TV isn't always a meritocracy. With that in mind, here are our picks of five shows that were canceled way before their time, and five more we wish would vanish into a black hole, never to be seen again.
Which ones made the list? Check out the gallery above to find out.
When it comes to shows taken from us too soon, there’s nothing that compares to Firefly. The brainchild of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon, this superb sci-fi/Western series only crawled to 14 episodes before Fox pulled the plug due to subpar ratings.
The show's cult fan base sounded off so loudly that the series was sequelized a few years later in 2005 movie Serenity, which picked up with the same cast after the events of Firefly's final episode. The movie was critically acclaimed, but flopped at the box office. This is why we can’t have nice things.
It sounds crazy to suggest that a franchise which is coming up to 50 years of age was canceled too soon, but the original Star Trek television show was kicked off the air after just three seasons!
Revived after posting strong syndication numbers, the sci-fi franchise spawned more than a dozen films and four spinoff TV series, but there was definitely a time when James Tiberius Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise genuinely seemed to have reached the final frontier. “You Star Trek fans have fought the good fight, but the show has been canceled and there’s nothing to be done now,” wrote a TV critic in 1969. Truly illogical, captain!
I narrowly avoided including Buffy spinoff Angel on this list for fear of including yet another Joss Whedon project. Then I remembered Dollhouse, his short-lived sci-fi show about a mysterious organization that implants false memories and skills in mind-wiped humans known as Dolls so they can take on various missions.
The premise sounded like it could simply be a show in which its star, Eliza Dushku, got dressed up in various outfits (that alone should have guaranteed a minimum of three seasons). But Dollhouse was packed full of Whedon-y goodness and grew to become one of the most intriguing sci-fi shows in recent history, even though it only lasted two seasons.
Set in the late 1800s and revolving around the residents of Deadwood, South Dakota, this foul-mouthed HBO Western was beloved by virtually everyone that saw it. Everyone, that is, except for HBO executives, who canceled it after Season 3.
While there were initial plans to give Deadwood a proper sendoff with two TV movies, those plans now seem to have fallen by the wayside. We hold out hope that someone comes to their senses.
A pie-maker imbued with the power to bring the dead back to life solves murders with his resurrected childhood sweetheart, a private investigator, and a love-struck waitress. What’s not to love? Seemingly nothing, which is why Pushing Daisies received 17 Emmy Award nominations, with seven wins. Then it was canceled, presumably by someone who won’t be brought back from the afterlife anytime soon.
There are some events so shameful that you have to wonder if there’s something deeply wrong with the human psyche -- the kind of thing Arthur C. Clarke was alluding to in 2001: A Space Odyssey when he suggested that civilization was inextricably tied to murder and bloodshed.
The inexplicable popularity of Two and a Half Men is one such example. I've never actually met a fan of this show, but they must exist unless 4.8 million people leave their TV sets on every week as some kind of situationist meta-prank.
Here’s how awful the show is: CBC recently announced the series will end after its next season, and I’m still including it here. Why? Because they shouldn't even let it finish out with a flourish of human decency. Just cut to black in the middle of an episode and never mention it again.
I should love The Big Bang Theory. As a nerd who loves tech, comics and pretty much anything else that used to mark you as a potential lunch-money theft target in high school, a show that features geeks (as opposed to, say, five unfeasibly attractive friends living in apartments they could never possibly afford) should be right up my alley.
So why should The Big Bang Theory be canceled immediately? There are a bunch of small reasons: The jokes aren’t funny, the characters are unlikeable, and a laugh track in 2014 is all kinds of lame. The real reason, though, is that it’s in no way an accurate portrayal of geek culture, but rather the same kind of dumb pocket-protector brainiac jokes we’ve been suffering through since the 1950s. HBO's Silicon Valley is roughly a billion times better.
The Simpsons is, at this stage, essentially a zombie. It looks a little bit like the entity you once knew, but the spirit is gone, and now it just lurches around the wilderness looking for brains to feast upon. Even the most ardent Simpsons fan will readily admit that things haven’t been the same since the late '90s, when the show lost its zing and began its steep decline.
It’s not even like you can just blame the show’s age, though: While 25 seasons is a long time by anyone’s reckoning, South Park has been on the air for 17 years and can still raise a good laugh every episode. It’s sad to say, since I once loved The Simpsons, but creator Matt Groening has basically undone all his good work at this stage. Boo-urns!
“What, that great 1991 Academy Award-nominated Disney movie?” If that’s genuinely what you thought when you read this, then skip to the next slide and don’t sully your mind with knowledge about this abomination of a show, which has been soiling the airwaves since 2012. A loose remake of the 1987 CBS series of the same name, this sci-fi police procedural is woeful on just about every level. Oh, and the “Beast” character is basically an underwear model with a blemish on his cheek. The horror, the horror!
It would have been very easy to pick, pretty much at random, a reality show from E and hold it up as the final example of a show that we’d like to have scrubbed from our brains using neuroscience’s answer to bleach. That would have been too easy, though. Instead, how about the crushing disappointment of a show that is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
They've done so much right with the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it seemed they should certainly be able to transfer some of the magic of Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie to the small screen. Sadly, they haven’t.
What we’re left with is a show straight out of the formulaic '90s that lacks any of the recognizable characters or compelling plotlines of big-screen Marvel tales. With Marvel already running the risk of burnout with the number of flicks it’s pumping out, it should forget about this misstep and focus on completing its Hollywood takeover.
Did we miss out your favorite hidden TV gem, that was taken from us before it had the chance to find its audience? Or did we want to send a show you love off to the Sarlacc pit that is TV hell? If you have strong thoughts on this topic let us know what they are in the comments below.
The official musical instrument of the 2014 World Cup is the Caxirola, but it has already been banned from stadiums. Not because it will drive you out of your mind with irritation like the last World Cup’s vuvuzela, but because the Caxirola is considered a security risk (or more likely, a perfect booze and drug-smuggling device.
The Caxirola looks like a cross between a lemon and a set of knuckledusters. Inside the hollow plastic bubble are hundreds of beads that rattle when you shake it and make a “nice, pleasant” sound. But you don’t have to bother with a real plastic lemon: you can buy the app.
As a kid I never really liked football, but I loved Panini football stickers. Now there’s an environmentally friendly way to collect and swap stickers (if you consider making an iPad or iPhone to be less damaging than printing a paper book). The official Panini Online Sticker Album app lets you collect and swap stickers, and stick them into a virtual album. Swapping is done online, and you get three sticker packs with the free download. $free
I’ll be buying my Spain World Cup shirt down at the local knockoff market, but the real deal has some features that partially justify its $150 price tag. Dri-FIT microfiber, laser-cut mesh and ventilations zones will keep you cooler than if you went topless. And of course you’ll get the shivery chills every time you remember how much you paid for it. $150
Maybe you want to follow the World Cup from the beach, or the park, or just not be stuck indoors. Or maybe you live in a foreign country and you want to listen to an English commentary while you drink Brazilian beer and watch the match in a Brazilian bar.
For this, you need the radio. Either tune a real radio to the BBC, like the World Band Tecsun radio that people like on Amazon, or grab the excellent (free or paid) TuneIn Radio app, which, as its name suggests, tunes in to any radio station that transmits via the internet. I recommend the BBC.
Stuck in rainy Europe? Don’t own a passport to leave the U.S? No problem. Google has visited the World Cup stadiums so you don’t have to – just head over to this page to virtually tour any of Brazils World Cup stadiums via Street View.
Pick them on a map or just browse the list, and you can even take a look at the streets outside.
Just before the 2010 World Cup, I remember seeing lots of men dragging huge boxes into their apartment buildings. What better excuse for a new TV than a World Cup? Right now, the Wirecutter says that the best TV you can buy is the Samsung F8500, available in 51, 60 and 64-inch models and ready for 3-D should you happen a cross a game broadcast that way (and sport is probably the only reasons to use a 3-D TV). Best of all, the 51-incher is currently $1,800 on Amazon, which is $900 off list price.
The supermarkets are already full of Brazil-related plastic junk, and even folks who only watch football once every four years are getting excited. Why? It’s World Cup time, of course!
Here we have a selection of apps and gadgets, clothes and toys to help you follow along and enjoy the show. The only thing we haven’t included is streaming app, because broadcast rights vary from country to country. Our workaround is to watch on TV or listen on the radio. Or do it like the Brazilians and head to your local bar.
As a huge fan of Vertigo Comics’ Hellblazer, about hard-bitten wise-cracking paranormal detective John Constantine, I’m warily excited about the upcoming TV series on NBC. Wary because of the totally off-base movie of the same name. Excited because, well, it looks like they got a bunch of things about the character and universe in which he lives “right.”
