Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Loved and Lost

(This was a project I've had rattling around in the back of my head for over a year. I'm hoping that with Steve as my taskmaster, I'll stick to it this time!)

As I've said before, I have a gift for falling for shows destined to be cancelled. The shorter the run, the more I seem to love it. In fact, I'm developing a bit of a complex about even saying that I'm enjoying a show - so much does it seem to be the kiss of death!

So, I decided to provide a little guide to my favourite shorten-ted, cliffhanger-ed, pull-ed from the line up, hidden-ed among the dross from the last few years cancelled, dropped or pulled shows. There are some real gems to chose from - many of whom never survived their initial release (Virtuality - take a bow), were let down (IMHO) by their networks (Dollhouse, Firefly, non-Whedon show Carnivale) or were conceptually sound but needed a leetle bit longer to find their feet (The Middleman), not to mention the shows that I happened to be enjoying that were plucked in their prime (oh Veronica Mars, will I ever get over your down-beat miserable and out of character 'finale'? No. I will not.).

But I've had to be careful. I mean, I still think that Buffy, Angel, Farscape and Jericho were all cut down too soon, while things like Stargate, Andromeda and various (ALL) reality TV shows are allowed to run long past their sell by date (sorry, going to detour around THAT inevitable rant).

So - what's the criteria here?

Reluctantly, I've decided that cancellation alone is not sufficient to qualify. Otherwise the 20 series Law and Order could be included, and, when compared to shows that didn't complete their initial episode count, well, it looks a bit arsy.
So, there has to be a limited run on episodes. Bearing in mind that some shows have 22 episode runs, while others are restricted to 13 episodes, I decided to use a third season as a cut off point.
Therefore, shows like Arrested Development (which I've heard greatly lauded, but haven't yet watched), Roswell and Veronica Mars do not pass muster (though if I were to inherit/win/find/have bestowed upon me a veritable shitload of money, and discover that time is not my enemy, I can always go back and change my mind about this). It's not that they weren't killed too soon, it's more that they were in fact given the chance to run. Look at Chuck, it had a really dubious pick up for it's third season, but great story lines bumped up the ratings, and it was still iffy (but achieved) a season 5 renewal.

Now, you might think that this is a given, but I quite enjoy a wide range of crap and puerile nonsense, more particularly in films that in TV I must admit, but still. I shall be self censoring - sorry Miss Match, you made me smile, but you were shockingly poorly written, and will not be included here, despite having Nathan Fillion in a role! Journeyman on the other hand, is a given.

Additionally, these shows should ideally not have reached a natural point of cessation, there should be questions left unanswered, directions still to pursue. Cobbled on, half baked, illogical and simplistic endings do not count. So, bearing this in mind, Dark Angel slips out of the running. Sure, I could have used more of it, but, to be honest, Freak Nation (the finale) did actually cover the most salient running story arcs. It was a fitting end to the show, and although it didn't answer every question about every character, it was satisfying. On the other hand, what a waste!? All that time and money spend creating a look and feel for the show, a viable world and post-apocalyptic setting, and then, dumped onto a Friday time slot, and neglected to death.
But, Happy Town - although answers were given - still has far too many unanswered questions. It's definitely on the list.

I admit, my preferential viewing tends to be SF or Sci-fi orientated, which traditionally has a shorter shelf life than more mainstream options, so I will likely be covering shows that, in the main, fit into this mould - hey, it's my list - it's gotta be stuff that I've seen! I also very rarely watch sitcoms or half hour shows (scrubs and my name of earl being major exceptions), so Hank and the like are not being covered here.

Oh yeah, shows that have been continued, or resurrected, are not eligible for this list, with one major exception. That is of course Whedon. In my opinion, the mere fact that his shows continue in some format - be it in comics, renewal via a network switch or films - demonstrates that there is a viable market, and the people demanded more! However, Family Guy and Futurama have both come back from the dead, and, are back on our screens, and so, live on, albeit with a time gap.

I guess that's it. I have a few certainties - shows that will be covered, but I'm open to suggestions. The advantage of this being an ongoing project is that I can add shows and the like as I go.

I don't understand this Internet of ours - where is the definitive 'it's been cancelled' list for me to refer too? Instead I must remain dependent on my memory? This is insanity. I thought the whole purpose of the thing was that all the information I wanted was right there collected for me, preferably in a pretty font, with colour coding? Nope? I have to put effort in myself? Shocking.

So I'm comprising a little table as I go. So far I have 50 shows, all neatly divided up into episode count, year and network. Which is turning out to be quite interesting. For example, Fox, as one might suspect, is responsible for killing off some of my favourite shows. Course that also indicates that Fox is more likely to make the shows that I want to watch. Which I hadn't really thought about properly.

And, if anyone fancies having a gander at it, let me know, I can email you a copy. Once again, as soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll transfer the table onto t'blog!

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