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Promising TV Series That Weren't Picked Up
January 13, 2012 1:47 PM   Subscribe

The Internet often discusses shows that died before their time. Splitsider looked at "10 Promising TV Series That Weren't Picked Up". Television Without Pity also has its "Brilliant But Cancelled" blog, taken over from the original site. posted by reenum (260 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Every time I tell someone about Heat Vision and Jack, they think I am lying.
Man what a great awful idea.
posted by Seamus at 1:50 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Poor Babylon Fields. No one wants you.
posted by griphus at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, griphus.
Plus, serious statement looks funny in retrosepct.
“apocalyptic zombie drama” may have sounded like a strange premise for a TV series
Not so much anymore.
posted by Seamus at 1:58 PM on January 13, 2012


So a comedy show featuring both Bob Odenkirk and Thomas Lennon continues to exist only in my dreams, eh? *sigh*
posted by scody at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2012


I'll never forget you Boomtown (and to a much lesser extent Highwaymen (I was young)).
posted by drezdn at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Norm Macdonald Reality Show - Have these people no vision?
posted by Keith Talent at 2:02 PM on January 13, 2012


Pre youtube I had a roomate that had Heat Vision and Jack and lookwell on VHS. I cannot imaging anyone watching more than one episode of Heat Vision and Jack. You can't really set out to create a television show meant to be watched ironically and have it be a success I think.

Before he dug out the VHS tapes I didn't believe him either.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:03 PM on January 13, 2012


I'd like to add "My Name is Earl" to the list of shows that need closure (though technically it got it on "Raising Hope"). It wouldn't have taken much more than one more episode, NBC.
posted by drezdn at 2:05 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wasn't My Name Is Earl on, like, FOREVER? I feel like they got at least 3-4 seasons, which should be enough for any television show. If everything that gets canceled before the 8-10 year mark is "gone before its time", then what's the point of even making new TV shows?
posted by Sara C. at 2:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pours one out for Cupid and Sports Night.
posted by bpm140 at 2:10 PM on January 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wasn't My Name Is Earl on, like, FOREVER?

It was on for a while, and the later seasons definitely weren't as good, but if NBC wouldn't have half-assed the cancellation, the story could have been at least wrapped up.
posted by drezdn at 2:10 PM on January 13, 2012


Cheers, Brilliant but Canceled. M.A.S.H., gone before its time. WE should write in to save Cheers and M.A.S.H

One show that was "gone before its time" was Sports Night.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:11 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The one thing that makes all of the lists invalid is that "Better Off Ted" is on none of them.
posted by drezdn at 2:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [42 favorites]


You can't really set out to create a television show meant to be watched ironically and have it be a success I think.

In rebuttal, I present: Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim.
posted by penduluum at 2:19 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the fastest ways to make my father go into a spittle-filled, black-out rage is to mention the ending of Deadwood.

Deadwood became a bonding show for my dad and I, our mutual love of history and fabulous cursing were fueled fabulously with the show. He'd call after every episode and we'd talk about it, heck he even made me use "the Google" to find out what happened to the characters that were based on real people.

That said he still thinks that historical record be damned, and Al should have killed Hearst when he first rolled into town. And that HBO is a bunch of whore-fucking cocksuckers that should be fed to Wu's pigs.
posted by teleri025 at 2:22 PM on January 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


The Sarah Connor Chronicles was so much better than the last Terminator movie. You'll be back, Sarah... tell me you'll be back!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:24 PM on January 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


EZ Streets - Great cast: Joe Pantoliano, Ken Olin, Deborah Fiorentino, Jason Gedrick. Hell even Mike Starr was great in it

Written by Paul Haggis before he went full schmaltz. Music soundtack included lots of Loreena McKennitt.

Dirty cops, ex-cons trying to go straight, the mob. All set in a dying unnamed city with a once idealistic mayor now as broken down as everyone else.

The last scene of the last episode (which was never broadcast in the US, but was in SA) is the only time I've said "Oh shit!" to the TV screen.

And no DVD release.
posted by PenDevil at 2:25 PM on January 13, 2012


*mourns Cupid and Better Off Ted*

(Where's my goddamn Better Off Ted season 2 DVDs, 20th Century Fox?)
posted by kmz at 2:26 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the io9 comments just dredged up an old wound... Clone High.
posted by drezdn at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


In rebuttal, I present: Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim.

I think I may be rebutting myself with Eastbound and Down. But is it a success or merely still on TV.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2012


Still crying over Manimal and Misfits Of Science over here.
posted by sourwookie at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I carry a torch for Sports Night, myself, despite being pretty cynical about "brilliant but cancelled" as a concept.

Then again, had Sports Night survived, I'm fairly sure that we'd never have seen The West Wing. In fact, I'll even go so far as to say that Sports Night doesn't really hold up compared to pretty much anything Sorkin has done since.
posted by Sara C. at 2:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


One show that was "gone before its time" was Sports Night.
This.

The one thing that makes all of the lists invalid is that "Better Off Ted" is on none of them.
This.

M.A.S.H., gone before its time.
Not this.
M*A*S*H lingered farrrrrrrr tooooooooooo looooooooooong.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dweebs, late 1995, four out of ten shows aired. CBS, how could you? It had Stephen Tobolowsky and Corey Feldman in it ...
posted by scruss at 2:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I MISS TERRIERS SO MUCH!
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


Get A Life was the greatest show ever and any list which does not celebrate its glory is worthless.
posted by winna at 2:40 PM on January 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Fuck yeah Clone High. Stupid Ashton Kutcher and Punk'd and MTV.

It'd be great is Fox would get off its ass and get those Better Off Ted and Terriers DVDs made.

I miss Life.
posted by zix at 2:43 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone remember Community?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


Life. Great and almost totally unloved.

But then again I liked Enterprise, which might have succeeded if they'd killed off Scott Bacula's character. Most wooden acting evar.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Profit. Man that show was eerily good.
posted by googly at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I am deeply saddened every time I read a description of Carnivale.

I know that I would love it, but since it was cancelled so quickly, I would only end up heartbroken.
posted by bpm140 at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Life was a great show, but Homeland is better. I do miss Journeyman, too.(and Falling Skies is not better than it. But is better than Terra Nova, which sucks ass.)

That said, I hope Fringe gets a proper tying up, because I've gfrown fond of the characters and a major network scifi show on Friday with a 1.2 share or something can't be long for this world.
posted by dave78981 at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2012


Special Unit 2. Imagine that X-Files had a sense of humor--I mean in general, and not just in the handful of episodes that David Duchovny wrote.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll never forget you Boomtown (and to a much lesser extent Highwaymen (I was young)).

I remember the Boomtown episode with Joe Penny as a 'former actor-now-sporting goods store clerk held hostage' being a particularly good piece of TV.

I try to explain the moment in every episode of the Highwayman where he's cornered in his big rig, and he hands the steering wheel to that episode's person in distress and the 3-minute long 'big rig to helicopter transformation' sequence happens, and they just look at me like I'm crazy.

Still, as long as they don't remake the mountain of embarrassing shame that is Desi Arnaz Jr.'s Automan (warning - near-leathal levels of bad TV here*), we are safe. For now.


*Seriously, don't try and watch any more than the opening of that show. I'm a professional-grade bad TV connoisseur, and I can't even get through episode two.

posted by chambers at 2:59 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one thought an American version of The Thick of It was a good idea, but I am looking forward to Veep.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:04 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll see your Automan and raise you a Street Hawk.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really wish John From Cincinnati had made at least one more season. I guess the Soprano's crowd just couldn't get into it.
posted by white_devil at 3:17 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Special Unit 2

Heck I forgot about that show...that was a pretty damn goofy show. Also:

Wonderfalls
Dead Like Me
Pushing Daisies
Invasion

And if Buffy and Angel had continued on forever, that would have been just fine.

Lastly, and honorable mention for The Dresden Files.
posted by foonly at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Is there a good way to watch "Blake's 7" in the US?
posted by drezdn at 3:23 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


40 comments without a reference to Firefly? I think we've finally turned that corner, folks.
posted by tittergrrl at 3:33 PM on January 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


Is there a good way to watch "Blake's 7" in the US?

Most Phillips DVD players can be set to be 'Multisystem' players with special remote control codes, so that they can play PAL, SECAM, and NTSC formats without difficulty.

After that it's all about ordering UK DVDs.
posted by chambers at 3:34 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dead Like Me
Pushing Daisies


Oh, my, yes. Daisies was a beautiful, lamented treat, struck-down by the infernal writers' strike.

I loved Dead Like Me, though, somewhere into the second season or so, Ellen Muth started some kind of downhill slide that left her looking akin to a crackhead...gaunt, painfully thin, hollow eyes, etc. She became very hard to watch and there seemed to be a lack of cohesion in the cast at that point. I have no idea if Muth was/is difficult or what was going on.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:46 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It may be mentioned on one of those sites, but does anyone remember Cracking Up, created by Mike White and starring Jason Schwartzman and Molly Shannon? Would love a DVD of that. And I may be in the huge minority but I thought Allen Gregory was hilarious.
posted by Clustercuss at 3:47 PM on January 13, 2012


40 comments without a reference to Firefly? I think we've finally turned that corner, folks.

Some folks will always live at the corner of No and Where, but most of us have long since moved on. We may have been on the losing side, but we got the big damn movie in the end.

I'll always have a place for Firefly in my heart, but there's still great shows and great projects coming out, many involving Firefly people, so it's no use clinging to something that's gone.
posted by kmz at 3:52 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


PenDevil, I often describe EZ Streets as a proto-Sopranos. If it had premiered five years later HBO would have picked it up.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:56 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm working on my "Mediocore, but I miss it." Coming in at number 35: "That 80s Show."
posted by drezdn at 3:59 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have tried to move on after Firefly and I don't like cling on to something that's gone. But it still pisses me off if I think too long of what could have been.
posted by Ber at 4:00 PM on January 13, 2012


HAT SQUAD. It was a show about cops who wore hats. SERIOUSLY, THIS HAPPENED.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:07 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I really wish John From Cincinnati had made at least one more season. I guess the Soprano's crowd just couldn't get into it.

And Deadwood.
posted by birdherder at 4:08 PM on January 13, 2012


Firefly?

Damn you fox! You took the sky from me!!!

why did you have to bring up Firefly
posted by Ad hominem at 4:10 PM on January 13, 2012


Firefly would have been a complete mess after a second season. I think most fans realize this now, and we're pretty happy with the way things turned out. Maybe I'm just wired different, but I'm totally okay with shows getting canceled too soon (except Arrested Development, of course. NEVER FORGIVE, NEVER FORGET). I'm also the kind of person who can put a book down in the middle and not come back to it for two years (I'm looking at you, Cryptonomicon), and I happily choose to believe that there was only one Pirates of the Caribbean movie; the other three being aberrations of a fever dream.