“I think as with the source material,” says series lead Matt Ryan in an interview with IGN, “there’s so much to draw from in terms of the character and the balance of humor and wit and dark and gritty. It’s great, because John has this kind of real sarcastic, ironic British wit. It’s funny, but at the same time it’s serious and dark and gritty. It’s got it all, I think.”
At first glance, the trailer (below) looks like the show creators understand more of the character than the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves ever did, including emo angels, a world-weary John Constantine and his famous trench coat.
When the walls and pottery starts shaking in spooky ways, newlyweds Donna Johnson and Carol-Anne decide to call the Paranormal Investigation Team, or P.I.T. This ragtag team of ghost busters, led by Connor, the lovelorn managing director, must prove themselves as professionals to keep the gig, and save the day.
This new web series, part of geek-favorite Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry media collective, is surprisingly well written and acted, and is as well-produced as any new TV show, even though it’s only on the web.
The first episode (embedded below) shows a lot of promise and anyone with an interest in geeky television shows about ghosts and goofy nerds should take a look.
The show that kickstarted the "TV shows are the new movies" craze can now be streamed in its entirety, letting you laugh, cry, and cringe as Tony Soprano struggles to balance his troubled home life while also running the New Jersey-based DiMeo crime family.
My DVD of Flight of the Conchords season 1 is beat to hell after keeping it on repeat every Sunday morning for two years. Bret and Jemaine's zany attempts to find love and becomes rock gods were the funniest thing on HBO before Eastbound and Down and Silicon Valley came along. It's a shame they only made two seasons.
I loved Breaking Bad but The Wire's expansive view of crime and corruption in Baltimore tops the transformation of Walter White as one of the best TV shows ever. The series dives into all the city's dark cracks, from drug dealing gangsters at Hamsterdam, stevedores trying to make ends meets, and the cunning bastards destroying the everyone's hopes and dreams from City Hall.
Other than its top notch TV series, HBO also has some great documentaries. Even though Katrina hit nearly a decade-ago, Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke is one of HBO's best, showcasing how New Orleans residents' lives were completely upended by the death, disease and devastation that followed the storm's wake.
Ian McShane's performance as Al Swearengen is one TV's all-time greatest western characters thanks to the grit and realism interwoven with historical truths, as the show's lead writer David Milch, uses the 1870's west to study how civilization gels together from chaos by rallying around a uniting symbol - gold.
It’s time to cancel your cable subscription. The best TV shows, movies, and documentaries have landed on Amazon Prime thanks to a deal with HBO that unleashes the networks’ exceptional collection of content to the Internet for the first time ever.
Starting today Amazon Prime users can catch up on entire seasons of HBO’s top shows by streaming them to your Mac, iPhone, or iPad at absolutely no extra cost. It’s an unprecedented treasure trove of greatness that required an HBO GO subscription to access until today when it was finally set free for the first time ever.
HBO has been reluctant to embrace a paid-streaming model that would cut its ties to lucrative cable subscriptions, but the move is a sign that a top-down approach could be on the way as HBO adds its GO app to Amazon Fire TV and other services.
The entire HBO lineup isn’t available quite yet, but the company says shows like Veep and The Newsroom will be added once they pass their third seasons, making them available for the low-cost of a $79 annual Amazon Prime subscription.
Here are five shows you should start binging on today.
TeeVee, my go-to TV episode listings app, has just gotten a super-useful update: calendar integration. Now the app not only keeps you updated about airing TV shows via push notifications, it can also integrate them right into your calendar.
For telly addicts in the U.K., the free TVCatchup app for Android and iOS makes it easy for them to watch live TV channels while they’re on the go. But thanks to an ongoing legal dispute with a number of public service broadcasters, the app’s developers have been forced to pull popular feeds, including ITV and Channel 4.
Amazon is gearing up to launch a new set-top box that hopes to compete with the Apple TV and other video streaming devices this holiday, The Wall Street Journal reports. It’s understood the device is small and resembles a Roku, and it will run apps and provide content from a variety of sources, including Amazon’s own Prime service.
Cable industry veteran and former CableLabs executive Jean-François Mulé became an engineering director at Apple last month, and he’s hard at work on “something big.” His appointment comes just weeks before Apple is expected to unveil its latest Apple TV, and at a time when the Cupertino company has been working hard to improve the $99 set-top box.
But is Mulé part of something a little more exciting?
The Hulu Plus apps for Android and iOS have today been updated with support for Google Chromecast. You’ll find a new ‘Cast’ button within the app that will stream your favorite shows to your television with the help of the $35 dongle.