We live in an age where anything is possible. The future can almost be scary when we think about the vast capabilities of humankind and what can still be accomplished. I speak not of space or technology. I speak, as most people do, about television.
Sure, we might go to Mars someday, and we have magical devices that can look up any information at any time, but the true wonder of today is the revival of the beloved television series.
Old favorites like Full House and The X Files are returning to screens. Cancelled wonders like Longmire and The Killing are being saved. Anything is possible today thanks to a more open television market, and fans having new ways to support their favorite long running stories.
It makes it exciting for a lot of old shows people could only once dream of returning. Now it’s a real possibility. Many shows were before their time, couldn’t find their footing or were just the victims of circumstance. However, these series have proven their fan-bases are loyal and loud and want more. Here are 10 cancelled television shows that need to come back now.
Firefly was a science fiction series from the mind of Joss Whedon. Despite healthy reviews, it never connected with audiences while on the air in a big way. It was cancelled after 11 of the 14 produced episodes aired.
Then the DVD set was released and everything changed. Fans flocked in support for Whedon’s program and gave it huge sales numbers. This later convinced producers to give Whedon a shot at directing a movie based off of the show. Serenity was released in 2005 and the Firefly franchise has since expanded into comics and role playing games.
Still, these occasional wins for fans have just not been enough. True justice would be Whedon’s show back on the air. It was a unique take on the science fiction genre that would probably fare better today, ratings-wise, in a more open television market. A western set in space might actually be just what television needs today.
If there’s a program on this that has a real shot at being revived, it’s Constantine. The short-lived series was based off of the DC comics character John Constantine, originally conceived by Alan Moore.
The show was a generally faithful adaptation of the character. Constantine is a British anti-hero who fights demons and plays with magic in the hopes to redeem his doomed soul, and he always has some fun along the way.
The series was received well by fans of the character, especially Matt Ryan’s spot on lead performance, but NBC was never happy with the ratings. There were healthy upticks in non-live numbers, but it wasn’t enough to save Constantine.
Still, the character (still portrayed by Ryan) made his way onto the popular Arrow not too long ago, and fans have a petition online that has nearly 50,000 signatures. Hopefully someone is listening.
8. Clerks: The Animated Series
There’s no way Kevin Smith, his pals or even Miramax mastermind Harvey Weinstein could have imagined the future would bring a Clerks cartoon. The original 1994 film is a black and white comedy Smith made in New Jersey on a shoestring budget. The story of it being picked up by Miramax and launching Smith’s career is now infamous.
Years later, Smith and company thought it would be a good idea to animate everyone’s favorite miserable clerks. It was not such a far fetched idea at the time. Jay and Silent Bob, the famous and hilarious drug dealers from the first movie, had gone on to appear in every Smith film onward from Clerks, creating a silly interconnected universe fans ate up.
Clerks: The Animated Series is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek cartoon that just never got a chance. Since its swift cancellation (after two episodes), the show gained a big cult who have given the DVD healthy sales. Smith still talks about bringing the short-lived cartoon back, and that’s not a bad idea at all.
According to Smith, ABC had little patience for the show. They aired episodes out of order, changed debut dates and gave Smith restrictions that hurt the series. Smith has now run successful shows with the likes of AMC and Hulu. The future may be bright for our minimum wage friends, after all.
7. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip
Some would argue Studio 60 was Aaron Sorkin at his best. It only lasted a season, but the show gave the sharp-witted writer the perfect platform to show off his unique skills. The series took place behind the scenes of a SNL-type program, and it looked into the power of satire and the passion of the arts.
The characters were intelligent and gave audiences the perfect blend of comedy and serious drama. Despite a healthy debut, Studio 60’s ratings declined, and it was cancelled after one season. Still, the program remains a favorite among Sorkin fans. It would be a perfect vehicle for him to go back to now if a network or online outlet wanted to take a chance.
The Newsroom is over and Steve Jobs is out of the way. Sorkin needs a new platform to showcase his finely tuned dialogue and insight into professionalism and human relationships. Someone give this writer what he needs: a show. And please make that show Studio 60.
Deadwood was an HBO western that lasted three seasons. The heavy drama, headed by Ian McShane, came before the wave of anti-hero television shows on now. Perhaps it would have fared better today.
Deadwood received nearly perfect reviews for its three seasons, but the ratings never satisfied HBO so they gave it the axe. It even won eight Emmy awards. The problem for fans was the fact that the story ended on a cliffhanger, and there were solid plans for another season.