Ending a series abruptly, or on a really unresolved note of mystery, it causes the kind of mental anguish and overwrought pondering (and frantic forum discussions in all caps) worth savoring for the rest of your life. You can keep your full season finales, I'll take my vague rage and sense of loss.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:11 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is mentioned in the io9 discussion, but I want to nth it so hard. After a show is on a certain amount of time, a show creator should be given at least an extra episode post cancellation to wrap things up for show fans.
posted by drezdn at 4:17 PM on January 13, 2012


And I may be in the huge minority but I thought Allen Gregory was hilarious.

Wait, what? They didn't canc--

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Sys Rq at 4:23 PM on January 13, 2012


Then again, had Sports Night survived, I'm fairly sure that we'd never have seen The West Wing

Actually, TWW debuted (Sept. 1999) before SN was cancelled (May 2000). Sorkin turned down a deal to move it to Showtime so he could concentrate on TWW.

Sports Night is on Netflix. I'm surprised how difficult it was, at least the first few episodes, to see the WTC in the interstitials (later they started showing a building on Park Ave. as the supposed location).

Firefly, now -- I loved it, mind you, but it was already a complete mess halfway through season one. It was so high concept it held together barely better than the ship itself making its way through an asteroid storm with a fleet of Reapers on its heels. But it had the strength of its individual characters (and I'll be hanged for this, but Mal was really one of the weakest) and a daring to break out of its own boxes. The movie, now, the movie -- that was a mess, too, and a pity for it. Not to mention that it killed off my two favorite characters. But somehow it wrapped up all the major mysteries of the series patly enough to serve as final closure and preclude any necessity of a sequel. Such is life in the Verse.
posted by dhartung at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2012


I loved Aliens in America.


Loved loved loved it.
posted by anniecat at 4:25 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


and then there are the cartoons that ended too soon. The recent Legion of Super-Heroes. Batman: The Brave And The Bold (a show that was entirely made of fun). Invader Zim.

(And where is the 2nd season DVD set of LSH? Where, I ask? Who do I have to arrange to be either killed or given oral sexual pleasure for that to be released?)
posted by mephron at 4:27 PM on January 13, 2012


I would have liked a 2nd season of The Middleman. Or at least a filmed version of the 13th episode.
posted by fings at 4:30 PM on January 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Quark
posted by zippy at 4:46 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Call To Glory. Dammit.
posted by it must be bunnies at 4:46 PM on January 13, 2012


After a show is on a certain amount of time, a show creator should be given at least an extra episode post cancellation to wrap things up for show fans.

Totally disagree. After a show is on a certain amount of time, a show creator should have gotten it in when she or he had the chance. If the first hundred episodes were just a preamble, no wonder the show is getting canceled.
posted by Sara C. at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2012


So you think that if a show like "How I Met Your Mother" were to get cancelled abruptly, they shouldn't be allowed a chance to wrap it up?
posted by drezdn at 4:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Sarah Connor Chronicles was indeed a great science fiction show. But it is perhaps the worst title in television history:

'Hey - Sarah Crona Chron...Sarah Chronner...Sarah...
fuck it, let's watch Star Trek'.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:50 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Arrested Development wasn't exactly cancelled before its time. Now, I love it, and I wish there had bee much more of it, but what we have is, Martin Short aside, about as perfect as a sit-com can get. It lived fast, died young, and left a beautiful corpse. I look forward to the upcoming new stuff, as does anyone, but what makes that exciting is that there's been some time. It can pick up with new storylines and new background information and so on.

Same with Freaks and Geeks. Only 18 episodes and those were absolutely flawless, or as close to it as any tv drama aside from The Wire has ever delivered (and even The Wire has a few blemishes; the Sun storyline in Seaosn 5 was overly simplistic in a show revered for not going down that road, and as much as I adore Brother Mouzone he often felt like a comic book character dropped into a world that wasn't prepared for that particular crossover.) Had we gotten a season 2 of F&G, we apparently would have gotten Lindsay falling pretty hard into drugs, and a completely changed relationship with her parents, who no longer feel like they know who she is, and as interesting as that might have been, I almost feel like we're better off just inferring all of it from Lindsay's final "I love you" to her parents in the finale, before betraying their trust to live her own life.

Firefly needed more, and we got more, in a greatly underrated movie which tied things up nicely (even if it contradicted the history of the show somewhat in order to get it told on screen.) Obviously a continued series without Wash and Book would not have been as good, and that was a show which really needed all pieces there to avoid pissing off the gods and thus messing with the fragile magic of it.

Sports Night is a different animal, I think ironically because it wasn't perfect. It was very good, and revelatory at the time (the first real single-camera network sitcom before that became the way it was done. (Yes, it came before Malcolm in the Middle.) But it wasn't perfect. The laugh-track was a piercing siren marring much of season one. Season two spun its wheels in a bad way with the "dating plan" storyline. Around the time William H. Macy's Sam Donovan had become a major recurring character the show had figured out how to fire on all cylinders, ABC was shutting it down, or at least threatening it in such a way which made the season two finale, which I love, have to fit into that weird bittersweet tone of possibly ending for good and possibly moving on (something the season one finale had to go through as well.) Frankly, that show deserved better. It deserved to get as amazing as it was getting towards the end.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:52 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm always kind of surprised that Jake's Journey never surfaces on these lists, and that it's only cropped up on the internet in bits and bobs. The premise -- that a young boy from contemporary (1987) America gets zapped back to the Arthurian era -- sounds kind of dumb, but the cast included Rik Mayall and Peter Cook, the pilot was written by Graham Chapman, and Hal Ashby directed it shortly before he died. Due to his and Chapman's failing health, the series never got picked up.

The Disney Channel used to air this as a space-filler in the early '90s. Since Hal Ashby seems to have developed a posse over the past few years, one would think it would show up on these lists...
posted by pxe2000 at 4:57 PM on January 13, 2012


40 comments without a reference to Firefly? I think we've finally turned that corner, folks.

God, I hope so, Firefly was not worth the weird love affair people had with it, and it definitely wasn't worth me having to hear about what a bad science fiction fan I am for not being a browncoat. It was a love letter to the Confederacy, people, and not even a very good one. Try having some Asians in your dominated-by-the-Chinese-who-are-nowhere-to-be-seen-huh future next time, or at least maybe you can manage not to name a character Jubal fucking Early. "Reason, common sense, true humanity to the black, as well as the safety of the white race, required that the inferior race should be kept in a state of subordination. The conditions of domestic slavery, as it existed in the South, had not only resulted in a great improvement in the moral and physical condition of the negro race, but had furnished a class of laborers as happy and contented as any in the world." Awesome, what a cool dude, let's make him into an SF folk hero.
posted by Errant at 4:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Firefly would have been a complete mess after a second season.

You can luxuriate with that nice thought for yourself, but if your hand touches keyboard I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.
posted by howfar at 5:00 PM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Drezdn - PRIME example of my point. They've been on the air seven damn seasons now. It's their own fault if those first 144 episodes didn't further the plot enough. They're the people who named the show, wrote the pilot, pitched the damn thing, and wrote SEVEN SEASONS worth of episodes on their premise. After seven seasons, most shows are running out of material. They haven't even started on theirs. Fuck 'em.
posted by Sara C. at 5:02 PM on January 13, 2012


A second season of Freaks and Geeks would mean that the first season was significantly different, as well-- they learned they were getting the axe decently early and moved up some of the arcs that were planned for S02 (Sam dating Cindy Sanders and realizing they have nothing in common, for example). As much fun as it is to speculate about having two perfect seasons, it's possible we would have gotten two very good seasons but no perfection.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:04 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Middlemen times 100. It's shame so few people even know that show existed. I think it because it was on some awful channel like ABC family or some such.
posted by aspo at 5:05 PM on January 13, 2012


Key West. From the people that made Northern Exposure. It was only on for one season, but it was just a fantastic show, full of interesting characters telling wonderful stories. I don't have any clear memories of it, other than (I believe) a parade of clowns at a funeral that struck me as one of the saddest things I'd ever seen. Goddamn, I loved that show.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoa woah. A love letter to the Confederacy? You can make the case that Firefly is a direct crib from a certain sub-genere of western, Including Outlaw Josie Wales, True Grit, Lonesome Dove and many others in which the having been defeated in war plays a central role in a protagonist but I don't think it goes any further than a narrative device in Firefly.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:10 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Key West.

I had almost forgotten about that show. I remember an episode where the main character was doing everything in his power to put out an issue of their paper.
posted by drezdn at 5:10 PM on January 13, 2012


There are several shows that are transcendent enough where I define the participants in the show as being "of that show". Anywhere they show up, I identify them as being of that show. Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Jason Segal, Martin Starr, even James Franco...those are Freaks and Geeks people. The Wire and Firefly are also in this club. Arrested Development, definitely (though many on those shows had long careers before that). Community, absolutely.

Those shows are all mentioned like mad on Metafilter, so it's not like I'm carving out any new ground here....just started re-watching Firefly for the first time in several years, and DAMN if that show isn't still SHINY.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:11 PM on January 13, 2012


I hope that all my fellow Better Off Ted mourners are aware that two unaired episodes are available on Netflix, Amazon and iTunes.
posted by Knappster at 5:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought Day Break (#7 on this list) was fantastic. I hadn't heard of it until Netflix recommended it. And then I watched Kidnapped, again on Netflix's recommedation (because it had done so well with Day Break), and that, too, was pretty good. Not as good as Day Break, but still, pretty good.
posted by -jf- at 5:30 PM on January 13, 2012


Sara C. - How I Met Your Mother was ready to end after season one if it needed to. It could presumably wrap up its central premise within a few episodes if it were told that it needed to. The thing is that it hasn't had to yet. It might have been a stronger whole if it had to wrap up after four or five seasons. It might have been tighter. But the question in the premise ad the stories and themes of the show are separate. The show is about changing from a kid in an adult's body to an actual adult, and all of the shit involved in that, and so HIMYM has a definite end-point in mind, but it's still mining material in getting there. (And something like the amazing recent episode "Symphony of Illumination" probably couldn't have worked or happened at all without the years which came before it.)

