TV shows you won't believe actually exist

With hundreds of shows hitting the small screen each year, there are always bound to be some strange ones that slip under the radar. Some of those oddities are naturally better than others — and some are simply so bizarre that it's hard to believe they were ever made in the first place.

Think you've seen it all? We're here to put that to the test with some of the most bizarre TV shows you won't believe actually exist.

Vanilla Ice Goes Amish

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a network executive looking for the next hit reality TV show. If your first idea involves putting faded rapper Vanilla Ice in plain dress and having him live with the Amish, you should probably send your résumé to the DIY Network.

On the appropriately titled home-improvement spinoff Vanilla Ice Goes Amish, our star — real name Robert Matthew Van Winkle — assists his Pennsylvania Dutch hosts with a variety of tasks, including but not limited to remodeling the kitchen with a natural-gas-powered stove and refrigerator, and helping with the laundry. The rest of the time, he basically just sits on the porch, tells jokes, and does everything but embrace the Amish lifestyle. If that isn't good television, what is?

The Swan

Reality TV has really scraped the bottom of the barrel a few times — and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better example than The Swan, a two-season beauty pageant featuring "ugly ducklings" who receive extensive plastic surgery, life coaching, and psychological therapy.

Unsurprisingly, some contestants were left both physically and emotionally scarred, and the show has rightfully been chastised for exploiting women with pre-existing personal issues. "These women were suffering from trauma that could not be fixed by a tummy tuck," Reality Bites Back author Jennifer Pozner told VICE. "They had been actively victim abused by men, had battered women syndrome, they felt unworthy of living, and they were the ones chosen."

No matter which way you try to spin it, The Swan was ugly, exploitive, and just plain awful. Surely, the fact that such a concept was ever approved for a second run speaks volumes about our culture. Thankfully, the planned Celebrity Swan revival never made it to the air.

Ramez in Control

Remember when Ashton Kutcher pranked his fellow stars during episodes of his hit MTV hidden camera show Punk'd? Egypt's Ramez in Control is kind of like that, except instead of pretending to have federal agents seize Justin Timberlake's property, the host likes to dress up as a terrorist and kidnap unsuspecting celebrities.

Egyptian actor and singer Ramez Galal is a well-known television prankster in his native country, and isn't afraid to take things to the extreme. He also once gave socialite Paris Hilton the ride of her life by staging an emergency airplane landing — though speculation has arisen that she was in on the prank all along. Still, that's nothing compared to some of Galal's other stunts. According to CNN, Galal once ran a prank called Ramez the Desert Fox in which he and a group of armed men hijacked a bus before kidnapping and blindfolding the passengers.

Something tells us that wouldn't fly in New York.

Clutch Cargo

You know that weird cartoon childhood Butch was watching in Pulp Fiction — the one with an animated Eskimo speaking with a disturbingly real mouth? Well, that happened.

Cambria Productions' syndicated television series Clutch Cargo redefined the animated genre, in that there was virtually no animation. Scenes were largely static, and mind-blowing special effects — like blowing real smoke in front of the camera to simulate fire — provoked more ridicule than excitement.

Most famously, the show was one of the first to utilize Synchro-Vox, a process which superimposes a moving mouth over another image. You've probably seen the technique used on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the introduction to Spongebob SquarepantsThe Annoying Orange web series, or the Barenaked Ladies music video for "Thanks, That Was Fun." It's funny today, but in the 1959 aesthetic, Clutch Cargo is just plain strange. Even stranger, you can actually watch 52 episodes of that madness.

The Puppy Channel

Long before videos of singing dogs and keyboard playing cats were only a few clicks away, there existed a short-lived television pilot called The Puppy Channel. Can you guess what it was about?

As the name implies, the show was about dogs. And only dogs. A product of marketing executive Daniel FitzSimons' daydreams during the O.J. Simpson trial, the one-hour pilot featured border collies bothering a cat, newborn puppies eager to suckle, and various other visual Scooby snacks for dog lovers everywhere. It actually tested very well, too, with 38 percent of one focus group claiming they'd probably watch it at least once per day — proving once again that high-speed internet hasn't altered our attraction to animal footage. More than 40 percent even preferred it to CNBC!

Unfortunately, The Puppy Channel never did become its own full-fledged channel, and the pilot stopped airing around the time Y2K was a thing — but at least we still have Puppy Bowl.

Sunset Daze

Who hasn't ever watched an episode of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore and thought to themselves, "this show would be so much better if Snookie and JWoww were pensioners?" If you count yourself among that exclusive club, then you're in luck.

In 2010, WE TV launched their own geriatric Jersey Shore in the form of Sunset Daze — a reality show featuring baby boomers gone wild. Some of the totally-not-staged (but definitely staged) action includes a spunky Ms. Liebowitz befriending two drag queens at a gay rodeo, the smooth-talking "Mr. Romeo" rockin' it at the singles club, and the double pinot grigio-guzzling Ms. Miracle-Jones living it up on the dating circuit.

