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October 4, 2015

On the 5th day of Festivus, TV gave to me

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 12th 2005 11:08AM
Andy Richter Controls The Universe... Five Cancelled Shows!

Here are five shows I used to watch on a regular or semi-regular basis that were cancelled before their time:

1. Andy Richter Controls The Universe - Adam did a Short-Lived Shows post about this a few weeks ago, and it reminded me how much I loved this show. It was a well-written, quirky show that employed fantasy sequences and flashbacks liberally, years before Arrested Development seemingly perfected the practice. The cast was also top-notch, including the lovely Paget Brewster, who I thought finally had a good showcase for the comedic skills she flashed in her well-regarded guest stint on Friends. Unfortunately, FOX never gave Paget or Andy a chance to shine; the show only lasted two abbreviated seasons. The fact that Richter's next show, the formulaic Quintuplets, lasted nearly as long as Universe did depressed the hell out of me.

2. Freaks and Geeks - Not long ago, I wrote about how this show contained the three most accurate geeks in TV history. Freaks was a show that illustrated just how tough high school was for the people who weren't at the top of the food chain, popularity-wise. But it was also sweet, funny, and hopeful, showing that each of the Freaks and Geeks still led pretty good lives even if high school was hell. Oh, and anyone who went to middle or high school in the Eighties was probably freaked out at how closely the clothes, music, and overall atmosphere mirrored their own experiences. Just great quality all around. Too bad NBC only gave it one season.

3. Sports Night - Take the fast pace and snappy dialogue of the Aaron Sorkin years of The West Wing, shorten it to thirty minutes, and place it behind the scenes at a SportsCenter-like broadcast and you have Sports Night. Sorkin found humor not only in workplace tension, but in the relationships between co-workers that are so dedicated to their jobs that they didn't have lives outside the office. The centerpiece of the show was the sexual tension between anchor Casey (Six Feet Under's Peter Krause) and hard-driving producer Dana (Felicity Huffman, in what I think was a more suitable role than the one she currently plays on Desperate Housewives), but the supporting characters all had their own juicy storylines, as well. And, besides, any show that introduced us to the adorable Sabrina Lloyd should be praised to the hills. Given time, this could have been as good or better than The West Wing. ABC only gave it two seasons, even though they were mired in last place and their biggest star at the time was Regis Philbin.

4. Once and Again - I've already told you why I started watching the show: I couldn't take my eyes off Sela Ward. But what kept me watching was the stories that the writers developed for the supporting players, examining how divorce and new romances affected everyone in the Manning and Sammler families. Lilly's sister Judy (Marin Hinkle from Two and a Half Men) was the melancholy single woman who found love in fits and starts. Rick's ex-wife Karen slowly unravels under the pressures of raising teenagers, finding a career, and seeing her ex finding love before she did. All the kids have a tough time coping with the melding of the Sammler and Manning families. Heck, even Patrick Dempsey, who everyone knows now as "Dr. McDreamy", had a meaty guest role as Lilly's mentally-ill brother. It sure as hell wasn't The Brady Bunch, and it showed raw emotions that few series before or since have been able to convey. Along with Sports Night, it was another late-Nineties show that ABC let go far too soon.

5. Arrested Development - Well, it's not officially cancelled, but the writing's on the wall, isn't it?

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Sliders should be added to the list if for no other reason than one of the reasons for Sports Night. Sabrina Lloyd. Arrested Development is overrated. I never liked it. Hate to admit I watch The War at Home but I do. Won't be sad when it's gone but it's a guilty pleasure I occasionally partake.

December 14 2005 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It seems i'm doomed for all of myfavorite shows to get the boot. thankfully people actually watch lost, or i'd be in real trouble

December 13 2005 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know I am stretching back a few years with these but... I was really disapointed when they cancelled EZ Streets W/ Ken Olin (Who now produces and Directs on Alias) and Joe Pantoliano. 1996 I also thought that Big Apple W/ Ed Oneil and created by Anthony Yerkovich (The guy that created Miami Vice) and David Miltch (Best known for his work on NYPD Blue) This could have become a great show if given a chance. 2001

December 13 2005 at 6:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Anderson

The writings on the wall the second you sign a contract with Fox. Eventually show writers will realize this BEFORE they pitch the idea to the networks. "Next time, let's just skip Fox."

December 13 2005 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would have liked to see "Playmakers" go on for another season. Even better would have HBO taking it on and continuing it. On the flip side, I sorta would have liked to see at least 1 -2 more seasons of "Popular" too.

December 12 2005 at 9:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well I can't talk about cancelled shows without whining about John Doe. I was really really into that show @_@ It's really the main reason I keep giving Prison Break a shot. Speaking of Prison Break, the other brother, Fish appeared in the last episode of another show that should not have been cancelled. Not Fox's problem specifically, but Joan of Arcadia was possibly the best written drama ever for a Family audience. It appealed to EVERYONE in some way, without offending ANYONE. Why cancel something that's getting such high praise?!?! Especially when you've got a 17 year old who just found out, she's gonna be directly pitted against Satan next season?! Also, I almost cried at Arrested Development for two reasons tonight. Number 1, it may be cancelled, and it's just too freakin hilarious. Number 2, what other show would make references to stuff like Prison Break and Podcasts? :(

December 12 2005 at 9:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The untimely end of Freaks and Geeks was a tragedy! Sports Night was a great show too. I watched Once and Again, but I don't think I'd put it on my top five list. Maybe I'd add Maximum Bob or Nowhere Man, or perhaps the funny and satirical shows about the industry itself like The Comeback and Grosse Pointe.

December 12 2005 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Will you people ever stop whining about Firefly? You guys are starting to make star trek geeks look like better people.

December 12 2005 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Woderfalls. Dear god I curse the exec that thought canning that show was a good idea. thanks for reminding me. now I'm all pissed all over again.

December 12 2005 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ditto on Firefly. And Wonderfalls. But those shows didn't really last long enough for anyone to watch them on a "regular or semi-regular basis," did they? Didn't all of the shows on this list last at least a season or so?

December 12 2005 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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