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March 19 2006

List of Top 25 TV series cut short too soon includes Firefly and Angel.

Where is the Inside and Kitchen Confidential??? Enjoyed the comments he wrote about Angel.

I don't agree with the Alias blurb. Season 3 and 4 were excellent IMO.
I love Twin Peaks, but I feel like it was on just as long as it should have been (maybe even a little too long). Not every great show has to go on and on. Twin Peaks told its story, then it went away, though as the writer mentioned, its influence is still felt. Like the Sex Pistols, its impact is stronger for how brightly and briefly it was around.
OMG, this writer has fantastic taste in programs! (BTW, I always smile reading the articles from Canadian papers, because they all call the lead actor in Firefly "Edmonton-born Nathan Fillion." Well, I guess they're proud of their native son!) All the shows on this list which I have seen were really great, and all were cancelled just when they started to get rolling. :-( A wonderful article, derf!
Ack, that was painful to read. Too many of my favorite shows resided there- Angel, Firefly, The Tick, Arrested Development, Brisco County, Jr., Homicide: Life on the Street... It's like they stole my programming list for Kishi's Awesome Station of Stuff You Didn't Watch the First Time, So Now's When You Make It Up To Me, Ya Got It?

The channel name is a bit bulky, but I'm sure we can trim it down. Watch This Station, or I'll Punch You is a front runner.
I'm glad Freaks and Geeks is included. That's one of the best TV shows ever, pure genious. As for The Inside and KC not being on the list, I don't know if I'd consider them to be two of the best short-lived shows. But my guess is the author didn't have a chance to see them.
Dead Like Me and Carnivále should really be on that list.
BTW, he also lists Tim Minear's Wonderfalls, calling it "Joan of Arcadia with brains" ;-).

If you have lots of cable channels, Logo is running Wonderfalls now; this last week, there were two showings a day! It's almost as good a line-up as on Kishi's Watch This Station, or I'll Punch You. ;-)
Good list. Harmalicius, I agree with you about Inside -- although I was a little underwhelmed by KC -- and I agree with the author about Alias (although I am enjoying Amy Acker's participation this season). I also thought Twin Peaks had an appropriate run. I was happy to see Now and Again on the list -- a show clearly nobody saw, but was one of my favorites during its very short run. Fortunately, Eric Close and Dennis Haysbert went on to other hit projects.
Dead Like Me should definitely be on the list.
The wonderfalls comment is funny indeed, and I like the killed to soon list. I did enjoy the bored multimillionaires till the end and I'm still liking Alias, but I can see why he listed them as gone on to long. On a personal list I'd include Farscape, four seasons and the PW might seem like a lot, but to me it still isn't enough.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2006-03-20 00:22 ]
I would add The Inside, Threshold and Enterprise (the last season had finally kicked the show into gear - shame it took so bloody long).
ESG - long time no see!! Glad to see you're still around!!

The saddest for me will always be Firefly and Angel. Wonderfalls too. I enjoyed KC and The Inside but they hadn't really become absolute must see tv at the point that they ended.
Dead Like Me belongs on that list. Could you imagine what life would be like if Firefly, Angel, Wonderfalls, and Dead Like Me were still on? True, some of that would have required Tim Minear to be in three places at once, but lots of Mutant Enemy writers were doing that.

Also, Tru Calling started to get really good, especially when they added Jane Espenson to their writing staff.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2006-03-20 00:45 ]
Given how few shows ever even make it out of the gate, and how few ever make it a full season, I think any show that makes it to a third season should be disqualified from any list like this automatically. Even though I'm a big fan of all four of them, Homicide, Star Trek, Angel, and Family Guy don't belong on any list like this.
ElectricSpaceGirl, you are so true. They both got pulled out of there pretty fast. Damn Fox!!

palehorse, sticking by my Alias :)

Johan, Yes! Where IS Dead Like Me? It was so good!
IMHO Profit should be on that list.
And I agree with krad that it's a little weird to put shows that have had a decent run on this list.
Though I'm not sure I'd put the line at three seasons, for me five is where you reach a really substantial body of episodes (more than a hundred with regular season length). So yes for instance Angel; I was sad to see it go, but I think it makes a great story & TV series as it is, don't feel like it needed more episodes, as the "...cut short too soon..." form the article implies.

