One-Two Season Long Shows You Should Watch

We all have the shows that we loved that were cancelled too soon. For whatever reason, they just never caught on with a large audience. I found the majority of these shows after they had already ended and I’m grateful that online streaming has made that possible, though I still would have loved to see more episodes. Here is my top 10 and I look forward to hearing some of your cancelled favorites!

Better off Ted If you are in the mood for a new comedy to watch, do yourself a favor and watch this on Netflix immediately. It is a workplace comedy that looks at and critiques the absurdity and lack of ethics of many large corporations. That pitch may not demonstrate it well, but it is also hilarious. It’s smart and is full of interesting characters. For those of you who enjoy random asides in your TV, most episodes feature a fake commercial for Veridian Dynamics (the company around which the show is based) highlighting one of their new products or developments and they are incredibly enjoyable and funny.

Sports Night I recently finished this show after it was recommended to me and I am so glad I watched it. It is definitely an Aaron Sorkin show. It is primarily about the relationships between the characters and it features his well known rapid dialogue and the “walk and talk”. The heart of the show really is in the characters, not in the sports show they work on. It features some great friendships, great mentorships, and a romance that I’m pretty sure I was always destined to love because I seem to love every character Joshua Malina plays. It’s standout episode is “The Six Southern Gentleman of Tennessebe” and that if you don’t watch anything else, I highly recommend you watch that one episode. It is truly great and stands up very well 15 years after airing.

Dollhouse This is an unpopular choice, but this is probably my second favorite Joss Whedon show. It starts off a little rough, but once it settles into its exploration of the morality of what the Dollhouse is doing and the characters find their own identities, it becomes truly special. The season one finale “Epitaph One” was one of those episodes of TV that just leaves me stunned after watching it. If Orphan Black is the only show about cloning or other related issues that you are interested in, Dollhouse features probably the only person as talented at creating distinct characters with the same face – Enver Gjokaj.

Best Friends Forever I have a lot of love for this adorable show that only lasted 6 episodes. Created by real-life best friends Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair (who also created and star in USA’s current show Playing House), it really was just a show about two friends who would do anything to help each other when they need help or emotional support. It’s a celebration of friends and the bond that is shared as well as a look at how friendships like these work as we get older and get involved in serious romantic relationships. As is to be expected, everything about this show just feels like we are watching two actual friends navigate their crazy lives together. It’s a lot of fun to watch and well worth the very short time investment.

Caprica I watched this show before I saw Battlestar Galactica, so I’m sure my opinion is based partially on my viewing order. Now that I’ve seen both shows, I really wish that Caprica could have run all the way up to the start of Battlestar Galactica but even as a semi-standalone series, I think it holds up. I went into the show with only the knowledge of the Netflix synopsis and the first episode completely upended all of my expectations for the show. I loved this look at how the Cylons came to be and the move toward virtual reality. Like its parent series, it is sci-fi in its natural state, driving you to think about the meaning of life and what it means to be human.

Bunheads Like I said Tuesday, I like dancing in my shows. I also really like Amy Sherman-Palladino’s style of show writing and running. Therefore, I loved this show a lot and was very sad when it was cancelled. Sutton Foster was fantastic in the show and it was always a wonderful treat when she actually got to perform something. This show had great characters, plenty of pop culture references, and enough Gilmore Girls stars to make this fan happy every week. I wish it had connected with more people but it gave me 18 wonderful episodes to enjoy.

Life Unexpected This short-lived CW show was one of my favorites. When Lux Cassidy attempted to locate her birth parents in order to be legally emancipated, she was instead given over to their care. After spending a life in foster care, Lux doesn’t think she needs parents. After a life without her, her parents are equally unprepared to have a teenage daughter. They are forced to grow together, despite her parents no longer being a couple. It’s a story about finding a family and bringing your old and new families together. It features a strong female friendship in Tasha and Lux and for a short lived show, managed to pull off a great, satisfying ending.

