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The Worst Crossover Episodes in TV History

The world can feel like a lonely place for us, but believe it or not, there are people who do not subscribe to the common wisdom that Family Guy is a delightfully subversive and endlessly uproarious satire of contemporary mores. In fact, there are some who feel that Seth MacFarlane’s long-running, rescued-from-an-entirely-appropriate-grave animated family comedy is witless, unfunny, and (above all, and this point can’t be stressed enough) a blatant rip-off of The Simpsons — a point that we presumed the Simpsons crew shared, what with that whole “Plagarismo” thing. So even after Homer’s brief cameo on Family Guy in 2012, the recent news of a full-on Simpsons/Family Guy crossover is mighty depressing; even at this late point, it still would’ve been nice to think that The Simpsons wouldn’t sink so low. But it sounds like they’ve got the makings for one of the worst TV crossovers ever — and, according to the exhaustive TV continuity tracking site Poobala, there’s plenty of competition for the title.

drew-carrey

Coach/The Drew Carey Show/Ellen/Grace Under Fire

The main problem with bad crossover episodes — and what separates them from the occasional good ones — is that they don’t serve to heighten what’s great about the shows in question, or even just expand their fictional universes to include each other (as when the Miami-set Golden Girls spin-offs Empty Nest and Nurses would share a theme night). They’re mostly just lame promotional gimmicks, stunts halfheartedly staged to bolster one or the other’s ratings, or to keep people watching through a block of otherwise unrelated shows. The latter explanation is about the only plausible one for ABC’s “Viva Las Vegas” night, in which Drew Carey and a couple of secondary cast members from elsewhere in the Wednesday night line-up all ended up in Vegas and appeared on each other’s shows. Say what you will about the homogeneity of sitcoms, but these four programs had very different styles and lived in very different worlds, and the entire stunt stunk of what it was: desperation.

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