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August 06 2008

Top ten "brilliant but cancelled" shows. SCI FI Wire puts Firefly first and Wonderfalls second. And the Firefly bit includes a prominent nod to the California Browncoats booth at this year's Comic-Con.

Wow, I adore eight of those shows and just never watched the other two. Great list! Nice to finally see some love for Now and Again which had the bad luck to premiere the same year as Once and Again, which had a ton of mainstream buzz and a too similar name.
It's nice to see Eerie, Indiana on the list. I loved that show.
Of that list I've only seen Firefly. I have to say that I'm pretty happy about it. Loving shows that get canceled is just painful.
Yeah, Simon. Eerie, Indiana and Nowhere Man are the ones I'm glad to see there.
Great list! Nice to finally see some love for Now and Again which had the bad luck to premiere the same year as Once and Again, which had a ton of mainstream buzz and a too similar name.

I was trying to figure out how I missed that show. I was sure it was about a woman and her husband's ghost, or something like that. Now I know. There were two different shows.

I have seen and loved most of those shows on that list. And I just added Eerie, Indiana to my Netflix queue.
I have obsessed for YEARS over Nowhere Man. Fell in love with it when I saw the sneak preview of the pilot at Comic-Con back in the mid-90s. One of the coolest, most paranoia-inducing shows ever on TV, and not only does UPN dump it, but they decide the next season that Homeboys in Outer Space was what viewers wanted?! I thought I'd never lay eyes on the show again, so imagine my shock when I suddenly discovered not only was it on DVD, but they made freaking special features for it?! Awesome! If you're out of goodies on Netflix, or have a few extra bucks to burn on an impulse Amazon buy (DAMN you, 1-click shopping!), I suggest you give it a go. Good stuff.
And may I also point out that the final episode (as they actually got to have a final episode) of Space: Above and Beyond was one of my favorite show-enders ever. Very Joss-like. That's all I'm sayin'... (What, you mean there was singing?)
S:A&B was very nearly perfect except for one character who was the most annoying character I've ever seen in a serious TV show. Stupid whiny LTs, I had enough of them in the army. ;)
Jake 2.0 brilliant? Or alien nation? I do like the top2 on the list, and can't comment on the other 6, but those two I mentioned deserved to be cancelled.
Nice list. I saw most of the shows, and just reading about them there brought back some memories. Add me to the Now and Again fans. I loved that show and was crushed when it was canceled.
Jeez, seeing how long ago 'Eerie, Indiana' was on makes me feel a bit long in the tooth ;). I didn't see them all but the ones I did watch were cool. It was kind of proto-'Eureka' in tone but more with the wacky. For any interested UKers BTW, has the entire series on a collector's edition DVD for £7.99 at the moment, severely tempted myself.

I'd swap Jake 2.0 out and put 'Journeyman' in there, most definitely. And i'd toy with an honourable mention for 'Strange Luck' which, though it rarely worked 100% on the screen, had a really great premise IMO. And yeah, 'Space: Above and Beyond' was an excellent show, very much BSG before BSG - bit patchy maybe but when it worked it really worked. And a huge cliff-hangar ending, boo !

Anybody know anything about that show on beetles BTW ? Quite like nature programmes.
oconnellmd, OMGOMG a Nowhere Man fan?!
Nowhere Man is like THE paranoia show. They almost made it a fetish. It's simply brilliant :). Add to it the offbeat dark mood and occasional brilliant episodes, and you've got...well, a brilliant show. I've got the DVD, had to import it from the US to Europe, which meant paying 25% extra in taxes :(.
But that show definitely isn't for everyone. It isn't actually 'good' for the most part, as far as storytelling goes. It's kind of a genre show. Myself, I couldn't help but to love the mood they created.
"Nowhere Man" is genius and the pilot is one of the best-directed pieces of television ever. It never quite recaptured that on serial television and whenever it veered too definitively toward sci-fi it lost the glimmer of mystery that made the show tense, but you can broadly drop these episodes without losing the sense of the story. I think it does stand alone even without continuation though -- the finale gives some answers, and it possibly works best left as a riddle.

I like the list, but it has a few glaring omissions such as "Miracles".
Hey, Alien Nation was awesome. I bought the made-for-tv post-show movies at Comic Con from Gary Grahame (so it went on a bit beyond the cancellation).

