Posted by: thescoundrel | November 13, 2007

Television Shows Executed Prematurely

I was zipping (well with the current optical strike – it was more like plodding) around the Internet the other night and came across a link to a Maxim article concerning TV shows they would like to see get a second life. So I gave it a thought and decided to compile a list of shows I considered deserving that I thought got the early axe from the TV executives. Many of these shows I was only able to see because they actually failed and wound up as filler on cable channels. I do not advocate the resurrection of them all, simply because often it is the mix of cast and production elements that make the show what it was. To get that same magic would be difficult to recreate. But they are all shows I found entertaining and often thought provoking that could not survive the ratings games of broadcast television.

  • Profit. It was on the Maxim list as well as mine. A show about a ruthless Yuppie sociopath clawing his way up the business world, no matter the cost to others. And to make things more bizarre, he slept naked in a cardboard box inside of his apartment. It was a dark drama where you might have trouble discerning the good guys from the bad guys but there was no doubt about the lack of scruples and conscience of the appropriately named lead character, Jim Profit.
  • Babylon 5. A premier Sci-Fi show that was given the early axe just as the endgame plot was coming together. It forced the team to compact the storyline and left this viewer with a hunger for what might have been.
  • John Doe. I love this show. An amnesic man that is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and trivia. A great cast and lots of intermingled subplots and conspiracy angles while the show is constantly focused on John Doe learning his true identity. The final episode was such a bombshell cliffhanger it could probably find a home as a new series or a movie sequel/s. Reassembling the cast and like-minded production ensemble would be the key.
  • Threshold. This was a Sci-Fi alien invasion show with a twist. The alien invaders were humans that had been genetically altered by an alien space probe and the mutants were busy making new recruits. Like so much sci-fi, if you look past the skin of the show there is a lot of human interest going on. It is the type of show that displays the conflict created by the balance of the government’s job to protect the people with the government’s use of secret agencies and subterfuge to accomplish that mission. Can you say Homeland Security, whose name gets dropped a lot in this series!
  • Prey. What would happen if a new species of man evolved that saw mankind as a danger and an impediment to their own survival? Prey asked this question, as mankind played modern day Neanderthals to the new species. Once again if you look past the shell of the vehicle and take it for a ride, you find in the conflict there is more than just good science fiction happening in this show.
  • The Visitor. A great cast and a great show that was openly outspoken about the need for saving mankind from itself. The main character, played by John Corbett, was a formerly alien-abducted human that had escaped back to Earth. His mission was to save Earth from its self-destructive actions and the wrath of the aliens whom had originally abducted him, as they felt mankind was a universal danger that would probably need to be purged. Steve Railsback played the obsessed antagonist, whose fanatical concern was the capture and containment of what he considered was an alien threat to security.
  • Dark Shadows (1991 Revised). This was a revision of the original series. It had a great cast including Lysette Anthony, Ben Cross, Roy Thinnes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jean Simmons and the future star of the Pretender (and for all you video gamers, the voice of Orillion in Freelancer) –>Michael T. Weiss. This show needed tweaking but it definitely caught the feel of the original vampire soap, Dark Shadows, and should have been given a chance for survival.

Other shows deserving mention:

Enterprise, Firefly, Kung Fu, The Invaders, Kindred:The Embraced and The Pretender . Any other suggestions?

A fun place to look at past shows/memories:

Classic TV



  1. “My So-Called Life”

  2. Yeah as the post confirms, mine to.

    Actually I have never seen the show, “My So Called Life”. Hard to believe of a TV addicted boomer like me, who misses a lot of sleep. But I have not had local channels since the early 90’s. I made the switch to satellite when I dropped cable. A regular antenna or rabbit eats suck where i live so I never got to see many broadcast TV shows that did not make it to cable/satellite network channels. That is a problem with shows that do not make the big bucks thy just get the cutting axe. I was surprised that Arrested Development lasted as long as it did. I remember reading it and Enterprise were almost always facing the executioners axe at the end of the season. I have watched both since they were canceled as they were picked up in syndication reruns. I would think shows like “My So Called Life” could now possibly find extended life on cable channels like “WE”, where as they were doomed back in the mid-nineties. There is becoming more and more original programing on the cable/satellite channels.

    I have actually just picked up local channels from my satellite company because I was tired of watching the Bears games with crappyvisionrabbitears on my big TV. Other than the football games I have been underwhelmed by what the locals are offering.

  3. Ummm, you listed “Serenity” under Deserving Mention.
    First of all, the show was called “Firefly”. (“Serenity” was the title of the feature film that got made after DVD sales of the series went through the roof! (And also the name of the titular spacecraft.))
    If you’re not gonna put “Firefly” at #1 like everybody else, at least get the title right.

    Other than that… Great list! Especially “Profit” & “Threshold” (Peter Dinklage alone was worth the price of the DVD!).

    However, “Babylon 5” was designed as a 5-year story arc, so it wasn’t actually cancelled.

    Might I add…

    “Space: Above and Beyond”
    “Dark Skies”
    “Strange Luck”
    “Total Recall 2070”
    “Stingray” with Nick Mancuso

  4. Oops, Chris you are correct on the Firefly title (I kept thinking of the movie followup other than the series, I made the correction, thanks). I agree on Dark Skies and Space: Above and Beyond. I especially cannot believe I forgot Space: Above and Beyond as I was furious when they canceled that show. I do not remember seeing the other three you mentioned so I will have to take your word on them.

    (My list was originally longer and was to include all those mentioned but due to a sympathy strike by my right eye I shortened the post after my other eye considered joining the movement. Nor is the list designed to make one more important than the other. Those are all shows I liked really well and I prefer to enjoy each series for its own merits.)

  5. Homefront.

  6. Firefly and Arrested Development. Two of the greatest show ever that were axed way ahead of their time.

  7. Freaks and Geeks.

  8. WB’s “run of the house”

  9. Futurama, of course!

  10. Greg the Bunny.

  11. This post seems to be getting several accolades for show I am unfamiliar with. That is a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing that so many of us can find shows we like and a bad thing that the Networks found reasons to axe them, sometimes they did not give them a chance to survive. (That was the case with Space: Above and Beyond.) So just in case there are others like myself unsure about the shows I have added links that I could find to show overviews. Some had more than one choice I hope I selected the correct one. If not please let me know and I will correct the link. All of them had strong user followings over on IMDB.

    😆 @ QCEx –> Greg the Bunny? At least I do not feel so bad about some of my personal favorite obscure cult movies (like Amazon Women on the Moon & Used Cars) anymore. It sounds like the muppets gone bad. 😉 I guess I am not the only one in the QC with eccentric tastes in TV and movies.

    Space: Above and Beyond

    Dark Skies

    Strange Luck

    Total Recall 2070


    My So Called Life



    Arrested Development

    Freaks and Geeks

    Run of the House


    Greg the Bunny

  12. […] and Firefly). We just discussed shows (many of them quality Sci-Fi programs) that were given an early execution from broadcast networks. The threshold for financial success in broadcast television has doomed too many quality shows. The […]

  13. […] Read the full post at Samaritans Scalawags Scoundrels & Fleecing the Sheep […]

  14. Oh, I see why they are all considered premature. 😀

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