Five TV shows that were canceled much too soon
Futurama has been canceled...again. Fans are keenly aware that the show was nuked back in 2003 by Fox, then brought back by Comedy Central after it bought the rights to the four movies in 2007. But this season will reportedly be the last one, with the series finale airing on September 4.
Yes, Futurama is yet another television show that has ended -- twice now -- before its time. It's unfortunate when any TV show with creative genius and plenty of potential gets smacked in the tubes before it should. Here are five more television shows that deserved a few more seasons. Apparently someone needs to explain closure to network executives.
5. Star Trek: Enterprise Like most hard-core Trekkers, I heard that the prequel show to the original Star Trek would include some backstory, some interesting plot arcs -- and Scott Bakula. I wasn't wild about that last bit, but after watching the first few episodes, I thought the series represented the franchise well and almost all of the characters were growing on me. And after the first season, I decided that the show was adding to the Trek legacy as a whole, bridging the gap between the events of First Contact and the original TV series. So when the announcement came that the show would not be beamed up for a fourth season, I was genuinely disappointed -- because I was even on on the brink of accepting Scott Bakula...
Enterprise sucked asteroids in that last season, because every story arc ended abruptly, and the series finale was as absurd as it was rushed. If the show had been given at least one more season to keep the momentum going, it probably wouldn't have been zapped. And because of the final-season suckage, it hasn't picked up any steam in reruns, either. I target my impotent rage at Bakula, who would never have donned a Starfleet uniform and would still be doing Quantum Leap if I had my way.
4. Chappelle's Show Dave Chappelle done lost his mind, and it's too bad he had to do it three episodes into the third season of Chappelle's Show, which was pants-peeing hilarious and extremely popular. Chappelle's sketch comedy is just as good as his standup, and the show spawned some serious classics like "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories," "WacArnold's" and "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong," as well as an entire show where Wayne Brady is a deranged psycho. Chappelle's impressions of Prince and Rick James are downright cult classics. But then, with no warning, Dave Chappelle flew to South Africa, allegedly for psychiatric treatment -- a claim he denied -- and never finished the third season, citing reasons that included everything from stress to burnout to loss of creative control. It's one thing to quit while you are ahead, but Chappelle fucked over his own show before it had a chance to overtake his standup. That wasn't a smart move, and fucking over your fans isn't a competent business strategy, either.
3. My So-Called Life There were very few TV shows in the '90s that I would pause my thriving social life to watch every week. But Claire Danes's quirky teen drama My So-Called Life was one of them, because it was as close to a reality-based show as a series got back then without being on MTV. Watching a fifteen-year-old girl from a broken home make shitty decisions and lust after a hot idiot made me feel better about my life, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who took oversized-flannel-shirt fashion tips directly from the show. It only ran for one season, with Danes reputed to have been put off by the show's rigorous shooting schedule, but it's hard to blame her, because as any '90s kid knows, getting up early in the morning is a total deal-breaker.
I think the show deserved a few more seasons, at least until she got to college, because we all know that the terrible, ill-advised choices we make in high school are nothing compared to the ones we make in college, and I've always regretted that we never got to see her OD at a frat party or have a lesbian stalker light her car on fire.
2. Firefly Joss Whedon's quirky, genre-mixing one-season wonder ends up at the tippity-top of everyone's lists of canceled TV shows that desperately needed to continue, and for damn good reasons. Firefly was something special: spaghetti Western, adventures in Chinatown and killer sci-fi action all mixed together with a healthy dose of fine comedic writing. Why this show only had one season is a topic that Whedon fans always fight about. Although his other shows, Angel and Dollhouse, got prematurely yanked as well, it's Firefly's grounding that really hurts the most. Firefly's one measly season brought fans such endearing catchphrases as "Shiny!" "Special hell" and "I'll be in my bunk...," and taught us that rednecks do have things to contribute to society -- as long as they have a spaceship.
It also proved that whores sometimes do have hearts of gold, and it introduced us to Christina Hendricks, one of the hottest redheads alive. This really needed a few more seasons but got bombed for being in a shitty time slot -- dorks need shows to be on later at night so they can watch while gaming -- and now Firefly has been catapulted into cult status by rabid, righteous fans who have had no trouble expressing their displeasure at its early demise in every imaginable media outlet. A chunk of the cast showed up at the San Diego Comic Con in 2012, and 10,000 fans lined up to see their panel. That's more fans than American Idol currently has.
1. Futurama Obviously there are enough Futurama fans out there in adult cartoon land to keep the show going for seven more seasons; otherwise, popular demand wouldn't have brought it back from the dead the first time. That first cancellation was rough -- Fox isn't known for making the best decisions about anything -- and out of the four Futurama movies, only two were actually any good. But there is just something about a cryogenically frozen delivery boy, a one-eyed mutant space captain, a klutzy Chinese student, a slovenly lobster, an anal-retentive Jamaican bureaucrat and a dotty old professor that people relate to. And, of course, there is Bender, the lovable rogue robot who drinks, smokes, gets busy and tells people to bite his shiny metal ass. Futurama deserves a few more seasons, because at some point since the creation of cartoon superheroes, it became less about doing the right thing and fighting battles for the power of good versus evil and more about a bunch of characters talking shit to each other and screwing things up. And Futurama proudly espouses this dynamic cultural shift with hints of lewdness and relevant, snarky social commentary thrown in for kicks.
We need Futurama, for the sake of our children who will come after us. What else will teach our kids disrespectful language and gestures, moral flexibility and how to smoke cigars? Besides public schools, anyway.
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