As for Firefly, I think it defies easy historical analogy. You can say it's about the Confederacy, but it lacks a hell of a lot of those elements, especially the most morally troublesome ones, to make that map particularly well. In a way, it's more about Reconstruction, of we must force a label on it. The war is over, the rebels lost, but now what the Alliance is doing is less than good and is fucking up the territories previously claimed by the rebels, so they're acting out in their own defense. But, you know, without the slavery aspects of the actual civil war. In any case, it's a simple premise, designed to merge Star Wars with the western genre. Of course we're going to be with the Rebels. The other side of that debate has Star Trek, which is on steadier ground morally but is far less interesting to my eyes at least.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you think Jubal Early in Firefly is supposed to be a "folk hero" then... I just don't even know.
posted by kmz at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is all this something I would need to own a TV to have any context on? I'm still pissed that they cancelled the original Jonny Quest after only one season. Haven't had a TV since. They just disappoint you.
posted by philip-random at 5:42 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aww c'mon kmz, who doesn't admire a sexually sadistic killer? We in Britain are getting ready to celebrate the first Fred West Day on the 28th of March. Miniature plastic shovels will be in every hat-brim.
posted by howfar at 5:45 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has nobody else seen Party Down? One of the best and funniest programs in (my) recent memory, and cancelled after 2 short seasons on 'Starz', but there are rumours of a movie.
posted by Flashman at 5:45 PM on January 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Hmm. Pricing things together from the film and comics you get enough material for a pretty kick-ass Firefly season 2*. Season 3? Maybe not, who knows?

* I have worked it all out. I practically have an episode list. It is one of the more nerdy things I have ever thought about.
posted by Artw at 5:50 PM on January 13, 2012


The treatment the confederacy gets in westerns and by extension Firefly is obviously whitewashed. Invariably they are Lamentations of the coming Of the modern age. An age where efficiency and beaurocracy trumps the open range. They are a refutation of prgress itself. Obviously it is problematic, but it is used in a very abstract way, with all the problems conveniently removed, as a device.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:50 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The show is about changing from a kid in an adult's body to an actual adult, and all of the shit involved in that, and so HIMYM has a definite end-point in mind, but it's still mining material in getting there.

Of course. I think it's a great show and I'm glad it's had its run. But it's had its run. Nobody owes the production team an extra X episodes to "wrap it up". It's their jobs as writers to know that they need to tell the story they intended to tell.
posted by Sara C. at 5:55 PM on January 13, 2012


Oh, Firefly is absolutely about the Space South, are people still denying that? And yes, it's absolutely okay for the Space South to be based on a demented rose tinted media version of what the south was about, because it's A) Not real and B) in Space. See also WH40K and Hitler.
posted by Artw at 5:55 PM on January 13, 2012


(It's a whitewashed version of not real space history where everyone forgets about outer system Robo-slavery and that Mal was a Robo-slaver)
posted by Artw at 5:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kidnapped, Daybreak, Firefly, Arrested Development, Veronica Mars.

I look back on the cancelation of these excellent shows in contrast to Kardashian crap and I have wondered if I am alone.

Thankfully I have the MeFites to convince me otherwise!
posted by youandwhosearmy at 5:59 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quark

Yes. A thousand times yes.
posted by briank at 5:59 PM on January 13, 2012


On my list of shows that had endings which were "good enough" but which I would have loved to see more seasons:

Rubicon
Ultraviolet (it's a UK show, starring Idris Elba before he was in The Wire. And it's about vampires and cops, basically. It was brilliant.
Jonathan Creek (with the original female lead, plz)

And sometimes I fantasize about a new Black Adder season taking place during the Cold War.
posted by Doleful Creature at 6:01 PM on January 13, 2012


Cool, Sara C. I think we're in agreement. I think drezdn was saying that it'd be messed up if HIMYM suddenly got the boot and didn't complete it's story, whereas I think it's story is for the most part told and that the final act could be ready to go at a moment's notice, really.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:07 PM on January 13, 2012


Oh, Firefly is absolutely about the Space South, are people still denying that? And yes, it's absolutely okay for the Space South to be based on a demented rose tinted media version of what the south was about, because it's A) Not real and B) in Space.

I have to respectfully disagree, because there are a large number of people who would like very much for the world to believe that the confederates were misunderstood heroes, and Firefly -- however unintentionally (however naively, I might say) -- feeds into that. Westerns and war stories occupy an uneasy middle space between escapism and historical fiction (even fantasy westerns and war stories), and I think Firefly occupies it poorly.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:08 PM on January 13, 2012


Showtime's Huff and NBC News Overnight were tragic cancellations for me
posted by Fupped Duck at 6:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah.

Parker Lewis Cant Lose, Its Your Move (w. Jason Bateman), and The Street
posted by youandwhosearmy at 6:12 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love Adam West as Lookwell. Reading more about West, I found this:

Producer William Dozier cast West as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman, in the television series Batman, in part after seeing West perform as the James Bond-like spy Captain Q in a Nestlé Quik television ad.

Here's the ad
posted by zippy at 6:15 PM on January 13, 2012


Survivors (2008) (BBC)

Ended with a brutal cliffhanger after season 2 but well worth watching.
posted by SNACKeR at 6:15 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


kittens for breakfast, why and how? Are you saying that such uses of Confederate imagery should be avoided unless handled with greater historical seriousness? How would Firefly have better occupied the ground you identify?
posted by howfar at 6:16 PM on January 13, 2012


You know what's crazy? Not one but two terrible Spielberg TV shows getting second seasons.
posted by Artw at 6:23 PM on January 13, 2012


Kittens for breakfast, I have to disagree because I think Firefly knew its audience and themes too well for that to become a real problem. That, and, the storylines the crew got into as well as the stances and actions they took generally go against core ideals of neo-confederates. I personally felt it occupied its space very well. At the risk of repeating myself, this appears to have been the development of the concept:

1. Space Western - simple enough combination, but a good one. Mostly novel, though Star Wars touched lightly on that territory in Episode IV.
2. So if it's a Space Western, where do we look for our history? In reality, any answer to this question is going to be historically problematic (at least, coming from a White viewpoint of American history, but that's where the Western genre as a whole comes from.)
3. Well, the ideals of individualism and the open range are what make the greatest Westerns great, but in general, the enemies there are the Indians, and the hero is the Sheriff, which doesn't lend itself all that well to either political correctness or roaming adventure.
4. In any good fantasy-adventure, the enemy is an oppressive state, and good westerns (especially neo-westerns like Lonesome Dove, which is seriously really really good) have the sense of governmental encroachment ruining the heroes way of life, even if we the viewers understand that it's making way for a way of life we now enjoy. It's a romantic irony which is part and parcel of the genre.
5. So, that leaves us with an adventurous rogue and his crew (as per modern audience expectations of a good serio-comic hero), an oppressive government, and wild-card savages. So we take a sort of historical feeling of reconstruction-era south, as told by the losers, subtract the slavery elements, set it in the west, and in place of the Native Americans as savages, we use the Reavers, which have themselves no racial component and which eventually are revealed to be the horrifying result of the government's well-intentioned over-reach of authority.

Basically, you get a western that works well and removes, rather than amplifies, the troublesome aspects of the genre. Yes, the analogous group of heroes there would be from the South if forced into the Civil War scenario, but they aren['t in this case, and 1.) it's in space, and 2.) isn't real. It's got its own history, which isn't entiurely black and white either.

And had it survived longer, that history probably would have had the chance to get even grayer, and delve into more of the issues you seem concerned about.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:23 PM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


As frustrating as filler episodes and the cruft that accumulates over a long of a show are, looking at them as stories it would be nice if each one that survived a certain length of time (say a season) is allowed a chance at an official end.

Maybe it's just a way of viewing shows post DVD boxsets, but I like to watch every episode of shows I like, and, if there's some overall story arc, I'd like to see it wrapped up (or intentionally left ambiguous like the Sopranos).

Sure, Law and Order had nearly two decades to wrap up its story, but the series just wouldn't have been as good without the final scene of "Rubber Room."

If show creators were guaranteed the chance to wrap up their show, we might get more shows that satisfy as complete stories.
posted by drezdn at 6:28 PM on January 13, 2012


Firefly could have avoided any possible Space Confederates comparison by the simple expedient of Joss Whedon doing the minimal amount of world-building that would be required in an entry-level SF writing course. But he didn't bother with that, mostly because he'd gotten away with several seasons of a show in which the title of the show was the premise, and apparently thought that "space western" would similarly take the place of all that tiresome exposition. I'm not talking about anything terribly elaborate, just something about what the browncoats were rebelling against, exactly (aside from the Alliance apparently being major buttheads). Never got it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:28 PM on January 13, 2012


Yes. That was a stroke of genius. Exposition is tiresome. Firefly was a story told from the perspective of its protagonists. Not knowing exactly what things were or what they meant was exciting and exotic. It would be a lesser show for wasting it's time on all the chin strokey bollocks you're talking about.
posted by howfar at 6:34 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


21 Jump Street.
posted by signal at 6:36 PM on January 13, 2012


And had it survived longer, that history probably would have had the chance to get even grayer, and delve into more of the issues you seem concerned about.

I think it's that lack of gray that bothers me. I...kind of have exhausted my ability to talk about Firefly well before this, so I'll be brief and say that I think that a western that ignores the ramifications of stories about the old west is cheating, and presenting its audience with a prettified thing that makes pure genre out of history. There are a lot of people who already do that, and a distressing number of them are people who cast themselves in the role of actual historian. Sure, Firefly isn't supposed to really be a western, but if it's gonna be a western in all the easy ways and none of the hard ones, I don't know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wonderfalls, Middleman, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Veronica Mars, Firefly, Kitchen Confidential, Community. Sometimes it seems like if I really enjoy a show, its days must be numbered.

It's funny that How I Met Your Mother got brought up in this thread - I started watching through it not too long ago. And as I watched the first season it a few months ago, really loving it, I thought to myself with glee, 'There's seven more seasons of this?!'. What a rare treat.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:37 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer said:
Sports Night... wasn't perfect. The laugh-track was a piercing siren marring much of season one.

My recollection is that the bloody idiots at corporate added on the laugh track after the first run, for the DVDs and streaming. No laugh track as it was originally designed. Many of us West Wing and Sorkin freaks were bitterly disappointed by its inclusion.
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 6:45 PM on January 13, 2012


a western that ignores the ramifications of stories about the old west is cheating

However, this is undeniably what Westerns were. Firefly is an homage to the genre of film, not to the era they are inspired by.

My sense of Firefly was always that the reason you weren't being shown why the Alliance were dicks was because it was going to turn out that whether Mal was fighting on the right side wasn't terribly clear. The movie actually nodded to this with the notion of warriors as those beyond the moral pale.
posted by howfar at 6:46 PM on January 13, 2012


I was rather reluctant to click on this link, as I thought it would be one big Firefly circle jerk, but instead most people have given fairly honest appraisals of its rather mixed quality. HUZZAH!!!

