Gone Before Their Time: Five Shows I Miss
In today’s hectic, fast-paced world of television, if it doesn’t sell, it’s gone in a flash. There have been some masterpieces that were cut off at the knees way before their time. Unfortunately, many networks don’t give these struggling TV shows time to find their audience before they are yanked off of the air. Here are five of my favorite cancelled tv shows.
5.) My So-Called Life
The saga that was red-headed teenager Angela Chase (Claire Danes)’s life sadly ended after only one season. Most of the focus was on her dim-headed pretty boy crush, Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto), but the series was just getting its priorities straight (more screen time for Angela’s hilariously flawed best bud Rayann (AJ Langer), the rise of nerdy friend Brian in her affections) when it was alas axed by ABC. Curiously enough, Claire Daines is rumored to have had a direct say regarding the demise of the show by wanting to pull out only one season in to focus on a film career. Luckily for her, it was a wise career decision. Unfortunately for us, we may never know what would have happened with Jordan Catalano…
4.) Dark Shadows – The Revival
The original 60s soap opera was an over-the-top schlock-fest of titanic proportions. NBC decided to re-boot the series for nighttime audiences in 1991, giving it a more dark, sinister feel. Casting Ben Cross as the reluctant anti-hero, vampire Barnabas Collins, was a step in the right direction. Joanna Going’s governess Victoria Winters began to learn about the Collins family secrets right about the time the Gulf War hit. Bad timing. Even though ratings for the series were strong, and 1 in 4 households in America were tuning in, NBC often pre-empted the show for news updates and after shuffling it around in network purgatory through early summer, the show was not renewed for 1992. If only they’d waited until Twilight mania would take hold 15 years later….
3.) Pushing Daisies
This charming ABC show lasted for two scant seasons on ABC from 2007-2009. About a man who has the curiously morbid power to bring dead things back to life (although with this power comes a curse), it was a comedy masterpiece, managing to be both charming and gothic at the same time. Lee Pace’s Ned and sweetheart Chuck (Anna Friel) were forever separated by Ned’s powers, never able to touch, but still remain one of TV’s most uniquely romantic couples. Kristin Chenoweth’s show-stopping Broadway voice often stole the show, and her character of Olive would win her a much-earned Emmy award in 2009.
2.) Twin Peaks
ABC took a chance on brilliant but eccentric director David Lynch’s story of murder and mysticism in a small Pacific Northwest town in 1989, and a cult of fans was born. The first season was filled with thrills and chills, with amazing performances by Kyle McLachlan as FBI agent Dale Cooper and Ray Wise as the deranged Leland Palmer. Sadly, ABC made Lynch reveal the murderer of Laura Palmer at the end of the first season against his wishes and plans for the arc of the series. The second season suffered from a changeover in producers and writers, and although it was still incredible, it lacked the magic of the first. Viewers steadily declined, and ABC pulled the plug in 1992 on one of television’s most interesting and compelling series.
Produced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer mastermind Joss Whedon, this combination of Western and Sci-Fi action aired all too quickly in 2002. Telling the story of the crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity, captained by Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), Firefly was in turn both riveting and uniquely entertaining. Delving into a mythology based on the idea that the last great world war would lead to a culture which allowed bounty hunters and profit-hunters to thrive, we saw Mal and his band of companions struggle with the eternal question of faith and humanity vs. the all-mighty profit. Fox couldn’t commit to a permanent time slot for the show, and then abruptly canceled it after only one abbrievated season. Fans and critics (who almost unanimously adored the show) were stunned. Loyal fans (calling themselves “Brown Coats” after Mal’s ubiquitous coat on the show) cried foul, and made it a best-seller on DVD, leading to a feature film release – Serenity, in 2005.
Clip from Firefly below: