Sometimes they left us hanging on the edge of our seats, never knowing what was going to happen to the characters we had watched for an entire season. Sometimes the shows were too hard to catch due to bizarre scheduling. And sometimes they were just plain unlucky. But for whatever reason, here are 10 shows that I think were cancelled too soon…
What the heck was going on? Just when we thought we were getting a handle on the whole situation – a blackout in which most of an American city’s population got a glimpse of their future – the show was axed. A great concept was admittedly dragged out way too long. But the constant surprises kept me coming back for more despite the uneven acting. Who was behind the strange device uncovered that may have caused the blackout? We’ll never know.
Although it may be risible now, “Automan” was groundbreaking stuff in its day. Yet it barely saw out a single series. The titular character is in fact a rather conceited hologram which his creator uses to fight crime. Automan had a variety of Tron-like gadgets he could summon out of thin air, including a car and a helicopter. Not bad for the 1980s!
8. Earth 2
A surprisingly good sci-fi show from the 1990s that went against the grain by having the first female sci-fi commander, this understated series boasted some darned good actors – Richard Bradford (Man in a Suitcase), Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks) and Tim Curry (everything). But it proved too low-key for its own good, and failed to grab ratings. A shame.
7. Max Headroom
Is it a drama? Is it a music video show? Is it a chat show? Nobody knows, not even the producers it seems. Actually this was a British TV show featuring the world’s first 3D computer generated chat show host. Mr. Headroom was brought to life by Matt Frewer. Loooking back, it’s hard to see how Max did not stay with us for years. But a confusing premise and heavy competition from Miami Vice means that max is now obsolete, along with the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair Spectrum.
6. American Gothic
Produced by Saim Raimi (Spider-Man, Evil Dead) this understated supernatural mystery series featured great child actor Lucas Black (who starred opposite Billy BobThornton in Sling Blade) as the kid who knows too much for his own good about mysterious, menacing Sheriff Lucas Buck (Midnight Caller‘s Gary Cole), a small-town cop with powerful supernatural, possibly demonic abilities. A slightly murky plot and a lack of the supernatural may have contributed to its demise. But it was a good idea with some nice acting.
Based on the movie trilogy with rapper Sticky Fingers standing in for Wesley Snipes, this was an amazingly good show, with great plot twists, great supporting characters, and a very stylish production. Blade joins forces with recently-turned vampire Jill Wagner to destroy the vampiric House of Cthon from the inside. Ended on a huge cliffhanger. Blade exhibits the true hallmark of a series that was cancelled too soon — its own box set for fans which continues to sell despite its cancellation.
Joss Whedon’s sci-fi foray that owes a heavy debt to Star Wars as well as old-fashioned Westerns, Nathan Fillion shines as captain of a motley team of reprobates. Excellent production qualities and solid acting meant that this remains a cult favourite among Whedon’s salivating fans who long to get their teeth into something after Buffy.
A cop on a really fast motorcycle hardly seems like a great concept, yet this was a highly entertaining series, mainly due to the polar opposite characters of its leads, the suitably macho-named Jessie Mach (he likes to go fast, you see), and his controller Norman Tuttle (yep, he stays in his shell). With a fantastic score by German techno gods Tangerine Dream and some awesome stunt work, it’s not surprising the show was cancelled as it must have taken a fortune to produce each episode. But you can now relive all 13 of them thanks to DVD.
2. Twin Peaks
Hard to believe that this show is on the list, especially as it lasted for two seasons. But the sudden, shocking twist ending is one of the all-time cliffhangers. Fans will definitely agree the series ended too soon. Will there ever be a resolution? Doubtful.
1. Star Trek
The top series cancelled too soon? Yes, the original sci-fi series. Although it seems like it ran a lifetime, it was cancelled after only three seasons. Its cancellation was in the main due to budget cuts by the network and the move to a different time slot – incredibly so as not to conflict with Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Since then, Star Trek has become firmly entrenched as not just a cult classic but part of the popular culture. It remains a perennial favourite of TV programmers. It’s very rare that an episode of this show isn’t been played on some channel somewhere. That’s why Star Trek is the ultimate series that was cancelled too soon!