July 1, 2010

Cancelled Too Soon: 13 Shows I Really Miss

I'm a TV Junkie. I don't try to deny it. I love the 'fall TV preview' issue of my Entertainment Weekly more than I should. I scour the pages to see what's new, and what I can try out. But too often, the shows I get excited about have runs that are cut too short by the networks. At this point, I'm pretty good at looking at a description of a show (like Dollhouse) and knowing that it's not going to make it much past a season, if it even makes it that far. Somehow though, that doesn't keep me from watching and getting attached so I can just be that much more disappointed when the news comes that they are axed. Here's my list of the 13 TV shows I wish hadn't been canceled when they were.

Thirteen Shows Canceled Before Their Time

1. Defying Gravity - Chances are good you have never even heard of this show. It aired briefly on ABC in late summer 2009, and only 8 of the 13 recorded episodes aired on TV. I've seen all 13, and this space based drama/mystery starring Ron Livingston (of 'Office Space' fame) was just.... really good. It followed the crew of a mission into spaces that would last for years. Once past the point of no return, the crew is brought in on the secret that their mission is to recover several objects of unknown origin from different planets. The objects are affecting each of the eight crew members differently, causing hallucinations and even changes to their DNA. The balance of character development and science fiction plot was great. Even if ABC had given this show a fighting chance by airing it during the actual TV season, it probably wouldn't have lasted, and that's a shame.

2. Pushing Daisies - It's hard to express strongly enough how sad I was when Pushing Daisies was canceled. In addition to it's unique & original plot - a piemaker who owns a pie shop is able to bring dead things back to life with one touch, but only for 60 seconds or something else must die in it's place - the visual feeling of this show was different than anything I've ever seen. Ned the piemaker also deals with his employee Olive (Kristin Chenowith) who is in love with him, and the woman he loves - Charlie. But there's a catch. Ned and Charlie can't touch because he brought her back to life. If he touches her again, she will die for good. His private eye friend (played by Chi McBride who I love) uses Ned to help solve cases by interviewing the dead victims. The show only got 22 episodes between October 2007 and June 2009, and I will probably never get over this one. If you haven't seen it, it's totally worth watching on DVD despite the short tenure.

3. Dollhouse - If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon. I'd rank Buffy, Angel and Firefly among my favorite shows of all time. Dollhouse's 26 episodes aired on Fox between February 2009 and January 2010. It took place in a spa-like environment where people would sign away a period of years of their lives to be programmed and reprogrammed as human dolls available for rental for whatever your pleasure may be. Things start to go bad when Echo, one of the active dolls, shows skills and memories that go outside the parameters of her imprints and starts to become self aware. The show starred Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica) as well as favorites Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker and Alan Tudyk (love him!). Despite how much I loved it, I can't say I was surprised when it was cancelled, Fox loves to air shows I love then cancel them. It was a brilliant show, managed to make me laugh and surprise me and somehow touch your heart. Joss Whedon is amazingly original with some of his concepts and ideas, and it's a shame that the networks don't always give him more time to work his magic.

4. Firefly - Speaking of Joss Whedon, his Space-Western Firefly has to be one of my favorite shows of all time. It had a short run, only 14 episodes were produced and most of them aired between September 2002 and December 2002 on, you guessed it, Fox. It's almost hard to describe what this one, starring Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres and Adam Baldwin, was about. In short, they are the crew on a ship that sails the (uni)verse, Browncoats who wound up on the losing side of a civil war, but won't give up hope. This show would touch your heart while making you laugh full force, whether it's Tudyk's wide eyed humor, Torres kicking butt, or Baldwin showing major affection for his guns and other weapons. I own this one on DVD and I can watch it over and over without ever getting tired of it. It also made me a lifelong fan of Fillion, Tudyk and Baldwin.

5. Eastwick - This show based on the story of the Witches of Eastwick aired 11 episodes in Fall 2009. As the episodes aired and the stories entertwined it pulled me in and became more and more entertaining. Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman starred as three women in the small town of Eastwick who start to discover they may have more power than they think - magically speaking! I was not attached to this one immediately, but it grew on me and by the time it was cancelled I was really looking forward to having some of the show's mysteries solved. Of course, it was not to be, and I was definitely sad to see it go.

