It’s easy to find lists of shows that were cancelled and revived. Family Guy, Futurama, Arrested Development, and Veronica Mars. These are all great shows that were cancelled but dragged back from the brink. Maybe it’s because the fans went crazy and launched a huge campaign to get their show back. Maybe it’s because time passed and whoever’s in charge had the sense to see the show’s potential and revive it. Maybe it’s because someone has enough intelligence to see that they’re flushing away a perfectly good show and stop it months after it happened.
But sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Not all shows come back and we don’t want to pull any punches here at DigZoo. When we promise a list of shows that were cancelled too early then that’s what we’re going to deliver. Prepare to feel the regret and anger of knowing some of the greatest shows ever made were put to the axe before they had a chance to get really get going.
Bryan Fuller is a name on the rise with a long history in TV. He gained a lot of critical acclaim with the small-screen interpretation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal that united gore-fanatics, foodies and fan-fic shippers in a show that was, aptly, pretty damned weird. He’s now got his hands in big TV projects like Star Trek Discovery and American Gods and we wouldn’t be surprised if he kept getting more opportunities in the future (he’s super talented!). But before Hannibal, Star Trek and American Gods Bryan Fuller brought us the weird, quirky, visually interesting, murder-mystery/fairy-tale Pushing Daisies. It’s bright, funny, dark, sad, and, like all his other work, really really weird. If you’re a fan of Hannibal and American Gods then rewind and see an early example Bryan Fuller’s trademark intense visual storytelling. Just remember, before you get too invested, that this show died young and never, ever, came back. No closure for you!
We’re back on Bryan Fuller almost straight away! We’ve covered the basics of Bryan Fuller (he’s weird and likes strong visuals) but it’s still worth pointing out he had another show that died too young. Hannibal was a bizarre reimagining of Hannibal Lecter and the Red Dragon novels, and is often touted as one of the goriest shows to ever wind up on the small screen. Despite this it won a lot of hearts and minds with strong storytelling, intense characters, and riveting long-form detective plotlines that always kept you guessing what would happen next (not to mention a star-studded cast that delivered brilliant performances). Unfortunately, NBC officials revealed that this show was just too expensive to keep going and it was cancelled after a third season leaving a lot of stories untold, and a lot of characters without closure.
Firefly will be on every list you see about cancelled TV shows. We won’t lie about the fact that this show’s early demise has been very well covered but what else can we say except that it is a phenomenal show! The sheer amount of effort fans put in to get this show back from the grave is unbelievable and while we did get a movie called Serenity, pretty much everyone agrees that’s just not good enough. This show died a mere thirteen episodes into its first season. It was just too young!! This show is often quoted as one of the greatest sci-fi tv shows ever made and if you watch it you’ll agree.
Better Off Ted
Better Off Ted is a fairly standard sitcom. But what sets it apart from, and above, many of its competitors is a strange pseudo-sci-fi setting where the show follows an R&D team working for the colossal and unfeeling Veridian Dynamics. Man eating moss, biological computers with heart burn, glowing squirrels, floating diapers, and much more help to dose an otherwise standard workplace sitcom with the right amount of surrealism and geeky joy. The show’s highlight is Portia de Rossi as the perfectly cast Veronica; an icy cold uber-bitch manager who revels in her position of power. Of course, all the cast is fun with all the main characters giving great performances alongside her. The whole cast has a warm and natural chemistry and, behind it all, there’s fantastic writing that provides a non-stop conveyor belt of funny gags and humorous quips. And… then it was killed. Brutally. Like when Lassie went rabid, this show was taken behind the shed and shot and it’s not going to come back.
Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks remains one of the most influential shows of the nineties even if you probably haven’t watched it. Judd Apatow, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, John Francis Daley and more can all trace their origins back to this short-lived (just eighteen episodes!) show. Watch it today and you’ll quickly recognise the same spark of humour that you’ll remember from Judd Apatow’s other works such as 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, and Bridesmaids. And of course, that star-studded cast went on to work together many times over in future endeavours. Overall, it’s a pretty damned iconic TV show that, somewhat paradoxically, was barely watched. Only recently has it gained the love and attention it deserves because it is genuinely well-made. But, with all its cast members grown up and moved on, it’s fair to say this show will never ever come back.
So, there we have it! These shows are dead and buried. But, despite that, you should still go back and watch them. What little they gave us is still worth our time and affection and, who knows, maybe that renewed interest will spark some interest in network higher-ups!