Top 5 Cancelled TV Series That I Miss

hulk-sadNow, this is a tough one. There are so many great TV series — even just limiting to sci-fi/fantasy and action/adventure — that have been cancelled, whether after a pretty good run or axed before they could gain an audience or much momentum. I’m sure we’ve all experienced on multiple occasions when we started getting into a new show, only to have it get cancelled. Sometimes, you wonder if it’s even worth trying a new show for fear it’ll just get the axe after a season or less (e.g., “Almost Human”, “The Event”). On the other hand, there are series that air for several years, and even if they suffer a bit in quality towards the end, you’re still sorry to see them go (e.g., “Stargate SG-1”, “Fringe”).

As you can imagine, then, my list of potentials for this post is a long one. But, in my effort to keep it manageable (and not attempt a Top 20+), I decided to focus on those series that aired roughly between the years 2000 and 2010. So, imagine, if you will, that it is circa 2012, and I am daydreaming about some of my favorite shows of the past decade that are no longer on the air (unless you count reruns in syndication, of course). Can I narrow it down to 5 favorites? Well, in no particular order, …

1) Let’s begin with “24” (2001-2010). As Stephen King once said, it was “a genuine New Thing Under the Sun, not really a serial at all, but the world’s first überseries.” The ticking countdown clock, the “events happen in real time” pacing, the dire threats by all manner of terrorists and other “bad actors”, the controversial torture and other moral dilemmas that our heroes — Jack Bauer in particular — both inflicted and endured, etc. It all made for an engrossing drama with healthy helpings of heart-pounding action. While it is true that our hero was less heroic in the last few seasons, and certainly more weighed down by personal loss and a clouded moral compass, than he was during the first few seasons, I still missed the show. I was hoping for a fresh resumption of the story. We got it in 2014’s “24: Live Another Day”. But, it only lasted 12 episodes and left many unanswered questions re the futures of our beloved characters — especially Jack and Chloe.

Little did we know that the show would indeed get a new start, namely with the current “24: Legacy”. I have already written about this, expressing my disappointment that neither Jack nor (presumably) Chloe nor almost any of the other familiar faces will be in this incarnation. But, I have enjoyed the first 3 episodes — the 4th having aired earlier this week — and am hoping that it continues to build in intensity with the twists-n-turns, betrayals and manipulations, that its predecessor was known for.

prison-break-poster2) “Prison Break” (2005-2009) was another favorite I liked during the same period. I thought the characters, main plot, various subplots, etc., were all very enjoyable. And the characters were all cast perfectly — from the Scofield/Burrows brothers to the super-creepy “T-Bag”. Watching Michael’s plan to break out with his brother (and a few tagalongs) unfold, despite setback after setback, was a lot of fun to watch. After beatings, fires, riots, deals, and betrayals, they managed to do it, but being on the run came with its own set of problems, of course. The shortened 3rd season had Michael back in prison, this time without inside knowledge and a pre-planned escape. On the plus side, we saw him improvising and relying on his wits and intellect, which are when the character shined brightest. Season 4 saw Michael reunited with many of the others and on a very different mission, ending with the TV movie, “Prison Break: The Final Break”.

I confess, I am one of those who was disappointed with the way the series ended. