of TV, there is one common episode type that is universally hated: the dreaded clip-show episode.
Often rated the worst episode of many a show’s run, the clip show would consist of a thin plot surrounded by previous moments of the series. The practice was more commonly used in comedies due to the genre’s ability to cut joke scenes out and stick them together. The result was usually a Frankenstein’s monster—the episode should have been burned before the thunder struck. Some clip shows, like the Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live ones, are not that bad. Yet others—like the ones on this list—are a downright insult.
“All Singing, All Dancing” Season Nine, Episode 11: The Simpsons
When it comes to the best television shows ever made, very few can top The Simpsons. The show’s early seasons, which many call the golden age, are filled with some of the best and most quotable TV episodes of all time. However, the ninth season contains an episode that is widely regarded as the worst episode of the show’s golden age, and one of the worst episodes in the show’s entirety. An episode consisting of the show’s best musical moments, the episode sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the classics of the era. At least it’s not as bad as “Lisa Goes Gaga.”
“The Banker” Season Six, Episode 14: The Office (US)
For clip shows, you can really categorize them into two eras: before YouTube was created… and after YouTube was created in 2005. When YouTube came around, the idea of the clip show became somewhat obsolete. That’s what makes this episode so egregious. The episode centres on a representative of a potential buyer for Dunder Mifflin. The worst rated episode of any Office episode, it consists of clips and montages that have been done much better by fans on YouTube. If the rep had to watch this episode to evaluate whether to buy in on The Office, he would surely walk away.
“My Night to Remember” Season Six, Episode 11: Scrubs
This Scrubs clip-show episode is bad… but for a unique set of reasons. In this episode, Dr. Cox is bald after having a full head of hair in the previous episode and no one comments on it. In the next episode, “My Fishbowl,” he is fully quaffed again. This is because the episodes were aired out of order—Cox shaves his head as a way of dealing with nurse Lavern’s non-responsive coma. There is a whole long four episodes between “My Long Goodbye” and this one, leaving fans in the dark about bald Cox.
The episode revolves around the cast remembering great moments of the previous six years as they deal with a patient suffering from amnesia. They don’t even transition to their clips well—with one transition involving The Janitor trying to prank people with a flatlining noisemaker… and then just turning on a boom box and says “let’s dance.” This episode may have been aired out of order, but in reality, it probably should have just been shuffled to the DVD as an exclusive… not a full-length episode.
Various episodes in seasons 13 and 14: MADtv
In-between seasons 12 and 13, MADtv had to move into a newer and cheaper studio. This news was likely only given to them late in the off season, as it is the only explanation as to why they began their 13 season with four straight clip shows. Not only were these clip shows bad, but they mostly consisted of snips from the last three seasons… which you could already find on YouTube. They tried to gussy them up by bringing in guest stars such as Survivor host Jeff Probst and Perez Hilton (remember him?) but nothing could cover up that this was a cheap stalling tactic until they could move into their new studio. The show must have saved a lot of money with these episodes though, as the next season also had four clip shows, including the show’s series finale. They were spread out at least this time, but that just meant that over the course of two seasons, 8 out of their 33 episodes were clip shows. That means that the series was essentially 25 percent clip show over those two seasons. Had the show not been cancelled, the show’s fifteenth season may have consisted entirely of clip shows. A season of clip shows might just be the greatest television nightmare.