Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

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Mike S
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Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Mike S »

Irrespective of the quality of the show itself, what's the worst name a TV show's ever had? For me, you can't beat these three atrocities:

Dawn French's Girls Who Do: Comedy
The Daily Politics
Fawlty Towers

Meanwhile, what's the best title? I'd say it's either Man In a Suitcase or Filthy Rich and Catflap. Then again, I've always liked Whicker's World.

Sometimes I'm really not sure whether a title's brilliant or awful. The Old Grey Whistle Test, for example. And indeed Top of the Pops.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Brock »

The worst title has to be Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?. Partly because of the length, but mainly because if everyone had taken it literally it would have had no viewers.

Generally I'm not a fan of those titles where it's obvious that the lead character has been named purely for the purpose of creating a pun in the title: not only Fawlty Towers but The Good Life, Fresh Fields, The Brittas Empire (what sort of name is "Brittas"?), Chance in a Million, etc., etc.

Just glancing at the next thread reminds me of Softly Softly: Task Force - you can't compromise in a title. (Paul Merton in Galton and Simpson's... is a pretty excruciating example of what happens when you do.)

I'll think about the best one. End of Part One is quite a strong contender.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Mike S »

Fawlty Towers really is appalling - it wouldn't be so bad if it was a real surname.

A bit of alliteration is always good. Not the Nine O'Clock News is very pleasing, for instance. And I can't believe I forgot Drop the Dead Donkey.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by JWG »

Mike S wrote:Fawlty Towers really is appalling - it wouldn't be so bad if it was a real surname.

A bit of alliteration is always good. Not the Nine O'Clock News is very pleasing, for instance. And I can't believe I forgot Drop the Dead Donkey.
NTNOCN itself teased out a parody title when it aped 'Now!" magazine,while the Dead Donkey title was inspired by Esther Rantzen's opus 'Drop the Chocolate Biscuit',I believe?

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by boblet »

Brock wrote:Just glancing at the next thread reminds me of Softly Softly: Task Force - you can't compromise in a title.
Doesn't stop 'em though:

The Very Merry Widow followed by The Very Merry Widow - and How!

Gadzooks! followed by Gadzooks - It's All Happening!

45 followed by Rock On With 45

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by JWG »

Surely the most irritating,in terms of web-searches alone,is '45',the pop show.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Bob Richardson »

JWG wrote:
Mike S wrote:Fawlty Towers really is appalling - it wouldn't be so bad if it was a real surname.

A bit of alliteration is always good. Not the Nine O'Clock News is very pleasing, for instance. And I can't believe I forgot Drop the Dead Donkey.
NTNOCN itself teased out a parody title when it aped 'Now!" magazine,while the Dead Donkey title was inspired by Esther Rantzen's opus 'Drop the Chocolate Biscuit',I believe?
The blessed Esther's book was "Kill The Chocolate Biscuit", but you're near enough.
"Forfar 5 - East Fife 4"

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by JWG »

Bob Richardson wrote:
JWG wrote:
Mike S wrote:Fawlty Towers really is appalling - it wouldn't be so bad if it was a real surname.

A bit of alliteration is always good. Not the Nine O'Clock News is very pleasing, for instance. And I can't believe I forgot Drop the Dead Donkey.
NTNOCN itself teased out a parody title when it aped 'Now!" magazine,while the Dead Donkey title was inspired by Esther Rantzen's opus 'Drop the Chocolate Biscuit',I believe?
The blessed Esther's book was "Kill The Chocolate Biscuit", but you're near enough.
Oh dear.Apologies.I should have checked.I read it years ago,and enjoyed it.

I don't suppose 'Kill the Dead Donkey' would have worked? Flog,maybe...

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by fatcat »

One of the spookiest ever has to be 'Journey to the Unknown'
Journey to the unknown

A couple arguably dud episodes, but the atmosphere was always terrific IMHO

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Juswuh »

fatcat wrote:One of the spookiest ever has to be 'Journey to the Unknown'
Journey to the unknown
Classic title sequence, but that's a bit off-topic. (Can't help saying "When will it come to DVD??", though.)