Its hard for me to give a honest evaluation of the show, as I can no longer separate the show from its fans...they fill with the anger of a thousand firey suns.

Speaking of other shows I'm glad to be rid of, man, Dollhouse, that was shite.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:48 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shotgun Shakespeare: The network idiots insisted on it in the first season, where it went from constant and intrusive, to weirdly muted but also intrusive, and made it seem like the laughter was polite at best, to thankfully gone after Sorkin and Schlemme argued it out for the second season, which is reflected in the DVDs.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:50 PM on January 13, 2012


Firefly was not worth the weird love affair people had with it,

Yet, one more reason we need to get a beer and catch up over things we totally agree about.

If anyone thinks Firefly is novel through the idea of space cowboys, they have not seen or read enough sci-fi. It's been somewhat of a rampant idea in that genre for a long time. And the only thing really separating Star Wars from flat out being a western is a cowboy hat on Han Solo's head. Almost every beat of that movie can easily be transfered over to western film.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:57 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm actually really having coming up with a recently cancelled show that torpedoed my day...but I've been skipping most network TV:
30 Rock...
Archer...
Justified...
Homeland...
Boss...
Daily Show...
Colbert...

Stargate Universe got canceled, but I'd canceled it in my mind well before that...especially the last half of the last season, man they went to crap. Stargate Atlantis though, I miss the hell out of that, but 15+ years of stargate stuff is pretty much as much as anyone can expect.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:59 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Farscape, anyone? The best science-fiction show in a generation and it's in a ditch somewhere, ignored by the MeFites. One of the few shows ever that became unpredictable, especially during it's fourth and final season.

Unfortunately, the German company that owned Henson was having financial problems as of the last season and it was more advantageous for them to take a cancellation fee than to produce a 5th season. (And then there was the matter of the network doubling-down with Stargate SG-1. The show was a victim of SyFy's vulture programming, whereby they seem to do better with other people's syndicated programming, rather than their own originals.)

Odyssey 5? Showtime's last and possibly greatest science-fiction show, starring Peter Weller and Christopher Gorham. Five space shuttle astronauts escape an apocalypse to allow their consciousnesses to return to the Earth 5 years before the terminal event and try to keep it from happening, even as they correct the broken relationships in that old life. (Now that I think about it, this show had many of the objectionable elements that allowed ABC to ride high ratiings with Gray's Anatomy).

Rubicon?

Space:Above and Beyond?

Surface?

Harsh Realm?

Profit?
posted by vhsiv at 7:03 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Josey Wales is a pro-Confederate guerilla who fights primarily against pro-Union gangs and whose primary source of fame is his refusal to surrender at the end of the war. The author of the book that the movie is based on, Forrest Carter, was a noted segregationist during the civil rights era who formed a splinter group of the KKK called "The KKK of the Confederacy" and who coined George Wallace's phrase "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever". The Outlaw Josey Wales is unabashedly and fervently in favor of the Confederacy, and it's not mysterious about it.

The history of the Western is the history of the Lost Cause movement, which described the Civil War as a band of chivalrous and noble fighters battling against implacable and overwhelming odds, who lost through tyranny of numbers and not through fault of motive, and which described Reconstruction as an attempt by the gloating victorious Union to obliterate the Southern way of life. Does that sound at all familiar? Firefly promotes, or at least paves the way for, the pernicious notion that the Civil War and the secession can be understood without reference to slavery or white supremacist views, understood solely in terms of gloriously doomed individuals which fought with honor against an interfering and monolithic government, and that's just not true. I would be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are influenced unconsciously by revisionist history and the general underdog archetype, but come on, they named a dude Jubal Early. You don't get to make a show with heroes from the losing side of a Unification War who are now rugged individualists and then name a guy after one of the most important generals in the Confederacy without us talking about what your show says about the Civil War. Sorry.

Yes, the analogous group of heroes there would be from the South if forced into the Civil War scenario, but they aren['t in this case, and 1.) it's in space, and 2.) isn't real.


Why do people keep talking about how it's not real? Of course it's not real. That doesn't mean it's not capable of being a cultural metaphor or of adapting and exploring a fairly well-known point of view. It is a hallmark of science fiction to use speculative and alternate realities in order to play with real-world ideas. Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't real either, but it still had something to say about young adulthood and feminism, and it was similarly overt about what it was saying. The presence of demons playing kitten poker doesn't invalidate that message, and they don't get to dodge their analogues here by saying "in spaaaaaaaace!"
posted by Errant at 7:04 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am just now watching Farscape, so when I've finished with that I can moan about how it needed more seasons too.
posted by Artw at 7:04 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone else get the impression that Fringe may have passed it's ideal stopping point for being fondly remembered and is now in the zone of floundering disgrace?
posted by Artw at 7:06 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Terriers and Life are the shows I most wish would've continued. I haven't yet decided if Donal Logue is the kiss of death for shows, or if that's mere coincidence.
posted by epj at 7:06 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Farscape
Yeah you know I would have loved more episodes where some guy shoots this pod at everyone in the cast and it instantly clones them and then there's two of them running around for a while???

Frankly the Dresden Files made more sense and it used FUCKING magic.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:07 PM on January 13, 2012


Terriers

Damn you're right. That was fantastic. I grew somewhat tired of the Charlie Crews zen schtick though in Life.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:08 PM on January 13, 2012


Farscape, anyone?

Always Farscape. I am not yet done with my list.

I also really liked Space: Above and Beyond, and it's where I heard "Walk the Line" for the first time, so that was pretty great.
posted by Errant at 7:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


or at least maybe you can manage not to name a character Jubal fucking Early.

Eponysterical. Jubal Early (the character) wound up with the name because Nathan Fillion is a relative and Whedon liked the name. Please remain calm.

In any event, the character had nothing to do with Jubal Early the historical figure and everything to do with an eccentric bounty hunter, intuitive to the point of being paranormal (albeit slightly deaf).

"Are you alliance?"

"'Am I a lion?' I don't think of myself as a lion. You might want to, though; I have a mighty roar."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:11 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


they named a dude Jubal Early

They named a villain Jubal Early. If I make show with a villain called Adolf Hitler does that mean I must be endorsing the Third Reich?
posted by howfar at 7:14 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Almost forgot: The Clerks cartoon...
posted by drezdn at 7:15 PM on January 13, 2012


I still miss Open All Night.
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on January 13, 2012


I always thought Firefly looked like a Western because horses are a super-cheap way to move goods and people around in the absence of an industrial infrastructure. Many parts of modern Africa look very similar -- when you're far from civilization, horses and cattle just make a lot of sense.

I didn't think of it as being a Western with the idea of being a Western, but rather looking a bit Western because that's the reality of building an economy mostly from scratch on a new world.

In other words, I suspect it went much deeper than some of you seem to think. I believe he did think about it, and did do a great deal of world-building. He just chose to SHOW us instead of TELLING us.... and then was cut short before he filled in the details.

As a supporting detail, note that the 'core worlds' are highly industrialized and far in advance of existing technology. You wouldn't think of it as a Western at all if you hadn't seen them out on the frontier planets just an episode or two before. And I think the characters even explicitly mention using low-tech weapons on purpose. They can't bring the industrial infrastructure required to fix the advanced weapons, but a good old lead-throwing firearm can be repaired in the field pretty easily.

One episode rather over-focuses on this, in fact, when the villain is dependent on his rather ridiculously geewhiz weapon, which of course fails partway through the fight, letting our Plucky Hero With Inferior Weapons Win After All.

Whedon didn't have a lot of time, but I don't see how he could get any LESS subtle about whacking the audience over the head with the idea that an advanced weapon without an advanced machine shop nearby won't be useful for very long. That is, I think, the underlying premise of the whole series -- that advanced technology takes a huge amount of supporting infrastructure. Before that infrastructure is built, even in the year 2550, people are still going to organize themselves to get work done in rather similar ways to the people in 1850. It's not like the 19th century people were stupid -- their solutions are very clever ways to handle problems with nothing more than wood, some iron casting, the ability to make nails, and abundant animal power.

If that's what people end up having available, no matter what year it is, I suspect their solutions will look pretty similar.
posted by Malor at 7:19 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jericho.

Though I guess we did get a super compressed version of how Jericho would have ended.
posted by Artw at 7:25 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many shows I was attached to died early deaths. Pushing Daisies, Life, Terriers, Firefly (although it might not count because I didn't get involved in the Whedonverse until Serenity came out, and then I went back and started with Buffy and worked my way through), The Unusuals, Deadwood, The Dresden Files. Although it's true, sometimes a perfect but sadly limited group of episodes is better than watching a show spin out into a shadow of it's former self.
posted by PussKillian at 7:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


One episode rather over-focuses on this, in fact, when the villain is dependent on his rather ridiculously geewhiz weapon, which of course fails partway through the fight, letting our Plucky Hero With Inferior Weapons Win After All.

The Best Little Space Whorehouse in Space Texas episode? That's pretty much the one bit of that I liked.

(I like my space western stuff more the less overly literal it is... That and the Space Southern Ball at the Space Governers Mansion were the worst.)
posted by Artw at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the Great Space Train Robbery
posted by P.o.B. at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe he did think about it, and did do a great deal of world-building. He just chose to SHOW us instead of TELLING us.... and then was cut short before he filled in the detail

Yeah they have unlimited free energy to travel arbitrarily far and fast throughout space, artificial gravity...and they can't repair lasers? I would be terrified to travel on an FTL space ship when its mechanic could not repair a laser pistol. Fail.

And don't even start on the "no its really just one big solar system with 800 terraformed planets" Ugh.

Its okay to admit that Whedon just fudged a lot of stuff because it looked cool. People do that all the time on TV.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:39 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Best Little Space Whorehouse in Space Texas episode? That's pretty much the one bit of that I liked.

Actually, what's really likeable in that episode is the description of how the villain is forcing everyone to act out his own anachronistic fantasies, despite possessing better technology himself. You might not like Firefly, but it wasn't a show that lacked in self awareness.
posted by howfar at 7:41 PM on January 13, 2012


I realized the whole core world thing was backwards and not that solid of an argument when I realized it would make a hell of a lot more sense that large corporations would be salivating at the mouth to industrialize planets rich in materials and energy. It's obvious people can make planet to planet travel without that much of problem, but no one on the core worlds haven't gotten around to mining any bit of material or energy on these outer worlds? Not really plausible with the technology supposedly available.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:44 PM on January 13, 2012


The energy-required-for-spaceflight thing has never made sense in any show.
posted by Artw at 7:50 PM on January 13, 2012


Anyone else get the impression that Fringe may have passed it's ideal stopping point for being fondly remembered and is now in the zone of floundering disgrace?

