Top 5: Worst TV Bosses

 

(Note: I know it should probably be “Bottom 5 TV Bosses”, but I’m trying to build a weekly theme there, so I’ll press on…)  

I’m actually on pretty good terms with TPTB at the museum at which I volunteer (the Louis Armstrong House Museum – www.louisarmstronghouse.org). Yet there are occasions in which I wonder what the hell they’re doing have to respectfully disagree with their decisions. However, no boss could really be as bad (or could there be?) as these fictional bosses:  

Alas, I could only find the picture of the Steinbrenner doppelganger at Tyson Chicken...

  

5. “Steinbrenner” (voiced by Larry David), Seinfeld  

The boss of George Costanza (who was Special Assistant to the Traveling Secretary, IIRC) and owner of the New York Yankees, “Steinbrenner” was the perfect lampoon of an extremely struggling franchise. In 1991, when the series began, the Yankees finished in fifth place in the AL East 20 games under .500, and nothing seemed to get better. “Steinbrenner” was the exemplar of “nothing seemed to get better” – applauding the destruction of team history (the desecration of the jerseys of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the utter demolition of a Commissioner’s Trophy), scalping tickets to the owner’s box, and threatening to move to New Jersey (which, of course, nearly did happen), but “just to upset people.” “Steinbrenner” was even prophetic of the decisions of the real George Steinbrenner: a couple of weeks after a joke that “Steinbrenner” would fire Buck Showalter (who had several guest appearances on the show), he was actually fired for Joe Torre. Of course things got better for the Yankees organization, but Seinfeld made George Steinbrenner the caricature for inept bosses and inept sports operations.  

T4. Nigel Algernon Wick (played by Craig Ferguson – who, once again, will be profiled in this week’s Saturday Night Stuff I Like), The Drew Carey Show; and Murphy Brown (played by Candace Bergen), Murphy Brown  

I combined the both of them (Murphy Wick? Nigel Brown?) because of their penchant for firing people. Murphy Brown isn’t all that bad a boss – if you don’t count her 93 different secretaries at FYI (all fired), meaning that in nearly one out of every three episodes, she fired a secretary (they ended up forming their own support group) and her many nannies as a single mother (also all fired). Mr. Wick, on the other hand, is fairly incompetent – as are most of the people on The Drew Carey Show. His character is completely insensitive, brash, and (a bit semi-autobiographically on Ferguson’s part) is an alcoholic and drug addict (even putting the blame on Drew for drugs that were his). His claim to fame, though, are the many interesting ways he fired people: having a “fire drill” which was really simply fir-ing someone, holding a “story time” in which the story was simply a character’s firing, having “Richardson” blow up a balloon saying “YOU’RE FIRED” (with another balloon having Wick’s letter of recommendation), firing someone by having them shoot a crossbow (originally rigged to have a flag pop up saying “you’re fired”, but ending up shooting Wick, causing him to only have one testicle – a running gag for the rest of the series), and even firing a door painter for Drew’s new office:  

Wick: You spelled his name with two r’s. That’s [points to Drew] Drew Carey, not Jim Carrey, beloved funnyman of the silver screen! What’s your name?  

Door painter: Johnson, sir. [This is especially funny, as the character Wick fires on most episodes is invariably named Johnson]  

Wick: Johnson, do you have good legs?  

Johnson: Yeah, I guess so.  

Wick: Well, you’ll need them – AS YOU’RE STANDING IN THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE, CLUTCHING YOUR STOMACH, BECAUSE YOU’VE HAD TO EAT YOUR SHOES! JOHNSON – GET OUT! YOU’RE FIRED!    

"I consider myself a friend first, a boss second...possibly an entertainer third."

  

2. Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell), The OfficeMichael Scott can best (read: only) be described as a man-child in an executive position, a volatile combination. From his ineptitude, sexism, racism, homophobia, and terrible attempts to make a joke, it is a mystery how the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin survives while other branches (Stamford, Buffalo, Utica, &c.) close. In all truth, it is the combination of the office members that truly mark its stupidity (Michael, Dwight, and Andy being three in particular) that create the combination of comedy and rolling of eyes, but Michael is, of course, the ringleader of all of this. 

But our #1 Worst TV Boss is more than just ineffective and incompetent, he’s downright scary – in fact, he’s the character that, in my mind, defines scary… 

1. Mr. Raines (played by Richard Marcus), The Pretender  

As the man responsible for the Pretender Project at The Centre, Mr. Raines is the man responsible for kidnappings of several children from their parents, the man responsible for despicable tests on people (including the complete destruction of the psyches of Subjects Timmy (known throughout the series as the empath Angelo) and Dannie (who forms a split personality, “Einnad”)). He’s also the man responsible for heading up the capture of Jarod, simply, “because [he] exist[s]”. Simply put, Raines is a bad dude.
 
And yet, he’s not the true boss at The Centre; that title goes to the uber-mysterious Triumvirate (of which Mr. Parker, the father of – you guessed it – Miss Parker, is possibly a member), who know all and can fire anyone – even Raines, who is at one point under Tower and Triumvirate review. I’m only at the start of Season Three in my Pretender DVD collection, so I’ll tell you how it goes from there.
 
 
Join me for next week’s installment of the Wednesday Top 5, when I finally discuss the Top 5 Inventions not Involving the Internet.
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5 thoughts on “Top 5: Worst TV Bosses

  1. SORRY SON, BUT I AVE TO GO A LITTLE OLD SCHOOL ON YOU – IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
    1. Bill Bittinger (Dabney Coleman)
    BUFFALO BILL
    Pushed around a verrrrrry young Geena Davis
    2. Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton
    (Donald Sutherland ) COMMANDER IN CHIEF
    Tried to push around a mature Geena Davis
    3. Mr. Drysdale THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
    Pushed around loyal Miss Hathaway & tried to get his hands around as much of the Clampett’s $$$$.
    4. Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland)
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker
    Refused to listen to Kolchak’s evidence.
    1974-5 version – forget the 2000’s remake!
    5. B.P. Richfield (Sherman Hemsley)
    DINOSAURS
    Head of WeSaySo, would eat you (literally) if you got him mad or hungry.
    6. Harrison Carter (Gale Gordon )
    HERE’S LUCY
    How could you yell at the Queen of Comedy, Lucille Ball?
    7. Mr. Slate
    THE FLINTSTONES
    8. Mr. Spacely
    THE JETSONS
    9. Sgt. Vince Carter (Frank Sutton)
    GOMER PYLE, USMC
    10. C.P.O. Otto Sharkey (Don Rickles)
    CPO SHARKEY
    Mr. Warmth himself.
    11. Assistant Principal (later Principal)
    Mr. Michael Woodman ( John Sylvester White )
    WELCOME BACK KOTTER

    • I’ll work with the ones I know:
      I should have included Richfield, Spacely, and Woodman…Nathan “Bloody Hell” Templeton doesn’t count as a boss – maybe of the House, but not of government itself, so he doesn’t count.

      I should have included C. Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons as well.

  2. I’ll stick with Templeton – given his power to run the House, his ability to make Mac Allen’s life miserable, and being downright evil (you could see the look in his eyes as he wrings his hands) + the obvious Geena Davis connection to Buff Bill.
    I just thought a broader, more historical view would help. But you made a very start. And you get extra credit for just being who you are! I know you will make a great boss if you want to do it!!!!!

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