Tell us about your favorite failed TV shows.

When I say “failed TV show,” I mean shows that were ratings/financial failures, not artistic ones (not that I expect anyone to name a show they considered an artistic failure as one of their most liked series). That means that the show was meant to be a regular ongoing series but lasted less than two seasons, and optimally less than one full season.

And of course “favorite” means you liked or loved the show and were sorry to see it go.

Whether the property moved to other media doesn’t matter; nor does it matter if the show was screwed by the network and might have lasted longer if some executive hadn’t hated it. Clear enough?

Oh, and explain why the show was awesome, if you like, and why you think it failed.

I’ll start the bidding with one late '80s series and another more recent one. The former is The D&ays Nights of Molly Dodd, which aired on, I think, NBC, and starred, I know, Blair Brown. It was this quirkly little dramedy about a perpetual fuckup named (obviously) Molly Dodd, who was prone to flights of fantasy in a fashion Ally McBeal would rip off a decade later. I always thought it was hiliarious, but even at 16 I could tell it wasn’t long for this world. Like Oswin’s soufles, it was too beautiful to live.

My second nomination goes to a series whose creators screwed up in the second season: the Cartoon Network animated show Young Justice. Oh, its cancellation (after a huge cliffhanger!) came partly because the network aired it so irregularly, but I think the main reason was that the writers lost their way. The first season started with a small cast, slowly grew it, and despite the season-long arc was character driven. You cared about what was happening because you had gotten to know and like the characters, and the young heroes were interesting enough that the essential absurdity of the premise was forgivable. But in the second season they did a five-year-time skip, doubled the size of the cast, and introduced multiple ongoing mysteries. That made teh show quite confusing,and because all these new people had been introduced without explanation or background, there was no reason to care about them or to ignore the basic problem of a dark, quasi-realistic adventure show starring teenagers who had parents neither dead nor supposedly idiots. YJ screwed itself far more than the network did. The best way to enjoy the first season is to stop the DVD just before the last scene of the season finale.

But that’s just me. Anybody else got a failed TV show they want to praise?

Covington Cross.” The stars of “Excalibur,” Ione Skye at her absolute sexiest and most beautiful and turning the Middle Ages/Arthurian saga on its head. The first 5 minutes of the first episode were worth the price of admission.

Firefly - enough said on this topic already.

Legend of the Seeker - Got two seasons, deserved more. Far superior to the books it was based on.

**Almost Human **- The Karl Urban cop show. It was one of my favorites. Crying shame it didn’t make it.

Alcatraz - Not a great show, but it deserved more time to develop.

Maximum Bob starring Beau Bridges as an eccentric conservative judge, along with a cast of quirky characters and storylines, based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. Lasted seven episodes in 1998.

My two contributions are:

Undergrads - A wonderful little animated show about the trials and tribulations of a group of friends as they start their university careers. A single glorious season that left me wanting more.

Clone High - Clones of famous historical persons all attending high school together. Again, cancelled after one season. STAMOS!

Back in the 90’s there was a sketch comedy called “The Newz.” Filmed in Florida and I thought it was funny as hell but apparently it went bankrupt.

Had one of the funniest sketches I’ve ever seen - this guy picks up a girl for a date and her cat talks with a Mexican accent and threatens him. “…I will use all of my nine lives to kill you.”

There was also a sketch where this guy went on hilarious rants. His name was something like “Johnny Blaze” I think.

Pushing Daisies (quirky little tale about a pie shop owner with magical powers. It had Swoosie Kurtz and Kristen Chenowith) and Sports Night (written by Aaron Sorkin. 'Nuf said.)

I’m still bitter. ABC is a bunch of rat bastards. :mad:

Obviously nothing can top Firefly, and as was mentioned there’s not much point in rehashing it for the thousandth time.

Once a Hero. A wonderful deconstruction of superhero stories, that was witty and very wise and went out of the way to avoid cliches. Basically, it’s about a superhero – Captain Justice – who goes into the Real World, where he’s only a character from a comic book.

One bit involved a school bully who was the son of a gangster. He shakes down a kid, who pays the money, then tells the bully that he’ll get in trouble for all this. One of the bully’s henchmen roughs up the kid. The bully stops him, saying he had paid for the week, and gives him a refund of some of the money.

The show got abysmal ratings. It was on Saturday night, a few years before the networks gave up on original programming. Further the lead actor was recast after the show was picked up, leading people to believe the show was in trouble (it seems the right decision; Captain Justice had to be played straight, and the original actor played it funny). It wasn’t even shown in many markets (including Boston).

The best sign of the sensibility was in the coming attraction for the fourth (and never aired) episode. It showed an actor who had played Captain Justice on TV and was sick and tired of playing the role of a TV superhero. And who played the actor? Adam West.

