Gone Before Their Time: 7 TV Shows That Shouldn’t Have Been Canceled
- Friday, August 12, 2011
5.) Dead Like Me
Aired: 2003 - 2004 on Showtime
Starred: Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Laura Harris, Britt McKillip, Cynthia Stevenson,
The concept of death has haunted mankind since time immemorial, and in 2003 Bryan Fuller gave audiences a new spin on the afterlife with Dead Like Me. The show followed eighteen-year-old Georgia "George" Lass, whose bored and underperforming life is suddenly snuffed out after she's hit by a falling toilet seat. Instead of passing on however, George is drafted into the ranks of the undead as a "Grim Reaper". A Reaper's job is to remove human souls, preferably before they die, and escort them into the afterlife, meaning George is now stuck in limbo until she reaches her vaguely established quota of human souls.
With the help of a group of misfit Reapers, led by the sagely Rube (Mandy Patinkin), George slowly begins to understand the meaning of life, and how to treasure every moment of it. The show featured an excellent cast, and delivered a hilarious spread of dark comedy delivered with solid irony and Muth's emotionless narration. Despite this, the show faced internal problems. One of the lead actresses, Rebecca Gayheart, left the show due to "artistic differences", and Bryan Fuller departed as well after several disagreements over the main script. This ultimately doomed the show to cancelation. Like Firefly, Dead Like Me was given its own movie to tie up loose ends, but even this could not resurrect the series from the grave.
Aired: 2004 on FOX
Starred: Carolin Dhavernas, Katie Finneran, Tyron Leitso, Lee Pace, William Sadler, Diana Scarwid, Tracie Thomas,
Wonderfalls has a lot in common with Dead Like Me. Both were created by Bryan Fuller, both centered on the adventures of a young female protagonist, and both had elements of the supernatural (plus, both got canceled.) Unlike its dower sibling however, Wonderfalls showed the lighter side of life and destiny. The show told the story of Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), a recent college grad working a dead-end job at a Niagara Falls gift shop. Jaye's normal life is unexpectedly turned upside-down when the shop's various animal figurines begin talking to her. Reluctantly following the instructions of wax lions, brass monkeys, and mounted fish, Jaye sets out to perform various tasks that end up improving the lives of those around her.
With great characters, smart humor, and plenty of charm, there was a lot to like about the show. Unfortunately, few people got the chance to enjoy it. Wonderfalls was originally planned to air on FOX in the fall of 2004 but was ultimately delayed. Due to its late release the series had trouble attracting viewers, and was bounced to several nighttime slots before it was canceled. Still, the show managed some small fame during its time, and also acted as a springboard for Lee Pace's career.
Aired: 2009 on NBC
Starred: Christopher Egan, Ian McShane, Susanna Thompson, Mllison Miller, Sebastian Stan, Eamonn Walker, Dylan Baker, Wes Studi, Sarita Choudhury,
Any TV show based on religion is bound to attract hard criticism, and Kings was unfortunately no exception. The NBC drama retold the biblical story of King David, but was set in a kingdom that mirrored the modern age both culturally and technologically. The story opens with a young soldier named David Shepard (Christopher Egan) single-handedly rescuing captive soldiers from behind enemy lines, and destroying a "Goliath" tank in the process. David's heroism makes him an instant star in the national media, and earns him the gratitude of King Silas (Ian McShane).
Silas brings David to the capital city of Shiloh, where he is immediately swept into the politics and secrecy of the royal family. Yet despite these plots, David remains loyal to his ideals and his people, earning him the fabled "Butterfly Crown" of the future king. Early critics praised the series, calling it "bold", and "engrossing" with a look and feel that surpassed most of what you see on TV. Ian McShane in particular was noted for his performance as Silas, but Kings' strong start didn't last long.
Religious audiences felt the show did not follow the original story close enough, while secular viewers argued that Kings needed to break away from its biblical context to become more original. The show also drew criticism for portraying the character of Prince Jack (the biblical equivalent of Jonathan) as a closeted homosexual. Unable to satisfy either side, Kings fell in the ratings and was eventually grounded.
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