Anyone who has watched the FOX network in the last few years has been burned numerous times by their cancellation policy. FOX seems to work on the idea of “If we make it, we must cancel”. Last year they spent about six months advertising a new show starring Nathan Fillion called Drive. Six months of ads lead to three aired episodes. I”m sure there are many blogs out there who still can’t get over the cancellation of Firefly, and many other. FOX is famous for launching a dozen new shows, and canceling all of them by seasons end. In the last few years I think the only shows that have made it are House, and 24. As I sit here I’m watching a show that met a similar fate, so I thought I’d talk about a few that I liked that never made it.
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
This western themed comedy starred the great Bruce Campbell as the bounty hunter son of a legendary marshal. I don’t think I need to mention anything more to show how uniquely great it was other than his horse Comet, who didn’t know he was a horse. It was a fantastic comedy, with sci fi under tones, that launched the same night as another sci fi FOX show you may have heard of, The X-Files. One made it, the other didn’t. I don’t think I need to say which.
A unique police drama starring Burn Notice’s Jeffery Donovan. He played a detective returning from a year long sabbatical after he was shot in the head. Much like his character in Burn Notice he played a quick mouthed near savant, though Evil had much darker tones. It was adapted from a British mini-series, and as such had only two options; canceled early, or sucking massively (I’m looking at you U.S. The Office). Although that’s another post altogether. Touching Evil unfortunately fell into the first category of British adaptations.
It followed the T.V. pattern of “If it works, make three more.” It came out roughly the same time as Invasion, and a few other conspiracy, Lost-like whole season story, type shows. It stared several my favorite actors; Brent “Data” Spiner, Charles S. Dutton, and Peter Dinklage. If you don’t know who Dinklage is check out The Station Agent, you’ll love it. The main problem with season long story shows is when they are canceled you’re left hanging. I’m sure that we all have found a show that we have like that is either canned mid season, or has a big cliff hanger finale that is never picked up (I’m lookin at you A.L.F.).
Sporstnight/Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
One followed, and the other preceded, show creator Aaron Sorkins work on Emmy winner The West Wing. As a fan of his White House drama I have no problem saying that both his other ventures into television were superior. All of his TV work to date have been shows that take you behind the scenes. Sportsnight went behind the camera on a Sportscenter like show, while Studio 60 looked at the world behind late night sketch comedy. Sportsnight made it two seasons, while Studio 60 only aired about half of one (though thanks to DVD the rest of the first season was filmed and is now available). They featured his trademark of incredible dialogue, long “Goodfella’s through the kitchen” kinds of shots that don’t break flow, and characters far smarter than any you normally see on American television.
These are only a few of the many many many shows that met an early death. Anyone who has seen the opening of the returning premier of Family Guy knows the list of shows that FOX alone has left in its wake. I’m sure there are more, so what are some of your favorites?