I loved Nowhere Man.
Oh, Eerie, Indiana, Nowhere Man and Brisco County brought back some memories... And I loved American Gothic. I really should rewatch it again as I have it somewhere...
Great to see Firefly at the top of the list, but the exclusion of Carnivale is inexcusable. No, not "strictly SciFi, but neither was American Gothic.
Also agree with saje that Journeyman should have been mentioned.
"the exclusion of Carnivale is inexcusable"

Carnivale survived for two seasons and they're only considering shows that were cancelled after one.
Shaun Cassidy's Invasion is also on my list. Talk about cliffhangers...
Is it sad that I grew attached to every one of those series? Now I'm wondering about that cursed photograph again.
I'll chime in with the Nowhere Man love. Here in The Netherlands it was aired as a double-biller with The X-Files and back in those days I was completely obsessed with both. I don't remember much about the show, apart from the first episode and the fact that I absolutely loved it to bits, so I may have to buy those DVDs somewhere in the future.

Was also very happy to see S:AAB on the list. I was already gearing up to write my 'they forgot S:AAB, a show truly ahead of its time, a real predecessor to current BSG, etc., etc.' reply, but as it turns out, it's actually in there. Good stuff :).

But I'm also with BananaSandwichMan. Miracles should've been included (see how I still find something to take issue with? It's a gift ;)). If there ever was a show to make true on the old cliché "it's like a motion picture every week", it was Miracles. God (heh), I loved that show.

And finally: Dark Skies. Seriously. I know a lot of people feel it was a bad copy of The X-Files, but that first (and only) season was involving, interesting, tense and had a great atmosphere which they worked hard on to create. Plus, I was totally in television-love with the leading girl, which helps ;).

ETA: wait, are they saying Firefly was a difficult sell to critics? Were the original reviews negative? I can't seem to remember either way, somehow.

[ edited by GVH on 2008-08-07 18:06 ]
I have to admit that I never watched "Nowhere Man" in part because when it aired, the premise was already so pre-computer age. Even back then, before every bored clerk in the country had Photoshop on their computer, anyone with the expertise and equipment could create any kind of fake photograph imaginable, not to mention duplicate any existing photos. So why would a giant conspiracy be so concerned with having "the negatives" when, if they have enough power to wipe out a person's whole identity they could easily claim and undoubtedly "prove" that any particular photographs are fakes?
*adds American Gothic to my "to-watch" list*

Since we're talking about cancelled shows, I've just started watching Freaks and Geeks which is surprisingly brilliant (and that was because it has Jason Segal in it, who was in HIMYM, which I watched because of NPH -- oh, how the threads of fandom are woven). It's entirely inappropriate to add to this list though, since it's not SF&F.

There's Marti Noxon's and Ben Edlund's Point Pleasant too, another Whedonverse-connected fantasy show that was cancelled, not sure if it belongs on this list though because I've only seen a few episodes as of yet.

I have very muddled memories of science fiction shows. I saw quite a few different science fiction series, some of debatable quality, and all imported, and I can't separate the memories out now. So I think I may've seen Space: Above and Beyond, but I really have no idea.
A Strange Luck fan? Saje, you've officially become my favorite Whedonesquer of the day! :)
Heh ;). It pressed a lot of my buttons that show cabri, all heroes thwart fate to some degree I think but the idea of someone that can do it in such a direct way is pretty powerful I reckon. Also liked the preamble which ended something like "Not a soul survived. Except me" *goosebumps* ;).
I loved Strange Luck, too. I think I still have a couple of episodes on tape somewhere. I also enjoyed Early Edition but I think that had a second season - or at least part of one.

I thought I had posted in this thread already but apparently not, so I will now add that I have the DVD set for Eerie, Indiana as well as Wonderfalls, both of which I enjoyed, and have watched at least some of all the shows listed.

[ edited by samatwitch on 2008-08-07 22:24 ]
Early Edition actually ran for four seasons.
I think, sam, that you responded to the Whedonesque post on twitter, not here.
Firefly's at the top of my "It's Not FAIR!!!" list....followed by Farscape (we shoulda gotten that last season...dumb Scifi channel), Alien Nation, Forever Knight and Strange Luck. I was also quite fond of that silly Invisible Man show on the Scifi channel , too.
Nice to see some love for Brisco County. That show may look a little dated now, but it was very enjoyable. Good, witty dialogue... not to mention Bruce.
Frank's Place wasn't science fiction, but it's one of my top canceled shows. My guess is that music rights are the reason it's not on DVD (and why the WKRP DVDs have different, wrong, music, and are not on my shelves.)
Wow. Interesting that a full 50% of those shows aired on Fox.
Strange Luck? Wow, never even heard of that show. And here I was, thinking I was all television-savy and the likes.

MattK, somehow I had a soft-spot for Point Pleasant, but to this day I'm not sure why. It's possible that Marti and Ben's writing talent shone through for me, but really, the show itself was nothing special. The actors were not that impressive and the story(arc) itself uneven. Somewhere in there was a great show, though. But as it was, it was even outright bad in some places (although it still was no Charmed ;)).

