Top 5 Cancelled TV Shows

Written by Jesse Gelinas June 16, 2012

The TV industry is not a democracy, unfortunately. It is run by fancy men in fancy suits who only care about what attracts advertisers and what creates good ratings. It is a sad fact, but that is the way of the world. Because of this, a myriad of programs have been hurled into the depths of Oblivion, never to be seen again except on DVD shelves in $50 box sets. We don’t always know why this happens, but apparently most of the time it’s FOX’s fault somehow. Occasionally, there is something that can be done. Petitions are signed, emails are sent, and sometimes a series can be saved from the dark clutches of the abyss. “Star Trek”, “Futurama”, La Femme Nikita”, “Jericho”, these are a few of the shows that fans managed to save, even for a temporary reprieve. Most are not even that lucky. Here are my top five cancelled TV shows:

5. Beat the Geeks (Nov. 2001-Oct. 2002)

Everything about this show was custom made for me. I get to watch four geeks try to out-geek wannabe-geeks all the while shouting out answers at the screen, thereby defending my title of Top Geek of my own world. Who wouldn’t love this show? Sorry; I’ll rephrase. What fan (who considers themselves a true fan) of movies, or music, or Star Trek wouldn’t love this show? Unfortunately, Comedy Central saw limited potential in a show where the only attractive character was the “co-host” Tiffany who was only ever on screen for five seconds at a time. The rest of the time we have to stare at Music Geek’s hair. Thanks Tiffany.

4. Rome (Aug. 2005-Mar. 2007)

This short-lived period piece had it all: A brilliant ensemble cast, wonderful sets, great writing, imaginative expletives, sex, violence, sometimes all at once. Essentially the standard HBO package. While the series was nowhere near a satisfactory conclusion yet, the powers that be over at HBO decided this critically acclaimed, intensely popular, and “notoriously expensive” was just too much of a liability and no longer worth its sizeable price tag. Unfortunately, this meant that the second season had to be rewritten, rushed through, and a so-called “ending” slapped onto the final product. Fortunately, HBO execs have made it clear they don’t wish to make the same mistake with their current cash guzzler, “Game of Thrones”. Thanks, I guess, HBO.

3. Beauty & the Beast (Sept. 1987-Aug. 1990)

Shut up, shut up, shut up; this show was awesome! Say what you want about it being a romantically driven fantasy show about a beautiful, liberated young woman and her supernatural lover saving the day time and time again (“Twilight” fans keep our forked tongues behind your teeth). This show had class. The quality was thanks in huge part to Ron Perlman’s masterful performance underneath the extensive makeup of our hero, Vincent, as well as fantastic, poetic writing from the creative team. Sadly, the show’s viewers started to abandon ship when co-star Linda Hamilton announced she was leaving the show. The then bisected third season was then presented to lackluster ratings that continued to fall. Thanks Linda. Oh, side note: Apparently we’re to be treated to a rebooted series sometime this year. Of course it will now feature a beautiful twenty-something homicide detective, and a beautiful twenty-something surgeon who hulks ‘beasts’ out when he’s angry… uh… alright?

2. Firefly (Sept. 2002-Dec. 2002)

Okay, this one is definitely FOX’s fault. Under the false impression that TV watchers will not connect with a series premier unless it is action-packed, FOX decided that “Firefly” would not succeed unless the episodes were aired in what was essentially a totally random order. Sounds legit, right? Oddly enough, no. Ratings were less than stellar even though the episodes themselves were lauded by critics. So, obviously FOX realized their mistake and renewed the series for a second season, unaltered. Wrong again. Instead they pulled the plug before even airing the final three episodes (which were actually the 11th, 6th, and 9th, or some such nonsense). Fans were treated to a feature film follow up after a couple of years and a whole pack of novelizations and comics. Not exactly a square deal, but it helps the sting a little. Thanks FOX.

1. Carnivàle (Sept. 2003-Mar. 2005)

I cannot say enough about this show. “Carnivàle” was one of those shows that created such a dense, immersive, terribly interesting universe that you could just lose yourself for hours at a time given the chance. The acting (led by the unlikely but brilliant pairing of Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown), writing, and production were all top notch. The mythology that Daniel Knauf created for his series was rich and expansive and sadly went largely unexplored or explained due to low ratings. Critical praise. No audience. Knauf planned for six seasons, each two playing out like a single novel. What he got was two seasons and a kick out the door, and we were left with an unbearable cliffhanger. Thanks, general public, for not spotting this gem when it was still on the air.

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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