[ edited by Tristan on 2006-03-20 01:25 ]
The first thing I did was look for my #2 (after Firefly) most-lamented show, The Tick. It was the funniest thing on that season (though I didn't know about SpongeBob), and I think it was the very next season when Fox gave the same treatment to Firefly. I also remember being really mad at Entertainment Weekly for being such fair-weather friends to both shows, but especially The Tick. "We love it" and then a month or so later "it's doomed" without a plea or excoriation of any kind. By Wonderfalls I had grown to expect that crap...

I'm with you, jam2 and krad. As I read the list I thought several shows were on too long, especially Twin Peaks, a fascinating show with style to burn, which had jumped the shark by its last season. I think under better circumstances the original Star Trek should have had a couple of more seasons, though. But then that cancellation is one of my childhood traumas... You were much more patient with Enterprise than I, Simon.

I agree with the "They Lived Too Long" (what I call "allowed to become undead") list--The X-Files being the most cringe-worthy of all time, perhaps. And I'm 100% with the assessment that Alias fell apart after two seasons. I would also add a few others: NYPD Blue, ER, M*A*S*H, Lois & Clark, Happy Days (for which the "jump the shark" term was coined) and others also too obvious to name.

You could also make a "plenty of potential but started to disappoint Season One" list. Smallville is the first series that pops to mind there. I might also include The Inside, but maybe I didn't really give it a chance. Then there's the "jumped the shark then jumped back" list--I'd put Star Trek TNG on there (at least it had a great finale). I've heard that about Lost, too, which I will soon start watching on DVD.

Is Nathan from Edmonton? :-D
My other favorite product of Edmonton is one of the coolest game companies ever--Bioware.
Homicide was on for seven years and I loved it, but its last season was one too many, so I'm glad it went. The TV movie wrap-up was excellent, however.

Twin Peaks was cut short too soon, but looking back I'm kinda glad it was - for all of its second season problems, there's just so much goodness there to savour... and no regrets about watching it outlive its goodness.

Angel could have been great in year six, but now it feels like it finished in a perfect place.

And Arrested Development? I've only seen 2 of the 3 seasons, but I love it so much that I would hate to think it was dead and gone.
My other favorite product of Edmonton is one of the coolest game companies ever--Bioware.

Ah is that how Nathan got to do one of the voice overs for Jade Empire?
Jeremiah is another one. Just two short seasons on Showtime. Damn that was a great show.
Great list, I was so excited to see Cupid make the cut. I loved that show, Piven was incredible and VM's Rob Thomas was the creator. A couple of times a year I still break out the tapes and suffer through the terrible copies of copies of copies quality because the I enjoy the show that much.

As for Alias, I loved season 4. Season 3? Not so much.
It's funny that this should be posted tonight because i've just been watching 24 on Sky One earlier tonight featuring James Morrison and i'd been thinking about how good Space: Above and Beyond, another show he once starred in, used to be.

For those that don't remember it was a short lived science fiction show back in the 90's. It had a very similar style to the current Battlestar Galactica. Very good indeed.

Also, Millennium. One of the greatest shows ever in it's first two seasons but sadly losing it's way a little in the third before being axed by, you guessed it, Fox. Lance Henriksen starred as Frank Black.
Ooh, how about Miracles? That show was fantastic (just got through watching the dvds) and had a tremendous amount of promise.
I actually think the current season of Alias is the best since season 2, so I highly disagree there.

But wow, there are a ton of shows I own on DVD on this list. Action, Freaks & Geeks, Wonderfalls, Undeclared, Twin Peaks, and of course the Joss mentions. Apparently I'm addicted to quickly canceled shows.
Apparently I'm addicted to quickly canceled shows.