I’ll second this.

I’ll also add Jericho. Seemed to have been a natural for SyFy to pick up, but it never happened.

Both are Clara Oswald soufles, though at least Sports Night was followed by The West Wing almost immediately. In fact I think they overlapped a bit; I certainly only began watching WW because it had the same writer as SN.

  1. Pushing Daisies was much better than Firefly, though I’ll admit the latter had more chicks.

  2. Wait, Kristen Chenoweth was on PD, and she counts three times. So they’re even.

  3. Defend your goddamn opinion!

Terriers. A great PI show set in San Diego starring Donal Logue. Sadly only lasted one season.

I’ll nominate two poorly named shows, Terriers and The Unusuals.

Terriers was about two private investigators in San Diego. Good cast, good chemistry, good writing, good reviews, but lousy ratings.

The Unusuals was a cop show with Jeremy Renner and Amber Tamblyn. Again, good cast, writing, reviews, etc., but couldn’t pull in an audience.

ETA: Ninja’d while writing!

Key: The Metal Idol
While the animation wasn’t great, even at the time, the writing on this show was fantastic. Ostensibly, the show is about a robot who wants to become a human, but the writer carefully worked out her whole backstory and very cleverly revealed it piece by piece to change what you think is going on 180 degrees time and time again. Is the character a robot? Is she a human? Is her grandfather a good guy? A bad guy? You go back and forth, not sure what to believe through the whole series. And each episode carefully ends on a strong and meaningful cliffhanger.

The problem was that it was being shown, in Japan, at the same time as Evangelion. And so even though it probably would have been a popular show, it ended up being seen by practically no one.

They pulled the plug on the second season, which would have finalized the mystery (Japanese series have planned stories and actually end). But fortunately, they produced two final extended episodes. The first uses the conversation of a couple of guys to provide the exposition necessary to reveal all of the mysteries. And the final episode is what would have been the finale of the second season had it existed. It’s a bit wonky, but it’s better than having the show end mid-mystery.

I checked this show out because of how much Ian McShane had kicked in Deadwood. And he continued to kick ass. Point in fact, the whole cast did excellently (including Macaulay Culkin).

The show is a retelling of the story of David and King Saul, set in a modern, quasi-Israel. We get to see how David comes from humble beginnings, proves himself on the battlefield, is taken under the wing of the King, and begins to date his daughter. There’s a good mix of politics, romance, fighting, grand-standing, backstabbing, and a strong mystical veil over it all.

But, the network didn’t want to advertise the show. And particularly, they didn’t want to advertise it as a religious-themed show. Bible-thumpers would have objected to some of the realistic/immoral elements (the King’s son is gay and the King is having an affair). The irreligious would be turned off by the fact that it’s a Bible story.

So the show went out, probably at a weird time, with no advertising. They did film the whole first season, and it’s very good, but season 2 was never requested.

Some have already been mentioned, so I’ll mention one that few people have heard of or remembered…

Wizards and Warriors
1983. Only lasted 8 episodes and those got pre-empted a lot. It was “The Princess Bride” before “The Princess Bride” movie. The creator, Don Reo, was inspired in his tone by the book “The Princess Bride.” It was the first time I’d seen a fantasy show done tongue-in-cheek. Introduced me to Duncan Regehr (who’s better known for playing Zorro in the TV series) and Julia Duffy (who basically plays the same character she made famous on “Newhart”). Also had Clive Revill who I’d only seen in the hood as the Emperor in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

After waiting decades, it was finally released. I got the DVD set last year. Watched it again and, yeah, I thought it was still pretty funny. (Not as great as “The Princess Bride” movie, but still pretty funny.) Kind of sad to see Jeff Conaway knowing what happens with him, but he looks like he was having a great time filming the show.

Wonderfalls was a quirky show about a woman at a Niagara Falls gift shop who experiences conversations with the figurines in the shop. This was from the people who made Pushing Daisies and it had the awesome William Sadler as the main character’s dad.

The Quest was a Stephen J Cannell show about a group of distant relatives competing in quests to win the throne of a small European country. It was cancelled after 5 episodes and I think I’m the only person who ever saw this.

The Middleman - a screwball superhero show on something like FX or Disney Family. Apparently based on a comic book. Fun and insider silly - kinda like when Joss Whedon shows his sillier side in episodes…

Ah, here is the imdb link:

On the cartoon side, I loved the heck out of the Galaxy Rangers when I was a kid. Of all the properties being brought back, this should be one of them.

God, The Devil, and Bob. An animated show that aired on, I believe NBC for 3-4 episodes. I was maybe 10 or 11 at the time and thought it was hysterical. The entire first season was released on DVD and I owned it at one point. It held up pretty well, IMO.