After watching tonight's episode, no.
posted by otters walk among us at 7:52 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, what now?
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm not asking for it to be literal or use solid physics. At the same time I'd rather not listen to arguments about a show or movie's realism and skip the parts we ignore in order to keep thinking "how realistic this show is!"
posted by P.o.B. at 7:55 PM on January 13, 2012


God, what I would do for another season of My So Called Life.
posted by asockpuppet at 7:56 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The energy-required-for-spaceflight thing has never made sense in any show.

I'm in complete agreement here. What frustrates me with the show that shall no longer be mentioned is that using a space ship for moving a dozen cattle or something, well it really breaks my suspension of disbelief.

Even the Dresden Files had internal logic. I guess Whedon was really just trying to ape Cowboy Beebop, where they could fly the ship around as much as they want, but never have any food.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:56 PM on January 13, 2012


I think people tend to mean vermisitude more than they do "realism".
posted by Artw at 7:57 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get the feeling there are a lot of Blake's 7 fans in this thread.
posted by howfar at 8:00 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Best ending ever.
posted by Artw at 8:00 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to bemoan the loss of John Doe and then stumbled across an article detailing the hand-wavey, metaphysical nonsense they intended to use to explain Doe's back story and thought good riddance.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:04 PM on January 13, 2012


20+ years later, I'm still bitter about how shabbily CBS treated Frank's Place resulting in its much too early cancellation. And it can't be released on DVD due to absurd copyright laws causing prohibitively high music license fees for the soundtrack.
posted by marsha56 at 8:05 PM on January 13, 2012


I think people tend to mean vermisitude more than they do "realism".

Yeah, but even than it's internal logic wasn't that solid, but I'm not punishing that idea as much as others are praising it.
For me about two thirds of that show was enjoyable, but I just don't sit with the cool kids who are all about it.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pushing Daisies

Which reminds me: Why exactly are we arguing about the realism and historical accuracy of a space western when we could be lamenting the fact that the entire third season of one of the most creative and endearing shows of the last 10 years was compressed into a three-minute epilogue?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


the fact that the entire third season of one of the most creative and endearing shows of the last 10 years was compressed into a three-minute epilogue?

Yeah. Why WAS there no third series of Spaced?
posted by howfar at 8:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, at least it led to the Blood and Ice Cream movies.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:16 PM on January 13, 2012


Nice to see Profit get some love here. I have yet to see House of Lies, but it looks to be a direct descendant. Why must corporate sociopaths be so entertaining?
posted by sapere aude at 8:19 PM on January 13, 2012


I liked Firefly and all, and I think it could've had a good couple more seasons, but I can live with it ending where, and how, it did. I absolutely loved Farscape, but after the Peacekeeper Wars, I feel like it did have an ending and get a chance to wrap up and I'm pretty much at peace with that one too.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles was a million times better than both Terminator 3 and Terminator 4 and it makes me sad that it didn't really get a chance to finish (I also feel like the budget for Terminator 4 could've covered about eighteen seasons of TSCC). But you know, I can live with it. A little of my acceptance stems from the feeling that the next season wouldn't have been as awesome as the way I imagine it; I can tell myself that ending abruptly like it did spared me some disappointment or something.

But I'm still not over the fact that HBO cancelled Deadwood. Cocksuckers!
posted by mstokes650 at 8:20 PM on January 13, 2012


HBO cancelled Deadwood. Cocksuckers!

There were some entertaining Lovejoy moments in Kings, before it went off the deepend and decided to actually follow the biblical story (which doesn't make any sense as it turns out...first he likes him, then he doesn't, then he does...it become hard to sympathize with crazy people).
posted by Chekhovian at 8:24 PM on January 13, 2012


You know, as much as I loved Life, I hesitate to say it died an "early death." I'm actually really pleased with where the show ended. Sure, there were still loose ends, but that last episode wrapped a lot of things up neatly, and served as an emotionally satisfying series finale. It was just open-ended enough to let you imagine any number of possible continuations to the characters' stories, it resolved the mystery of who framed Charlie Crews, and it brought Charlie and Reese's partnership to a really satisfying point of trust. Life is definitely not one of the shows that leave me wailing and gnashing my teeth over their untimely demises. Sure, I'd have liked to have seen another season or two, but what we got was pretty great and ended well.

And hey, a heads up for anyone looking to buy some DVDs of their favorite short-lived shows: the Warner Brothers online store is having a DVD sale right now, and shows like Pushing Daisies and Deadwood are super cheap. Seasons one and two of Pushing Daisies for $7.50 each! First season of Veronica Mars for $10! Someone stop me before I buy all of my beloved short-lived shows.
posted by yasaman at 8:25 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm generally OK with series ending, even before their "time". The writers, directors and actors will get other jobs, new and better series will be made, the magic will continue.

What I find despairing is when a network changes their raison d'etre. Here I'm not even talking about how MTV used to just play 20 videos in a row, then have a VJ pop in to say "OK, well, here's some more videos", and then play some more videos. That's a good example, but there are others. Nickelodeon, for example. In the 80s, after Nickelodeon would sign off at some point in the night, this strange mini-network called ARTS would take over. ARTS would show a lot of amateur stuff, it seemed - interpretive dance, short films, animations - all of it sort of creepy, maybe because it would come on late, and would be in such stark contrast to what Nick was showing. I missed that.

Also, this thread has made me really torn on Firefly. I've watched a couple episodes that I thought were shrug-worthy, but this show apparently inspires some strong feelings in those who like it and those who don't. Not giving Firefly another day in court sort of violates the Three Episode Rule as well, so I'm more or less obligated to see at least one more episode.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:26 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss Threshold. And Moonlight. And now that I've been reminded, I'm sad all over again about The Dresden Files and The Sarah Conner Cronicles.
posted by Weeping_angel at 8:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone else get the impression that Fringe may have passed it's ideal stopping point for being fondly remembered and is now in the zone of floundering disgrace?

Really? Nah, not at all. I mean, the first season or two there were basically just rehashing X-Files without being as good; Fringe didn't even start to get good until they decided to stop that and start doing their own thing.

I feel that way about Hell on Wheels, too; I loved Deadwood (you may have picked up on this already) but Hell on Wheels is better the less it tries to be Deadwood-redux.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:29 PM on January 13, 2012


I'm amazed that no one has mentioned Probe.

Maybe if I went back and watched it now, I wouldn't like it as much, but I loved that show when it was on.

Oh, or Voyagers.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:30 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


at least it led to the Blood and Ice Cream movies.

I'm almost expecting to be disappointed by Three Flavours: Mint, despite the brilliance of Shaun and Hot Fuzz. I hate disaster movies at the best of times. If they put aliens in it, I'll be ever more angry. Given how much Joe Cornish was influenced by Wright/Pegg on Attack the Block, I'm interested to see how they cut themselves away from that.
posted by howfar at 8:32 PM on January 13, 2012


I'm vaguely hoping my DVR is smart enough to have recorded tonights Fringe when I am not smart enough to remember it, but I am finding the amber universe a very dull and tedious place so far, and am very ready for them to move on to something else.
posted by Artw at 8:36 PM on January 13, 2012


I really don't want to be the Donny Downer on like everything, but I did not think The Sara Conner Chronicles was as great as much as it gets talked up around here. The problem with the last Terminator film was that it was the victim of retsuck, otherwise I did like it up until the end.

Also, do watch Firefly it gets mostly better throughout the run.

Also, also, I think I'll give Farscape another go because the last time I tried watching it, I did not get that far into it to give it a chance.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:37 PM on January 13, 2012


Farscape I first glanced at, said "ugh, muppets!" and ignored. Then people told me I should get over the muppet thing for a decade or so and then just recently, having access to the whole thing for free (cheers Amazon!) I decided to give it a go. It's good. It's really really good. It may even be my favourite show of this kind.
posted by Artw at 8:43 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just don't sit with the cool kids who are all about it.

We don't have much of a Firefly fandom in the UK. What I like here is the unexpected fans. The people who you've never talked to about sci-fi who tell you about this amazing show they've seen at late night. It's really not just a show for obsessionals.
posted by howfar at 8:46 PM on January 13, 2012


I quite enjoyed Action the Jay Mohr, Illeana Douglas comedy from about 10 years ago.
posted by Bonzai at 8:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Someday I hope to see the rest of Now and Again. Trio was running it under their "Brilliant but Cancelled" banner for awhile, but ironically, the network itself got cancelled (or at least dropped by DirecTV) before I finished watching it.

+infinity to the Better Off Ted love. I've been rationing the episodes on Netflix because the thought of coming to the end is too much.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:50 PM on January 13, 2012


As a teen, I was very sad to not see the pilot for the Facts of Life spin-off go ahead. It was the one where Natalie is sharing a tiny bachelor suite with 3+ people. One of them is a medical resident and I think they rotate use of the bed.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:09 PM on January 13, 2012


If anyone thinks Firefly is novel through the idea of space cowboys, they have not seen or read enough sci-fi.

Star Trek was pitched as "Wagon Train to the Stars."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


M*A*S*H lingered farrrrrrrr tooooooooooo looooooooooong.

If "Abyssinia, Henry" had been the series finale (instead of just the Season 3 finale), M*A*S*H would've been the greatest show in the history of television.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:19 PM on January 13, 2012


Star Trek was pitched as "Wagon Train to the Stars."

People love repeating that, but reading the original pitch documents when they were FPPed a while back it really seemed to me they were talking about the show format of Wagon Train, not that Trek would be Western-like.

Anyway, Strontium Dog is the best Space Western.
posted by Artw at 9:24 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yasaman, I agree that the series ender of Life worked well. I still wish there would have been more. When reading about the series online, I discovered that many fans interpreted the Crews/Reese exchange just before he gets in the car with Roman as romantic, and (iirc) that the director felt the same. Even though I don't buy it, I think that would have been a great subplot for season 3--Reese trying to decide if she has romantic/sexual feelings for Crews, and Crews trying to move on from Jen and maybe seeing Reese in a romantic light as a result?
posted by epj at 9:29 PM on January 13, 2012


I would have just liked to see Reese back in scenes that didn't have to be cropped at her shoulders. Her entire archive in season two rang false for me just because of how obvious the pregnancy-hiding angle was.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:34 PM on January 13, 2012


I still wish there would have been more.
And that's why you have Homeland:
Crews/Brody: "What is vitamin water? Is it some sort of medicine?"
or "She showed me a video called youtube"

Just like Life, except if Crews were possibly also working for Osama bin Laden.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


epj, I totally buy the romantic angle, at least as it was tentatively expressed in the finale, but I have been burned so many times by shows totally ruining that kind of romance that I'm perfectly happy with leaving it as delicious potential. Though Crews and Reese attempting to navigate a relationship would surely have led to a lot of hilarity and great moments.