6. Sports Night - If not for my best friend, I would have never viewed the brilliance that is Sports Night. I never heard of it when it was on, and watched the series on DVD after borrowing it from her. This amazing show follows the lives of the crew of . It aired for 45 episodes between September 1998 and May 2000 on ABC, and was where I fell in love with Josh Charles, Joshua Molina and Peter Krause. It also starred Felicity Huffman, who I really like. I seem to have a thing for shows that are amazing and funny but heartbreaking all at once, and this one definitely fit the bill. It also sits on my list of favorite shows of all time.

7. Arrested Development - You know what I like in a TV show? When it makes me laugh out loud every single episode. It's a little rare - I've found it again in 30 Rock, but it's not all that common. Arrested Development? Hit the mark every single time. It's 53 episodes aired on Fox betwee October 2004 and December 2006, and despite it's somewhat longer run, I still feel like it was gone too soon. Jason Bateman and Portia DeRossi were great in this, it gave Michael Cera his start, and David Cross is a brilliant comedian and didn't disappoint as Tobias, one of the Bluth brothers. If you've never seen this show, I'd highly recommend watching it on DVD immediately!

8. Flash Forward - Flash Forward is one of the most recently cancelled shows I loved. It aired between September 2009 and May of this year, starring Joseph Fiennes and John Cho as FBI Agents who are investigating a worldwide blackout. The show begins with everyone on earth blacking out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, during which they view what they are doing 6 months in the future. Millions are killed and things are chaotic. As the visions are explored, the question of whether the future can be changed becomes central to the series. Also starring Courtney Vance and Dominic Monaghan, this show started out a little slow but got better and better, and by the time I viewed the last episode I was cursing the network for renewing 'V' over Flash Forward.

9. Tru Calling - Tru Calling was another Sci-Fi type victim of Fox cancellation. The show starred Eliza Dushku as Tru Davies, a medical student who takes a job in the morgue and is shocked when on the anniversary of her mother's death, a corpse asks for help and the day rewinds to a time before the person died. Tru is thrown into situations in each episode where she must figure out what happened, and hopefully prevent the person's death. If she fails, the day will continue to repeat until she succeeds. Who doesn't love time travel and Groundhog's Day-esque situations?! The show also starred Zach Galifianakis as her boss and Jason Priestly. It aired for 26 epsidoes between October 2003 and April 2005. As is too often the case with cancelled-too-soon shows, it was really getting interesting when the plug was pulled with the mystery of who exactly Jason Preistly's character was and what he was up to.

10. Eli Stone - Eli Stone managed to squeeze out 26 episodes between January 2008 and July 2009 when it was cancelled. This one starred Jonny Lee Miller as a successfully attorney who seems to have everything going for him. Then he gets a brain aneuyrism and starts having visions. Musical visions. Which sometimes involve George Michael. He changes his life and begins lawyering for the greater good while exploring himself and his relationship with his father, who just may not have been the alcoholic he thought. Natasha Henstridge and Victor Garber also starred, and this show was amazing - touching, funny, entertaining and original.

11. The Middleman - One of the few shows on ABC Family really hooked me was The Middleman, whose 12 episodes aired between June and August of 2008. It starred Natalie Morales as a 22 year old art school graduate who needs a job. She is assigned as a temp at a local lab, and during her time there she ends up meeting The Middleman, who comes and saves teh day after a botched science experiment. He turns out to be a covert agent who protects humanity from strange, unfaceable disasters. Wendy becomes his assistant and begins training to take over as the next Middleman. This show was FUNNY. Deadpan or obvious, it was all there from Wendy's sarcastic manner to the hilarious robot that works in the Middleman Headquarters with them. Unfortunately I don't think ABC Family was ever a good fit for this show, and it was axed before it had time to even really get started.

12. Reaper - Reaper's 31 episodes aired between 2007 and 2009. This was another show about an average joe thrust into an extrodinary and supernatural circumstance. Sam works at the Workbench, which is basically Home Depot in TV land. He finds out that his parents sold his soul to the devil and now he is required to start working for him as a grunt collecting souls that have escaped from hell. Along with two of his friends, he must navigate this new life while trying to reconcile what his parents did as well as figure out his relationship with his girl friend who he has major feelings for. Ray Wise was brilliant as Satan, and I loved Michael Ian Black in it too.

