Top 5 shows that met their early demise
If there’s one entertainment related thing I know about, it’s TV shows. Now I’m sure most people who’ve grown up with the habit of watching television know of at least one show that has met its demise way too early on. I’m just going to go through some of my favorite shows (two season or fewer, so VMars won’t count). So after a week of typing and wikipedia-ing, I give you, without further ado, my list of top 5 shows that were cancelled too early. Gird your loins for a wall of text to follow.
1. Kings (NBC, one season, 13 episodes)
God fucking damn it. WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL.
This NBC (I will never forgive them) drama is a modern retelling of the story of David and Goliath in an alternate world where David is a soldier and “takes down” a Goliath, a type of war tank, during a war between two nations: Gilboa and the Republic of Gath. Gilboa’s capitol Shiloh is reminiscent of New York City. While the premise is based on a biblical account, the show isn’t overtly religious and mainly deals with religion in the context of the anointment of King Silas. The storyline is extremely intriguing, especially the royal family who are typical but atypical at the same time involving a “divinely anointed” King Silas (portrayed by the divine Ian McShane… first introduced to him being incredible in Pillars of the Earth), the queen (Susanna Thompson) who actually manipulates and rules the kingdom and family in many aspects, a kind and love-interest princess (Allison Miller) and her twin brother (Sebastian Stan) who has daddy issues and is secretly gay. Then there’s David (played by Christopher Egan, a Heath Ledger look-a-like imho) who becomes a hero when he defeats the Goliath and is thrown into this political mess of a capital city and family. Some viewers complained about the plot and speed of the show but I disagree with them. I find the plot is well paced with twists and turns and is actually able to flesh out most of the characters in just a few episodes. IIRC, they utilize a few flashbacks, and I’m a sucker for well-used flashbacks. There honestly is nothing about this show that I dislike except for the cliffhanger ending. Super sad to see this show go because it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. It’s ridiculously beautifully filmed with decent to wonderful acting. It deals with politics, some religious undertones, romance, homosexuality and is occasionally even funny. Also, Sebastian Stan cries a lot. Like a lot, alot and it’s superb. And if that’s not enough to get you to watch it, the entire show can be streamed for free at hulu.com. Click here for the pilot. It remains one of my favorites of all time. So do it. Your skepticism will soon turn to rage after finishing this show.
2. The Hour (BBC2, two seasons, 12 episodes)
Forever bitter about finding out this show wasn’t coming back. For fuck’s sake, it’s a BBC show about a fictional BBC show trying to not get cancelled. Like IDEK anymore. The Hour focuses on the behind the scenes lives and drama of the reporters of the news show The Hour (refering to the news show and not the show itself), set in the 1950s. The main characters are Bel, the producer of the show (and female to boot!) played by Romola Garai (aka nurse Briony from Atonement, Emma), Freddie, her longtime best friend and journalist played by Ben Whishaw (Keats, Flyte and most recently and notably, Q) and Hector, the presenter and face of The Hour played by Dominic West (GUYS IT’S MCNULTY). The show operates on a season-long (6 episodes each) storyline, with an overarching crime or mystery, of high stakes, to be solved. Being a BBC news show, they report on both local and international news and it was interesting to get to see what the news was like in a different country. They focused on world conflicts that I (American) did not focus as heavily on in history class growing up. I don’t know much about 1950s Britain but the set looks accurate enough to me. Unlike the brightly colored Mad Men (plot, dialogue and focus are nothing alike), the sets of The Hour are more grey with pops of colors (I mainly noticed blues, reds and the occasional green from outfits). It’s beautiful in a more serious way and it helps place you in the 1950s atmosphere. The show is dialogue heavy but the dialogue is seriously top-notch, fast paced and wry. What really sets this show apart is the superb acting, from the leads down to the supporting cast (Oona Chaplin, Anna Chancellor, Peter Capaldi, Burn Gorman to name a few). Garai and Whishaw are literally born to play their characters and they embody their characters with such subtlety it’s just uncanny and a joy to watch. Crushed that it’s not coming back but definitely check it out. They do end on possibly the most emotional and heart-wrenching cliffhangers I’ve ever seen (Kings was more of a “action/plot moving” cliffhanger) but please and do try it. Bonus: Andrew Scott makes an appearance as a struggling actor (lawlz) in season 1 post-Moriarty; dude needs to be in more things. Also, James Bond references will make you cry. Also, spies and showgirls. Have I intrigued you enough?