And heh, Chekhovian, I've had people try to sell me on Homeland in exactly the same way, but I'm afraid I really need to work myself up to watching a show that has the same man who played Major Winters and Charlie Crews as a terrorist.
posted by yasaman at 9:57 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Keen Eddie, anyone?
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:01 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Had Veronica Mars only lasted one season I'd be singing its praises too (despite that episode after episode relies not so much on Veronica being smart but the entire rest of the cast being dumber than dim dirt). But face it, the second season was really bad. I don't think the writers had any idea where to take the show after the first story arc.
posted by aspo at 10:02 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: Fringe

Oh good, stuff is actually happening again and suddenly the show is good.

I should have learned from previous seasons and expected the first half to be largely garbage.
posted by Artw at 10:03 PM on January 13, 2012


Ohhhhh, crikey. The Middleman, Firefly, Profit, so many honored dead...

Also, I am surprised no one mentioned Global Frequency, even if it never aired.

(And, ummmmm, I have a friend who, ummmmm, has HD recordings of all the, ummmm, Middleman episodes and might be....ummmm...willing to share...)
posted by Samizdata at 10:12 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(MeMail me and I will pass it on to...ummm...the friend. Yes, the friend that espouses that sex act they can't show on porno covers...)
posted by Samizdata at 10:13 PM on January 13, 2012


Artw:

Your comment sparks moderate interest in Farscape in me.

Just so I can calibrate my response, what did you thonk of Lexx?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:23 PM on January 13, 2012


think. stupid phone no real computer its like being lobotomized.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:24 PM on January 13, 2012


Firefly could have avoided any possible Space Confederates comparison by the simple expedient of Joss Whedon doing the minimal amount of world-building that would be required in an entry-level SF writing course. But he didn't bother with that, mostly because he'd gotten away with several seasons of a show in which the title of the show was the premise, and apparently thought that "space western" would similarly take the place of all that tiresome exposition. I'm not talking about anything terribly elaborate, just something about what the browncoats were rebelling against, exactly (aside from the Alliance apparently being major buttheads). Never got it.

I'd like to point out that this show was under threat of cancellation from the time the pilot was finished and Joss Whedon was made to make a 2nd pilot. They were more focused on getting the show out, the story across, and staying on the air more than actually doing things "right".
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:32 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really liked Lexx.

Farscape is more coherent and less German-sex-perv than Lexx, but still good.
posted by Artw at 10:33 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The unaired Global Frequency pilot is a thing of beauty and it's a damn shame it was never picked up. The comic is pretty cool, too.

Every couple of weeks I am reminded that the Better Off Ted season 2 DVD has yet to materialize and I wonder why Fox hates my money. Then I realize they cancelled Arrested Development and Futurama and then I realize we can't have nice things.

In a just universe, we'd be on season five of The Amazing Screw-On Head. David Hyde Pierce, Patton Oswalt, and Paul Giamatti? GET ME SCREW-ON HEAD.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:41 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Star Trek was pitched as "Wagon Train To The Stars", but it was really "Horatio Hornblower in Space".

Wonderfalls felt like a show whose backers left Fox, and was only shown to fill time between reality shows. However, it had enough episodes filmed to have an arc, and was a pioneer of corporate use of websites and streaming media (commentaries) to support a show.

Lexx was a good show, but an odd SF comedy with dramatic elements. They're relatively unique in that they chose to end after season 4. Lots of weird perv though.

Farscape truly got caught in a jam between several corporate entities with cashflow problems, and paid the price. They were very lucky to have the Peacekeeper Wars to wrap everything up. There was talk of a webisode series, but that was in 2008-2009.

The Tick. Truly a starcrossed franchise in any form, comic, animated, or live.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:44 PM on January 13, 2012


I see. Is it fair to say that if I found Lexx far enough from my tastes as to be unwatchable even with the t and a, maybe I should keep skipping Farscape?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 PM on January 13, 2012


Babylon Five could have done without its bonus season.
posted by Artw at 10:46 PM on January 13, 2012


For reals... thanks for the reply. h I was really asking for info, not to be a dick.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:50 PM on January 13, 2012


Babylon Five could have done without its bonus season

Haha, I was watching the bonus features on disc 1 of season 5, and all the execs and jms are all hemming and hawwing and like "well we really didn't know what to do, since we'd rushed through all the stuff we'd been planning to do, because Fox fucked us", so yeah, they know they fucked up.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:52 PM on January 13, 2012


what did you thonk of Lexx

I'd typed out my response that I loathed Lexx and mostly loathed Farscape, but then deleted it because I thought I should be a little less dickish, but you were doing the entrapment to begin with...well played sir.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:54 PM on January 13, 2012


The Tick.

Yes. Great Saturday morning bong-and-Cheerios fare. I have a friend who still writes "CHA" at random places.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:57 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Had Veronica Mars only lasted one season I'd be singing its praises too (despite that episode after episode relies not so much on Veronica being smart but the entire rest of the cast being dumber than dim dirt). But face it, the second season was really bad. I don't think the writers had any idea where to take the show after the first story arc.
posted by aspo at 10:02 PM on January 13 [+] [!]


aspo, better avert your eyes and put your fingers in your ears:
Veronica Mars Season 4 Teaser
posted by Bwithh at 10:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's the matter, feel like you're trippin'?

Thank you for Heat Vision and Jack. I'll watch Jack Black in anything.
posted by mediated self at 11:15 PM on January 13, 2012


^Arrested Development is, Martin Short aside, about as perfect as a sit-com can get.

Sucks for you; those of us able to recognize Ready, Aim Marry Me as a fantastic AD episode can appreciate Arrested Development for the perfect sitcom that it is.
posted by mediated self at 11:21 PM on January 13, 2012


I liked both Lexx and Farscape, but for different reasons - Farscape had originality, enjoyable characters and a charmingly uncertain plot. Lexx had a planet eating starship with a loser commander. Oh, yeah, and Xenia Seeberg. Writing was just twitchy enough to overwhelm the delicious Seebergosity of the show and
posted by Samizdata at 11:43 PM on January 13, 2012


Damn keyboard shortcuts. Post continues...

I dropped out partway through Season 2.
posted by Samizdata at 11:43 PM on January 13, 2012


Oh, and Pilot ruled...
posted by Samizdata at 11:44 PM on January 13, 2012


Evan Dorkin's Welcome to Eltingville pilot.
posted by JDC8 at 11:53 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really wish John From Cincinnati had made at least one more season. I guess the Soprano's crowd just couldn't get into it.

It's not that the Soprano's crowd couldn't get into it, it's just that the Deadwood fanboys were so up in arms about Deadwood being axed, that they were going to blindly shit all over whatever came up next, simply because it wasn't Deadwood. It's just a shame that what came next was incredibly slow moving and dense.

For the record, I count myself as a pretty huge fan of both Deadwood AND John From Cincinnati, and appreciate them both for different things. And yes, I would have loved to see one more season of JfC, since season one was (like Carnivale) nothing but character introduction.
posted by cerulgalactus at 12:17 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also - Now and Again ended on one hell of a cliffhanger. I know there is less than no chance of it ever being resolved, but dammit - a boy can dream, can't he?
posted by cerulgalactus at 12:29 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As fings noted, the Middleman had a 13th episode, but it wasn't filmed. It gives closure, but it's slightly rushed, and it'd certainly be nice to see those folks work together again on the show.
posted by jiawen at 1:26 AM on January 14, 2012


sevenyearlurk: "The Sarah Connor Chronicles was so much better than the last Terminator movie. You'll be back, Sarah... tell me you'll be back!"

I loved Sarah Connor but I can't really disagree with Fox's decision to cancel. It was an undisciplined mess, with Fringe's tendency to have too many episodes in which nothing happens and to spread plot advancements out as B-plots or end-of-episode teasers without Fringe's monsters-of-the-week to partially make up for that. It managed to make the fucking Terminator boring, although to be fair it shared that trait with the non-Cameron movies.

I loved the cast, the characters, the setting, and many of the episodes. But I can't imagine that the third season, had it happened, wouldn't have been more of the same: the occasional exciting, interesting, original installment drowning in a sea of WHAT, and ending on a "Well now thing's are just getting interesting!" note it should have reached by the fifth episode.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:41 AM on January 14, 2012


I see. Is it fair to say that if I found Lexx far enough from my tastes as to be unwatchable even with the t and a, maybe I should keep skipping Farscape?

They're a bit different. Farscape at its core is more about a human's journey and exposure to alien cultures, and how that makes him more and less human at the same time. Lexx is just plain alien, and a bit more deliberately weird for weirds sake.

I'd say Farscape really hits its stride in season 1 with "A Human Reaction". Still, if you've tried both and found them wanting, no sense continuing to watch either to see if they get better.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:44 AM on January 14, 2012


Possibly outside the main point here, but I would have loved to see what Millenium would have done. Was it the second season where they were threatened with cancellation? And then Carter just tried to finish the story, cramming the last half of the season with stunning television powered by an amazing plot and stellar acting, which propped up ratings, which made Fox change their minds and decide to renew the show. (I think the same thing happened with Babylon 5, didn't it?)

The only problem was that the show was, essentially, over, with the five year plot (leading up to 2000) crammed into the last half season. I tried to keep watching, but it was just awful, and a sad way to end a show that had so much promise. I wish I'd been able to watch the show unfold as it was meant to. I just know it would have been amazing.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:05 AM on January 14, 2012


Ghidorah - it was the third season where they were threatened with, and subsequently hit with, cancellation.