Pushing Daisies It would be rare to find someone who loves television who hasn’t at least heard of Pushing Daisies but it has such a unique style that I had to include it here. For the unfamiliar, Bryan Fuller is a very distinctive creator. His worlds have a distinct visual look and there are a lot of thematic similarities between his works. This show is an adorable, quirky story about a pie maker/detective who falls in love but with a twist. Actions have consequences and for Ned, the consequences of touching something dead means that it comes back to life while something else dies. Unfortunately for him, the woman he’s fallen in love with is dead and he brought her back to life. If the vibrant coloring of the show doesn’t make you happy, this collection of characters will.

The Bletchley Circle I clearly have a type when it comes to shows. Women solving (or helping solve) crimes seems to be a recurring theme in my television choices and this show does it very well. It explores the idea that once World War II ended and women were no longer needed in the workplace in the same capacity, that their skills and desire to work on something bigger than themselves didn’t just vanish like their jobs. These friends couldn’t be more different but they all bring different skills to these investigations that no one else can or is willing to solve. The show only lasted for 2 seasons of 3 and 4 seasons, respectively, so it’s a short, easy watch that is highly enjoyable.

Stargate Universe This is another show that I seem to have a divergent opinion on due to my viewing order. This is the only show in the Stargate franchise that I’ve seen so I’ve had nothing to compare it to. The first few episodes are slow but I instantly loved Eli Wallace and he was enough to keep me going to a while. Then as I watched more, I started appreciating the other characters more and more until suddenly there were several that I love. As we learn more about them, all of the characters become deeper and more engaging. Two of my least favorite characters in the beginning ended up being my favorites in the end and that’s the sort of growth I like to see. If you can make me sincerely love a character by revealing more sides of their personality, those are characters I want to watch. Compared to the characters, the sci-fi falls a little short for me, though it it is still entertaining to watch. It also features Robert Carlyle being his normal, extremely talented self, which is always a bonus.

What are some of your favorite shows that didn’t run for long but you still think people should see?

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6 thoughts on “One-Two Season Long Shows You Should Watch

  1. OK as you know I think Sports Night’s lack of tenure on television is one of the great TV tragedies. I think it because unlike Firefly, which I thought showed great promise Sports Night came out of the gate strong and as much as I loved The West Wing, Sports Night was the casualty its success. I so agree with you on Better of Ted and Life Unexpected. You’ve seen my Brilliant but Cancelled post from a year ago. So I will quickly highlight five shows (aside from Sports Night) that I regularly revisit.

    Boomtown — I love cop shows. From Hill Street Blues to Law and Order, I love them. Boomtown was the one I loved truly madly deeply and was brokenhearted when it went off the air. It possessed one of the most innovative storytelling attempts on TV. Audiences watched the episode and crime unfold through the points of view of several key vested players including investigators, a reporter, lawyers and cops. The show weaved intricate connections among the characters that were dished out with just enough prudence to entice the viewer. It put Donnie Walberg and Neal McDonough at the center and made a compelling drama that deliberately abandoned linear storytelling. By season 2 NBC execs forced the show’s creators to change to a more traditional format. Doing so spelled the death of the show. However the first season in particular had wonderfully dark, morally ambiguous characters that make this show worth the time.

    Eli Stone — Long before Elementary, I fell in love with Johnny Lee Miller and Eli Stone. A little bit Ali McBeal with a dose of George Michael musical numbers and a dash of Victor Garber. What was there not to love? The fact that it manifests into a wonderful story about what we value in life and how we pursue happiness was a bonus surprise especially given the premise was an attorney who hears the guidance of God through messages that are telegraphed in musical interludes. A midseason replacement and victim of the writers strike, the show never really was able to recover from the delay between its first and second seasons.What makes the show work is Eli is reluctant to follow this morality quest.

    Drive — Six brief episodes was enough to make me mad that this series didn’t take off. I believe it was ahead of its time and in this age of 12 episode arcs this show could have (and I believe would) thrive today. The concept is bizarre but with a cast that included Nathan Fillion, Emma Stone and Dylan Baker (just to name a few) there was little down side for me. The concept was an illegal cross country road race with life and death stakes for those selected to drive. The individual journeys as well as the underlying plot of who was controlling the race was both mysterious and intriguing. It’s available on Amazon and there is a description from the creators for how it would have ended that made me wish it had lasted all the more.

