As I watch in horror as one of my favorite TV series’ Fringe languishes in the “Friday Night Death Slot” I can’t help but recall some of the best shows to be unceremoniously canceled by some big show who actually thinks he/she knows better than everyone else.
The 4400 – A show that I knew nothing about until I visited Las Vegas and caught an episode late one night. In Canada noone carried The 4400 so I had to take matters into my own hands and find alternative ways of watching the series. For those of you not in the know, the 4400 is about 4400 people who had gone missing over many years who all mysteriously re-appear at the exact same time and place. Each one of the 4400 people has changed in some way and the show follows agents who have to help the returnees cope with the changes or stop them from harming themselves or others.
USA canceled the show after just 4 seasons. I’ll admit that season 4 was starting to take a bit of a “WTF” turn but in the end I was more than a little interested in seeing where all the trials and tribulations led these people. Was it to Salvation for all mankind? World Domination? Or was it just some sort of science experiment performed by an advanced race of aliens? We’ll never know but I sure wish we could have had a proper series finale to at least wrap it up.
Jericho – Jericho was by all accounts, a provocative series that no doubt ruffled some feathers in the US. A show that centered around a small town in Kansas (they get all the good shit there) after a series of (apparent)terrorist attacks on major cities across the US was probably not something the administration at the time wanted people thinking about. Not only did the show provide good writing but the characters were people everyone could relate to in some way. Viewers really cared about happened to them and that was no more apparent than after the season 1 finale. I was left speechless and frothing at the mouth for more because something happened to a character I really liked and the main character Jake (Skeet Ulrich) slayed me with the final line of the episode.
Sadly, CBS felt the show was not good enough to bring back for a second season due to poor ratings. That didn’t sit well with viewers who began sending nuts (Peanuts, cashews etc – A reference to the Season 1 finale) by the truckload to CBS HQ to force them into re-evaluating how they viewed ratings in the new era with VOD, download services (itunes, Tivo etc…) CBS would eventually fold to the fans demands and promised a half season with the notion that they would be able to continue beyond those episodes should ratings warrant it. Sadly the millions of fans who tuned in every week were short changed and we were only given 7 episodes in a very rushed to finish it off season which still left a great deal of questions.
Carnivale – Taking place in the year of 1934 in America, a fugitive, Ben Hawkings, finds a new home in a traveling Carnival full of interesting characters one would find in any carnival of this sort. The thing that made this series so interesting was the mystery surrounding Ben who can actually heal people with his hands. The Unseen and very mysterious “Management” has plans for young Ben and seems to know exactly what is going on. On the flip side, we have a Preacher, Brother Justin, who believes he’s doing gods bidding but he also has powers. He has the ability to cause people pain and bring about some very tragic consequences upon anyone he deems fit.
After 2 incredible seasons that just seemed to culminate in the ultimate showdown, viewers learn of some interesting back stories and are left with a very satisfying Season finale but far from a proper series finale. Once again, another show is canceled without a proper finish.
Defying Gravity – Remember that show about Astronauts sent on a mission to Mars that was out only 2 years ago? No? You’re not alone. Sadly I think that’s the biggest reason this show failed and was canceled after just 1 season. Defying Gravity was about 8 astronauts on a mission to Mars while the entire planet watches daily episodes of what they’re doing on the mission. Call it Reality TV in Space if you will. Soon after they set off on the mission, they come to realize that they’re all on the ship for a reason and have been “selected”. The characters were strong and the writing was good. The suspense and intrigue was fun to participate in but so was watching how they 8 people who live together 24/7/365 interact with one another and learning about who they are and what brought them here was equally as entertaining. Unfortunately after just over half the 13 episodes, the show was put on hiatus never to return. Luckily here in Canada Space channel had acquired the rights to the full season so we were able to watch as it all played out but after episode 13 that was all.
Smith – I’m not one for the great robbery caper movies but this show had me by the short and curlies. Following the lives of a team of professional thieves, Smith had it all. A great cast with Ray Liotta in the lead, Simon Baker as the cold blooded hitman, Johnny Lee Miller as the techie and Amy Smart as the sex object I couldn’t get enough of this show. The story was awesome and one of the more memorable moments in TV for me was a scene with Simon Baker as he nonchalantly kills someone and sits down to have a beer. It was rather chilling and really showcased Baker’s acting chops. Unfortunately the show was shitcanned after just 3 episodes. CBS eventually made the unaired 4 episodes that were shot available online along with the breakdown of 5 further episodes. If only we could have the team finish off or attempt that one last job.