In my second in the series of show exposés, we investigate a few shows that were cancelled early in their existence. Each was dropped for various reasons, and in these brief commentaries I’ll explain some of my suspicions about why they were dropped. Some people may find my feelings justified, some may deny them, and there were no doubt various other factors involved in each cancellation. These are purely my opinions, based on my biased viewpoint and personal feelings. Beyond that, I personally feel these shows deserved to be continued. So, in no particular order...
Jeremiah: A month ago, I’d never seen a single episode of this series. Now, it is quite possibly the best post-apocalyptic series I’ve ever encountered! The premise stirs the imagination; just think of the world falling apart when everyone past puberty dies of a disease—this is what the world could look like 15 years later. The characters are well rendered and there is significant growth with them, and the acting is top notch. There is some nudity/sex in some of the episodes, and they swear about as much as my father does (which is quite a bit), but if you can overlook these adult elements (or if you enjoy them), this show is incredible to watch. It’s about surviving, rebuilding, and restoring hope.
It sucks that it only ran for 2 seasons. There was so much more to tell! I expect this show was cancelled because it was ahead of its time. In the early 2000’s, there wasn’t as big a fan-base for this sort of dark, gritty future fiction. Today, we have shows like The Walking Dead that prove there is a larger television market for character-driven dystopian survival stories. Also, the “adult” elements hindered the show’s marketability. If they’d gone for a PG-13 effect, they could have sold it to more broadcasters, even if it may have diminished its gritty realism in some respects.
Jericho: Another post-apocalyptic show that I found quite captivating. At the time it first aired, the theme may have been a bit too “9/11 Truther” for your average viewer, but now, with the exposure of the NSA spying, government surveillance, drones, and the continuing attacks on American liberties, the premise of factions within our own government conspiring to destroy the country, in order to “reform” it seems far more plausible—frighteningly so. But, in 2007, it was only a few “conspiracy theorists” willing to buy into this premise, and that likely lowered the ratings. Today, this show would be more popular.
Stargate Universe: The final end to the great Stargate saga? I hope not, but right now it’s looking pretty bleak. SGU changed everything for the franchise, taking what had been a winning formula of action-adventure sci-fi and seeking to give us a darker, grittier series. The storyline started out slowly, and after watching the first season I wasn’t all that pleased with it. We had some good ideas, though also some real dud stories (I swear “Life” is the worst episode of any SG series ever). Where the first season was lacking, Season 2 succeeded, bringing us back into the sort of imaginative, adventurous Stargate that I enjoyed in SG-1 and Atlantis, albeit with more “edge.” The last 10 episodes are my favorite of any Stargate series, and I wish they could somehow bring this back, to continue the story. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
The Job: Denis Leary’s comedy about cops in New York City. This show was hilarious, but its timing was wrong. Its second season was due to air after 9/11/2001, so in the wake of the terrorist attacks nobody wanted to laugh about wacky NYC police officers. They were “heroes” after that, so the cynical nature of this series was no longer funny for a lot of people. If this had aired in the 1990’s it probably would have run for a few more seasons, as it should have.
Enterprise: Well, at least we got 4 good seasons out of this last Star Trek series. There was a lot to like about this “prequel” show, giving us a glimpse into events before the Federation. The first couple of seasons were a little slow, and I think they may have tried to emulate the original series too much, giving us a lot of dry, moral lessons. That all changed with Season 3, and by season 4 we had the perfect blend of action/adventure, think-pieces, and overall Trekkie-ness. Some people found the third season to be somehow wrong, but I think it worked well (I just would have ended the whole thing differently, erasing the events from history via the temporal effects that went on—the attack on Earth at the end of Season 2 would never have happened because they changed the timeline by stopping the Sphere Builders).
The show’s decline and fall came about due to several factors. One of those was the dry aspects of the first two seasons. I didn’t find them that dull, but others did, and some of the story elements were only interesting to bonafide Trekkies. Another aspect, as minor as it might seem, was the theme song. There was a lot of criticism of it, and there were actually people who boycotted the show over it. Yes, it might seem ridiculous and petty, but when you have thousands of fans having a fit over you using “sickening soft-rock” instead of the traditional orchestration, it can cause problems. I believe this alienation of a small percentage of the audience was just enough to diminish the ratings, and thus set the ball rolling for the eventual cancellation.
Believe it or not, there are still people pushing for them to make Season 5 of Enterprise, though I fear that starship has sailed.
Odyssey 5: Another “adult-oriented” sci-fi show that got cut short with season 1 (and with an annoyingly-unresolved cliffhanger). This show was a victim of Showtime’s short-sightedness. There were a lot of fascinating elements to this show, and we were just getting a glimpse of how things were going to fit together with the finale. I think this show would have been fantastic in its second season, but the first one was more of a set-up toward that end. Sadly, it didn’t stir enough interest.
Firefly: A must on any sci-fi fan’s list. Canceling this series was the biggest mistake anyone in Hollywood has ever made. This show had a solid fan-base when it was on the air for its single half-season, so much so that it justified the creation of a movie to help conclude it. I have long held the belief that this show was shut down because it was too “anti-authoritarian.” The characters came off as very libertarian, and not in the cool “mainstream” rebellious sort of way. That was unacceptable to certain people in charge of programming. Okay, enough of my conspiratorial rant. This show should have run for years, not months, and it sucks that it’s gone.
Okay, there you have just 7 shows on my list of cancelled gems. What are some of your favorite shows that didn’t survive?