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They Died So Young: Five Great Two Season Shows

Continuing on from the last installment, I move on to shows that made it as far as two seasons. Though this batch did develop further, with one exception, they were all still canceled before their time. Some of them brought in awards or at least nominations while others struggled to find any recognition outside of their cult followings. Some were upbeat and hilarious, others put a unique touch on drama, but they all left their fans bemoaning their early departures. So let's take a look back at five more brilliant short-lived series.

Carnivàle (HBO) 2003-2005

On paper this series couldn't have sounded much stranger. It was certainly a novel idea, to combine a period piece with a Christian-infused, supernatural plotline, and then set the whole thing in a traveling carnival. Somehow it all worked, though, and Daniel Knauf's vision created an enthralling dramatic experience. Exquisite sets and wardrobes, combined with a well thought out storyline to keep fans' eyes glued to the screen for more than just the ongoing mysteries. What makes the premature death of Carnivàle all the more painful was that Khauf had a full six seasons already planned. When so many shows have no idea where they are headed, yet last much longer, it's hard to see one die when the writers knew what they wanted to do all the way through to the end.

Jericho (CBS) 2006-2008

Whether you were after an action-oriented drama with its fair share of emotional, character-driven moments, or just love a good post-apocalyptic survival story (like me), Jericho was right up your alley. After nuclear bombs fall on over twenty major cities across the United States, the residents of the titular small town must struggle for survival, while also dealing with the greatest threat to their safety: other people. Like most post-apocalyptic stories, the series strove to illustrate what humanity is capable of both the good and the bad when thrown into the gravest situation a society can face. Fans came out in true fanatical style to demand a second season when CBS originally pulled the plug, sending in literally tons of nuts to the network as an homage to a scene from the series. It worked, and they were rewarded with a second season, but CBS canceled the series permanently just as that season was ending. Diehard Jericho fans can continue the story in comic form, however, as a “third season” was done in a six installment set.

Flight of the Conchords (HBO) 2007-2009

It's not uncommon for a network to want a series to continue when the creative team wants it to end. It's just uncommon for that creative team not to be swayed by a bigger paycheck. But such was the case with FotC, which is the only show on the list not to get canned by its network. The series centered around the folk parody songs of New Zealand duo, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, who form the band of the same name. (And whom I'm thrilled to say I was able to see in concert during their US tour.) Though HBO wanted it to continue after the second season, the two leads felt like the series had ended strongly, and wished to spend more time back home. It's easy to see why HBO wanted to keep it going, as the series brought in 10 Emmys for its two seasons, including competing in the Outstanding Comedy Series category in 2009.

Pushing Daisies (ABC) 2007-2009

Poor Bryan Fuller, he just can't seem to keep a series on the air. His series Wonderfalls has already appeared as an honorable mention in the list of one season shows, and he made this one twice for Dead Like Me. Like all of Fuller's series, a surreal plot takes center stage in Pushing Daisies. This time around it's about a pie maker named Ned who has the ability to resurrect the dead with a single touch, and put them back down with a second. Loved for its emphasis on visual style and witty character interactions, the series was lauded critically, but couldn't sustain an audience. Like many of the shows that made the list, Pushing Daisies' first season was caught up in the Writers' Strike, cutting it down from twenty-two episodes to nine. However, that didn't stop it from picking up 12 Emmy noms, including three wins. The second season won four of its five nominations, giving the series a total of seven Emmys for its brief run.

Party Down (Starz) 2009-2010

Raw, raunchy, and decidedly funny, Party Down felt like a mix of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the UK series Extras. The series follows the catering company of the same name which is staffed by people who would rather be doing anything else as they attend a different event in each episode. In addition to the many hilarious moments the show gave its fans, there was a sense of dramatic depression that was handled well throughout the series and gave it the heart expected from any good show. Though it had the stamina to continue, the series was canceled and the cast moved on to finding more secure gigs. Namely Adam Scott, who led the cast as the sadsack, failed actor Henry Pollard, is now staring on Emmy-nominated Parks and Recreation. While Party Down could have lasted longer, fans could not have asked for a more fitting close to the series than the final shot of its finale, and the feeling of positivity it left the audience with.

Honorable Mentions:


Better Off Ted

Dead Like Me


Next Month – In the final chapter I take a look at five shows that managed to get three seasons under their belt before they were cut down.


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