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Alright. So three seasons is not all that young when it comes to the lifetimes of television shows, but that’s my tagline. And just as with the ones from the first two features, these series were also killed off before their time. In this final installment I’ll cover five more series that were still taken from us too soon, despite them lasting longer than many great shows. There’s an old show about futuristic space, and a recent show about the old west. A dramedy about a teen detective, and a comedy about a dysfunctional family. And no list of great three seasons shows would be complete without a cult classic featuring a tattoo named Petunia.
Star Trek: The Original Series (NBC) 1966-1969
It’s hard to believe that the franchise that has garnered millions of fans and become a household name started with one short-lived show. Since it’s first three year run, the series has spawned films, books, games, piles of paraphernalia, and several other TV series. And those are just its direct offspring, the influence Star Trek had on the sci-fi genre as a whole is immeasurable. While these old episodes haven’t stood up to the test of time all that well, the concept has proven that it can strike a cord with any generation. If nothing else this series will give you a much greater appreciation for modern television’s special effects. But if you can get past some dated dialogue and over-the-top acting, you will be treated to one of television’s most unique and innovative series. Whether you go in for the dramatic highs of “The City on the Edge of Forever” or can’t resist the charming humor of “The Trouble With Tribbles,” Star Trek:TOS has something to offer any sci-fi enthusiast.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete (Nickelodeon) 1993-1996
I don’t think I’m alone when I say there is a tremendous sense of nostalgia associated with Nickelodeon in the early 90s. And there is no series that embodies that feeling more than Pete & Pete – though Salute Your Shorts isn’t far behind. Starting off as brief segments airing in between the network’s regular programming, Pete and Pete’s popularity led to a number of half-hour specials before finally landing a full-fledged series. And it’s easy to see why. How could you not love a show that billed a metal plate and a tattoo in its opening credits? Or a show that taught us if you eat open face sandwiches you’re a “gut-bucket,” and if you can throw a baton to Scandinavia you’re the strongest man in the world? By itself the eccentric list of guest stars -to go along with the roles they were playing- should be enough to merit giving the show a try. Adam West, Steve Buscemi, and punk rock legend, Iggy Pop, have all appeared in more than one episode.
Arrested Development (Fox) 2003-2006
To call Arrested Development anything other than the greatest comedy of all time is really selling it short, but that being said, it also claims the title of best three season show. What made the series so great was that it took every comedic style and blended them together seamlessly. Physical gags, witty banter, and self-referential jokes were all equally responsible for the laughs the series elicited. Subtle and broad humor had never shared the screen like they did in AD. With a cast featuring some of comedy’s most gifted stars, the only thing to top the writing was the acting. Bringing with them the same variety that made the scripts shine so bright, each of their characters contributed something special to the series. There was so much talent, both in front and behind the camera, that it is no wonder AD picked up six Emmy Awards and a mountain of others during its three seasons.
Deadwood (HBO) 2004-2006
“No law at all.” Nothing could really prepare you for the rough-&-tumble town of Deadwood, South Dakota; but those words come pretty close. HBO has made a few mistakes in their time, but canceling this series was one of their worst. Painstakingly crafted sets and wardrobes pulled us into the world of the late 1800’s mining camp, but it was the incredible acting and poignant writing that insured we would never want to leave. Jusified’s Timothy Olyphant and Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn both starred on Deadwood before their current gigs. Neither could compete with the talent of Ian McShane though; who’s role as Al Swearengen was not only the most memorable of the series, but also one of television’s greatest characters. While the series proved that when it comes to foul language, sailors have got nothing on prospectors, it also had the most beautifully written dialogue ever uttered on TV. This was thanks greatly to creator, David Milch; who is unrivaled in his skill of turning prose into poetry.
Veronica Mars (UPN/The CW) 2004-2007
Veronica Mars was a series that defied all odds. How could a show set in high school, centering on a spunky, blonde private eye, and featuring a cast of twenty-somethings playing teenagers actually be good? I still don’t know how it did it, but it did. Instead of silly plots and teen angst, viewers were treated to story lines darker than many of the shows garnered toward an older audience. The series dealt with rape and murder on more than one occasion, but without watering down their impact like most police procedurals. It wasn’t all serious, and in fact there was a hilariously sardonic wit to the characters’ interactions; especially any involving Veronica herself. Not-so-pop culture references also provided some laughs you had to do a little digging to appreciate. Rob Thomas, who already had a series make the list with Party Down, created VM and brought that same sarcastic edge to the humor and emotional impact to the drama that his later series would possess.