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It's a part of the nature of the television industry for shows to be canceled before they have reached their conclusion, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept when it happens to a show you love. In three installments, I'll be taking you back over some of the best short-lived television series, while trying not to reopen any old wounds. Starting with an eclectic mix of shows that never made it out of their freshman season that all share one similarity: ending before they should have.
Freaks and Geeks (NBC) 1999-2000
Many critics would argue it is the best one season show, but even if you disagree, there is no denying that this was a hilarious, warmhearted series. Whether you spent your high school days in the math club, in a Purple Haze, or fell somewhere in between, you could relate to the characters in Freaks and Geeks. Even if you didn't, the comedy and heart that was packed into each of the eighteen episodes was enough to win you over. Much of the cast and crew would go on to find fame on the big screen or at the very least have a hand in some of the best comedy to grace television; which makes the early loss of this series all the more painful.
Firefly (FOX) 2002
Also often touted as one of the best Sci-Fi series of all time,this series has built up a diehard cult following in just fourteen episodes. Full of laughs, moving dramatic moments, and the sharpest dialogue to ever come out of the genre, Firefly had much to offer even if you weren't a fan of Sci-Fi. The cast wasn't much to speak of; consisting mainly of character actors and newcomers, but they all managed to put up memorable performances. Most notable of which was Nathan Fillion, as Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds; an ex-solider who fought on the wrong side and has never given up the ghost, now leading a rag tag crew of smugglers and stickup men. A shuffled order of episodes and shifting time-slot didn't help this series find an audience, but fans were lucky enough to get a feature film to help bring some conclusion to the story.
This adaption of a UK series by the same name put a spin on the standard, episodic police procedural. It starred Jeffrey Donovan as Detective David Creegan, a man with literally no shame. A gunshot to the head destroyed the part of his brain responsible for impulse control and feelings of embarrassment. Dealing with Creegan's blunt conversational style and odd investigative techniques is his partner Susan Branca; played by the beautiful and equally talented Vera Farmiga, before she gained fame through film. Though it did borrow a lot from other series, there's a real Mulder and Scully vibe to the two leads. For instance, Touching Evil went far in creating a unique atmosphere and storyline. It received critical praise, but USA pulled it after only thirteen episodes, and didn't feel the series even garnered a DVD release.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC) 2006-'07
Critics and viewers weren't wrong when they panned this series as a mouthpiece for Aaron Sorkin's views on the current state of television, the war in Iraq, his ex-girlfriend, and even the critics themselves. The few that could get past that fact -or actually agreed with Sorkin's opinions- were treated to the same blend of comedy and drama that were done so well in "The West Wing". Not to mention Sorkin's trademark witty dialogue, which is without compare on broadcast. Most fans were also split down the middle in regards to the cast; loving the back and forth between Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford, but finding the characters played by Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson unbearable at times. Through ups and downs, Studio 60 still garnered critical acclaim, but wasn't the hit NBC was looking for, ending with only twenty-two episodes under its belt.
Kings (NBC) 2009
NBC has always taken chances on ambitious series, and this was no exception. The gorgeous sets and wardrobe were some of the most beautiful to ever grace broadcast. However, they came with a hefty price tag and unfortunately, viewership never rose high enough to merit their cost. Starring the always brilliant Ian McShane, as King Silas Benjamin in a series about a modern day ruling monarchy, inspired by the biblical story of King David. Though the series was not perfect; suffering mainly from it being much better suited for the likes of HBO rather than any broadcast network, the rich settings and powerful acting were enough for fans to bemoan it's loss after only thirteen episodes, and for being left with an unresolved storyline.
Next month: A look at some incredible two seasons shows that never got a chance to develop.