Well, they are certainly more affordable on DVDs than long-running shows! ;-)
Glad to know somebody besides me mourns EZ Streets.
All the above, plus The Lone Gunmen.
I'm just seeing Dead Like Me (Season 2) for the first time and was very upset that it hadn't gotten a third season. I don't generally buy DVDs of shows I've seen (Whedon shows excepted) because I am unlikely to watch them over and over again but Dead Like Me is a potential exception.
I'd add VR.5 to the list. Strange and intriguing, the series starred Lori Singer as Sydney Bloom.

ObJossverse: Anthony Stewart Head joined the cast as a regular in episode 5, and Adam Baldwin played a serial killer in the pilot.

[ edited by mcz on 2006-03-20 05:05 ]
I thought of The Lone Gunmen, too. Cancelled in the middle of a cliffhanger and after only 6 episodes. It was a funny show that had potential.
Where is Profit on this list?

It's great to see Freaks and Geeks on the list, but Judd Apatow didn't create it - Paul Feig did.
I totally agree with palehorse on the Now and Again love! I loved that show! So great to see it here, especially since no one I've ever talked to has even heard of it. Axed after only one season...and with a KILLER cliffhanger, to boot! A couple years ago, it was shown during Trio's "Brilliant But Canceled" week...and, ironically, Trio itself is now defunct.

Angel ended on a pitch-perfect high note, and while I was devastated by its cancellation, had it not been for the network's interference, would we ever have gotten such a dark, devastating, tragic, and balls-to-the-wall climax the likes of "Not Fade Away"? Okay, well, knowing Joss, probably...but the heightened pressure certainly raised the swan song's volume.

And, no cancellation will ever be as horrible and heartbreaking as Firefly's. Only 11 episodes aired, and I clung to that thing with a passion and strong love, as we all did. I think I may have cried. But at least we got the marvelous Serenity...during which I cried at least a dozen different times for a dozen different reasons.

At least we know one thing:

When Joss is actually aware of the cancellation, he pulls out all of the stops to send our heroes into the line of duty for one last go-'round.

And about the shows that lasted too long...Friends was always terrible, it just took me a while to realize it, and I suffered through the first eight episodes of Alias before I mentally gave it the shaft. Gimmicky twists, unbelievable characters, cliched dialogue, and oh God, that forced family drama that just screams, "DRAMA!!! WITH SARAH McLACHLAN OR A REASONABLE FASCIMILE IN THE BACKGROUND!!! CRY!!! PULL, HEARTSTRINGS, PULL!!!"

But try to hold any of that to J.J. Abrams' Lost and I'll fight ya to the death.
...wasn't remarkable for special effects...

On the contrary. The effects of the series are remarkable specifically because they're purposefully unremarkable. Whedon went out of his way to keep the effects from pulling one out of the story, by making you feel like "ooh! what cool special effects!" The storytelling was paramount and that's precisely why it didn't deserve its premature demise. It's also one of the many reasons why I could never get into Babylon 5. The effect shots always looked like they were straight out of a computer game, and didn't belong in the same show.
Yeah, when I read that I was also thinking how remarkable the Firefly sfx were. Zoic did an amazing job with their budget, and they're doing an equally great job on Battlestar Galactica.
Nice list, but where's Miracles, Space: Above and Beyond and Dark Skies? These are some of the shows I'd have added.

As for the going on too long list, I only agree with The X-Files. I actually liked Alias S3 (more than I did S4) and have not seen S5 yet, but that features Amy, so how bad can it be?

As for Friends, well, I loved that show to bits right up till the end. It did have a low spot, but that was during S7, and it picked up again afterwards. I've always had the feeling that people wanted to dislike Friends because it was so mainstream and popular, and his millionaire comment seems to support that. Meanwhile, I've rewatched the entire show about 5 times now, the earlier seasons more often than that (I think I've seen S1-3 about 15 times now) and it remains one of my alltime favorite sitcoms.
I read the comments before the article and kept thinking, "Boomtown! Boomtown!", so I was happy to see he included it on his list. Boomtown was a superior show, with great mood and story-telling, and I loved Donnie Wahlberg, Mykelti Williamson and my favorite, Gary Basaraba. What a loss.

