Shoulda Stayed Away: The 10 Worst Comebacks Of The Decade

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The Oughts, or whatever the hell people are going to call them (The Hell Years?) Are quickly drawing to a close; meaning it is a time to reflect on the 10 years that we've endured.

Hair Balls and our sister blogs, Rocks Off and Eating...Our Words, will be putting together various lists delineating the decade. )We really think this "listicle" thing has a chance to take off on the Internet, no matter what the nay-sayers nay-say.)

Today: The 10 Lamest Comebacks of the `00s. Ten highly hyped events or people that were expected to once again take the world by storm, but instead didn't.

10. Sylvester Stallone's career.
Stallone ended the 20th century trying desperately to escape the parody of himself he had become through lame action pictures and stunningly unfunny comedies. He attempted to get serious with character parts in movies like Cop Land, but the unfortunate itch to show off his pecs and PED-enhanced six-pack was too big to ignore. He went to the well twice, resuscitating the long-dead-but-presumed-to-be-surefire Rocky and Rambo franchises. Few cared.

9. NASA.
With a "Texan" in the White House -- one who "ranched" and wore a cowboy hat and got us into untenable and unnecessary wars -- it was supposed to be LBJ redux. Instead, there were just two hilarious highlights of the decade: The Houston Chronicle giving a Second-Coming-sized headline to W's fantasy announcement of a manned trip to Mars, and Dave Chapelle's "Mars, bitches!!" take on the plan.

8. Stevie Wonder's album.
The legendary Stevie Wonder had not released an album in years when word started circulating about A Time to Love. Unfortunately, the word soon shifted from eager anticipation to frustrated bellyaching. The album was delayed time and again, engendering lame puns on its title. Motown was depending on it to rejuvenate its entire business, but Stevie cannot be rushed.

"I like [Motown CEO Sylivia Rhone]'s heart," Wonder told Newsweek. "We have developed good communications. She's a little frustrated, and maybe there's pressure she's facing. I understand all that. Obviously, they would have liked to have had it yesterday. And I probably would liked to have had it day before yesterday. But I wouldn't give less than God wanted me to give."

God didn't want to give a blockbuster comeback album, apparently. There were some curiosity sales, but despite some superstar cameos, it failed to live up to the hype.

(Note: Yeah, we could have used Chinese Democracy here, but at least A Time For Peace was an actual Stevie Wonder album.)

7. Walter Mondale.
Walter Mondale is a politician who could only come out of Minnesota -- he's achingly sincere, bland, earnest and a little too do-goody. He had been comfortably ensconced in the life of a former vice-president, which we're guessing is cushy enough, when Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash in the middle of a re-election campaign.

Mondale was tapped by the party to take his place on the ticket, and everyone envisioned him as the senior statesman returning to the World's Greatest Deliberative Body to carry out -- with dignity -- Wellstone's progressive policies.

Instead he was beaten by Norm Coleman. Which eventually, of course, led to Al Franken as a U.S. Senator, so there was an upside; still, we got six years of Norm Coleman.

6. Joe Gibbs as Redskins coach.
Washington Redskin fans love Joe Gibbs like Cowboy fans love Tom Landry. So when owner Dan Snyder brought him back to coach the team in 2004, D.C. expected nothing less than a return to the glory days of Joe Theismann, the Hogs, and RFK Stadium bouncing up and down as the fight song blared and the Cowboys cried.

Didn't work out that way.

Gibbs had been away from the game for a dozen years, years where the NFL had changed a lot. He had one good-ish year, getting 10 wins, but the magic was gone. He lasted four seasons, had a sub-.500 record, and went back to his racing cars and Jesus.

5. Thomas Harris and Hannibal Lecter.
Thomas Harris is a reclusive author known for doing extensive research that results in finely tuned thrillers that transcend the genre. He is mostly known, of course, for creating Hannibal Lecter, a character who swept to worldwide fame via the movie version of Silence of the Lambs.

Harris (a Baylor grad!) is not a prolific author -- his 1999 Silence sequel, Hannibal, was only his fourth published novel in 24 years. Hannibal wasn't quite up to his usual standards, but few begrudged him the chance to cash in a bit on his Hollywood success.

So when word came out mid-decade that he was publishing another Hannibal book, there was some leeriness. And with good reason -- word was he only wrote it because hack movie producer Dino De Laurentis, who had the film rights to the character, was going to do a movie on Lecter's origins whether Harris was involved or not.

So we got Hannibal Rising, and while the pre-publication publicity machine in 2006 was cranked up to 11, the book disappointed and the subsequent movie generally sucked. Harris' fans fervently hope he's moved on to another subject.

4. Roger Clemens.
Which of his many Ought comebacks, you ask? The last one. The Rocket spend much of the decade in a tedious dance with Astro fans, cock-teasing them about whether or not he'd be a hometown hero. In 2006 he came back for half a year, usually pitched six innings at most, yet still had the city wrapped around his finger.

Then, the next year, he took it up a notch. He appeared in the owner's box at Yankee Stadium as the team announced he was coming back to New York, resulting in this.

Clemens ended up with an ERA over four, six wins costing the Yanks over $3 million apiece, and the beginnings of serious doubts about his claims to have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Things have only gotten worse since.

3. Basic Instinct 2.
No one -- except Sharon Stone -- thought they should re-make Basic Instinct. But they did. A string of directors were attached to it and left; eventually, somehow, the thing was done. The studio tried to pimp it by "leaking" NC-17-rated clips to the net, but Stone's sex-bomb days were gone.

The movie got a miserable seven-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes ("Michael Caton-Jones directs with bland disinterest, but Stone hams it up with the campy relish of a drag queen doing Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest" was one newspaper review). It cost $70 million to make and earned $3.2 million at the box office.

Why? Here's a taste.

2. Notre Dame football.
The Irish had almost as many `00 comebacks as Roger Clemens. They started the decade with Bob Davie as coach. `Nuff said. Then came Ty Willingham, who lucked into a few no-offense victories and earned "Return to Glory" headlines until his luck ran out. Then came somebody else Who Shall Not Be Named, who got two BCS berths, recruited well, and had the Irish poised for greatness in 2009. Let's just say it didn't happen, and move on.

1. Michael Jackson.
Of all the comebacks of the decade, there's no arguing this one turned out the worst. Unless you count record sales, hilarious Sheila Jackson Lee funeral appearances, and relieved parents of little boys.

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