It was, however, Chris Carter's fault, as he didn't (forgot/refused) to tie Morgan and Wong down to be permanent showrunners after the brilliant season 2.
posted by cerulgalactus at 4:50 AM on January 14, 2012


Will no one shed a tear for Cop Rock?
posted by Chichibio at 4:59 AM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I miss Hockey Night in Canada without helmets.
posted by srboisvert at 5:27 AM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The Unusuals" was such a cool idea. It's a shame it never really got a chance.
posted by drezdn at 6:15 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just got done skimming through the comments and parsing for the discussion on Firefly, and I had this weird moment where I felt like one side of the discussion was in the voice of Freaks & Geeks alum (mentioned elsewhere in this thread) Martin Starr, but his character on Party Down (mentioned elsewhere in this thread), where he played an aspiring "Hard Sci-Fi" author. He's going on and on about how Joss Whedon needed to take a beginning course in Sci-Fi writing, and blahblahblah Confederacy rant, and the other side of the discussion was everyone else on Party Down who just stared at him and finally said "but Firefly was awesome".
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:19 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hah! I haven't seen that scene, but it characterizes a good chunk of this thread precisely. :)
posted by Malor at 7:25 AM on January 14, 2012


Well, that's because it was a scene in my mind from Season 3 of Party Down :)
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:30 AM on January 14, 2012


I always thought Firefly looked like a Western because horses are a super-cheap way to move goods and people around in the absence of an industrial infrastructure. Many parts of modern Africa look very similar -- when you're far from civilization, horses and cattle just make a lot of sense.

I find for the most part people who criticize Firefly for having horses in it are viewers who are unwilling or unable to think about what settling other worlds might actually involve. Yes, tractors and hoverbikes might be the nifty-keen vision of motive power and transportation; no, tractors and hoverbikes do not make more tractors and hoverbikes when given access to some plants and water.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:35 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


We almost got Season 4 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but the creators threw it under a bus to work on the abomination that was the movie.
posted by pts at 7:57 AM on January 14, 2012


Wait, they cancelled Legend of Korra?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:02 AM on January 14, 2012


This year we will get a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra
posted by Pendragon at 9:04 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crossballs.
posted by apis mellifera at 9:06 AM on January 14, 2012


I'll third Global Frequency. As a Farscape fan, I'm basically just glad that they were able to wrap the whole thing up with "The Peacekeeper Wars" (Note: Wiki link. The plot synopsis is one big spoiler), as most other shows just faded into nothingness. The Dresden Files was great, and better than most of the supernatural-based shows. I wonder if it would've lasted if it'd been pitched the same time as Supernatural or Lost Girl.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2012


Dweebs, late 1995, four out of ten shows aired. CBS, how could you? It had Stephen Tobolowsky and Corey Feldman in it ...

Wow...so there were actually TWO of us who watched that show. I was actually mentioning it to some friends last night, and I just got blank stares. I was beginning to think that I dreamed up ever seeing Dweebs.

Also...Peter Scolari.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:28 AM on January 14, 2012


Global Frequency could have been great - a Fringe with a New Scientist vibe balancing out the Fortean Times one.
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on January 14, 2012


There was something about Lexx that allowed me to enjoy it immensely. In direct comparison it holds up fairly well to other shows, until you get to the part were it is plain goofy. I still think the 3rd season is a damn good. From everything I read, everyone on the show thought they had a good full run.

I find for the most part people who criticize Firefly for having horses in it are viewers who are unwilling or unable to think about what settling other worlds might actually involve.

"Hey, Joe, how's it going?"
"Doing good. Decided I'm going to settle on an outerworld!"
"Oh? That sounds great. You going out on one of those package deals?"
"Package deals? No, I was just going to take a horse and this cowboy hat. How does it look?"
"Yeah... you look... like a cowboy. I guess. So, you're not going on a package deal where they drop a fully functioning self-maintaining house and work-barn on any planet of your choosing? I kind of thought that was the way to go."
"Nope. People prefer horses, cows, and hats. It's really hard to get a mechanic on an outerworld."
"Well, no... it's not, because travel... isn't a problem these days. You do realize it's the 25th century, right? If a pack full or rabid zombie men like Reavers can maintain and drive a spaceship, I think you can handle a socket wrench and a tractor. I mean, I'm just spitballing here, but it seems you could do things a hell of a lot easier. Like I said there are companies that are really interested in making money off of the outerworlds."
"Nah. Horses and cows. I'm good."
"Alright, but it sounds kind of stupid to me."
"Got my cowbowy hat!"
"Okay... have fun."
posted by P.o.B. at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Samizdata: (And, ummmmm, I have a friend who, ummmmm, has HD recordings of all the, ummmm, Middleman episodes and might be....ummmm...willing to share...)

Or you could just buy the dvds...


I third or forth the Middleman and Dead Like Me. And will also always be a little sad about The Pretender, even if by the end the writers had completely lost it.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2012


GOD TIER
Arrested Development
Deadwood
Carnivale
Terriers
Party Down
Freaks and Geeks
posted by saul wright at 11:05 AM on January 14, 2012


The one I'm most bitter about is Stargate Atlantis. It wasn't a true cancellation. What happened is that the douchebag producers - Brad Wright Robert Cooper - were jealous of the acclaim that darker, grittier shows like BSG garnered. They were tired of making a fun, campy sci-fi show and wanted to branch out (which is cool, but not at the cost of first ruining and then ending Atlantis with zero resolution.) So their answer was to throw away Atlantis (and its fans) in favor of their new pet project.

They went to MGM and Sci-Fi and pitched Stargate: Universe. It was supposed to be this fresh, dark, edgy show with hard, brash characters making the best of a tough situation. They were supposed to save money with the mostly CGI sets, it was supposed to draw in both new and old fans, it was supposed to be popular with the coveted 18-34 male demographic.

Sci-Fi and MGM couldn't afford both shows at once, and the producers were tired of making Atlantis, so they decided to dump Atlantis in favor of Universe. Fans were promised a direct-to-video movie like SG1's Ark of Truth to wrap up the cliffhanger ending of season 5. That never happened, and never will.

In short, Wright and Cooper oversold Universe in terms of cost, demographics and ratings. It failed, spectacularly, to save MGM and Sci-Fi money. Each episode was twice as expensive as an Atlantis episode. People who tuned in at the beginning were turned off by the relentlessly unlikeable characters and dull plots, along with the cinema verite camerawork. The people who did stick with it turned out to be older than the target demographic. Ratings declined until Sci-Fi finally pulled the plug.

They had a sure thing with Atlantis, which was still getting good ratings, even in repeats, and rather than at least ending it properly, they went to MGM and promised something they could in no way deliver.

After the way they treated the cast Atlantis cast members, their behavior towards fans, and their stupid choices, I'm glad these assholes are out of their jobs. I'm sad, however, that the cast and crew got shafted and that a good franchise was run into the ground by these talentless fuck-ups.
posted by i feel possessed at 11:50 AM on January 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've moaned about teh cancellation of SG:U previously.

It seems like the Big Spaceship genre of TV SF is pretty much deceased now.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2012


I liked SG:U. It was a Stargate show without all the goofiness, but maybe that's why they didn't do as well as the others.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:55 AM on January 14, 2012


I wish once, just oncem they'd let Dr. Space Begbie be right about something and do something kickass.
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on January 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The odd thing about Sci-Fi/SyFy is that they almost never actually fund more than 5 seasons of any show, at least not so far.

And I agree, SG:A got screwed over for SG:U. But as a standard bearer for space opera, SG:U was lacking and annoying.

It seems like the Big Spaceship genre of TV SF is pretty much deceased now.

I'm hoping its a cyclical thing. On the other hand, the TV landscape of the late 80's through the early 2000's was uniquely suited for it, and those conditions are hard to replicate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:58 AM on January 14, 2012


Also, there's Legend of the Seeker, which after a slow start hit its stride and kept going. Decent numbers, but a major leg of the syndication deal fell through (Tribune stations dumped it), and the show ended after the traditional shopping around to everyone else and Sci-Fy. I half suspected it improved on the books, but I never read those.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2012


They leaned really hard on the mad doctor scientist Baltar type to inform Rush. Is he good or isn't he? I don't know, but maybe don't make a characters motivations so oblique that a deaf mute could out communicate his intentions.

At what point does Legend of the Seeker get good? Because I have only so many slots for acceptably bad sword and sandal shows, and Beastmaster has yet to be knocked out of place. Speaking of, is Sparticus back on yet? It's unfortunate Andy Whitfield passed away.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:10 PM on January 14, 2012


Is he good or isn't he?

Well, they leaned on Doctor Zacharay Smith harder, so the answer was always "no, and he's always wrong". Which kinda lacked nuance and was annoying over time.
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2012


Funny thing is he wasn't the bad guy. He was just inexplicably ambiguous, and that somehow made him the bad guy.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2012


I always describe Dweebs as a proto-Big Bang Theory.

Although looking back, the "dweebs" were basically 4 less abrasive Sheldons. That's not a recipe for success.
posted by reenum at 2:47 PM on January 14, 2012


At what point does Legend of the Seeker get good? Because I have only so many slots for acceptably bad sword and sandal shows, and Beastmaster has yet to be knocked out of place.

Somewhere between episode 5 and 8 of its first season.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:57 PM on January 14, 2012


Is this the thread where I can lament the cancellation of the new Prime Suspect series? The first two episodes leaned far too hard on the smart-lady-cop-struggling-against-sexism angle, but once they pulled back on that every episode was fabulous. Great supporting characters, a good but not overbearing sense of humor, and some good twists in the whodunit almost every week. It was going to get my household through the drought until the Closer's final season and act as our cushion in case that spinoff doesn't work out. Sigh.
posted by lilac girl at 4:49 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


They cancelled Prime Suspect? God dammit. It was just getting good!

At least we'll always have Mirren's run.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:57 PM on January 14, 2012


Prime Suspect will be back in a couple weeks. It hasn't officially been cancelled, but I don't know if it will make it past 13 episodes.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:59 PM on January 14, 2012


Keen Eddie, anyone?

