We’ve all had that show, that one show. It might not be the best thing you’ve ever watched, but for some reason, you just can’t get enough. Some of you might have been lucky enough to have had that show last it’s intended full run. Others are not so lucky – those of us who’s favorite series get cancelled long before they finish telling a story. Sometimes these storytellers are fortunate enough to have a fervent fan base that fights for a continuation. Family Guy got a second life after DVD sales and Firefly got a movie, but most are doomed to the fate of a handful of episodes and are never heard from again.
Who’s to blame? Well, the Fox network is a good start. The shows they’ve cancelled have created backlash that has literally turned the network into a meme.
By now, everyone and their cat has heard the plight of the Browncoats; Firefly cancelled before it could become the next Star Trek, the next Star Wars, etc. But what about the other cancelled genre gems? Here’s five of the best shows Fox buried in their tomb of terminated television.
5. The Lone Gunmen
A spin-off the cult phenomenon the X-Files, the Lone Gunmen focused less on supernatural elements and more on conspiracy and comedy. Nerdy, witty, fun, and sporting six scripts written by Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan (a Bryan Cranston guest spot on the X-Files led to his lead in that series), it was limited to just 13 episodes, all of which aired. As minor retribution, fans did get a pseudo-finale in the season 9 X-Files episode Jump the Shark.
Episode to watch: The pilot episode features a plot eerily similar to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. It aired six months before the attack happened, driving some conspiracy nuts even nuttier.
4. Strange Luck
The premise of Strange Luck is a doozie. D.B. Sweeney plays Chance Harper, a freelance photographer that has an unusual ability to find trouble – and a way out of it. This show finally gave us a reason for an adventure every week because the main character just had the worst luck. Only 17 episodes made it out of production before it was canned, leaving it’s fans with questions surrounding the origins of Chance’s incredible luck. The name Fox Mulder is name dropped, hinting that Strange Luck was set in the same universe as the X-Files.
Episode to watch: Episode 16 features a very young Jeremy Renner in a third credited film role.
3. The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
Starring cult icon Bruce Campbell, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. was a pulp western/sci-fi/comedy/action show the likes of which hasn’t been seen since. Mysterious Orbs, time travel, conversational horses, and the always entertaining Julius Carry, Brisco is one of the most inventive shows ever to hit the airwaves. Created by Indiana Jones scribe Jeffery Boam and Lost architect Carlton Cuse, this show got a full season and 27 episodes (although the sci-fi angle ends at episode 20 due to nervous studio execs) before falling to the axe.
Episode to watch: Hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll go with number 20, Bye Bly. All the questions are answered and the story is at it’s weirdest and best. Any episodes with copious amounts of John Astin as the eccentric Professor Wickwire are also worth a view.
Brimstone was Supernatural for the late 90’s. Peter Horton plays a cop who murders the man that raped his wife and is later killed in the line of duty. He’s sent to Hell because his murder technically wasn’t “an eye for an eye.” In the ten years that he’s in Hell, 113 souls escape back to Earth. This clearly displeases the Devil, so he makes Peter an offer: catch all the souls and he gets a second chance at life, and therefore a chance to get out of Hell.
One of many catches is that the longer that a soul is in Hell the more Hell becomes a part of them, giving them all sorts of powers. And, since they’re dead, the only way to take them out is to take out their eyes, “The windows to the soul.” John Glover is absolutely delightful as Satan, add to that a twist about halfway into the paltry 13 episodes that would make Joss Whedon do a double take, and you have a show that is in my top ten list of television.
Episode to watch: Episode four, Repentance, is a powerful hour where nothing is quite what it seems. It dwells within the grey of religious dogma and leaves the viewer thinking about it long after.
1. Almost Human
The wound is still fresh. It hasn’t even a week since Fox announced that it was cancelling Almost Human. This show was amazing, but probably not for the reason you’d think. It did something I’d never seen a sci-fi show do. Robots struggling with their possible humanity? Nope, the new Battlestar Galactica had that with the Cylons, as did Star Trek: Next Generation with Data. Sci-fi Cops? We already have Alien Nation, the X-Files, etc. So what did it do that was so original?
It didn’t give you everything at once.
Usually the first episode of a show tells you EVERYTHING, and then it operates off of that idea until they retcon it four seasons after the show should have ended. In every episode, Almost Human gave you a little bit of the world while providing a Law and Order style procedural set in the far-flung future. There are so many elements that are vaguely mentioned and leave you wondering (What’s on the other side of the wall? What’s the real deal with Kennex’s ex? Where did Dorian’s memories come from?).
Add to that a solid supporting cast (especially Mackenzie Crook), great special effects, then top it all off with the dynamic interaction between the two leads (Karl Urban and Michael Ealy). Seriously, I could watch these two talk for hours, not just in the 13 episodes given. I’m not saying this show is perfect, but it was wonderful. If another network doesn’t pick it up, I’d love to see it continue as a comic book much like Buffy has.
Also, I’m not sure I’ll ever get “Hello” by Lionel Richie unstuck from my head.
Episode to watch: Skin is the second episode and it features the most important piece of future-tech – SEX-BOTS! Seriously though, Unbound features Gina Carano and John Larroquette in a huge world building episode, and Beholder plays out like an O. Henry sci-fi tale of murder.
Wonderfalls, The Tick, and Keen Eddie (even though it’s not science fiction).
In closing, it’s easy to hate Fox for cancelling our favorite shows, but we wouldn’t have them at all if it wasn’t for their network. It’s a love/hate relationship and we’ll have to hope that doesn’t get too much more abusive.
At least Sleepy Hollow made it to a second season.