The highly regarded drama is still a favorite on home video and in repeat viewings with fans, so another season would be a no brainer for HBO. If Full House can come back, this can too, right? There were rumors recently about a possible movie in the works at HBO. Let’s hope it’s true.
Before FX brought bikers to the mainstream with Sons of Anarchy or introduced the Bastard Executioner, there was Terriors. Starring Donal Logue and Michael Raymond James, the show was about two unlicensed private detectives and their lives in San Diego, California.
The promotion for the show was generic and didn’t sell just how intricate and finely tuned the series was. Creator Ted Griffin and producer Shawn Ryan created something special with Terriors, and fans recognized the spark immediately.
Despite being such a fresh and unique series that won huge praise from critics, Terriors tanked in the ratings. Deciding to not give it a chance to find an audience, FX cancelled the series far before its time. Since then, the show has gained a huge cult following. Logue, Ryan and others are still asked about the series by fans, and there’s a chance a movie or reunion of sorts could happen. Terriors would make a perfect show for an online outlet like Netflix or Hulu. It’s simply lightning in a bottle that never got a real chance to be admired.
Action was a series that followed lovable, but sometimes evil mega-movie producer Peter Dragon (Jay Mohr) as he navigated a Hollywood comeback. Joel Silver produced the inside look into the movie business, and it was a hard sell from the beginning.
Originally intended to air on Showtime, the edgy comedy ended up get kicked over to Fox and edited back. Episodes were aired out of order, and no one seemed to pay attention. Action was cancelled before all the produced episodes even aired.
After its cancellation, Action gained a cult following, earning reruns on networks like IFC. Its honest look at Hollywood would later drive shows like Entourage and Californication to long and healthy runs. Action seemed to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Now is the perfect time to bring Dragon back. A middle-aged producer facing the complex and dying Hollywood system now would be perfect material for Mohr and Silver to tackle. The series would have an easier time finding an audience today as well, not being forced to compete on a channel like Fox.
3. Veronica Mars
Everybody loves Veronica Mars. That fact was evident when the Kickstarter campaign for the movie earned nearly $6 million. Despite the movie being produced and two novels being published, Mars was a series that originally only lasted two seasons.
The series followed young private detective Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), and it hit a nerve with young people. The show never set ratings on fire, but it had a dedicated and passionate following that included people like Joss Whedon.
Mars was funny, different and had a lead character we could all get behind. It was the perfect vehicle for everyone involved. If the recent movie proved one thing, it was that there is more story to the Veronica Mars saga, and people are ready to watch.
Hannibal was a show that should not have worked. It was a reworking of the famous novels of Thomas Harris. Previously adapted into the acclaimed films starring Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, there weren’t many people rooting for this show when it was first announced.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller proved everybody wrong. Taking the best parts of the books and mutating the rest, Hannibal was a supremely dark tale of the bloody relationship between cannibal Hannibal Lecter and social outcast/ FBI consultant Will Graham.
Both flawed men trapped in a red web of murder, the two created a relationship fans relished. Airing for three seasons, the series never found its footing with the ratings. Still, the fan base is still passionate as ever, and most critics can agree Fuller broke new ground with the program.
There’s always a chance for more Hannibal stories to come. Fuller has mentioned continuing the story at some point or possibly making a film. The fans would eat it up either way.
1. Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks. Cancelled. One season. How? These are no doubt the thoughts of everyone who has discovered this one season wonder from Judd Apatow. The cast alone would be enough to open a summer blockbuster. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardenellini, Jason Segel and others all started out on this show about what it’s like to be young and out of place.
It’s a series anyone can connect with. Sharply funny and grounded in all the right ways, Freaks and Geeks is perhaps the best show to be cancelled before its time. Rogen, Apatow and company still talk about the cancellation with heartbreak and clearly feel the same passion for the show that the fans do.
It would seem impossible to revive the series since the original cast is too old to jump back into their parts, but the cast wasn’t the show. The show was Apatow and the empathy and heart he let bleed through the screen. A new young cast (maybe cameos from the originals) and a new home on a more supportive network like Netflix would breathe new life into a show so many hold dear to their heart. What the world needs is a new Freaks and Geeks. In today’s youth culture where nothing is sure, and the future is scarier than ever, Freaks and Geeks would be a point of connection we could all have.
Apatow is still at the top of his game with movies like Trainwreck and This is 40 recently dominating the box office, so the only real question is: how has this not been green-lit yet?
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