Cortney’s TV Digest: Canceled Volume 2

In the first installment of TV Digest: Canceled, I talked about shows such as Moonlight, Jerico and Studio 60 that were gone too soon. This time I’ve got more shows that were canceled way before their time, and are a testament to both how amazing television can be but also how nearsighted executives can be when making the decision to cancel a show.

While these shows may no longer grace our television sets with shiny, fresh new episodes, they live on in our hearts and on our DVD shelves. These are what I consider to be the most beloved canceled TV shows of our time.

Arrested DevelopmentArrested Development

Produced by brilliant filmmaker Ron Howard and starring a slew of incredible actors, Arrested Development ran for three seasons from 2003-2006. Shot in a documentary style fashion, like The Office, the show is about the wealthy but seriously crazy Bluth family after their father gets arrested and their company faces bankruptcy.

Oldest son Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) is the glue that holds everyone together while siblings Gob (Will Arnett), Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her husband Tobias (David Cross), and Buster (Tony Hale) do their best to make a mess of things. I really can’t say enough about how good this show was.

Other than the incredible casting, this show has some of the best writing and comedic timing I’ve ever seen on television. I have watched all three seasons multiple times and I can watch an episode now and still find something brand new to laugh about, because of how well the writers reference old jokes and spin new ones in their wake.

But the show also can have these incredibly heartfelt moments, in between the insanity, that remind us how important it is to be a family despite how much money you have in the bank. And as the economy continues its slump, this crazy family in the midst of financial turmoil is looking far less eccentric and just plain average. As this show ages it becomes more and more relevant, and it becomes clearer and clearer just how great it is.

Despite all that, as well as numerous Emmy nominations and wins, the show was canceled. Luckily we’ll see more of the Bluth family soon, in a feature length movie that begins shooting this year.

fireflyFirefly

He did Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then he did Angel. So it was with high hopes that Joss Whedon created his next show, the space western Firefly for Fox. Firefly follows the exploits Captain Malcom Renolds (played by the handsome and talented Nathan Fillion) and his ship, Serenity.

Firefly is an amazing show. Besides being a really interesting genre-mix (who would have ever thought to put a western in space?), you’ve got some really great characters with a backdrop of an intergalactic civil war. Add in the likes of Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Alan Tudyk and you’ve got yourself a heck of a show.

Despite all this, the show performed dismally in the ratings. Whedon isn’t to blame though, because Fox did some pretty weird stuff with this show. First, it aired on Fridays. No one watches TV on a Friday night. This is known as placing a show in the “Friday Night Death Slot” (a fate that Whedon’s recent show Dollhouse also suffered before it was also canceled).

Secondly, the network decided to air the episodes out of Whedon’s intended order, choosing a more action packed episode as a pilot over the original, back story-heavy pilot that he had shot for the show, making it hard for viewers to figure out what was going on. Whedon planned on seven seasons of Firefly, but he only got one.

The show was canceled after 11 of its 14 episode season aired. Despite numerous fan petitions and a potential pickup from UPN, the story of the Firefly seemed over. But in 2005 the story continued on, with the release of the film Serenity that picks right up where the first season left off. It was great to see this amazing show be resurrected, and here’s hoping that we’ll see more of the Firefly story on the big screen again someday. Until then, there’s always the comics.

VERONICA MARSVeronica Mars

You might know Kristen Bell from movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Couple’s Retreat, but she really got her start on a show back in 2004 called Veronica Mars. Set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, Veronica moonlights as a P.I. while dealing with the death of her best friend Lilly and the fact that her father pointed the finger at Lilly’s father, thereby losing his job as town sheriff.

Having lost her friends and her place in the high school social hierarchy, Veronica uses her P.I. skills both to make friends and connections but also to finally solve the case of what really happened to Lilly. Veronica Mars was a painful reminder of just how terrible high school was, but also how fun it could be.

Veronica’s life improves with every case she solves, bringing her friends, a boyfriend or two, and some answers too. Other than its insightful look on high school life, the show featured a hip soundtrack and some great acting, including the now-famous Kristen Bell.

The show lasted three seasons, ending in 2007. Fans tried to send Mars Bars to CW in an attempt to get it renewed, similar to what fans of Jericho did with peanuts, but series creator Rob Thomas insisted that the show was over. There was consideration to turn the series into a film, as well as a pitch for another show set in the future with Veronica working at the FBI. Neither idea ever got far, so it seems we’ve seen all we’ll ever see of Veronica Mars.

Next up on TV Digest: Canceled, we’ll take a look at the shows networks like HBO and Showtime have axed. Later on we’ll look at shows on right now that actually do need canceling. In the meantime, go watch some of these shows!

  • Peter
    January 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Yeah, TSCC alongside Dollhouse.

    And no, Echo did have a character. As much as I love Dushku, I don’t think she was the right actress for such a complicated character, that requires more skill. Just look at Viktor and how well he handled any parts they gave him – while Dushku played the same way. There is a character Echo, but it wasn’t played that well. Also there wasn’t enough time – Joss and the script writers were in a hurry to tell as much as possible in season 2, probably even some stuff they were planning for season 1, before FOX told them to take it slower with the story, so they couldn’t tell the whole developing story properly. Just look at how season 1 ends with Echo being a blank slate with a few flashbacks and look at season 2 – she almost immediately starts remembering and develops a personality and everyone else pretends to be blind about this.

    Anyway, I know I won’t see any more Dollhouse no matter how loudly I praise it, and that makes me sad, because it was the best show I’ve seen after the year 2000. The new century’s tv sucks.

  • Martin
    January 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I’d rather add Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to that list!

  • Jay Harrison
    January 27, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I am really disappointed with the general public’s tv habits. How can these great shows go down the tube. I am not a big fan of “Doll House” i personally liked Joss’s other shows like Buffy, Angel, and Firefly (especially the movie). How could a show like Arrested Development get canned??? I am really into this new show called “Better Off Ted” which has Portia De Rossi from Arrested Development (the show is kinda like Arrested Development actually) and its probably one of the best comedies I’ve ever seen. Nobody is watching this GEM of a comedy. Its getting great reviews from the critics, and it seems like everyone’s recommending it what gives I say!

    It is not too extreme for me to call for anyone who skips this amazing comedy to watch the other garbage on tv during its time slot to be hung from their genitals and skinned alive with a very dull rusty butter knife. And even that is too merciful in my opinion. But seriously, is the general pubic too stupid for intelligent shows with great stories? Why does the general public enjoy watching people make idiots of themselves on TV as the case of reality tv, then to watch something with taste?

  • RMota
    January 24, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Maybe FOX is also to blame about Dollhouse but i wouldn’t put the blame fully on them. How are we supposed to care and relate for a character (echo) that doesn’t exist. Every episode she was someone different, with different personalities. The show was originally announced as an agent of the dollhouse that starts to remember who she was but by the begining of season 2 she was still a blank slate dummie. I’m not sad the show was canceled, I’m sad Joss Whedon didn’t do better on this one.

  • Peter
    January 23, 2010 at 3:54 am

    I’d also add Dollhouse!!!

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