With the announcement earlier this week from The CW that they are not ordering a full season for Life Unexpected, and with NBC canceling JJ Abrams' Undercovers yesterday, it has inspired My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture to take a look at other shows we have loved and lost. Admittedly, this is something that I have done before, but it feels worth repeating since there are so many more on the list now!
First and foremost, My Generation. Now it might not be fair to officially say it is lost since creator Noah Hawley is shopping it around and is reportedly close to a deal for at least the eight episodes they shot while still under the ABC umbrella. But this was a show with real heart, that had a terribly tough timeslot, and which viewers needed some time to adjust to for its very specific format and huge cast of characters. Unfortunately two episodes wasn't enough for the network to get the numbers they needed to consider the show profitable and worth their time, effort, and money. So it was cut loose from the schedule earlier this season.
ABC also canned a little known but much beloved comedy called Miss Guided. Starring Kristoffer Polaha, Brooke Burns, Chris Parnell, and Judy Greer in her first real lead role, the show was about a group of teachers at their old high school. It featured all of the great story-telling elements: humor, heart, and of course, a love triangle. It was also something of an underdog story, as Greer's character was still trying to prove to those she grew up with that she had come out of her shell and blossomed as an adult. It was like glee but without all the music. Unfortunately it got buried in the schedule and ended after only seven episodes back in 2008. The studio still has not released a DVD.
There have been two television shows called Significant Others that have crossed My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture's radar. The one I have loved and lost aired on Bravo in 2004 and was a sitcom about couples in various stages of their relationship who all go to couples' counseling to deal with their specific, and somewhat neurotic, issues. The show was filled with improv comics like Brian Palermo, Faith Salie, Andrea Savage, and Fred Goss and it was often hard to tell what was scripted and what they just came up with in the moment; it all felt so natural. In that vein, it seemed to lay the groundwork for Modern Family because it also featured the various characters talking to someone just off-camera, interview style, but in their case it was a therapist. The show received a total of twelve episodes before just fizzling out. But I still laugh out loud over the episodes on DVD.
Another improv half-hour comedy featuring great comedians that deserved more of a chance was Starz' Party Down. Admittedly the network didn't do the material any favors, as it is not a channel that everyone gets; hell, it is not even a channel that I get! The motley crew of cater-waiters all trying to be something else didn't always succeed at their day job, but the show succeeded at being witty, clever, and often times meta as it was set in Los Angeles and often featured well-known industry people playing themselves or well-known industry people playing other, fictional industry people. After their second short cable season, the network decided not to pick it back up.
Poor Noah Hawley. Back in 2009, ABC also prematurely canceled his cop dramedy The Unusuals. The show fit nicely with Pushing Daisies, which was also on the network's line-up, in that it featured somewhat off-beat partnerships investigating the not-so-typical crimes. It also lead the way for Southland, in the "rich kid joining civil servitude" realm. Starring Amber Tamblyn and a pre-Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, even the casting was inspired! Ten episodes aired and can now be found on DVD.
Television is brutal, isn't it?
(For the record, shows that made my list the first time around, a few years ago, included Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared, Arrested Development, Firefly, Veronica Mars...) I didn't want to open old wounds by repeating them here.
These are just some of my favorite shows that sadly weren't given enough of a chance. What are yours?