Occasionally when I’m bored, I start wandering the web looking for lists. Lists of things to like. Lists of things to hate. Lists of things to lament. Lists of things to applaud. Of late, I’ve been seeking out lists that help me counteract my negativity about all this “reality” I’m being asked to consume on TV. One recent list praises five television shows whose runs were cut short because the masses simply weren’t bright enough to catch on. (Bionic Woman does not fall into this category.)
I expected the list to be an homage to one-hit wonders of the television world. Instead, I found a couple of one-and-done examples of sheer brilliance, but also a few shows that got more than one shot at gaining an audience. For example, I agree that Arrested Development was brilliant, but it did get a three-season run. That’s a far cry from a 12-episode complete series DVD box set. So I came up with my own list of TV shows that the throngs missed out on, thus depriving the rest of us of the opportunity to see these story lines play out over more than a single season.
1. My So-Called Life
In my opinion, this was the best teen drama ever to grace the airwaves. There was no shrinking away from so-called adult issues. Those of us who did catch on to this show got a chance to watch Claire Danes develop her craft while her character, Angela Chase, and friends dealt with teenage romance, alcohol abuse, homosexuality and midterms. Oh, and despite the series’ all-too-brief 19-episode run, Time magazine found a spot for MSCL on its list of the 100 best television shows of all time.
Joss Whedon. Gina Torres. Space travel. ‘Nuff said. This show deserved far more than 14 episodes. The big-screen movie was a nice consolation prize, but I would’ve preferred a longer life for the series.
3. Dead Like Me
Ellen Muth is my favorite grim reaper. A mere 29 episodes was simply not enough time for me to spend with her. I hope that when I kick the bucket, she’s there to meet me with her sardonic grin and soft, occasionally gravelly voice. I can think of no better way to ease into the afterlife than with the biting humor and bitterness of Georgia Lass. Yes, I’m twisted. You should know this by now.
4. Freaks and Geeks
Here’s another one that made Time‘s list of the 100 best shows, and rightfully so. I remember watching this show and seeing myself in almost every character on the screen. This was That 80’s Show done as a dramedy, and I loved every minute of its 18 episodes.
I must begin by admitting that I was one of the unfortunate masses who missed this show the first time around. But now, thanks to its resurrection by Logo, I’ve become hooked. Watching Caroline Dhavernas Jaye Tyler discuss life, love and the pursuit of happiness with inanimate objects is must-see TV for me. Plus, the absurdity of Katie Finneran‘s successful lawyer Sharon trying to avoid being caught necking with her girlfriend makes me laugh out loud. And it’s a grand reminder of the talent of Lee Pace, who was brilliant in Soldier’s Girl and makes me laugh and cry as Ned in Pushing Daisies. For his sake, I hope there’s no Wonderfalls curse.
I know there are more of these brief flashes of television genius lying dormant in the cancellation graveyard. So, tell me, which of television’s one-season wonders would make your list?