This series of three DVDs produced for the Walgreens chain of pharmacies between 2000 and 2002 may be a transparent rip-off of Friends, but it’s also one of the most bizarre train wrecks you’ll ever witness. It’s fascinating to see how, as the show goes on, the cast and crew grow visibly listless and demoralized. By the second season, the cast members — most especially a dead-eyed Melissa Glenn — mumble through their lines in a halting monotone as if under duress. The third season is just flat-out unprofessional, with entire scenes shot out of focus, and the penultimate episode presented more or less as a radio play as the camera operators forgot to take off their lens caps.
Winn-Dixie should be ashamed for making and selling this totally incompetent rip-off of AMC’s acclaimed Breaking Bad. It’s bad enough that it looks like shaky Flip video footage of a bunch of cosplayers with zero acting experience fumbling through their lines, but it’s worse in that the show shamelessly glorifies its unhinged meth-peddling lead character, Glenn Grey, without showing any consequences at all for his despicable actions.
3. Extended Family
Target’s first foray into the straight-to-DVD sitcom market was patterned on ABC’s hit show Modern Family and was produced for its Market Pantry house brand in 2010. It’s easy to understand why only one set of episodes was made. It’s difficult to follow just how everyone in Extended Family is related, and it’s even harder to get to know anybody when the writers insist on cramming a plotline for each of the show’s 15 characters — Danny, Maria, Esteban, Glenn, Becky, Joe, Joe Jr., Stephanie, Becki, Linda, Kimily, Fresca, Kaylee, and Beckee — into every 20-minute episode.
4. Star Voyage: The Next Iteration
Despite the implication of the title, there was no earlier version of QuikTrip’s Star Voyage series. Amazingly, three volumes of this show were produced between 2002 and 2005 despite it being very obvious that every scene taking place aboard the USS Excelsior was shot in a shopping mall.
5. TV Rock
This show produced for Publix supermarkets is just a thinly veiled copy of 30 Rock in which the writers seem totally convinced that “rock” is just show biz slang for “soundstage.” It’s not a very funny show at all, but hey, bonus points for hiring a lead actress, Iveta Pikčiūtė , who is a dead ringer for Tina Fey. (You know, even if she speaks with a thick Lithuanian accent.)
6. Time Fop
Duane Reade’s DeLish label has produced five seasons and counting of this Doctor Who knockoff in just three years. Just as with the original BBC series, there’s a high turnover in the cast, and so far three different actors — Derek Gant, Glenn Wooster, and Connor Majewski — have portrayed the series’ time traveling hero, The Barrister. None of those actors are from the United Kingdom, but all of them insist on delivering their lines with a terrible British accent. Wooster is definitely the best though, and will be missed.
7. Guilford Gals
Guilford Gals, a knockoff of Gilmore Girls available exclusively at Hannaford supermarkets throughout New England, may lack the offbeat wit of the show that it inspired it, but it’s a surprisingly well-written drama on its own terms. The most interesting thing about this series is that the mother-daughter duo of Amy and Evie Guilford are played by real-life mother and daughter Laura and Lindsay Glenn-Cooper.
8. Crown of Dwarves
Hy-Vee’s Crown of Dwarves is packaged to look like HBO’s enormously popular and lavishly produced Game of Thrones series, but is in fact just three discs of poorly shot footage of LARPers frolicking in the woods somewhere in Wisconsin. At least 100 copies of the set were returned to the store by customers furious about this flagrant bait and switch.
Staples may have marketed Madvertising as a blatant knockoff of Mad Men, but to be fair, it’s actually quite different. It is a drama set at an advertising agency, but it takes place in the present day and is basically a procedural that follows the Stanton, Tipley, and Glenn agency as its accounts and creative teams pitch and execute a single ad campaign in each episode.
10. Erotic Hospital
Rite Aid wanted a Grey’s Anatomy-meets-ER romantic drama set at a hospital, but when it hired Vivid Entertainment to produce the show without realizing it was a porn studio, it ended up with a series of 19 extraordinarily explicit DVDs. They all sold pretty well, and it remains the generic store brand series with the greatest longevity.
11. Filthy Teenage Liars
Filthy Teenage Liars is also a porn series, but one that was intentionally made when Supervalu Pharmacies teamed up with Brazzers to create a product that could compete with Rite Aid’s Erotic Hospital series. Truth be told, it has almost nothing to do with ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.
You’d think that it’d be hard to replicate the production values of Lost with the budget of a straight-to-DVD series produced for Albertsons supermarkets, but that’s only because you underestimate how much it would really cost to simply scrap that show’s flashback sequences and set every single story in the same stretch of beach and “jungle” somewhere in Southern California. Crashed arguably improves upon its inspiration by delivering answers to its central mysteries at a much faster clip, even if they mostly revolved around some incoherent mythology involving chemtrails, nanotechnology, and the Illuminati.
13. Tooth Blood
The title of Kroger’s long-running Tooth Blood series may sound like it’s meant to be an off-brand version of HBO’s True Blood, but it’s really more of a melange of elements from several vampire franchises from the mid-’00s. It’s about as generic and uninspired as you would imagine, but apparently Kroger had no qualms about including a staggering amount of full-frontal nudity in the show’s second season.
14. The Zombie Dead
If you want to watch a bunch of amateur actors frantically run around suburban backyards in mediocre zombie makeup, look no further than the seven volumes of Wawa’s The Zombie Dead series. Like, if that’s what you really, really, really want.
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