Shows that should Never have been Axed

Often in TV land small scale tragedies take place in the form of show cancellations.

While mind numbing programmes such as Teen Mom and My Super Sweet 16 get renewed series after series, gems like Jericho and Arrested Development are killed off.

What it comes down to is money. For some reason or other the Jerichos of the world fail to find an audience or are just too darn expensive to make and TV execs pull the plug and give us things like Jersey Shore (or as we like to call it, The-End-of-Humanity Itself) instead.  

In a fit of nostalgia we’ve decided to revisit the great shows that should never have been cancelled and we mourn their loss:

My Name is Earl

My Name is Earl went down a storm when it first aired.

A comedy about a petty criminal who after gaining a new found respect for the concept of karma goes about righting wrongs he committed in his earlier life . The show was unusual in that it was good natured. There was no acerbic wit, no fall guy, but just a bloke doing good.

But unfortunately it couldn’t sustain the audience interest and by the end of its fourth season was only attracting 4.5 million viewers as opposed to the 11 million during its initial run.

Frustratingly for fans the show ended on a cliff-hanger and while there were rumours that the show might be picked up by a rival network that never materialised.

 

Dark Angel

Dark Angel remains one of the most underrated sci-fi series to have ever aired. Most imagine it to be nothing more than a hot girl – Jessica Alba – running around in tight clothes fighting bad guys when in fact it is all that and so much more.

Set in a dystopian future Max Guevara – played by Alba – is an escaped genetically modified soldier who tries her best to lay low as her creators search for her. She works with a cyber journalist who is confined to a wheelchair to find others like herself who she considers family.

The show only made it to two seasons and fans of the programme place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Fox network. The first season performed well but the second was moved to a bad time slot which saw a 4 million audience drop. The budget too was slashed and it showed.

Admittedly the second season made a misstep or two, getting rid of popular characters and introducing some dubious freak-of-the-week plot lines however it regained some of its assurance toward the end, returning to its high concept overarching plot and introducing an intriguing idea of the Illuminati. But the damage was done and Fox cancelled the show in favour of Firefly (which was another short lived gem that we’ll bemoan a little later).

 

My So-Called Life

The show that launched the careers of Claire Danes and Jared Leto only ran for a single season despite being one of the first shows to indulge in depicting teen angst.

The show was critically acclaimed and unusual in the gritty way it portrayed and approached real world issues. For its time the show had and still has a rawness and edge to it.

However TV programming was slightly more gentle then - it was the time of Friends  - and the ABC network found it incredibly difficult to market and promote the programme in order to gain a large audience.

But though the show may not have been able to achieve the big ratings what it did do was gain a small but significant passionate following which campaigned hard for the series to get a second season.

My So-Called Life was one of the first instances to see fans take to the internet to rally the troops in order to get a show re-commissioned.

However it emerged that Danes herself was reluctant to continue in her lead role and wanted to move onto films. The poor ratings and Danes’s reluctance sealed the show’s fate.

 

Pushing Daisies

A quirky comedy drama about a pie maker who can bring dead people back to life by touching them only once.

The show was funny and unique and awarded 7 Emmys out of the total 17 it was nominated for in its lifetime. So what went wrong?

Well, the ratings were never phenomenal, nowhere near the likes of what TV shows such Lost or Heroes bought in and that coupled with the fact that it was an incredibly expensive show to produce did not help its cause; a TV exec did the math and unfortunately we know how that story ended.  

 

Roswell

 

Roswell is a sci-fi show about a group of teenagers, some human and some alien.

The programme did badly in terms of ratings from the very start and even with style changes and a third season – after the first two disappointed audience wise – the show still could not gain momentum.

The fans were loyal but there were simply not enough of them.

 

Dollhouse

A Joss Whedon classic which tells the story of a Dollhouse in which humans wiped of their personalities are housed. These humans, or dolls as they are known, are empty shells in which new personalities are imprinted and then they are rented out to clients.

The concept was impressive and with much fanfare Fox gave us Dollhouse. It immediately became a cult favourite however the fact that our main character had multiple personalities but no personality when she was kept in her fundamental state was a problem – many just couldn’t connect with Eliza Dushku’s main character.

The second season had much more ensemble feel as the stories of the other dolls and the employees working in the dollhouse were told which served to strengthen the show but by that time it was too late.

 

Jericho

Jericho revolves around Jake Green and his life in Jericho as the small town is left devastated by a series of nuclear attacks on the United States. A previous lay-about Jake steps up to become the leader of his town.

The show only managed two seasons and the second only came about after a monumental fan effort which saw 20 tonnes of nuts being delivered to CBS.

But much of the second season was leaked online so by the time Jericho actually aired the ratings went down even further and it was cancelled yet again, this time permanently.

 

Arrested Development

It seems everyone had heard of Arrested Development but few had actually seen it. And that was exactly where the problem lay.

Arrested Development was a genius comedy that referenced pop culture to such an extent it would have put Tarantino to shame. The programme about a formerly wealthy family who have fallen on hard times immediately found a section of die hard fans and the critics loved it but no one else.

The problem was it wasn’t Frasier or Scrubs. One could not dip in and out. To watch the show you had to be committed and it was this very necessity that made it so difficult for the show to increase its audience share.

After 3 seasons and only 53 episodes it was axed but on a cheerier note, there are plans for a movie.

 

Caprica

Caprica was the brilliant prequel to Battlestar Galactica and was a sight to behold.

The events took place 58 years before Battlestar and told of how Cylons (robots to the uninitiated) were first created by man.

The visuals of the show were out of this world and Eric Stoltz is brilliant as the lead. Stoltz is nowadays so often on the other side of the camera that it was a real treat to see him on our screens again.

But the exorbitant costs of making the show coupled with the fact that ratings barely hit over a million per episode meant that Syfy which had previously championed the show had to pull the plug.

 

Firefly

There has and possibly never will be a greater travesty than the cancellation of Josh Whedon’s brilliant space western Firefly.

The tale is set in 2517 and follows a crew of nine on the spacecraft Serenity as they go from planet to planet getting in all manner of scrapes and adventures.

The show was cancelled after only one season and after airing only 14 episodes because it failed to attract large ratings. Part of the reason for its poor performance was because Fox aired the episodes out of order and changed the scheduling. The show only had a three month airing but in that time it made an impact on a hardcore set of fans who call themselves the Browncoats.

It was the very fandom and slight hysteria of the Browncoats that propelled the making of a movie spin off of the show called Serenity which also like the show did well with critics and fans but could not find a significantly large audience.

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