Though Sunset Daze was a success among older viewers, the under-50 demographic found the show's many age-defying one-liners cheesy, and the first episode's discussions regarding going commando struck many as more than a bit cringeworthy. As a result, the show was put out to pasture after only one season.

Prince of Poets

We've got American Idol. We've got The Voice. We've got X-Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, and America's Got Talent. What could possibly be missing?

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi, like most countries in the world, has its own version of American Idol. Additionally, they also have Prince of Poets, a competition in which wannabe wordsmiths recite their best lines to an enthusiastic crowd and panel of judges. Unlike the United States, where poets are largely confined to open-mic nights in coffee shops, the Arab world really digs its poetry — poets in some parts of the Middle East are bona fide pop stars, filling stadiums with eager ears excited to hear some verbal bliss.

While the show was a hit in Abu Dhabi, it's nearly impossible to imagine a poetry competition lasting longer than five minutes on American screens. As the great English Romantic William Wordsworth once wrote, "Have I not reason to lament / What man has made of primetime TV?" (Or something like that.)

Taking on Tyson

One would hope a show called Taking on Tyson would feature a bunch of poor saps boxing each other for the right to square off against the undisputed knockout king Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, this isn't that.

Taking on Tyson aired on Animal Planet in 2011, and follows the legendary boxer as he races his beloved pigeons for the first time. In case you didn't know, Tyson has actually been raising pigeons since childhood and, according to Discovery, even threw his first punch after a neighborhood jerk killed one of his birds and threw it in his face. Who knew?

The six-part series interestingly introduces viewers to Tyson's childhood stomping grounds and friends, but doesn't quite provide the same thrills as watching Tyson in the ring. In fact, most of the drama revolves around whether or not the birds will come back. (Hold on to the edge of your seat!) Still, watching Tyson do anything is usually interesting, if not entertaining — but the same can't be said about the rest of the show's pigeon trainers, who largely appear to be acting like caricatures of themselves.

Cop Rock

Have you ever found yourself watching a cop show like The Shield or Blue Bloods and wishing it was actually a musical? Probably not. But if you do count yourself among that select few, you definitely need to check out 1990's musical police drama Cop Rock.

ABC's bizarre cross-genre show only lasted 11 episodes, and has since found its way onto more than its fair share of "Worst TV Shows of All Time" lists — but it still holds a special place in the hearts of the cast. "You know, it's funny," Ronny Cox once told The A.V. Club, "For a show that's as widely vilified as Cop Rock is, I'll bet you've never talked to a whole bunch of people who worked on a show that loved it as much as everybody seems to have loved Cop Rock … I had more fun with that show than any other show."

As bizarre and bad as Cop Rock is, no one can deny the fact that the show is a lot of fun to laugh both with and at— and the show deserves credit for trying something new in an industry full of recycled ideas. After all, when's the last time you've seen a singing baby merchant on TV?

Armed & Famous

In 2006, the producers over at CBS must have posted a list of jobs on the wall, thrown a dart at it, and decided, "Yeah, let's have some B-list celebrities pretend to be cops!" The result: 2007's short-lived, controversial, and costly reality series Armed & Famous.

Armed & Famous essentially puts Erik Estrada, La Toya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, Trish Stratus, and Jason "Wee Man" Acuña in cop outfits and has them play sheriff. In fact, the celebrities were actually even sworn in as reserve officers for the Muncie, Indiana police force — despite the fact that Jackson proved herself barely able to handle a firearm.

Unsurprisingly, having celebrities make arrests for television wasn't exactly smooth sailing in the legal department. Because you can't just put someone's face on TV without a signed consent form, arrested individuals were offered $400 and T-shirts by the show's producers only moments after being handcuffed, and more than one presumed criminal felt they'd been exploited. One woman even sued the network after Osborne and cops raided the wrong apartment.

Nothing about the half-baked idea played well, and Armed & Famous was pulled from CBS after only four episodes.

The Flying Nun

It's hard to imagine a major network greenlighting a show about a flying nun. What's even harder to believe, though, is that such a show would make it through more than 80 episodes.

The Flying Nun aired on ABC from 1967 to 1970, and featured Sally Field as a novice nun whose small frame and stiff cornette made her susceptible to gusts of wind. As one might expect, the comedy is fairly mediocre — in fact, Fields herself didn't even want to do it. However, under pressure from her father and fearing that she'd never be cast again if she turned the role down, she sucked it up and became the soaring woman of the cloth.

"I was so blind," Fields explained during an appearance on Oprah. "It was one of the times in my life when fear made the decision for me, and when fear makes the decision, it's a mistake … and The Flying Nun became a huge joke. Bob Hope and all the other comics poked fun at it. I couldn't tell the difference between jokes about Sister Bertrille, my character, and jokes about me. It was deeply humiliating. I felt denigrated as a person."

Fortunately, Field transcended the ridiculous role, and went on to enjoy a long and award-filled acting career.