We all have TV shows that we’ve heard about, or stumbled upon, and instantly fell in love with. You start to get to know the characters, you’re digging the storyline, and just when it starts to really pull you in — snap — the network pulled the plug and your new favourite show is just a memory. There’s a lot of programs that fit the billing of seeing their time come a little too soon. However, we’ve picked out five particular TV shows cancelled too early that we thought deserved to see an extra season… or five.
Five TV Shows Cancelled Too Early
ABC, 1 Season (2012)
Starting off our list of TV shows cancelled too early is “The River”. It was a novel concept for a mid-season replacement, too. World-famous explorer Dr. Emmet Cole goes into uncharted territory along the Amazon River, searching for the supernatural and, alas, goes missing. Six months later, after his fans (and his family) have accepted he’s gone, Cole’s emergency beacon goes off… and a rescue party is organized. Compiled of his wife, Tess; his estranged son, Lincoln; the daughter of Dr. Cole’s cameraman (who is also missing), Lena Landry; the rescue vessel mechanic Emilio and a private security guard, Kurt.
What made “The River” truly interesting? In order to fund the mission, Dr. Cole’s ex-producer, Clark, was allowed to film this search. Therefore, the entire show was presented in a found-footage style.
What ensues is an array of paranormal activity, secret tribes, demonic possession. And, for good measure, some illegal experimentation. In saying all that, “The River” actually had favourable reviews from Metacritic. Despite being a hybrid of “Lost” and “Paranormal Activity”, ABC wasn’t happy with the ratings, though, and cancelled the show after just eight episodes.
Streaming giant Netflix had inquired about picking up the series and continuing it. Netflix ultimately decided against it, however, consigning “The River” to the heap of those TV shows cancelled too early.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Fox, 2 Seasons (2008-2009)
The vast Terminator universe is the setting of “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (TSCC). So you already know to expect robots, gunfights and explosions! The show was a spinoff series that follow the events of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but ignoring all the following movies.
The first reason this show was great was the cast. Lena Headey played the titular Sarah Connor (mother of the center of the Terminator universe, John Connor). You might also know her now as “Game of Thrones” Cersei Lannister — so you know she’s snarky, badass and not afraid of anything. Thomas Dekker played John Connor, while Summer Glau (Firefly, The 4400, Dollhouse) played Cameron, a Terminator which John Connor sent back from the year 2027 to protect his 1995 self. Not only does she have all the capabilities of the familiar T-800 model, but she also has much more human qualities. These include a full set of emotions, mannerisms and consumption of nourishment.
Also intriguing is a diversion from the usual characters, mainly John Connor’s father, Kyle Reese. Instead, we get Kyle’s older brother, Derek, as well as new characters specific to the show. Namely, FBI Agent James Ellison, an enigmatic character that flip-flops between enemy and ally; and Leven Rambin as Riley, John’s love interest. There’s also Garret Dillahunt as a Terminator that relentlessly hunts John Connor is the show’s present.
While “TSCC” had huge reviews in its nine-episode first season, the ratings dropped for the 22-episode second season. And the show was cancelled, especially with Terminator: Salvation set to hit the big screen. Fans were not happy, and petitioned long and hard for its revival, but it was not to be.
Flight of the Conchords
HBO, 2 Seasons (2007/2009)
Next on the list of TV shows cancelled too early is one of the more underrated real-but-fake comedy shows HBO produced. “Flight of the Conchords” followed the exploits of New Zealanders Bret and Jemaine, who travel to New York in search of success. While they are an actual real-life duo, for the show they played fictionalized versions of themselves, as shepherds-turned aspiring folk musicians.
The wacky show has the greatest title ever: Deputy Cultural Attaché at the New Zealand Consulate. Further, the characters, including their manager Murray (played by Rhys Darby), their lone fan (and stalker) Mel plus, their friend Dave, give the show a beautiful simplicity as it just progresses through their day-to-day life.
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are, in real life, a two-man band called Flight of the Conchords. It’s no surprise then that they put musical performances into each episode, usually in the form of a monologue or passionate form of communication with another character. It’s hard to top the likes of “Inner City Pressure,” or “Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor),” which separates the show from many other comedies.
“Flight of the Conchords” received 10 Emmy Nominations during its two seasons spanning 22 episodes. And the show had a gaggle of high-profile cameos, including Kristen Wiig, Aziz Ansari, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan, Will Forte and Art Garfunkel. But after the second season, Clement and McKenzie announced they would not be doing a third season. It’s a true shame, because “Flight of the Conchords” was very funny in a way most other shows couldn’t match.
NBC, 1 Season (2010-2011)
Though “The Event” only had one 22-episode season, was it ever a glorious mess of characters, plot twists and action. If you ever wondered what would happen if “Lost” (again) and “24” had a child, “The Event” would be the result.
Basic plot: aliens crashed on Earth 66 years ago. The U.S. Government captured many and held in a secret facility. Those that got away, however, were assimilated into the general population, acting as “sleepers.” The show picks up with the sleepers finally working on two missions. The first, to get the detained aliens released. And secondly, a separate mission to transport the remaining aliens from their homeworld (which is rapidly becoming uninhabitable) onto Earth.
“The Event” constantly introduces new characters throughout the season, while keeping them mysterious enough as to their origins and motives. A la 24, each episode was just a number of metaphorical fires needing to be put out by all the various character groups. These range from the main character, Sean, right up to the POTUS. Characters had sub-allegiances, plot twists and classic heel turns. Including a major twist in the season’s final episode.
Amid poor ratings in the second half of the season, NBC pulled the plug after one season. It was a shame, because for as hectic and overwhelming the show was episode-to-episode, it was a fun and exciting ride. Plus the actual “event,” for which the show got its name, could have been one of many things hinted at within the show, but was never actually explained.
Freaks and Geeks
NBC, 1 Season (1999-2000)
Finally, rounding off our list of TV shows cancelled too early is teen-comedy drama, “Freaks and Geeks“. The story follows a brilliant student, Lindsay, as she goes through high school with her friends, who are considered the “freaks”. As well as her younger brother Sam and his friends, who actually are the “geeks.”
Set in a fictional Detroit suburb in 1980, the show focuses mainly on how a gifted student is being transformed by her “freak” friends, and the issues it causes within her family. Other core theme is Sam and the “geeks” trying to fit in as so many adolescents labelled social outcasts are want to do.
“Freaks and Geeks” was lauded by many as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. There were 18 episodes filmed in all. Only 12 aired on NBC, though, before it became another one of those TV shows cancelled too early. After fan pressure, NBC aired three more episodes, with the final three airing months later on Fox Family Channel.
The other thing that made “Freaks and Geeks” so good? Well, it seemed to jumpstart the career of a few kinda-famous people in the industry: Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini.