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15 Cancelled TV Shows That Were Ahead of Their Time
The Cancelled TV Shows We Ask "What If?"
By Kurt Anthony Krug
January 14, 2010
If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no reality TV shows and many TV series with potential would’ve been allowed to achieve it rather than being cancelled for any lame excuse, such as a bad time-slot, bad ratings, poor writing/production, so on, so forth.
In the last year, shows with a loyal fan-base like Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have been casualties of this epidemic. Very rarely do shows that are cancelled have a chance to wrap up their storylines, such as Birds of Prey.
Listed below in what has been a difficult list to compile since there are many good series that got clipped at the knees out there are the Top 15 TV Series That Shouldn’t Have Been Cancelled:
Aired: FOX, 7/11/87-8/21/88
This series was part of the FOX network’s first season on the air. Its premise was similar to The Fugitive and The Incredible Hulk TV shows by centering around a young man named Eric Cord (John J. York of General Hospital fame) who through no fault of his own becomes a werewolf. To up the stakes, he is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. On the run, he often helps people in need (just like David Banner), trying to evade bounty hunter Alamo Joe (Lance LeGault, Magnum, P.I.) and hunt down the progenitor of the werewolf bloodline Skorzeny (Chuck Connors, The Rifleman). However, the series ended before Eric could free himself of his curse. The show’s F/X were pretty cutting-edge for its time; they were provided by Rick Baker, who did An American Werewolf in London. This is definitely a show that should be re-imagined for a new audience the way Battlestar: Galactica and V were.
14. Point Pleasant
Aired: FOX, 1/19/05-3/24/05)
A supernatural series created by Marti Noxon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, Point Pleasant was about a girl named Christina (Elisabeth Harnois, Strangers With Candy) who washed up on the shore of the titular town. Bad things start happening upon her arrival. Turns out she’s the devil’s daughter. It was criticized as being too soap opera-esque and the final episode was pre-empted by American Idol.
13. Strange Luck
Aired: FOX, 1995-1996
Like Nowhere Man (which aired during the same time as Strange Luck), the protagonist Chance Harper (D.B. Sweeney, The Cutting Edge) was also a photographer. He was the sole survivor of a plane crash as a kid. Ever since, this luck power of his has followed him around. In one of the final episodes, Chance was told in case anything suspicious happens to his brother, he is to call an agent in the FBI whom he could trust. “His name is Mulder,” referring to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) of The X-Files. However, there was no crossover between the two shows.
Aired: FOX, 2006
This serialized thriller centered around the disappearance of Sara Collins (Joanne Kelly, Jeremiah), the wife of Sen. Jeffrey Collins (John Allen Nelson, 24). There’s more to her kidnapping than meets the eye as a deadly conspiracy with strong religious undertones is revealed. Think The X-Files meets The DaVinci Code. It is also revealed that Sara has a mysterious past. The show was originally 22 episodes, but cut down to 13, which would be its last. The final episode never aired and the entire series can be seen on Hulu.com. E! Online reported that the Vanished mystery could be resolved on Bones (the way Millennium was on The X-Files), but that has not happened. There was, however, an episode of Bones where a victim was an FBI agent named Graham Kelton, who was Gale Harold’s character on Vanished.
Aired: TNT, 1999
A spin-off to J. Michael Straczynski’s critically acclaimed Babylon 5, Crusade was supposed to be a series that spanned five seasons like its parent show. An alien race called the Drakh have released a plague to wipe out the entire human race, and the crew of the IAS Excalibur races against the clock to find a cure. However, the show only made it to 13 episodes as TNT executives and the producers butted heads over its direction, according to various media outlets.
10. Wonder Falls
Aired: FOX, 2004
This show had a quirky premise: Jaye Taylor (Caroline Dhavernas, Breach) could speak to inanimate animal figurines. Sound hokey? Maybe, but it worked and amassed a loyal fan-base. Sadly, this show was ahead of its time and poor ratings forced its cancellation. Fortunately, it found a broader audience on DVD.
9. Nowhere Man
Aired: FOX, 1996
Conspiracy shows were en vogue in the mid-1990s due to the success of The X-Files. This show also had some elements of Alfred Hitchcock thrown in for good measure. Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood, Star Trek) is a photographer whose life gets “erased” one night. At that point, his wife doesn’t know who he is and is seeing another man. He no longer has a career and his credit cards don’t work because he doesn’t exist. A black ops organization is hunting him down because of a photo he took called “Hidden Agenda.” Though it lasted a season, the over-arcing mystery/conspiracy of this series was never resolved, sadly enough.
8. Space Above and Beyond
Aired: FOX, 1995-1996
Before the new Battlestar Galactica, there was Space: Above and Beyond. In 2063, an alien species attacks humanity and nearly cripples its military forces. A group of rookie marines led by a no-nonsense commander (James Morrison, 24) have to step up and battle the aliens, becoming seasoned veterans overnight. The series had an ambiguous finale, which was deliberately left open in case it returned for a second season, but it didn’t.
Aired: FOX, 1998-1999
Now this was a show that had potential. Peter Horton (thirtysomething) is a cop who kills his wife’s rapist after the latter is set free. When he dies, he goes to hell because of this. However, the devil (a pre-Smallville John Glover, who has such a fun time in this part), cuts a deal with him: He must return 113 souls who have fled Hell and he’ll be restored to life (and possibly go to Heaven).
Aired: ABC, 1998
Prey was another show with potential that got hamstrung because it was constantly pre-empted. An evolved offshoot of man called the homo dominus is wiping out homo sapiens in a “survival of the fittest” campaign. Leading the fight is Dr. Sloan Parker (a pre-Will & Grace Debra Messing) and an FBI agent named Tom (Adam Storke, Stephen King’s The Stand), who is a member of the homo dominus species standing against his brethren. The series ended with a cliffhanger as Tom captured by his own kind and caged. Since getting all the actors back for this show is most likely out of the question, it would be great if the conclusion was presented in another medium (novel, comics).
5. Kindred: The Embraced
Aired: FOX, 1996
Based on the popular role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade, Kindred: The Embraced was the love-child of vampires and gangsters, given that it had a Godfather-esque vibe to it as five clans of vampires fought for control of the San Francisco underworld. This show–produced by Aaron Spelling (90210), no less–appeared a year before Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted. It was very sleek, sensuous, and–like many on this list–had a cliffhanger ending that went unresolved. However, the ratings just weren’t there. Sadly, Mark Frankel (Julian) died in a motorcycle accident in 1996, not long after the final episode aired.
Aired: FOX, 1997
This show didn’t even make it through a month, despite a well-known cast that included Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Amy Acker (Dollhouse, Angel), Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2), and was co-created by Angel writer Tim Minear. The show was about an illegal cross-country race with a dash of conspiracy thrown into the mix. In the case of one driver named Alex Tully (Fillion), he participated in it to get back his wife (Acker), who had been abducted. Drive was crushed in the ratings by ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. FOX was supposed to air subsequent episodes in July 2007, but that didn’t happen.
Aired: ABC, 2005
Tim Daly (Private Practice) headlined this short-lived series about Harlan Judd, a smart-ass private investigator in charge of Judd Risk Management. Many of his employees had dark secrets they kept hidden, which could harm Harlan in the end. Despite having Lost and Alias as its lead-in shows initially, Eyes did not receive good ratings, despite positive critical buzz. ABC just didn’t give the series a chance to grow and found its audience.
2. Veronica Mars
Aired: UPN/CW, 2004-2007
Yes, the third season of Veronica Mars wasn’t that good. Be that as it may, it had a loyal fan-base that cared about the show’s characters. In the final episode, Veronica (Kristen Bell, Heroes)–a young, jaded private detective who was Bogey, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Nancy Drew rolled into one–was a victim of a sex scandal, whereas her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni, Just Shoot Me), who was running for sheriff of Neptune County, was a victim of a smear campaign. Fans of the show felt cheated by this because this has not been resolved. It would be nice to see that happen. While it’s unlikely the cast will return for a 4th season, it’d be nice to see this story’s conclusion in a tele-film or a big feature film. Bell and creator Rob Thomas have expressed an interest in revisiting Veronica Mars, but nothing has happened as of yet.
Aired: FOX, 2002
Big things were expected of Joss Whedon’s space-western. However, poor ratings and the fact that a new pilot was ordered and aired first before the original pilot really hurt this show. Thankfully, strong DVD sales were enough to make a 2005 feature film Serenity, reuniting the ensemble cast led by Nathan Fillion as Capt. Mal Reynolds. There are currently no plans for another movie, which is a shame. The show might have been on for a few seasons had its episodes been aired in the proper chronological order.
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