Late to this, but my god, yes, this.
posted by rtha at 6:52 PM on January 14, 2012


Hmm - I am going to give a "." for all the memories below:

Millenium - Harsh Realm - Threshold - Strange Luck - Dark Angel - Pushing Daisies - FireFly - Better Off Ted - Space: Above & Beyond - Earth 2 - Arrested Development - Chris Elliot Show - Enterprise - Sliders - The Tick - My Name is Earl (closure need) - Outsourced (closure please!) - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Lone Gunmen - Babylon Five - Sledge Hammer! - The Riches - Aliens in America - Jericho - Dead Like Me - Timecop - Mr. Show - La Femme Nikita - Profiler - The 4400 - The Event - Dilbert - The Outer Limits - Norm - First Wave - 7 Days - The Adventures of Brisco Country Jr. - Dharma & Greg - Titus - Earth: Final Conflict - Farscape - Starhunter - Jake 2.0 - Andromeda - Duck Dodgers - Blade: The Series - Day Break - American Gothic - Reaper - Brimstone - Dark Skies - Invasion - Eureka - Journeyman - The Pretender - Touching Evil - Tru Calling - Twin Peaks - Bionic Woman - The Time Tunnel - The Flash - Max Headroom - Alien Nation - The Prisoner - Amazing Stories - Automan - Beyond Westworld - Darkroom - Friday the 13th:The Series - The Greatest American Hero - Hard Time on Planet Earth - The Highwayman - Manimal - Dungeons & Dragons (animated) - Misfits of Science - Prisoners of Gravity - Otherworld - Outlaws - Out of this World - Probe - QED - Quantum Leap - Starman - The Twilight Zone (80s+later) - Voyagers - The Wizard - The Amazing Spider-Man - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Survivors (original + remake) - Black Books - The IT Crowd - Spaced - Fantastic Journey - Star Trek (original) - The Incredible Hulk - The Invisible Man - Logan's Run - Moonbase 3 - The Planet of the Apes (tv) - Quark - Salvage I - Space: 1999 - The StarLost - Blake's 7 - The Land of the Lost - Eerie Indiana - M.A.N.T.I.S - Nowhere Man - Pinky and the Brain - Animaniacs - ReBoot - Ren & Stimpy (Spumco) - Becker - Billy - Dangerous Minds - Dennis Miller Live - Duckman - Ned & Stacey - Prey - The Visitor - Chapelle's Show - VR.5 - Kyle XY - New Amsterdam - Cleopatra 2525 - The Others - The Collector - Jeremiah - Mutant X - Starhunter - The Immortal - Level 9 - Tracker - Freedom - John Doe - Odyssey 5 - 2030 CE - ReGenesis - War of the Worlds (tv) - Tripping the Rift - Code Name: Eternity - Strange World - Total Recal 2070 - Mercy Point - Welcome to Paradox - The Odyssey - Nightmare Cafe - Sleepwalkers - Deepwater Black - Matrix (tv series) - Terra Nova ? - The Listener ?

(Any wonder I am a bitter, untrusting old-man who has no loyalty to the TV industry...)
posted by jkaczor at 8:20 PM on January 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Earth: Final Conflict went crazy after a while -- you can only do the double agent plot for so long before it stops making any sense at all. But man, what a cool first season.
posted by lumensimus at 8:25 PM on January 14, 2012


The IT Crowd is still going isn't it? If not then TBH it had a pretty good run for a Brit comedy.
posted by Artw at 8:33 PM on January 14, 2012


Oh, and Terra Nova is coming back, god knows why.
posted by Artw at 8:34 PM on January 14, 2012


Artw: "Global Frequency could have been great - a Fringe with a New Scientist vibe balancing out the Fortean Times one."

Not only that, but they could save money. The only common cast they would need would have been Miranda and Aleph. Then they could do it all as a ensemble show, with a new cast each episode.
posted by Samizdata at 8:55 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


kittenmarlowe: "Samizdata: (And, ummmmm, I have a friend who, ummmmm, has HD recordings of all the, ummmm, Middleman episodes and might be....ummmm...willing to share...)

Or you could just buy the dvds...


I third or forth the Middleman and Dead Like Me. And will also always be a little sad about The Pretender, even if by the end the writers had completely lost it.
"

Well, sunny beach! They FINALLY released them. Most coolio.
posted by Samizdata at 8:56 PM on January 14, 2012


Wow, now I miss Strange Luck too. Thanks a bloody lot!
posted by Samizdata at 9:02 PM on January 14, 2012


The IT Crowd is still going? No new series/episodes since season 4 ended spring of 2010.
posted by jkaczor at 9:58 PM on January 14, 2012


Katherine Parkinson from The IT Crowd has been busy with Mitchell & Webb (which is why nothing from them in a long time) doing The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, so that could have something to do with it.

In any case, British TV doesn't have the rigid annual schedule that US TV does. Case in point: Absolutely Fabulous:
1 - Nov-Dec 92
2 - Jan-Mar 94
3 - Mar-May 95
4 - Aug-Oct 01
5 - Oct-Dec 03
...plus a few specials, including three this year.

Shit's just weird over there.

I mean, jeez, the first series of Outnumbered was broadcast nightly over the course of a single week!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:12 PM on January 14, 2012


Wagon-train to the stars...

I always just assumed that Whedon was dropping clever on folks w/r/t Firefly and the Western tropes in science-fiction. The whole show seemed to have a weird, scholarly meta-subtext that dissertated the relation between the genres, especially given that Science-Fiction essentially replaced the Western as the dominant Action vehicle during the 70's. The inputs of freedom, self-determination and exploration found a new expression in sci-fi once there were no more Indians to fetishize and the colonization of the West was no longer PC.

As ZeusHumms said, ST:TOS was like Horatio Hornblower -- in Space.
posted by vhsiv at 1:12 AM on January 15, 2012


Key West, my very first experiences with the "Fuck you Fox' syndrome. Somewhere I have the whole series on VHS. I traded a taped copy of the first season of Joking Apart with someone on USENET to get the episodes I was missing. Proto-file-sharing I suppose.
Haven't watched the show in more than a decade.
posted by the_artificer at 6:03 AM on January 15, 2012


Not only that, but they could save money. The only common cast they would need would have been Miranda and Aleph. Then they could do it all as a ensemble show, with a new cast each episode.

TBH I'm thinking they'd probably want to beef up the regular cast - people tend to like having people they know.
posted by Artw at 6:26 AM on January 15, 2012


They definitely would have - the unaired (but very good) pilot adapts Bombhead (the first GF issue) but replaces the hero with a new Frequency agent and an experienced female scientist who would have been ongoing leads.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:49 AM on January 15, 2012


I'd typed out my response that I loathed Lexx and mostly loathed Farscape, but then deleted it because I thought I should be a little less dickish, but you were doing the entrapment to begin with...well played sir.

Oh, good God, no.

It was just a useful correlation to exploit, not a tool for snark, and ArtW and others were supplying me with useful information.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:37 AM on January 15, 2012


Metafilter, why is Sports Night a good show? I started the first season around Christmas and I didn't get it. Is it one of those "it was good at the time" things or what did I miss?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:07 AM on January 15, 2012


It was good at the time.

I mean, it's engaging and clever in the usual Aaron Sorkin way. It's also really innovative for the time, which is probably why it didn't work. And yet because of all the innovation that came out of it, it also seems really dated now.
posted by Sara C. at 10:33 AM on January 15, 2012


I’m lamenting the end of Men of a Certain Age, and apparently I’m one of the only people who really wanted to see where Flash Forward was going. I don’t get involved in a lot of shows, and if I do they get cancelled. So if you’re enjoying Hell on Wheels then you’d better prepare yourself for a letdown.
posted by bongo_x at 1:25 PM on January 15, 2012


The "10 Promising Series…" article is all wacky nerd comedies. Maybe that market is not as big as they think?

I’m surprised so many Lexx watchers are on here. I’m not always a big fan of quirky, but that show worked for me because it almost had the feel of a pirate public access show that somehow had money. The entire tone of the show would change drastically from time to time as if they were making as they went along, and I’m sure they were. Really uneven, but memorable. We still quote it.
posted by bongo_x at 1:29 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


TBH I'm fairly indifferent to most of the 10- and in case of In the Thick of It consider it to be an unholy thing that should not be. I'd think that I'd be a pretty easy target for nerd comedys, so if they don't get a grip on me they might have just been doomed from the off.
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on January 15, 2012


‘Clues That Lead to More Clues That Add Up to Nothing’ - The cynical view of how modern TV shows work and why they go in circles until almost cancelled.

io9 on the latest Fringe, which really did give the impression of moving things on after a long period of treading water.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on January 15, 2012


Which in turn leads to the subject of shows that ended when they should have, such as Peep Show, Black Books and Cheers (which arguably could've ended much sooner).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:11 PM on January 15, 2012


Game of Thrones is back April 1st. We know that will have a proper ending because the books... Oh... Wait.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on January 15, 2012


Peep Show was renewed for an eight and ninth season at last check?
posted by winna at 4:36 PM on January 15, 2012


Eh?! Wow. Why would they do that? Season 5 seemed really phone in and grasping. I thought that was pretty much the end of it.

Well, hopefully there's some amazing plot twist that breathes new life into the series. Like Jeremy joins the Taliban or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:50 PM on January 15, 2012


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "They definitely would have - the unaired (but very good) pilot adapts Bombhead (the first GF issue) but replaces the hero with a new Frequency agent and an experienced female scientist who would have been ongoing leads."

And leaves out an interestingly clad scientist I suspect would have been a regular. I need to break the books out of (not so) cold storage.

I still like the ensemble cast idea since it drives home the idea that anyone, yes, even that guy next to you could whip out a fancy phone one day, talk quietly on it, and dash off...

I suppose it's the same attraction I feel for the idea of the Green Lantern Corps - In theory, anyone could be a hero...
posted by Samizdata at 12:34 AM on January 16, 2012


Oh, yes. I thought I needed to add this while I was working today...

Interesting bit of Middleman trivia I noticed...

For those of you MM fans, watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and tell me if the Good Doctor's Freeze Ray rings any bells. Plus, if you haven't seen it, I feel sorry for you and urge you to watch it as soon as you can. Yes, it's Whedon, but it avoids a lot of his tropes and is great fun, in my opinion.

Plus it confirms my mancrush on Neil Patrick Harris.
posted by Samizdata at 12:38 AM on January 16, 2012


I'm glad to have seen Ghostwriter in one of those links. That was my show.

AbFab I think is back on TV now for a regular series, it seems to have been on about three times since December. Most British TV series are something like 6-10 episodes and don't last that long although somethings end prematurely (like Father Ted).
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 2:18 AM on January 16, 2012


FX Passes on 'Powers' TV Pilot... For Now

Bit of a shame, that one. I'm guessing it not being 2008, when everyone was doing a superhero show, really hurt it and to fit in with 2011 it should have been sub-Fables nonsense about "real world" fairy tale characters.
posted by Artw at 8:28 AM on January 16, 2012


Artw: "FX Passes on 'Powers' TV Pilot... For Now

Bit of a shame, that one. I'm guessing it not being 2008, when everyone was doing a superhero show, really hurt it and to fit in with 2011 it should have been sub-Fables nonsense about "real world" fairy tale characters.
"

Oh, scarpering hells.

Another dream broken. I guess the only way I will ever see comics I like on broadcast is to read crappier comics.

Here's to hoping for a leaked pilot though...
posted by Samizdata at 1:07 PM on January 18, 2012


Kinda hoping the fantasy wave doesn't break before we get American Gods.
posted by Artw at 3:15 PM on January 18, 2012


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