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Juswuh »

Brock wrote: Generally I'm not a fan of those titles where it's obvious that the lead character has been named purely for the purpose of creating a pun in the title
Non-comedy example: Strange Report, in which Adam Strange also never actually reported to anyone.

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Post by brigham »

I'm not keen on contrived ego-boosters like 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!'. Monkhouse ought to have been ashamed.

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Post by GarethR »

JWG wrote: I don't suppose 'Kill the Dead Donkey' would have worked? Flog,maybe...
It would need to be something linked to journalist slang, so the only other thing would have been "Spike...", but that just doesn't work as nicely as "Drop..."

"Top of the Pops" is a terrible title if you actually think about what it means - I mean, who has referred to the charts as "the pops" in anything other than a deliberately affected manner since the late 60s? - but otherwise, it works perfectly. It's almost like a musical riff in its own right.

"Slinger's Day" is just meaningless and awful on every level. At least there was an obvious pun in the title of "Tripper's Day", even though when I first heard it I assumed the programme would somehow revolve around holidays or travel.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Brock »

Juswuh wrote:
Brock wrote: Generally I'm not a fan of those titles where it's obvious that the lead character has been named purely for the purpose of creating a pun in the title
Non-comedy example: Strange Report, in which Adam Strange also never actually reported to anyone.
Others in the same mould: The Main Chance, Rosemary and Thyme.

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Post by brigham »

I've been quietly sniggering at 'Top of the Pops' since at least the mid-seventies. Difficult to see how anyone could come out with it and keep a straight face. The same people would have doubled up with mirth if you'd referred to an act as a 'pop group'.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Scary »

GarethR wrote:
JWG wrote: I don't suppose 'Kill the Dead Donkey' would have worked? Flog,maybe...
It would need to be something linked to journalist slang, so the only other thing would have been "Spike...", but that just doesn't work as nicely as "Drop..."
Yes, it's drop as in 'drop a story'. One of the alternative titles considered I believe was 'Dead Belgians Don't Count'

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Scary »

brigham wrote:I'm not keen on contrived ego-boosters like 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!'. Monkhouse ought to have been ashamed.
I suppose it's a bit more original than 'Bob Monkhouse's Opportunity Knocks' but I always thoguht it was an awful title

On a similar tack, I'm not keen on the current fad for 'does' titles, eg. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown', 'Comic Relief Does Fame Academy' etc. Very cumbersome and they could be done a lot better

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Post by brigham »

Scary wrote:
brigham wrote:I'm not keen on contrived ego-boosters like 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!'. Monkhouse ought to have been ashamed.
I suppose it's a bit more original than 'Bob Monkhouse's Opportunity Knocks' but I always thoguht it was an awful title

On a similar tack, I'm not keen on the current fad for 'does' titles, eg. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown', 'Comic Relief Does Fame Academy' etc. Very cumbersome and they could be done a lot better
Sloppy, probably US use of the verb 'To Do'. Language is about communication; this construction hampers it.

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Richard A
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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Richard A »

Juswuh wrote:
Brock wrote: Generally I'm not a fan of those titles where it's obvious that the lead character has been named purely for the purpose of creating a pun in the title
Non-comedy example: Strange Report, in which Adam Strange also never actually reported to anyone.
But it was priceless when he'd introduce himself in those relatively formal days by saying, "Hello, I'm Strange."

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Richard A
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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Richard A »

brigham wrote:I'm not keen on contrived ego-boosters like 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!'. Monkhouse ought to have been ashamed.
Agreed and, of course, you can't have any documentary without it being Dan Snow's This or Simon Schama's That... a clear sign of a decaying society when subjects of interest can no longer be regarded as being interesting in their own right.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by David Boothroyd »

As was acknowledged, the reason Bob Monkhouse wanted to get his name into all the programme titles was that it would make it impossible to sack him and continue the show (as had happened on the Golden Shot, although by rights that ought to have been called 'Jackie Rae's Golden Shot'). Hence 'Bob's Full House' and 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks'.

