1950s Fall TV Flops: Not All Shows Were Winners

Stock TV Sets

Every year a new batch of fall TV hits the airwaves, while some have made long lasting impressions that became our favorite TV shows some just didn’t make it and fell flat. Here are a few from the 1950s.

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (1955)

SHEENA: QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE, Irish McCalla, 1955-56

Everett Collection

Only 26 new episodes of this live-action jungle adventure series based on the Tarzan-like female comic book character of the title (played by Irish McCalla) and her chimpanzee sidekick Chim (played by Neal the Chimp) were produced in syndication between Sept. 1, 1955, and Feb. 15, 1956, with critics bashing the show. In the Mirror News, John Crosby offered a particularly scathing assessment, stating that the scenes where Sheena speaks to Chim in his ape language contained “easily the most intelligent dialogue in the show.” Crosby also pointed out that “even the press agents who handle the program have been forced to the conclusion that Sheena is something less than great art.”

Out There (1952)

OUT THERE, from left: Wesley Addy, Robert Webber, 'Misfit', (Season 1, episode 104, aired November 18, 1951), 1951-1952

Everett Collection

One of the earliest television science fiction anthology series, this half-hour drama sounds like it was cool, with episodes adapted from stories by noted genre writers like Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury. It may not have been the quality or content of the series but rather its time slot that doomed it: CBS scheduled it at 6pmET on Sundays, which even during TV’s early days doesn’t seem like a terrific position for a new show to have been in if you wanted viewers to find it. Out There only lasted 12 episodes, from Oct. 28, 1951-Jan. 13, 1952. 

Decoy (1957) 

DECOY, Beverly Garland, 1957 - 1958

Everett Collection

Led by Beverly Garland as undercover New York City police officer Patricia “Casey” Jones, this syndicated drama was not only groundbreaking as the first American police series that followed a female hero but was also very successful with purchases by major TV stations and, most importantly, with the many viewers who loved it. Decoy ranked among the Top 10 syndicated programs during its 39-episode run from Oct. 14, 1957-July 7, 1958. It maintained a place on that list even after production of new episodes was unfortunately shut down due to lack of funds and the show continued in reruns under the title Police Woman (not to be confused with the 1970s Angie Dickinson series).

1970s Fall TV
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1970s Fall TV

September 2023

Take a trip back to the ’70s by looking at the TV Guide Magazine Fall Preview primetime lineups.

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