Do you remember "Loves Me, Loves Me Not"? Chances are you don't.
How about "The Montefuscos", "Mr. T and Tina", "No Time for Sergeant", "Wendy and Me", "Turnabout", "Sweepstakes", "Hot L Baltimore" and "Never Say Never"? Again, chances are, you do not. These were all actual television shows from the 60's and 70's that weren't particularly good, and were cancelled after a mercifully short run.
So, what makes something become "forgettable" versus an "epic failure"? The answer is: the bigger the gap between the input and output, the bigger the fail. The input is the money, hype and big name celebs you put into a show. The output is the quality and financial success of a program. Using this definition, I submit to you that "The Marriage Ref" is the worst television show in the history of television... and, no, I haven't forgotten about "Hello, Larry".
In the case of "The Marriage Ref" you have an unprecedented amount of hype. Not only does it mark Jerry Seinfeld's triumphant return to prime-time, but the commercials on NBC were incessant.... the show itself literally interrupted the closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics! The exceptionally good ratings this year for the Olympics were completely squandered on this piece-o-shit.
The talent wasted on "The Marriage Ref' is epic: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Seinfeld, Larry David, Ricky Gervaise, etc. It's not unlike Ishtar - a movie that was such an amazing waste of Beatty and Hoffman that it magnified its awfulness.
As to the show itself, the word "bad" simply doesn't cover it. Even the terms "awful" and "pathetic" fall short of describing the shite that is "The Marriage Ref". I think this show is so unique in its awfulness that I'm going to have to invent a new word to capture it. I was leaning toward "terrihorrible", but felt that this still didn't measure up, so I've decided on "ThereisnoGod". Yes, this show is so horrible, it made me question the very existence of a higher power.
The very idea of the show is idiotic: (1) present a 2 minute clip of a married couple having issues over a trivial matter, like "my husband spends too much time grooming" and then (2) have the celeb panel crack wise about it. WTF? How is this even a show? While I detest reality show crap like "Jersey Shore" and "The Bachelor", I can at least can grasp why they were made. How "The Marriage Ref" even exists is beyond my understanding.
("whew" wiping sweat from brow. "I need a drink".)