13. Veronica Mars - Despite it's longer run, Veronica Mars was totally canceled too soon for my taste! The story of an ex-cop private investigator and his budding investigator high school aged daughter managed 64 episodes between 2004 and 2007 when it was canceled. Kristen Bell was great in this show, and they did a really good job of having an overarching story while exploring a different mystery each season. I think the show would have developed and grown following her to college, but obviously the folks at the network felt differently.

Which TV show cancellations caused you shock or disappointment? What's your favorite show that you wish was back on TV today?

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LceeL said...

John Doe. It was on Fox (those people just don't KNOW when they have a winner) and it lasted one season, I think. It never came back.

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

I was SO VERY sad when Pushing Daisies was canceled as well. That was an amazing show in my book!

tvchiq :) said...

I loved Eli Stone as well...and of course, the cliche--the show that everybody loved and that lasted one season--My So-Called LIfe..I don't know whether the network cancelled it or Claire Danes wanted off the show, but I so wish it lasted more than the 1 season...also, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip...I watched a few that you mentioned and totally agree...ABC does it a lot...great idea for a list... :)

ps..regarding the previous post/comments--I'm a big Sarah McLachlan fan also besides the whole Vienna Teng thing--so it looks like we share tv and music interests..so funny...so obviously you have great taste... :)

tvchiq :) said...

I loved Eli Stone as well...and of course, the cliche--the show that everybody loved and that lasted one season--My So-Called LIfe..I don't know whether the network cancelled it or Claire Danes wanted off the show, but I so wish it lasted more than the 1 season...also, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip...I watched a few that you mentioned and totally agree...ABC does it a lot...great idea for a list... :)

ps..regarding the previous post/comments--I'm a big Sarah McLachlan fan also besides the whole Vienna Teng thing--so it looks like we share tv and music interests..so funny...so obviously you have great taste... :)

tvchiq :) said...

sorry--somehow my post got shown twice--silly computer.. :)

Athena said...

Loved Defying Gravity! I got totally hooked during the pilot and felt withdrawals when they stopped airing episodes. ABC sucks (although they did let Lost live, so I can't really hate them).

Rachel said...

Hi! Visiting from Thursday Thirteen!! I loved Tru Calling. I was sad when it got canceled as well.

Alice Audrey said...

I'm so slow. Pushing Daisies was already in reruns by the time I discovered it.

My Thursday Thirteen ishere.

I am Harriet said...

I hate when they cancel the good ones.

Have a great day!

Janet said...

LOVED Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone & Reaper :-)

btw...that's my dog Wolf in the header! Isn't he adorable?

Thanks for playing!

jehara said...

I am also a huge Joss fan and was really disappointed but not surprised by the cancellation of Dollhouse. I look forward to re-watching it on DVD.
I didn't discover Veronica Mars until right after it was cancelled. Three seasons was way too short. Excellent show!

When I was in high school I was devastated when My So-called Life was cancelled after one season. Way too soon.

I am not familiar with some of these other shows, but I am curious now about Pushing Daisies, Tru Calling and Eli Stone.

Nessa said...

I love Firefly and Tru Calling was fun, too.

I wanted to like Dollhouse but it just didn't do it for me.

Anonymous said...

There was a show a while back with Neil Patrick Harris and Tony Shaloub called "Stark Raving Mad" that was HYSTERICAL, but canceled after just a few episodes. Wasn't even given a chance. I absolutely loved that show.

Molly said...

2 and 3! YES! I saw most of the cast of pushing daisies at the premiere of Promises, Promises. Since Kristen Chenowith was in it all her Pushing Daisies castmates came to support her. I waited in line to pee with Swoozie Kurts and Lee Pace almost ran me over because he's so tall and I'm not in his line of sight. I wanted to grab him and take him home with me!

and Dollhouse. I discovered the amazingness that is dollhouse and was so sad to know I only had a finite number of episodes. Enver Gjoke is AMAZING.

another one that got the boot before its time is Dead Like Me. Hilarious! Plus it had Mandy Patinkin.

lovesmukiwa said...

I watch a lot of television but I have to admit I did not watch even one of the shows mentioned on your list!

Rachael said...

tvchiq, do you have a blog? If you do, let me know (rachael1013@gmail.com) I'd love to check it out!

Cookingmom, that sounds like a great show!