February 25, 2005

Premature Ejection

Print More

Don’t you just love it when one week you’re watching your new favorite show, and the next, finding out it has disappeared — never to be seen again? It’s called show cancellation. And like blue-balls on prom night, it leaves you with an empty feeling inside. Thanks to the erection of the DVD market, the new format is now the Viagra of the TV world, giving life to once dead and flaccid shows we once cherished.

Freaks and Geeks — NBC, 1999 – 2000
Probably the best teen drama/comedy since My So Called Life, Freaks and Geeks — F&G as its cult followers like to call it — is the handiwork of Judd Apatow, whose other creations include The Ben Stiller Show, Anchorman and Undeclared. With a cast of fresh-faced industry unknowns and well-crafted, angst-ridden dialogue, F&G depicts the flip side of teen life in suburban Michigan during the early ’80s. I guess problems aren’t just for pretty people in California. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after 18 episodes. Apparently, viewers don’t want to be reminded of the wedgies, swirlies and other social humiliations of their teen years. Thanks to a devoted following and a 40,000-fan online petition, the entire series is now available on DVD.

Wonderfalls — FOX, 2004
One of the most egregious offenders of wrongful cancellations is the FOX network — known for having the balls enough to air experimental new shows but never having the faith to let them succeed. Among its victims, is Wonderfalls, the story of Jaye (Caroline Dhavernas), an “overeducated, yet underemployed” Ivy-league grad with no aspirations. Sound familiar? A proud slacker in a dead-end job as a gift shop clerk at Niagara Falls, Jaye starts hearing voices. Talking objects instruct her to help people, turning her into a reluctant heroine. Don’t let its quirkiness throw you off. The beauty of this “dramedy” isn’t the serialized story line (though they are well concocted), rather, it is the show’s cast of odd characters. Created by Bryan Fuller, whose similar invention Dead Like Me was just cancelled from Showtime, Wonderfalls is a must for any DVD collector.

Playmakers — ESPN, 2003
Sex, drugs, steroids, gays, murder and Snoop Dogg. You won’t find this combination on the LPGA tour — well, except maybe the gays and ‘roids. You will find all of them in Playmakers, ESPN’s original drama series portraying the lives of NFL players. Though it is ridiculous to find so many problems in one team, this show isn’t simply a list of the NFL’s dirty laundry. Instead, it’s a candid view of the League’s playmakers as real people, not just the clowns we make them out to be in our collective imagination.

Not surprisingly, this didn’t please the NFL bigwigs too much. After just one 11-episode season — conveniently taking place over the course of one football season — ESPN cancelled the show instead of pissing off one of their biggest partners. The entire series is available on DVD with special commentaries, featurettes and plenty of this article’s favorite word: balls.

Firefly — FOX, 2002
From a vampire-slaying heroine to a band of cowboys in space, Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, certainly has no fear of any eunuch network execs. Fresh from the success of Buffy and Angel, Whedon pitched his bold, new sci-fi western to FOX. With a strong ensemble cast (one of Whedon’s characteristic strengths) and a story line to match, Firefly seemed primed for greatness.

Fox, however, never gave Firefly a chance to fly on its own. Right off the bat, the show was shoved into a Friday night time slot. Execs forced Whedon to start mid-series, and only a few weeks into the show, FOX preempted the show for the MLB playoffs. Good news: the Yankees lost. Bad news: the world was introduced to Rally Monkey. Needless to say, without going into any poo-flinging metaphors, Firefly got screwed. Despite a strong Internet outcry, the show remains cancelled but still lives on DVD. A Firefly movie, currently titled Serenity, is set for release this fall as part of a trilogy.

Archived article by Ed Kim
Sun Staff Writer