Cancelled before their time (Sorry if this has already been done)

This is a note I recently created on Facebook and I thought it would be fuel for a discussion here.


Maybe I am the only one here but I have found that some of these questions that have been popping up on facebook have actually started me thinking about things. One in particular was “Which shows do you wish were never cancelled”?


It was a list of about 80 choices but I found although there were some that I agreed with, there were several that didn’t make the list. I just wanted to go over the ones that I wish were still among us.


1. Newsradio: This is a show I really enjoyed with great writing and good actors (with the exception of Andy Dick) which did well but the wind was really taken out of its sails by the murder of Phil Hartman. The show really played well to the strengths of the actors and I found Dave Foley and Stephen Root really found a showcase during their time. Things just slowly started a downhill run in the final season with the introduction of Jon Lovitz, who I can’t honestly say I have seen in anything that I enjoyed in the long term.


2. Cupid (The 1999 version): This was a real gem which sadly got the chop during its 13 episode run. There was stellar performances by both Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven which was a nice mix of drama and comedy. The banter between the two leads was reminiscent of Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard in Moonlighting from the 80s. It would have really been enjoyable to see where things would have gone with this if it had been picked up.


3. WKRP in Cincinnati (The original series): I am not privy to the inner workings of any network but I have to think that someone in scheduling had it in for this show. I tried to watch the original run but it was a challenge by the fact that it changed days and times about 5 times during a four season run. To add insult to injury, at the time, video cassettes were in their infancy and it was years before there would be collections of TV series so quite a few of the jokes and mood of crucial scenes hung on the music of the time which had releases for the original run and a limited syndication, thus the new DVD releases really suffer. I guess you really can’t go back home again.


4. Birds of Prey: A TV series loosely based on a comic book series from the same gang that have brought you ten years of Smallville. I found this a more action oriented version of Smallville with a strong female cast at its core. It had good solid stories and an overall story arc peppered with a few comic inside jokes and references without alienating the more mainstream audience. I don’t know how it was packaged for the bulk of the United States but here in Quebec it came from the local Fox station at 10:00 P.M. on Wednesday. Not exactly prime time.


5. Coupling: This was a great show from the BBC which I have described to several people as “if Friends had been written by the creators of Fraiser”. This was a four season offering from the gentleman who is now the producer of Doctor Who and writer/director of Sherlock. It was a tremendous mix of physical and verbal comedy sadly though, one of the lead actors who played the strongest comedy part in the show, Jeff Murdock, decided he didn’t want to end up being typecast and left the show at the end of the third season and the series wrapped at the end of the fourth season with the birth of a baby to the main leads and a dream version of a female version of Jeff. Don’t ask, you have to really see it.


And those are just five off the top of my head. Reaper and Pushing Daisies also died off before really hitting their peak. Star Trek: Enterprise might have been more enjoyable to me but after about twenty years of series after series of Star Trek series, I had just reached my limit by the time that came out of the gate. I know, ironic from a guy who’s favourite show has a lead actor that regenerates into another lead actor playing the same character but with a completely different look and personality. Try not to think about it too much. It will give you a head ache. Blind Date is another show I miss but only because it makes me look like such a catch in comparison. And I realize this is going back some, but I would have loved to have seen more than four seasons of the original Wild, Wild West. If wishes were fishes!

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I agree completely with your take on Cupid (still annoys me a decade later), Reaper and Pushing Daisies.

Purely off the top of my head, I'd have like to have seen more than one season of Nowhere Man, John Doe, Wonderfalls, the Ben Cross version of Dark Shadows and the US version of Life on Mars.

On the very most recent front, NBC pulled the plug on The Cape just as it found its footing and delivered a string of very well-written episodes.

Gimme a day, and I could probably come up with 50 others.

Obviously, I have a passion for doomed genre shows.  I pretty much go into every new show saying "If I like this, they'll probably cancel it."

Aliens in America

Freaks and Geeks

Totally agree with Cupid, I think it was on either Friday or Saturday night, and it always got me and my friends to stay home and watch it before we went out to a bar. That is saying something.


Homicide: Life on the Street had a good run, but I wish it had gone a bit longer. I also really liked Boomtown, and that got just little over a season on the air.


and for of course is the late, great Arrested Development. Hilarious.

Also Angel, which ended with arguably its best season.

I recently picked up the Birds of Prey DVD set of its one and only season and have watched about a quarter of the episodes. It had potential.


I understand that the comics are the comics and the TV show is the TV show, so I'm not up in arms about changes being made in order to make the TV show work; that's par for the course. And, really, the changes were very few. The biggest -- and I confess, I don't understand it, at all -- was to present Dinah Lance as a teenage kid runaway with precognitive powers, rather than as a mature woman adventurer. But I suppose they figured they had Huntress for that; in the show, Oracle and Huntress are the confidants that Oracle and Black Canary are in the comics.


The other change -- writing Batman out of the series -- I see as wholly necessary, but what they came up with doesn't quite work, because it leaves a pallor over everything. I don't know what they should have done instead, but positing that Batman was a deadbeat dad who abandoned the city once The Joker went too far just doesn't wash.


Too bad. The leads were appealing -- especially Dina Meyer as Oracle, hubba hubba! -- and Ian Abercrombie as Alfred, who was a near-clone of the late Michael Gough, who played Alfred in the movies. I had to wonder, do they grow these British character actors who play butlers on farms or something? 

Yes, it called Wodehouse Meadows.
On the recent front, I will miss Undercovers on NBC. Launched with great fanfare, it just fizzled, despite J.J. Abrams producing (which, frankly, means absolutely nothing to me, although many people find that significant and exciting), and two stunningly gorgeous leads, Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. I was hoping for a crossover with Chuck.


First off, I'm hoping FOX doesn't cancel Human Target.

From your original list, I totally agree with the Wild, Wild West and WKRP In Cincinnati! Also Birds of Prey. Never saw the rest. I either was at work or watching/taping something else at the time.

As for Enterprise, the problem (for me) was trying to do anything BEFORE Captain Kirk. Given the state of technology between the two eras, the special effects of today are far better, thus the NX-01 outshined the NCC-1701. But the rest? Never have grasped the concept between the smooth and crabbed head Klingons, but the originals should have been going up against Archer and company instead of the others.

As for everyone else's comments so far:

I agree with the Ben Cross Dark Shadows revival attempt (never got a fair chance in the ratings war because of the Gulf War), Homicide: LotS, Angel, The Cape, and most definitely Firefly!

What I would add to the list? Quantum Leap is the first thing that springs to mind, at least long enough to resolve what happened to Sam and company. Followed by Search (anyone remember that with the rotating cast of agents?).

Otherwise, what I would like to see the network powers that be try to revive is the concept of the good detective program like Mannix or Stingray, and westerns like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, etc.

And with the fore mentioned state of technology today, anyone for a revival of Automan?

And what about the revival of some of the more fun programs of yesteryear like The Commish or The Fall Guy?

But I've rambled on long enough. Time to get off my soap box and put away the rose colored glasses.

Doc Beechler said:
Yes, it called Wodehouse Meadows.

Beautiful, Doc!

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