This was a hard one. Honestly, we could have probably done a TWoP 20. But the untimely demise of Pushing Daisies got us thinking about the most gut-wrenching cancellations -- the ones that we're still devastated about. And we're not talking about shows that went off the air after a nice long successful run, or shows that the writers opted not to do any more of (like Extras or Battlestar Galactica), these were shows that were unceremoniously ripped out of our hands during the midst of their all-too-brief lifespans. A cruel twist of the TV fates or TPTB who often only recognize ratings and not rare bits of genius in television form, leaving us still wanting more.
1. My So-Called Life
It's been close to 15 years since this series left the so-called airwaves and we were left hanging about the dating life of Angela Chase. Would she chose the dreamy but dopey Jordan Catalano or the poetic and endearing geek next door Brian Krakow? The world will never know. And that's a true, true shame.
2. Arrested Development
Here's the reason this show didn't fly, and it is pretty much a word-for-word transcript of a conversation we overheard between two hipster guys at a movie theater seeing some indie film where they decided to run an ad for AD during the middle of its first season. "Hey, that looks funny." "Yeah, that sounds like Ron Howard." The info on when to watch pops up on the screen. "Ugh. It's on TV? I won't watch it on TV." "Yeah, me either, I hate stupid television shows. I wish it was a movie." And hence a brilliant comedic show got so few viewers despite its innate likability and appeal. No one wanted to watch it, and now it's a cult favorite. We bet those guys in the movie theater have Netflixed it by now and quote it all the time, and will probably be really happy if they finally get their wish when/if a big screen version is completed. Because everyone needs a little more Bluth family goodness in their life.
3. Freaks and Geeks
Think about hot young actors like James Franco and Seth Rogan and Linda Cardellini. Now think about the first time you saw them. Were they dressed in retro '80s clothes and spouting off some of the most brilliant and honest teenage dialogue to ever hit the airwaves? For us it was. And for that we're really grateful. Though we'd love to have seen what happened with the Schweibers and Weirs and all the relationships and for the love of all that is good in this world, just more of Bill Haverchuck!
Out of all the brilliant but canceled shows on this list, this one had to have the meanest axing of them all (which kind of makes a bit of sense given the subject matter.) HBO decided that it was more anxious to have a new project from David Milch (which was the brief and somewhat disappointing John from Cincinnati) and opted to kill the western drama. Buncha C*#@$^*%#rs. But they promised fans made for HBO movies that would tie up all the lose ends left after the town was left in chaos by George Hearst and a recent election. They promised! Which gave us fans who never thought we'd fall for a Western, much less one filled with strings of profanity oft laid out in carefully crafted iambic pentameter, a glimmer of beauteous hope that we'd see some resolution. We hate Lying Liars Who Lie more than anything, and we wouldn't be upset if they took a trip to Mr. Wu's pig pen.
5. Pushing Daisies
To quote one Mr. Emerson Cod: "Oh, Hell no!" That was our initial reaction. This would probably be closer to the top of the list, if the reality of the situation had actually set in. Instead, we're still a little bit in denial that this bright and beautiful little show with clever jokes, an insanely talented cast and just so much life and joy is ending rather soon. We've little information on Ned's father, we're embroiled in the mystery surrounding Chuck's now-alive-again father and seriously, there's nothing at all like it on TV. (Here's just some of the reasons we adore it so.) It's so delicious, it is almost sinfully sweet and the mere idea that it is canceled leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
Joss Whedon. Space Cowboys. Nathan Fillion. Fantastic cast. But a mess from the get-go. This creative sci-fi series was so much fun, but Fox confused things by airing episodes out of order, making it nearly impossible for anyone to follow. Way to build a fan base there. Even Joss loyalists were a little bit baffled. At least its popular DVDs built up enough cult buzz to create a feature film, but we know there were more ideas for Mal and the rest of the Serenity crew brewing in that wonderful mind of his.
7. Veronica Mars
We're grateful that we got the three seasons that we did, because this noir mystery never did gangbuster numbers for the network, but that doesn't mean we're not still a wreck about it. It's not like we still have posters up as shrines or anything. It's not like we keep watching Heroes just because Kristen Bell is on it or watched Moonlight just because of Jason Dohring, or would follow Enrico Colantoni to the ends of the earth or whatever. Sniff. Sniff. And we'd have paid oodles of money for the chance to see what Rob Thomas would have cooked up if Veronica had gone to FBI training.
If you look at this list and think, what the hell was Wonderfalls, you probably aren't alone. But it was a quirky series, from the mind of Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, that focused on a young girl who worked at a Niagara Falls gift shop and inanimate objects would talk to her. It only aired for four episodes, though all thirteen glorious installments are available on the DVD set. It should be noted that Fuller also created the short-lived and wonderfully oddball Dead Like Me, which just missed making this list as well. How do people just not get how fantastic his stuff really is?
Despite the best efforts of this show's fans, who went to great lengths to keep it on the air (they rented a freakin' Ferris wheel to put in front of the WB offices), the TBTB (not naming names) thought it would be a better idea to bring back 7th Heaven for a millionth season or something instead. So we just have to imagine that Amy and Ephram lived happily ever after, and we can always sit and wonder what happened with Hannah and Bright, and recall what it was like in that quaint and lovely little town, where people were actually nice, and actors could actually act. Such a great family drama, that sadly isn't even available (aside from Season 1) to fondly remember on DVD.
10. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
We know, its an unlikely candidate, but this one we wanted to stick around for purely evil reasons. Dan Manu likes to call it Sorkinfreude, which he deems "the pleasure you get from seeing terrible writing." It had such potential, a great cast and scripts by Aaron Sorkin, who did such good work with Sports Night and The West Wing. Even the pilot was fun, with its twisty-turny dark look at live sketch comedy (which, judging by 30 Rock bears very little resemblance to how a sketch comedy actually gets made... and we judge everything by 30 Rock). But with this series, you just never knew where it was going to go, or what bizarre implausible thing was going to happen next, but like a car wreck, you couldn't turn away. We'd have watched it for ten full seasons if it had run that long.
Thoughts... and we're sure you've got 'em ... leave 'em below.
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