The process of getting a show on the air in the US is a nightmare. Hundreds of unproduced scripts sit on shelves and hundreds more make it to the pilot stage and then no further. So making it on the telly for a few episodes is a massive achievement, let alone getting a full season […]
The process of getting a show on the air in the US is a nightmare. Hundreds of unproduced scripts sit on shelves and hundreds more make it to the pilot stage and then no further. So making it on the telly for a few episodes is a massive achievement, let alone getting a full season pick-up. Past that point, it’s a game of chance. And never mind becoming a 100 ep success (the magic number that puts you into syndication, aka the big bucks).
But what of the shows that were never given a proper chance? A combination of being moved around schedules and bad lead-in programmes, it’s a different world to UK TV. Anything can sink a show. We now live in a time where quantifying a show’s success is harder than ever – with Tivo and Sky Plus, with illegal downloading and iPlayer, DVD and international sales. So, here’s the first part of our countdown of shows that were cancelled before their time…
10. Popular - before he started to torture our ears and ruin our musical memories with Glee, Ryan Murphy created this two-season wonder about bitchy high school girls. Smart and funny, it featured a cast straight out of central casting for unrealistic looking teens, but was still worth watching.
9. Police Squad – following on from Airplane, one of the funniest movies of all time, came this brilliant show. It was cancelled, unbelievably, after only six episodes but it came back and got the last laugh – in the form of the Naked Gun series.
8. Dead Like me (see also Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies) – poor old Bryan Fuller. He created these 3 wonderful shows, all of which were cancelled before their time. As were Star Trek’s DS9 Voyager and superhero series Heroes, which he also worked on. Jinx!
7. Undeclared - another one from the Apatow stable before he found his path in movies. A college comedy that ran for 17 episodes, this one had Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy, who we Brits know from Queer as Folk. And of course, the now-ubiquitous Seth Rogen.
6. Sports Night – Josh Charles is on the Good Wife, Felicity Huffman is just finishing up Desperate Housewives, but before both they co-starred as the leads in this piece of Sorkin genius. It suffered from him showrunning the first season of the West Wing at the same time and was cancelled after two seasons. Worth seeking out online.