Eight Failed TV Shows Set in Colorado: Will Ashton Kutcher's The Ranch Be Next?

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Plenty of popular television shows depict stories that supposedly happened in our great state, including Dynasty, Mork & Mindy and South Park.

But as we've noted, there have been lots of TV series most viewers didn't know were set in Colorado, in part because they didn't last long.

It's too soon to know if The Ranch will join these shows in the dustbin of television history. But early signs aren't good.

Scheduled to launch on April 1 — yes, April Fool's Day — on Netflix, The Ranch sports plenty of big name talent. Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, co-starring in a series for the first time since That  '70s Show, head a cast that includes two familiar figures from the silver screen, Debra Winger and Sam Elliott. But the trailer for the program, about life on a Colorado ranch that looks suspiciously like a Hollywood sound stage, contains almost but not quite as many laughs as The Revenant.

Continue to learn more about eight failed TV shows that supposedly took place in Colorado, complete with video clips and more. They're followed by the trailer for The Ranch, whose makers undoubtedly hope they don't join this roster permanently.

Emily Owens, M.D.

The CW

First episode's debut date: October 16, 2012

Cancellation date: November 28, 2012

Total episodes aired: 13

Emily Owens, M.D., built around a recent med-school graduate interning at "Denver Memorial Hospital," had plenty of promising young talent, including star Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep's daughter), not to mention featured players who'd go on to bigger things. (Aja Naomi King is currently a regular on How to Get Away With Murder, while Kelly McCreary graduated to Grey's Anatomy.) But it barely lasted a month on the notoriously patient CW before its plug was pulled.

Bus Stop


First episode's debut date: October 1, 1961

Last original episode's air date: March 25, 1962

Total episodes aired: 26

Bus Stop had a pretty tony pedigree; it was an adaptation of the famed William Inge stage play for which Inge himself served as a consultant. But the program, which starred Marilyn Maxwell as the owner of a bus station and diner in Sunrise, Colorado (not, it's not real), is mainly remembered today for a few regulars who made more of a mark elsewhere, such as Buddy "Jed Clampett" Ebsen, and the fact that famed director Robert Altman helmed eight episodes.

Kate McShane


First episode's debut date: September 10, 1975

Last original episode's air date: November 12, 1975

Total episodes: 11

Kate McShane broke some ground as the first legal drama to feature a lead lawyer played by a woman — albeit one best known as a laugh-getter, Anne Meara. But America apparently wasn't able to accept Meara (part of a comedy duo with husband Jerry Stiller — and mother of Ben Stiller) in a serious role. Of the eleven episodes produced, two were never aired.



First episode's debut date: April 18, 1995

Last original episode's air date: August 22, 1995

Total episodes: 12

Richard Dean Anderson became an American television icon thanks to MacGyver, and he would go on to star for eight years in Stargate SG-1. But in-between, he made Legend, which wasn't exactly a legendary success. The Wikipedia synopsis reads:

Ernest Pratt, a gambling, womanizing, cowardly, hard-drinking writer has created a dashing literary hero, Nicodemus Legend, the main character in a series of wildly imaginative dime novels set in the untamed West. Because Pratt writes the novels in the first person and has posed as Legend for their cover art, many readers believe that Pratt is Nicodemus Legend.

In the pilot episode, when Pratt learns that Nicodemus Legend has been impersonated and a warrant issued for his arrest, he travels to the scene of the incident to clear the name of his protagonist.

Pratt meets up with the impersonator, a great admirer of his tales, the eccentric European scientist Janos Bartok – a Nikola Tesla analogue who had been Thomas Edison's research partner — and his brilliant assistant Huitzilopochtli Ramos, who has taken every single course Harvard University had to offer. Bartok "borrowed" the Legend persona in order to help the townspeople of Sheridan, Colorado.

Apparently, the townspeople of Sheridan were unable to return the favor.

Continue to see more failed TV series set in Colorado, followed by a preview of The Ranch.

House Rules


First episode's debut date: March 9, 1998

Last original episode's air date: June 8, 1998

Total episodes: 7

House Rules is such a generic title that it's been used several times to date, including for a 2003 remodeling-contest show hosted by Mark Walberg. The 1998 version focused on three childhood friends who lived together in Denver: a district attorney (Maria Pitillo, who earned a Golden Raspberry Award for her role in 1998's Godzilla), a reporter (Bradley White, whose subsequent credits include Law & Order) and a medical student (David Newsom, who's now a producer of shows such as Deadliest Catch.) If you remember it, you probably wish you could use that part of your brain for something else.

Rock Me Baby


First episode's debut date: September 15, 2003

Last original episode's air date: May 25, 2004

Total episodes: 22

Rock Me Baby starred Dan Cortese, of Veronica's Closet "fame," as a radio personality at fictional Denver station KHOR. His wife, a former exotic dancer, was played by Bianca Kajlich, who managed to get six years' out of Rules of Engagement beginning in 2007. That's called landing on your feet.

The Mountain

The WB

First episode's debut date: September 22, 2004

Last original episode's air date: January 2, 2005

Total episodes: 13

The Wiki description: "The plot centers on a ski resort run by Will Carver (Anson Mount). When his grandfather dies, Will discovers that the resort has been left to his younger brother David (Oliver Hudson), an irresponsible layabout who returns to pick up the reins. There is familial conflict over the resort and over Maria (Alana de la Garza), a woman who previously dated David, but then dates Will. Additional conflict comes from the efforts of land developer Colin Dowling (Mitch Pileggi) and his attractive daughter, Max (Elizabeth Bogush), who falls for David."

One of the program's producer was Zalman King, known as a purveyor of soft-core "erotica" such as the Mickey Rourke-Kim Basinger grope-fest 9½ Weeks. Maybe the requirement that The Mountain's cast remain clothed for the most part was the problem....

Doc Elliot


First episode's debut date: March 5, 1973

Last original episode's air date: May 1, 1974

Total episodes: 14

Doc Elliot is summarized on Wikipedia by a single sentence: "A doctor makes housecalls in Colorado with his four-wheel drive." Even more tellingly, I couldn't find a single clip from the show on YouTube. But the collage above, from the website OldCarsStrongHearts.com, proves the program had at least one admirer. Here's a salute from the site:

The cast reads as a who’s who list: James Franciscus (“Mr. Novak”, “The Naked City”, “The Investigators”, “Longstreet”) in the title role, Neva Patterson (guest appearances on “Ben Casey”, “Maude”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “The Dukes Of Hazzard”, “The Waltons”, “The RockFord Files” & “St Elsewhere”), Bo Hopkins (movies ‘American Graffiti’ & ‘White Lightning’ & TV series “The Rockford Files”, “Dynasty”, “Gunsmoke”, “Bonanza”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Fantasy Island”, “The A-Team”, “The Fall Guy” & “Murder, She Wrote”) & Noah Beery (Rocky on “The Rockford Files” plus appearances on “The 6 Million Dollar Man”, “Magnum PI”, “Fantasy Island”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Trapper John MD” & “The Yellow Rose”).

We're betting none of these notables was ever identified as having been on Doc Elliot after May 2, 1974.

And now, here's a preview of The Ranch.

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