I have little desire to be original, as a Google search will likely take you to scads of similar lists with many of the same entries. Suffice it to say, you are not reading those lists, you are reading this one. You know where the truth lies, so start now to discover the TV shows that got criminally canceled by the clueless suits that clearly hated their careers. Commence.
Firefly (FOX) (14 episodes + 1 feature movie) – ‘An epic spaghetti western in space’ might read the original pitch for Joss Whedon’s brilliant and tragically short-lived show, yet it’s so much more. It easily ranks among the best shows ever not to be given a chance. Scheduled on Fridays (geek night – though I watched it), only 11 of the 14 episodes were aired. The network also tampered with the story and didn’t show the pilot (the two-hour first episode!) until the end of its run. Buy the DVD. Watch all the episodes. In order. It will make the tragedy that much more palatable.
Arrested Development (FOX) (3 Seasons) – The funniest show ever that only 4.2 million people watched. Chock full of non sequiturs, asinine and idiotic characters, ridiculously complex stories and in-jokes that thread throughout each episode, and David Cross, as the most clueless character ever conceived. If only we could all be ‘never nude’ or have a fascination with the Blue Man Group like Cross’s Tobias Fünke. I take that back, compared to the Bluth family, Tobias is completely normal.
Veronica Mars (UPN then CW) (3 Seasons) – ‘A long time ago, we used to be friends but I haven’t thought of you lately at all’. As the theme song reverberates through your brain, you might want to recall how good this show was. Kristen Bell was great as a high school super sleuth and Enrico Colantoni was well cast as her private investigator father. The first season is among the best TV has yet to offer, as Veronica Mars tries to solve the murder of her best friend. If you don’t watch this show, don’t come crying to me when life no longer makes sense.
Karen Sisco (ABC) (10 episodes) – Based on the U.S. Marshall character from Elmore Leonard’s novel Out of Sight (and the movie where Jennifer Lopez played opposite George Clooney), you could tell this show was going to be good. It wasn’t given a chance to find its audience. With Carla Gugino as Karen and Robert Forester as her father, the only analysis worthy of noting is this show got a raw deal.
Futurama (FOX) (4 Seasons + 4 made for TV movies) – Much like its predecessor which continues today, The Simpsons, Matt Groening’s take on humanity 1000 years in the future is parts hilarious, ridiculous and poignant. It deserved to live on if only to hear more from the heads in jars. Al Gore on about the environment? Nixon’s head escaping and chewing on Fry’s arm? Tasty.
P.S. FOX deserves some sort of kick in the ass for leading the pack in canceling good shows. Conversely, maybe not too hard of a kick since they had the foresight to give these shows at least a chance.