Also, Freaks and Geaks has been om my radar for years, especially since people in this fandom seem to really like it. I still have yet to see a single episode, though. I don't think it ever aired here in The Netherlands (and if it did, I missed it), so I'd have to import DVDs (the show is out on DVD, right?). Might still do that some day.

And finally, if we expanded this list further beyond genre, I'd have to nominate My So-Called Life. Which really needs no explanation.

ETA: more sensical spelling.

[ edited by GVH on 2008-08-08 04:14 ]
GVH, it's interesting you mentioned My So-Called Life, because I get the same sort of impression about Freaks and Geeks as I had when I watched My So-Called Life. They both feel dated, and some of the characters annoy me, but it doesn't change the fact that the characters feel completely real and honest. Freaks and Geeks is a little strange too because it's set in the 80s despite being made just after 2000. In any case, I'd recommend it, but I've only seen three episodes so far.

I know what you mean about Point Pleasant too. I bought it, but I've only watched a few episodes so far, because it just feels a little ..soapy? American plastic, blonde hair, beaches, superficiality. I'm focusing on the negative aspects a bit here, because I don't dislike it and I do want to finish watching it sometime, but I don't think it's a show I'll remember much in the future.
No "Greg the Bunny"? Well, I guess it is even less SF than anything else on the list...

Since it is on the list, I'd like to draw attention to the scene in the pilot of "American Gothic" where Sheriff Buck whistles the "Andy Griffith Show" theme while on his way to torture a prisoner - very like a Whedon villain, that.
I do not generally have strong views about shows that are cancelled without being given a fair chance – prematurely or before the story has run its course, or however we may wish to look at it. They get cancelled because they get cancelled and I don’t think any one American network is more trigger-happy than any other. Pretty soon something else good has come along that perhaps would not have reached our screens otherwise.

There have been over the years quite a few shows I like that ended after one or two seasons; in more recent times (not sci-fi specific): ‘My So-Called Life’, ‘Dead Like Me’, ‘Carnivale’, ‘Point Pleasant’ (which I adore and I think was harshly written off by critics and many viewers alike), ‘Joan Of Arcadia’, ‘Invasion’, ‘Surface’.

Although ‘Point Pleasant’ is my favourite of these, if I were to chose one I would like to have to seen go into another season it would be ‘Joan Arcadia’. However, ‘My So-Called Life’ is the one that probably really deserved to go forward, although I seem to recall that the reluctance of Clare Danes to sign for another season and the rumoured hedonistic lifestyles of some of the cast (true or otherwise – and surely hardly uncommon) got cited as factors in the decision not to bring the show back.
I have yet to see "My So-Called Life", but it's on my list, especially since so many people have compared it favorably to "Freaks and Geeks." It was criminal that that "Freaks and Geeks" was shut down after one season. It was so brilliant and there was so much potential for more greatness. What MattK said about the characters feeling real and honest. (Supposedly the exec who canceled it, when told that the show was acclaimed for being such an honest portrayal of real life, responded "Why would anyone want to watch that?")

Do I lose cool points forever if I admit that I wept through some of those episodes, not because they were sad so much as because they simply rewakened a well of feeling about what it was like to be that age.

And yes, it is out on DVD.
No you don't lose points, barboo. Or perhaps we lose points together. :-) I bought the Collector's Edition Yearbook set just so I could spend hours more time with the F&G people - it's beautiful stuff.

I guess it shows I'm not really a "genre TV" fan that I've only seen the top two on the list - and barely heard of any of the remaining entries.
I think it also means you hate love and probably freedom. I bet you still call 'em French fries.
You could always go to Belgium, they don't bother about how much mayonnaise you add to your frites ;) I very much enjoyed Brisco and American Gothic while they were on.
I think it also means you hate love and probably freedom

Hey, one out of two ain't bad. ;-) They should be called Belgian fries anyways . . . and Belgium has better beer too.
True and true, SNT. They aren't wrong about mayonnaise on frites, either ;) So it freedom or love that you despise, you unrepentant heathen?
Yep, mayonnaise on chips is genius, of that there can be no doubt (apart from anything else, it makes them even less healthy - the Scot in me has to respect that towering achievement ;). I thought that was the Dutch that came up with that though (probably cos I first had them in the Netherlands) ?

... and Belgium has better beer too.

Do the French even make beer ? ;) Belgium does some nice dark beers (De Koninck dark is nice), not a big lager fan though and that's their special forté.

You can't touch a pint of Old Peculiar of a cold winter's evening though, warms the cockles ;).
"Belgium." - Xander Harris

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