“My Mother, The Car” Sent To France – 9/27/1967

History |


On September 27th of 1967, the worst show ever made by American TV producers made its TV debut in France. It had only survived one season in the United States when it aired on NBC, from September 14th of 1965 to April 5th of 1966. 

United Artists Television had produced a total of 30 episodes. Syndication did not seem in the cards for My Mother the Car. However, the show is now in digital syndication on the digital sub channel Antenna TV, which began airing episodes on September 19th of 2015.

The premise of the show is basically where a man goes to a dealership to buy an old station wagon for his family. He realizes that one of the cars in the lot is the reincarnation of his dead mother, when he hears her voice coming out of the car's radio. But mother will only talk to David, so no one else knows the secret of the car. So the man drives the small, ugly vehicle home, much to the disappointment of his wife.

My Mother the Car was the first TV show to star a talking automobile, only not as cool as Knight Rider. Supporting cast members included Ann Sothern, Avery Schreiber, Maggie Pierce, Cindy Eilbacher, and Randy Whipple. The star of the show was Jerry Van Dyke, brother of Dick van Dyke. To appear in this show, Jerry turned down the lead role in Gilligan's Island, another show with an idiotic premise, but that one was a hit. Who knew?

Very young viewers loved My Mother the Car, but critics and adult viewers could simply not hate the show rabidly enough. One reviewer described it as “a horror which defies description.” Another critic noted that the show was so bad it didn't even sell to the Japanese, who tended to buy absolutely everything produced by American TV networks. However, the French didn't seem to mind the show. So My Mother the Car aired in France on September 27th of 1967.

Allan Burns, who co-created My Mother the Car, went on to create more successful shows, such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and Lou Grant. The other co-creator, Chris Hayward, produced and wrote scripts for Barney Miller, a popular show from the 1970s about the goings on inside a police station. Allan Burns and Chris Hayward also worked on The Munsters, Get Smart, and Rocky & Bullwinkle. So these guys weren't such bad writers after all. 

Many shows have silly premises. This one featured a fun plot in several of its 30 episodes. Like the one where David Crabtree puts a TV in the garage so his mother (the car) can watch it, but confusion ensues when she wins a chance to appear on a game show. It's hard to figure out why some shows click with viewers, while others do not.

In 2002, TV Guide named My Mother the Car the second worst television show of all time. In first place was the Jerry Springer Show.

Apparently, My Mother the Car was just not funny enough. 

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