    Cupid — Oh Jeremy Piven has never played a role better than Trevor Hale. A man who believes he is Cupid and stripped of his powers as punishment from Zeus and has to bring true love to 100 couples to get back his powers and return to Mount Olympus. He is counter by a therapist who counsels on love and relationships and the point/counterpoint of this duo with Dr. Claire being played by cynical Paula Marshall was wonderfully sarcastic without any real sense of cynicism. I loved it and was so mad when they cancelled it.

    The Riches – Who knew Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver could make a dramedy about travelers engaging and funny all at the same time. Add in Margo Martindale and this little gem was TV delight. It got points from me simply for its unusual subject matter of con-artist gypsies trying to live in upper middle class America. Izzard is amazing and Driver makes an interesting departure from what she’s been known for in her films. The show isn’t perfect and has Swiss cheese plot holes but it is entertaining from beginning to end.

    1. I love it when you talk about shows I’ve never seen even though you make me want to watch them all immediately. I’m especially excited to hear that The Riches is great. It’s been sitting in my Netflix queue for ages because I love Eddie Izzard but I’ve heard so little about it that it’s never been a huge priority.

      I think Eli Stone may be next on my list once I finish something I’m watching!

  2. I have a lot of opinions on this topic! I never seem to have the same taste in TV shows as the general public, so its quite often my favorite shows get the ax. Here are a few of the ones that caused me the most emotional trauma:

    Cupid. Me and Nicademus share this loss together. I knew and loved Jeremy Piven long before he became Ari Gold. This show oozed charm. They tried to remake it a few years ago, but you just cant recreate the perfection that was Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. Ugh, still not over it.

    Firefly. I love Firefly with a passion. I think its Joss Whedon’s strongest TV work and it pains me that he never got a chance to explore these characters more. Its one of those shows where the characters were so well written and fleshed out that even though there was only 14 episodes, in my mind this show feels like it was on for 3 seasons. Every single one of those 14 episodes is a favorite and has been watched over and over by me. At least a part of it lives on in Comic Book form for me to enjoy.

    Terriers. It had Michael Raymond James. It had Donal Logue. It was filmed right here in San Diego. This was another show that I think just wasnt given time to catch its footing. It was quirky. It had heart. I think it suffered from a bad title and promotion.

    Larry Paul (Ally McBeal). Ok, I know I am kinda cheating here because Ally McBeal ran for 5 seasons, but there was a part of Ally McBeal that was “gone too soon”, and that was the character of Larry Paul. I loved Larry Paul with a passion. He was to my high school self what Ben Wyatt is to my current self. I remember vividly the day that my mom picked me up from HS and told me that RDJ had been arrested – again. I thought she was playing a cruel joke on me, but alas, it was true. They had already filmed a proposal scene. Larry and Ally were supposed to get married in the Season 4 finale. But did any of this happen? Nope, because RDJ got himself fired. It was honestly one of the most heartbreaking TV moments for me. And it wasnt even the writers being cruel, or the network axing my show, it was because the actor who played my favorite character couldnt keep his life together. I am thrilled that RDJ was able to turn his life around and find such success as Iron Man, but a part of me can never forgive him for depriving me of the perfect TV couple that was Larry Paul and Ally McBeal. Sigh.

    1. Oh man, I just realized I left off Freaks and Geeks! That show walked a very thin line between endearing awkward and uncomfortable awkward, but when it was over, I felt like a good friend was moving away. I wasn’t ready to see it go. I just watched it last year on Netflix, and the fact that I know John Francis Daley grew up to be such a tall adorable man made it so much better. Every time is character was going through some awkward coming of age experience I would just sigh and talk to the TV “aww dont worry, you are going to grow up to be tall and handsome!”

    2. This post reminds me that I really need to get around to Terriers as soon as possible. You and Nicademus both love it so much and I just keep hearing great things about it. Also Freaks and Geeks. And apparently now Cupid, which I had never heard of before today.

      Your story about RDJ and Larry Paul is heartbreaking. Actor problems are the worst because you know so much could have been but then you feel bad for the actual person and their problems.

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