I enjoyed Friends for most of its run, but I agree that that last season was egregious.

Profit needs to be on this list.

And I'm in the "Twin Peaks went on as long as it should have", camp. The only thing more my little fan heart would've liked was an X-Files ep with Dale Cooper.
I agree, Znachki. Profit needs to be on this list. A show ahead of its time...ah, what a tremendous villain-hero was Jim Profit! I've never looked at cardboard boxes the same way after seeing that show.

I'm so happy that someone out there besides me isn't a Friends fan - I loathed that show. Loathed, loathed, loathed. We're a very small minority, but we exist. And no, I didn't loathe Friends because it was popular and mainstream. I just didn't like it.

One quibble: Lynch didn't write a pilot-turned-feature-movie called "Mulholland Falls." That was a Lee Tamahori flick from 1996 or so. Lynch wrote "Mulholland Drive," darnit. I'm crazy-curious to see Lynch's failed TV pilot as I loved the feature movie. Which again puts me into a small minority!

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2006-03-20 20:21 ]
Totally agree about Firefly and Angel. As much as I miss Buffy and Angel, at least we have 254 mostly excellent episodes to enjoy, and a very strong possibility of further adventures in the future.

To me the real tragedy is Firefly. Yes, Angel still had a lot of potential and even Buffy could have continued in the same format, but 14 episodes and one movie is just not enough. In such a short space of time we saw such amazing work and at the moment the chances of seeing more is quite slim.

I really think Firefly was firing on all cylinders from the start. Buffy and Angel were both great to begin with, but if you were to take the first season of Buffy or the first half of season one Angel, they weren't quite as well defined as Firefly. I certainly enjoyed Buffy but it took season two to really show off its potential as a serious drama consistently. Angel was also pretty good to begin with but again it took time to find the right formula, the very lonely feeling with such a small cast worked well but ultimately it was not what Angel was about.

Firefly started off with such a strong sense of direction and prupose that it pains me to think that it was only the first season, and that in some beautiful alternate universe the show went on to become even better with age. The movie was of course extremely satisfying and engaging, but I just can't get over that almost being the end. Even if we do get two more movies, that means there will never be a series with long-term plotting and character development.

Really Firefly was the first example of me losing a show I really loved, which was ironic because the first time I saw it was when I bought the DVD, by which time its TV "death" was long past. With Buffy and Angel, although I regretting them ending and missed them afterwards, I had a certain amount of satisfaction from the great wealth of episodes that already existed.

I do think the reviewer is being a little harsh with Alias. I think most fans would agree that the first two seasons were excellent, a wonderful mix of fun, slightly unrealistic missions involving car chases, gadgets, weapons and a whole lotta wigs, with a strong drama.

I think the problem is that most people don't like the paradigm to change, they want comfort in the predictability of TV. I think the fact that Joss so frequently mixed it up on Buffy and Angel meant that fans quickly got used to it and went with it. With Alias, I think most of the time fans tend to resist change. Hence why similar plots seem to pop up quite often- like Sark being captured and somehow escaping again, Sydney's cover in SD-6 on the verge of being blown, a treacherous family member appearing somewhere.

But when Alias actually dares to change things, people don't seem to like it. I think there were some really big shifts with Phase One that people sort of went along with, but I think the end of season two brought such a climatic and irreverisble change that people just didn't like it. I didn't. The idea of something so cruel actually happening to a character I like is kind of painful.

People didn't like to see a character like Lauren Reed appearing, what I like to refer to as Oz/Tara/Kennedy syndrome (where fans meet a new romantic interest with hatred before getting used to and actually liking them- apart from Kennedy, who is still hated by everyone). I think the way fans hated her sort of forced the writers to go down the evil route. I don't think people like to be challenged by the idea that people can change- so when Sloane becomes the head of a charitable organisation of course people are going to be sceptical.

