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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Longtime Legionnaires know how fond I am of WKRP, and I wish it would have gone on for a few more seasons.  My dream final episode would be seeing the station finally hit the top of the ratings and be raking in the ad money.  Along the way, Mama Carlson, whose tax write-off is now a big liability, decides to again change the format and fire everyone (including Arthur this time), but instead the station is sold to a company none of the staff has heard of. The new owner informs everyone through Andy that the format change is off, and everyone who still wants their job can keep it.  In the closing scene, while the staff still doesn't know who saved their bacon, the audience discovers the new owner of WKRP is....Jennifer Marlowe.  (She is smart with her money...)

As far as I'm concerned, the "new" 'KRP never happened.

Some recent shows I was sad to see canceled were My Own Worst Enemy and Lone Star.

My Own Worst Enemy starred Christain Slater as a family who had a another life as a hitman for a shady government organization. The two, iirc, were unaware of eachother until something happens. It was a mystery, action, cat & mouse show. With the two personalities fighting for dominance. It lasted 12 or 13 episodes. Every episode felt like a mini action movie.

 

Lone Star was about a Texas con man leading two lifes, both of which were fake. This last only 2 episodes. I guess not enough promotion by Fox. It was a great show and I'm dissapointed it didn't last longer.

My Own Worst Enemy is a good call.
Jason Marconnet said:

Lone Star was about a Texas con man leading two lifes, both of which were fake. This last only 2 episodes. I guess not enough promotion by Fox. It was a great show and I'm dissapointed it didn't last longer.


Oh, Lone Star had PLENTY of promotion by Fox! And it had overwhelmingly positive reviews, an intriguing premise, an appealing lead and a strong cast.

Why it failed to catch on is a mystery that baffles everyone involved.

Don:

I like your proposed ending to the true WKRP in Cincinnati.

I did watch the revival attempt, but it just wasn't the same. They started off with the original Mr. Carlson, Herb, and Les (after all, who else would hire them) but with an entirely new supporting cast. Yet even bringing Jennifer in for a two part episode and the station rehiring Dr. Johnny Fever didn't save the show.

However between this and the original, MTM Enterprises at least now has enough episodes for a decent syndication package if anyone (probably some nostalgia or baby boomer channel) ever decides to air it again.

Regarding WKRP in Cincinnati: The rights issues over the music would still hold sway for reruns as well as for the DVD packages?

Deadwood.  Easily my number one choice. 

 

And now that I think about it, HBO's other historical dramas, Rome and Carnivale.  Both had their fair share of flaws, but were still compelling enough to continue for a few more seasons.  As a matter of fact, I think Rome's second season would have been greatly improved had the producers not tried to cram four year's worth of stories into a single season.

 

As a Whedonite, I am of course obligated to mention Angel and Firefly.

 

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and any number of additonal science-fiction/ fantasy/ horror programs that FOX buried on Friday nights.

 

And while I'm complaining about FOX and the "Friday Night Death Slot" I have to mention Millennium.  While the series may have been uneven, when it was at it's best, it was every bit as entertaining as its sister program, The X-Files.  Maybe if it had managed to capture the cultural zeitgeist of its predecessor the network would have saved it rather than letting it die a long, slow, three-season death.  The third season's cliffhanger ending still irks me.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Regarding WKRP in Cincinnati: The rights issues over the music would still hold sway for reruns as well as for the DVD packages?
 
Yes, in fact, about 3 or 4 years ago The Comedy Network here in Canada was running the series and in an episode where Elton John's Tiny Dancer was used or even discussed, the music was changed & the lines re-dubbed.
I forgot about Rome and Carnivale'. I don't have HBO so I saw them on DVD. Both great shows and I was very dissapointed that there wasn't more of them.

WKRP was the show that made me decide radio would be my career, and it has been for 25 years now.  I would have loved a few more seasons, but the final episode was all right.  Still, it didn't feel like the end of the story (In my universe, the "new" series never happened. Blech.).

A good final episode might go like this:

*The mighty 'KRP finally hits number one in the ratings.  That means sales (and profits) are up, too.

*Mama Carlson, furious that her pet tax write-off has backfired, decides to sell the station, but not giving everyone one month's notice that it's all over.  No one is spared, even her son, Arthur, the "Big Guy".

*Just as Johnny gets ready to play his last record ever, the crew recieves the news that the station has been sold, but that the new owner has re-hired everyone, and 'KRP will continue doing the things that have made it successful.

*In the penultimate scene, we discover the new owner is...Jennifer Marlowe.  She asks the Big Guy to stay on, but he respectfully declines.  He's ready to do something else...maybe move to a small town and open up a bait shop.

*The final scenes tell us where everyone eventually ended up.  In the radio business, hardly anyone stays at the same station for long, especially DJs. It would be fitting for the show that finally got radio right reflect that reality by showing the fates of our beloved crew.

And that, friends and neighbors, is the first (and likely last) time I write anything approaching fan fiction. :)

Here is Entertainment Weekly's top 25 gone too soon.

 

As for me:

Ellery Queen

Nero Wolfe, the Maury Chakin/Tim Hutton version, not the William Conrad abomination.

Firefly

The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr, as long as they did not follow through on the plans that they mentioned on the DVD. They were going to put Brisco in a town which would have populated by the characters that were seen in the first season.

Matt Houston.

Crusade.

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