Every month, I bring you dedicated readers my favorite TV shows of the moment. And while I love reporting on the latest and greatest in TV Land, what is also just as important to me are the dozens of shows that were canceled before their time.
Whether the ratings were bad or the shows were too expensive, many of TV’s best and brightest have been taken off the air before they have a chance to flourish. But while these shows had their untimely demise, these articles should hopefully resurrect them, at least in the form of you watching them and thinking they’re awesome.
So the reviews weren’t great and the show only lasted a season. But had Moonlight premiered a year or two later, it would have been a smash hit. Why? Because it’s all about vampires, and whether it’s TV, movies, or books, vampires are the hottest thing in media right now. And while competing with HBO’s hit True Blood and CW’s mediocre The Vampire Diaries wouldn’t be easy, it would have at least stood a chance.
Canceled after 2008’s Writers Guild of America strike, Moonlight centered around Mick St. John, who turned vampire after being bitten by his bride on their wedding night. Years later he works as a P.I., protecting humans while hunting down the vampires who harm them. The show feels like a cross between Veronica Mars and Supernatural, while still being as focused on romance as the shows that have followed it.
But because this show focuses on the vampire rather than the female character, like Twilight does, it makes the show more mature, more dark, and more digestible. The show also stars Jason Dohring, one of my favorite TV actors who made his fame on the also ill-fated Veronica Mars. But between the show’s timing, the strike, and its placement in the Friday night death slot, Moonlight was laid to rest.
A television show about a massive nuclear attack on 23 US cities seems pretty gutsy after 9/11, but that’s exactly what Jericho is about. The story focuses on Jake Green, who returns to his hometown of Jericho for the first time in five years and becomes a leader in one of the only places not effected by the nuclear blasts. Meanwhile a newcomer to the town, Robert Hawkins, is one of the only people in the country to know the true nature of the attacks and what to do next.
Every episode of Jericho was action packed, full of depth, and completely compelling. The show was able to balance the massive effect of a completely destroyed United States while still keeping us close to the citizens of Jericho. Abysmal ratings forced CBS to shut the show down after its first season, but the fans refused to give up. Inspired by the final episode of the season, fans sent over 20 tons of nuts to CBS headquarters, forcing the network to reconsider.
A second season aired on the network, but to even worse ratings, and the show was again canceled. The third season is now being released in comic book form, just like the 8th season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and there are also talks of a movie that would pick up right where the second season left off. While Jericho had a short run and the fan-induced revival was a bit of a failure, this show proved that it’s not always up to the big-wig executives to cancel shows, and that fans can have a voice.
After two great shows, Sports Night and The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip show runner and head writer Aaron Sorkin had a lot to live up to. A show within a show, Studio 60 takes place on and off the set of the show with the same name. This live sketch comedy show has seen better days, but after a former writer Matt (Matthew Perry) and executive producer Danny (Bradley Whitford) are hired, things are starting to look up for the show. Studio 60 implements a lot of Sorkin’s signatures: rapid fire dialogue, “walk and talk” scenes where the characters never stop moving and seem to seamlessly travel through sets without ever missing a beat, and a very ensemble-heavy cast with a lot of intertwining storylines.
The show was nominated for five Emmys in 2007, including Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-camera Series, and Outstanding Casting in Dramatic Series, the same amount as ratings juggernauts like 24 and CSI, and surpassing shows like Dexter that are all still around today. Yet after one season, Studio 60 was canceled. There were a couple reasons for this. Firstly, the show took several hiatuses, as it shared its time slot with another doomed show, The Black Donnellys, which I’m sure no one ever watched and wasn’t missed when it was axed.
Either way, after each hiatus the ratings for Studio 60 would drop lower and lower, probably because viewers thought it was canceled or just lost interest during the many breaks. But another factor contributed to the end of Studio 60, a little show that premiered around the same time that goes by the name 30 Rock. The shows both had similar premises, taking place behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show, and both have some major star power behind them.
Perhaps it was because 30 Rock is a little more lighthearted, or maybe Studio 60 was just doomed from the start. Either way, if you’re a fan of 30 Rock or Aaron Sorkin, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is worth checking out.
Next time I’ll have some fan favorites, or the shows that should never in a million years have been canceled. You’ll also get some insight into some shows that have needed to be axed for a long time, and the ones that very well may be on their way to the chopping block this year.