Like Conan's Tonight, 10 TV shows that got screwed

Categories: Lists

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Word of an Arrested movie can't quell our depression.
Television, as Conan O'Brien will tell you, is a fickle business. They build you up, they use you up, they toss you aside. And sometimes the powers that be don't even wait to use you up -- they just decide that you're done, for reasons that have little to do with quality and everything to do with money, and you're a footnote in the television archives.

Not all cancellations are created equal, granted. Some shows deserve their grim fate in the potter's field of TV. But other shows deserved far better than what they got.

10. Ed

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Ten dollars if you can explain to me why this brilliantly funny, terribly romantic, and quirky as hell bowling-alley lawyer series ("I'm a lawyer, and I own a bowling alley. Two separate things.") didn't hit with more viewers. Actually, the answer is easy: because NBC never stopped moving it around the schedule. It also didn't help that Ed was always on the verge of cancellation, it tried to come to some sort of series conclusion at the end of every season, just in case. This caused something of an identity crisis for the residents of Stuckeyville (and their faithful fans), and a serious disservice to its stellar cast.

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9. Cupid
The late Jeremy Piven (wait, he's not dead; I must thinking of his reputation) starred in this late-90s will-they-or-won't-they that went on to get remade (with a lot less charm) in 2009--a version that lasted only two months. But the first go-around was rife with Moonlighting-style banter, courtesy of Piven and co-star Paula Marshall--and, sadly, the same schedule-shifting madness that took the legs out from under so many shows on this list.

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8. WKRP in Cincinnati Bailey or Jennifer? It's almost as classic as the Maryann/Ginger debate. Granted, this show lasted long enough to enter syndication--which is where its fan following seriously (and finally) took off. Why it didn't take in its original run is anyone's guess, but the absurdist style of comedy it boasted still largely holds up today, more than 30 years later. One of the biggest ways WKRP has gotten screwed, however, is in its syndication package, which has now stripped the show of its original soundtrack (based on classic as well as then-contemporary rock) and replaced it with awful generic guitar riffs. Johnny Fever would not approve.

7. Sports Night/Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

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The former was largely ignored, and the latter was a victim of its own hype (and, maybe, of the sudden success of Tina Fey's 30 Rock). Studio 60 wasn't as strong as Aaron Sorkin's West Wing, but it was a solid walk-and-talk, and could have developed into something great, especially considering its strong cast. When it didn't clear its own high bar, it was shown the door. Sorkin's Sports Night was also unceremoniously ushered out, but at least had one episode to mourn its own passing with one last slam: "Anyone who can't make money off a show like Sports Night," one character says in that last episode, "should get out of the money-making business." You tell 'em, Sorkin! (Now put down the coke spoon, man.)

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6. The Tick
Speaking of spoons ... the Tick's utensilish war cry should have been heard on FOX for a long longer than its eight episode run (a ninth was later released in the DVD version). Like most brilliant comedy, it was unappreciated in its initial run, despite being a cartoon cult-hit both in the FOX Kids block, and later on Comedy Central. But television, like gravity, is a harsh mistress.

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