This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony, and a plastic rocket."
11944 members | you are not logged in | 26 July 2014












September 24 2010

20 of the most epic failures in network science fiction TV. Half of the shows that Joss created made the list.

Blastr discusses 20 of the most epic failures in network science fiction TV.

Well, of course the not-small quibble is with the word failure. What does that word mean to different people?

For me, you can't call any artistic project a failure, at least one that is begun with heart, courage, and talent. And certainly Firefly has outlived its beginning and become something more, something grand, really, a kind of spirit that its home network can't ever put the kibosh on. And Dollhouse had great work in it, work that everyone concerned should be proud of, so I don't see how that's a Fail.
I agree. Both shows may have failed in the ratings department,
but they were epic shows and should have been given a longer run. Man it would have been great if season 9 of Firefly was about to start on Fox right now.

[ edited by tmvde on 2010-09-24 17:59 ]
Nice to see references to "Kings" and "Journeyman", as well as "FlashForward".

Maybe these high concept shows would be better off in miniseries form. At least there would be some assurance of a denouement that way (...I'm looking at you "The Event").
I like that they included The Tick. It was such a brilliant show.
I'm choosing to look at the failure as being on the networks' ends of things... cause some of those are good shows!
I wanted to love the Tick show. Loved the comics (still do). Loved the cartoon. The show just kinda fell flat for me. Ben Edlund is one of my favorite writers (the stuff he's done for Supernatural has been great), but the live action show I just couldn't get into.

For me, I'd add Carnivale (which was AWESOME, but the director refused to cut his gigantic budget for another season. I mean, you don't have to film EVERY episode in a completely different locale...that ends up looking the same anyway), the 4400 (which was close to a resolution, but the writer's strike kinda tripped it up) and anything ever by Bryan Fuller, doubly so for Pushing Daisies. What a wonderful amazing show (more fantasy than sci-fi, but I like fantasy better than sci-fi anyway) that should have gone on forever.

Along with Firefly, which needed at LEAST 8 more seasons! At least Dollhouse kinda stands (the rushed story-cramming at the end actually kinda works for me, particularly after the slow building beginning...like a roller coaster).
Odyssey 5 should be on the list.
They are, of course, referring to failing on TV. Not artistic, as a close read of comments notes.
The Middleman is missing too.
That's the first time I'd seen a bad review of Firefly. Were there a lot of those? Did those people actually watch it? ;)

Firefly has attained epic status ONLY because of the concurrent theme of the right guys on the losing side. It is an amazing PERFECT show, all the episodes exceeding the quality of most anything else on TV, but I do not think it would have continued to be so incredibly perfect in the long run.

I also think it is a gift that there has been CSTS as well as so many other fan-based projects based on Firefly, and lives that have changed because of its cancellation.

Perhaps I should compare my theory to Heroes. The first season was so amazingly good, but the quality slowly sank after that. To the point that I got bored and disinterested in its characters and quit watching altogether.

Anyway, I allow that more Firefly would have been great, but I think the way that fans bonded after its cancellation has been a gift.
I think the bad reviews of Firefly when it first came out were in part influenced by The Train Job being the introduction to the 'verse, and not Serenity; it's not a bad second episode, but it's not much of a first episode, and it's understandable that it pushed a lot of people out. Firefly really isn't perfect, but it is wonderful.
I remember watching the Night Stalker just for Stuart Townsend. I used to have a huge crush on him.

But yeah, I agree with what others have said about failure. They may have been in terms of statistics and ratings, but Firefly and Dollhouse are successes in many other ways.
For me, I'd add Carnivale...

Odyssey 5 should be on the list.

The Middleman is missing too.

Those were all cable shows, so they wouldn't belong on this list.
Wonderfalls would have been a good addition to this list... and I'm not quite sure how they could include a show (Day One) that 1) never aired and 2) they admit they have never seen the pilot.

..technically I guess that is a failure.
I miss Kings. :(
No Pushing Daisies? :( The cancellation of that show hit me so hard it took me a year to watch the last three eps. :S

Oh, and apparently, I've watched most of these shows (except for Knight Rider). :|
I think that with enough definitions, any show could be labeled a failure. There are a couple of programs there which I found to be quite poor in their writing and characterization. So their failure wasn't a surprise to me, but I guess that they could be labeled as "epic failures" for other reasons? Perhaps due to high expectations or budgets.

If one is using those criteria, then I absolutely would have included Dark Angel on the list. James Cameron, Jessica Alba, Jensen Ackles, Michael Weatherly and they still couldn't make it work? Or at least, keep it working, as I think that S1 was on the right track before the show hit the rails in S2.

One show that I always hope to see on these lists but almost never do is The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Many people focus on the Western aspects and so forget about the Golden Orbs from the future and the time travel elements, but even without those, the show incorporated a number of aspects that were sci-fi for the turn of the 20th Century period in which it was set. Bruce Campbell was epic in that role, the show was quirky and original and the writing was consistently of a very high quality. Unfortunately, sci-fi/westerns aired Friday nights on Fox never seem to catch a break.
If they'd used 'commercial' or 'ratings' failures, it would make more sense. Although some of these shows actually didn't deserve to survive, it's an important distinction, for the ones that did.

What surprises me most is the exclusion of T:TSCC and Jerico. Especially Jericho, because of the highly publicized fan campaign and the network actually bringing it back for a final short season.
I'm a little confused, didn't they have that disclaimer pretty much or was that a later addition to the article?


"None of what follows is a comment on quality. These shows may have been some of the best and brightest, but without the huge ratings network show need to survive, even good shows can quickly find themselves on the wrong side channel changer[.]"

That said, I was wondering whatever did happen to Day One. Even Fox ends up burning stuff once they've already spent the money on it to some extent.
This list clearly skews toward recent shows. The show gone before its time that I mourn the most (besides the obvious Joss shows) is Brimstone. (Now and Again had promise too.)

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home