Thursday, March 22, 2007

Top Five: Cancelled TV Series

  • Angel: I was a latecomer to the Buffy-verse, having avoided watching until season 4. This was the same year Angel launched. And since I'd never seen the title character in Buffy, I didn't feel any burning desire to watch a spin-off before I'd experienced the main series. Thank goodness for the all-mighty DVD box set (a sentiment I'll be repeating often during this list). After getting all caught up (and desperately needing a Buffy fix of some sort), my wife and I settled in for season four of Angel. Which they cancelled at the end of the season. The story of my life right there, folks.

  • Firefly: That very same year, Joss Whedon decided he wanted to try something different. He grabbed his producer from Angel, Tim Minear, and gave us: outer space, grown up, and with the space-as-western metaphor made much more explicit. I'm surprised we got as much as we did. Fox did no one any favors by showing the episodes out of order, though I can understand them wanting to shift a couple of the weaker episodes (they are!) until later in the run. Oh well. At least we got Serenity, even if my expectations for the film were too high.

  • The Inside: This is actually Tim Minear show number 4 on this list, since he didn't do his shows in alphabetical order. After coming off Wonderfalls, Fox asked him to take over a floundering show that was essentially 21 Jump Street all over again. Tim drew on his Buffy roots and turned it into a monster-of-the-week show, though this time it was the FBI against human monsters. Six episodes we got before it was crushed by Dancing with the Stars. If this blog were written on paper, the tear stains would show up right about here. And in case you're curious, no DVD for this. You'll have to devolve to web-piracy if you're curious about this show.

  • Sports Night: This show would make the list even if Tim Minear had a fifth show cancelled out from under him, it was that good. Sports Night was Aaron Sorkin's (of West Wing and A Few Good Men fame) first foray into network television. This show about a cable sports show called Sports Night was an odd concoction: a half hour drama that had to fight to lose the laugh track forced on it. It ran for two years and has some of the best comedic and dramatic moments on television. So of course no one watched and it was canned. Once again, DVD to the rescue (and my wife for making it my christmas present a few years back) and I was able to experience it in its entirety.

  • Wonderfalls: Here's Tim Minear's tv career: part three. After Firefly was put down by Fox (the network), 20th Century Fox (the studio) asked him to help get Bryan Fuller's new show back onto the rails. And he did an amazing job with a snarky sense of humor and a genuinely interesting premise. Four episodes and then poof. Again, the DVD shows us that people are idiots for not watching in the first place. Incidently, between this and The Inside, Tim Minear learned the painful lesson that the general public does not want an (initially) unlikable main character that is going to develop over time. They want their likability and they want it now!


  1. Wot? No "Buffy" love? ;-)
    An excellent selection of shows, you have inspired to post my top 5 canceled shows over on my WordPress blog, but I tried to keep it strictly non-Whedon!
    1. Dead Like Me
    2. Tru Calling
    3. Sapphire And Steel
    4. Dark Angel
    5. Deadwood
    You can find your way to my WP blog via my blogger account if you want to check it out.

  2. I quite wanted to put the Buffster on my list, I just couldn't find it in myself to call it a cancelled show. It's a technicality, but I only included shows cancelled by the network, not those ended by the production staff. There will be time enough for the Buffy love another day.