The only noticeable change in Alias I observed in the third season was the much darker tone, because most of the other stuff stayed the same. It certainly could have benefited from more humour, but for the most part it was still as entertaining as ever and produced some excellent episodes, like Conscious. I would love to know what specific criticisms people have of the show. The only thing I can really think of is that the idea of Sydney putting on a disguise and infiltrating a building to steal a dangerous weapon or file has become repetitious, and I agree to some extent, but I think it can still be fun to watch.

Maybe people thought the idea of the Sydney "mask" Lauren wore was ludicrous, or the Lauren "mask" Sydney wore- I certainly do. But is it really any less believable than some other stuff from the early seasons- like the fact that Alison Doren's genetic code was altered to make her look like Francie, or that she was shot on about three seperate occasions but was miraculously cured? Seriously, with some plot devices you just have to abandon logic occasionally, and season three wasn't the first time viewers were asked to do that.

I am in the midst of watching season four at the moment, and I think the shift in the cast, with the introduction of Nadia and removal of Lauren, seems to work and bring some more warmth to the show. I am eagerly awaiting the return of Irina, because she is such an important and compelling character, but I honestly can't see why people hated season three so much.

And Friends. I actually think that it started off amazingly well and was pretty good for about five seasons or so, but I think it then got pretty bad before redeeming itself in the last couple of seasons. I think Lisa Kudrow was probably the best thing about Friends, the whole way through, whereas characters like Joey got intensely annoying by the last season. Basically I found Joey incredibly repetitive, and was definitely my last choice for a spinoff. Glad it is getting cancelled.

And one possibly controversial choice I would like to make for a show that has gone way past its sell-by-date. The Simpsons. First ten seasons or so were pure gold, incredibly inspired and funny. However I really think someone should have decided to end it long ago. Homer has become a cliché of himself, honestly I think there's only so much mileage you can get out of someone who is fat, lazy and stupid, and I really think that point has long been past. Secondly, the ever more convoluted and ridiculous plot devices. Thirdly, the influx of jokes that are actually quite crude, whereas in the good era of the show they would have been minimal and dealt with tastefully.

Honestly, back when The Simpsons was good, it was actually a completely foreign concept to me that I would actually stop watching it. But I have, and that is really a matter of principle because I tried to perservere, and decided that I wouldn't watch something that has become so unfunny and tired. Never mind the actors on Friends only showing up for their paycheck, what about the writers and actors on The Simpsons? I will always treasure the first ten seasons, but anything beyond that has been complete rubbish.

Oh, and that reminds me of another show to add to the list of the unfairly cancelled. Futurama. They should have kept it on and cancelled The Simpsons. I honestly think it had a lot more potential when it was cancelled, although I hear they are making straight-to-DVD episodes or something, which is pretty cool.
Razor, totally agree with you on The Simpsons. It was a great once upon a time, but now it just needs to die.
UnpluggedCrazy, our twindom (but perhaps not our evil twindom) is fading. I still love The Simpsons, although I'd certainly admit that the great moments are fewer than they used to be. For me, the problem with The Simpsons is not as extreme as Family Guy, which *totally rocked* before it was cancelled, and now is so much weaker; last night's was an example of a real weak one (the Emmys/FCC censorship episode). They must have gotten new writers who aren't as good as the originals. :-(
I'd have added American Gothic to the list. I loved that show for the brief time it was on, even after one of the main actors was replaced following a hiatus.
Ahh, billz, no, our twindom must never die!

Though I still love Family Guy...but the movie wasn't that great...
It doesn't really affect me since I don't watch it but I read yesterday that The Simpsons has been renewed for two more seasons.

I would agree with most of the series on this list that I have seen, especially Firefly, Angel, Wonderfalls, even though the latter two I didn't start watching until after they were cancelled. My bad.

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