3. Twin Peaks (ABC, two seasons, 30 episodes and one movie)
The series technically did end, but it was rushed due to its “you’re being cancelled so wrap it up” notice. Kyle MacLachlan pre-Desperate Housewives, with black hair and everything, playing an FBI agent sent to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer. It’s a hard show to describe because it’s a mystery and with supernatural elements that I still don’t quite understand (I’m in the middle of season two) and it has David Lynch essence all over it. It’s so wonky and downright frightening at times (though I am admittedly a scaredy cat), and I’m surprised it was ever aired on television back in the day (came out in 1991). There was a movie that was made but it serves as a prequel. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a show that’s completely different than what’s currently (or ever) shown on television, walk with me and give Twin Peaks a try. It’s bizarrely wonderful, screws with your head, you’ll never forget the theme song and I guarantee a whole new set of pop culture references will open up to you (see what I did in the previous sentence?). Find it on Netflix Instant.
4. Pushing Daisies (ABC, two seasons, 22 episodes)
Whimsical and dark at the same time as well as ridiculously quirky (the pie shop is called The Pie Hole for Christ’s sake! how can you not love that). Absolutely stunning (bright and slightly other-worldly) sets and costumes. Interesting premise of a pie maker (Lee Pace was made for this role… or the role was made for Lee Pace) who can bring the dead back to life but bring the dead back for over a minute and something living will die in its place. Also, if he touches someone/something that he brought back to life again, that person or thing dies permanently. He ends up bringing his first crush back from the dead and has to deal with the consequences, including not being able to touch her. Just watch it. Lee Pace is adorable as Ned the piemaker and together with Anna Friel who plays his love interest Charlotte “Chuck” Charles they are the sweetest pairing you’ll ever see. Her American accent is also spot on (didn’t know she was British at all!). Also Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth are absolutely hilarious in this as well.
5. Freaks and Geeks (NBC, one season, 18 episodes) / Undeclared (see below for explanation)
(OH HO HO NBC AGAIN)
Filmed in the 90s, set in the 80s. Paul Feig and Judd Apatow. We mainly follow the Weir family as the two kids enter and navigate high school. The daughter Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) tries to shed her status as part of the “geek” group by befriending the group of “freaks” (James Franco, Busy Philipps, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen) at the school and wearing the same army jacket for the entirety of the series. Her younger brother Sam (John Francis Daley) and his friends (Martin Starr, Samm Levine) are freshman geeks and are my favorite group of people ever. Especially Martin Starr. I guess Freaks and Geeks is like a coming of age show like My So-Called Life but I really love the whole 80s feel of the show mainly because I never got to experience it but I’m almost fascinated by what school was like back then. It’s a huge now-star-studded cast and it includes all types of humor. The whole series can be streamed for free on youtube. Click here for episode one. You can turn off the Spanish subtitles using the cc button if needed. Or find it on Netflix Instant.
6. Firefly (Fox, one season, 14 episodes and one movie)
Honorable mention since we did get a follow-up movie. It’s maintained its cult status over the years and come on: Nathan Fillion + Joss Whedon + SASS + Western in space with Asian influences + wonderful character interactions and relationships = WTF WERE YOU THINKING FOX, AIRING THE SERIES OUT OF ORDER AND THEN NEVER GIVING IT A CHANCE. Find it on Netflix Instant.
These are just out of the shows I have seen so there are probably a lot of shows that deserved to make this list (probably
Undeclared (EDIT: I finally watched this. Great show and possibly replaces Freaks and Geeks from the above list. Can I just say they tied for fifth?) and Flight of the Concords but I HAVE NO TIME TO WATCH MORE THINGS). Better Off Ted came close but I remember losing interest near the end of the second season but if you’re looking for a witty and satirical show, give it a try. I was born in the 90’s so that also skews the shows on the list. I didn’t include My So-Called Life because the network didn’t necessarily pull the plug; it was due to the actors’ decisions so it wasn’t included above on a technicality. But it definitely deserved more seasons. Plaid and all.
P.S. I’m so happy Hannibal was renewed and Bryan Fuller (also of Pushing Daisies) still has a job. Otherwise, it would’ve been in my top three WTF WERE YOU THINKING choices.