It has happened to all of us. We look forward to a television show’s season premiere, only to discover that it was canceled by the network. “Low ratings” is the standard reasoning, but it is often difficult for fans to accept that. Here are eight shows (four comedies and four dramas) canceled in the last few years that deserve a new life.
Number Eight: Wayward Pines. Matt Dillon starred as federal agent Ethan Burke, sent to investigate the disappearance of two colleagues, in this 10-episode Fox summer series. The show started with an eerie Twin Peaks feel, veered somewhere close to Helix in the middle with sci-fi elements, and then ended with the struggles and complex family relationships akin to The Walking Dead. Produced by writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, a “Shyamalan twist” was inevitable, and it did not disappoint. While some middle episodes may have confused some viewers, the finale wraps up everything neatly. However, it would be interesting to see how the town, the townspeople, and the Burke family adjust to life after the finale. There is always Blake Crouch’s book series, which the show was based on, to find more answers.
Number Seven: Gracepoint. An American adaptation of the British television series Broadchurch, Gracepoint centered around the murder of a young boy in a small coastal California town. Anna Gunn, from Breaking Bad and David Tennant, from Dr. Who and Broadchurch, delivered dynamite performances as lead detectives on a case that hit too close to home. While the story ended in Gracepoint after one season on Fox, it continues on Broadchurch, as it enters its third season on BBC America in spring of 2016.
Number Six: Stalker. Think Criminal Minds if it focused only on stalking cases. The CBS show had a star-studded cast – Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q, to name two. Plus, it was created by Kevin Williamson, who wrote the Scream movies, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and created The Following. Stalker had a cinematic quality to it, from the cinematography and the lighting to the soundtrack’s creepy versions of popular songs such as Radiohead’s “Creep,” Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.”
Number Five: Backstrom. In this Fox police dramedy, Rainn Wilson starred as Everett Backstrom, a heavy-drinking, gruff, and unorthodox detective in Portland, Ore. While the “surly detective” thing has been done before, this version had heart and many funny moments. For Wilson, who starred as the by-the-book Dwight Schrute in The Office until the show’s end in 2013, it was an exploration of a new character who did not play by many rules. This show could have made it, but it seems that in the wake of Empire’s success, Fox pulls the plug on a show earlier rather than later.
Number Four: Psych. The comedic detective show’s conclusion last spring tied up most of the loose ends, but it also left the door open for a return. When the show ended it wasn’t the end of Sean, Gus, and Juliet. Creator Steve Franks said that was exactly how he wanted it. Psych had eight quality seasons before USA gave it the ax, but its humor and honest look at a life-long friendship still resonates with fans.
Number Three: Sirens. Yet another strong comedy canceled by USA. Sirens, which followed the lives of Chicago EMTs, had two seasons before its untimely demise. The Denis Leary and Bob Fisher creation was a humorous look at an often serious occupation that connected with a large group of devoted fans. Unfortunately, a comeback does not look promising. With Denis Leary working on a new project on FX, it looks like Sirens is DOA.
Number Two: Happy Endings. Canceled after three seasons, Happy Endings had a nice run. It should have been longer, but the quirky comedy failed to attract enough viewers to be renewed. With an outstanding ensemble (Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., and Casey Wilson), memorable characters, and so many quotable lines, Happy Endings has a strong following. So much so that an April Fool’s prank, where an assistant to the show’s creator, David Caspe, posted a count-down clock, breathed new life into the show. The fans’ excitement regarding the clock as possibly signaling the show’s return actually made Caspe consider a comeback. As of now the show remains canceled, but there could a comeback in the future. That would work out well for the featured cast members because the six went on to have roles in other, less successful shows since Happy Endings’ end.
Number One: The Goodwin Games. This 2013 summer replacement sitcom never had a chance, lasting only seven episodes. The premise of estranged siblings coming together to compete for their dead father’s money sounds a bit outlandish, but the show highlighted the importance of family. The Goodwin Games was the brainchild of Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the creators of How I Met Your Mother and had a talented cast (Becki Newton, Scott Foley, and T.J. Miller). If it was given a fighting chance, perhaps in Fox’s fall lineup, the sitcom could have worked.