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Entry updated 23 March 2020. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1969). George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions. Created by Friendly and Schlatter. Writers included Albert Brooks. Cast included Tim Conway (guest host), Teresa Graves, Ken Greenwald and Maura McGiveney. One episode. Colour.

A hapless effort to duplicate the success of George Schlatter's sketch comedy series Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (1968-1973), Turn-On is widely regarded as the worst disaster in American television history. A few stations refused to air the first episode, others stopped airing it after the first commercial break, and the series was immediately cancelled; a second episode was filmed but never aired. Among other things, viewers were disturbed by its blindingly-rapid editing and emphasis on raunchy sexual Humour. The series is unfortunately relevant to sf because it is stated that its contents, and the order of their appearance, were being dictated by a briefly-observed Computer, making it an inadvertent commentary on the inability of artificial intelligence (see AI) to emulate the achievements of human beings. Indeed, one could discern in the series' flaws precisely the kind of flawed reasoning that might emerge from a machine knowing little about the human race: if people like fast-paced comedy, they will like even faster-paced comedy; if people like slightly risqué jokes, they will like even more risqué jokes. Also, in one typically fleeting scene, Tim Conway is observed dressed as Superman. [GW]


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