You won’t find any FireFly(s) or Twins Peaks on this list, nothing that famous or well noted for the general public to pretend they remember watching the show as it aired (and they clearly didn’t because they would still be on the air if they did). This is a list of shows that seemed too good for people to latch onto, even after their untimely death. If it was ever possible that critics and people with general good taste could keep a show on the air simply by their high opinion I have come up with the four best cases for that happen. All of them got two or less seasons on the air and a complete lack of conclusion.
Eerie Indiana (1991)
A teenager moves to a new town where everything is crazy instead of gravity. The show was half comical and half super creepy, the first episode was about a woman who was so into Tupperware that she would seal herself and family in the vacuum protected devices before going to sleep, causing them to never age. That one episode ended with the hero sneaking into their house and popping the seal on all of the sleeping containers at night causing the family to suddenly age. So the first impression anyone really got of the show was basically an attempted murder while two young boys being given the responsibility of middle aged men. I sure that ended well.
Why it Cancelled:
It was the monster of the week show before Buffy the Vampire Slayer or X-Files, meaning that the show was about 10 years too clever for its own good. Almost a decade later it would receive a second life through reruns, and become popular enough to have a spin-off series in a different dimension. That series lasted four episodes less than the first one (so 9). Even speaking as someone who liked the series, this was amazingly weird and I have no idea how this show ever was allowed on TV in the first place. I think that the Futurama experiment with an entire TV season direct to DVD would work well with everything on the list, with this one a highlight.
Pushing Daises (2007)
A pie-baker can bring the dead back to life with a single touch. He uses this power to question the dead about who killed them, with which he tells his private investigator friend, receives a reward, and covers most of the cost of his failing business with; also he only puts spoiled food into his pies because everyone just throws that away and he can touch it and make it fresh again so free supplies. There is a complicated love story that unfolds throughout the series, and while the entire thing might sound super lame it is hard to watch a single episode of the show and not have a smile on your face by the end.
The concept of the show was to make everything bigger and brighter, and probably happier, than anything in real life—you know, while dealing with constant death—a goal that it pretty much succeeded to do in every single aspect without fail. I have seen people on drugs that can’t get nearly as happy as a single episode of this show.
Why it Cancelled:
Honesty I don’t know if Bryan Fuller can keep a show on TV. Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and this are literally created by this one guy. If you wanted to combine every award nomination into one thing, and give him the cash equivalent this man would fly a plane made of money to a money moon staffed only by his money monkey butlers. If that made sense you probably should just Netflix all three of those series and cry yourself to sleep at night on their cancelations. Every single one of them can quickly manage to make any sane person sit and watch an entire season in one sitting.
This was pretty much a causality of the writer’s strike as well as prety much anything that was on during that time as they took a massive hit in ratings and every person in charge of making those calls of “renewing things” decided it was the shows fault, and not something about no one having any idea of when any show was on ever.
Better Off Ted (2009)
The concept is that the main character works for one of the largest companies in the world, too bad he pretty much leads a group of research scientists (boarder line mad-scientists all of them) that have all of their products quickly turned into something terribly evil. From pumpkins turning into plague spreading devices or bullet proof cloth into motivational/insanity causing chairs the show finds a way to make it seem like super science is just something that everyone can do whenever they want, even if it just an Octo-Chicken.
Why it Cancelled:
You know when Fox likes to change air dates of show without notice, make up reasons why fans don’t follow the show even though they never advertised it, then cancel it? That is pretty much what ABC did with this, but instead claims that it never managed to find a fan following in the first place. I get cancelling shows that have low ratings, I really do; the problem is that when it seems like a company is actively trying to make the show have those ratings—then not show the last couple of episodes when they said they were going to, because screw it—that kind of tells me that they didn’t want it in the first place. I think that Better off Ted probably slept with someone’s wife that it shouldn’t have.
Party Down (2008)
So the joke in Hollywood is that when you are waiting for your career to take off you are a waiter. I believe the concept is that when your life has failed to do that you work in catering. The show’s main character has finally given up on life and decided to go back to his old crap job after being type cast due to a commercial he had done years before. The rest of the cast is rounded out with people who range from failed comedians to failed screen writers, and while it might not sound that amazing in description it has a deadpan humor that is almost infectious towards the end. Think Curb Your Enthusiasm, but good.
Why it Cancelled:
Low ratings. I don’t know how ignored something on Starz has to before someone has to pull the plug, my guess would be a number below the four TVs left on to scare away robbers, but I guess that happens from time to time. The show also managed to cast people who didn’t have a career at the time, but quickly managed to pull one either out of thin air or from the shambling zombie corpse of something thoroughly ignored since the late 80’s. The reason isn’t really well known, but come on it was on Starz. That is almost as bad of a channel to have an original series on as ABC Family. Oh…
The Middleman (2008)
The series was conceived as a TV show that had been adopted from a comic book, even though there was no comic book at the time. Three “seasons” of the comic was produced before the first episode aired, and it showed more characterization in its few than things have in their entire multi-series run. 12 episodes end up feeling more like an insult to the experience than anything. If I can say anything else positive about this show before I attempt to drown myself from the sorrow in my own tears it is that I enjoyed this more than the new Dr. Who, and that is a lot.
Why it Cancelled:
It is a show where super science is a thing that happens constantly, there are no superheroes—just super villains, and the sidekick/main character spits out wittier dialog than Juno thrown into a bag with Tina Fey and told to satire their way out, we were lucky to have 12 episodes and not have the Bush administration declare it terrorist training because 90% of America “didn’t get it”. Also, who puts a show like this on ABC Family? How is that a channel?
Heat Vision and Jack (1999)
Ron Silver plays himself; a NASA employed bounty hunter with acting as one of his “amusing distractions”. If that isn’t enough Jack Black gains the power to know everything when exposed to Sunlight, because that causes his brain to rise like fresh bread. Owen Wilson also voices a sentient motorcycle and Jack Black’s character’s old roommate. At any point during explaining the casting of the show I would green light this series for as many seasons as the cast was able to keep acting in it, regardless of quality of product. Sadly the pilot episode was enough for Fox to never pick it up ever again.
Oddly this had such a cult following that there was a brief discussion of a movie, but that was before Ron Silver died. For those of you, like me, who love this episode you can see the fictional Universe of Tropic Thunder were Jack Black’s character managed to star in that show, have it be a success and become the world’s biggest comic actor ever.
Why it Cancelled:
It wasn’t ever really picked up, but mainly that Ben Stiller trusted Fox again after getting his academy award winning show, “The Ben Stiller Show” cancelled. Who didn’t see that happening? Probably Joss Wheadon, that poor bastard.