Bob also sneakily tried to get 'Celebrity Squares' renamed 'Bob and the Big Box Game' on air.

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Post by Mike S »

Porridge is a great name for a sitcom.

I always thought Ever Decreasing Circles should have been called Close.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by Brian F »

Scary wrote:
GarethR wrote:
JWG wrote: I don't suppose 'Kill the Dead Donkey' would have worked? Flog,maybe...
It would need to be something linked to journalist slang, so the only other thing would have been "Spike...", but that just doesn't work as nicely as "Drop..."
Yes, it's drop as in 'drop a story'. One of the alternative titles considered I believe was 'Dead Belgians Don't Count'
Didn't the writers say the "Dead Donkey" was something like the "And finally" item; trivia added so that it could be dropped if actual news came in.

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Post by GarethR »

brigham wrote: Sloppy, probably US use of the verb 'To Do'. Language is about communication; this construction hampers it.
Really? I don't think so. Everybody understands the use of "does" or "do" in that context, and has done since at least the early 1970s - remember "Who Do You Do?"

There was no need to call it "Of Whom Do You Perform Impressions?" Which is probably just as well.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by voyager »

I've never liked ITV's need to include the author of the source material in the titles; Agatha Christie's Poirot or Agatha Christie's Marple!! as opposed to who? Alan Titchmarsh's Marple,Ant and Dec's Poirot, Simon Cowell's Othello?

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Post by GarethR »

voyager wrote:I've never liked ITV's need to include the author of the source material in the titles
Contractual? ITV was obliged to include Enid Blyton's name (written in her distinctive signature style) in the the title of the 1970s Famous Five. Don't know about the mid-90s version.

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Post by GarethR »

David Boothroyd wrote:As was acknowledged, the reason Bob Monkhouse wanted to get his name into all the programme titles was that it would make it impossible to sack him and continue the show (as had happened on the Golden Shot, although by rights that ought to have been called 'Jackie Rae's Golden Shot'). Hence 'Bob's Full House' and 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks'
Unless I'm missing something here, couldn't Bob have been sacked and the show title altered to include the name of the new presenter? Or they could just have dropped the presenter name from the title altogether.
Bob also sneakily tried to get 'Celebrity Squares' renamed 'Bob and the Big Box Game' on air.
He managed to get "Bob and the Big Box Game" captions into the closing credit roll IIRC, which was odd since there were also "Celebrity Squares" captions in the same roll. Made the show seem like it had two completely different titles at the same time.

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Post by Simon Mclean »

I have an irrational prejudice against anything called 'That __________ Show' - it instantly signifies something is going to be dreadful.

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Re: Great titles/terrible titles for TV shows

Post by JWG »

Mike S wrote:Irrespective of the quality of the show itself, what's the worst name a TV show's ever had? For me, you can't beat these three atrocities:

Dawn French's Girls Who Do: Comedy
The Daily Politics
Fawlty Towers

Meanwhile, what's the best title? I'd say it's either Man In a Suitcase or Filthy Rich and Catflap. Then again, I've always liked Whicker's World.

Sometimes I'm really not sure whether a title's brilliant or awful. The Old Grey Whistle Test, for example. And indeed Top of the Pops.
Whicker's World was always going to lead to a furniture shop called Wicker World.Not Alan Whicker's fault,of course...

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Post by Brock »

GarethR wrote:
David Boothroyd wrote:As was acknowledged, the reason Bob Monkhouse wanted to get his name into all the programme titles was that it would make it impossible to sack him and continue the show (as had happened on the Golden Shot, although by rights that ought to have been called 'Jackie Rae's Golden Shot'). Hence 'Bob's Full House' and 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks'
Unless I'm missing something here, couldn't Bob have been sacked and the show title altered to include the name of the new presenter?
Of course. The BBC didn't sack Bruce Forsyth, but they kept Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game (as it was known until 1977) running after his departure.

Cross-thread alert here, but I've just remembered that one of the spoof billings for Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue was Bob Says I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue...

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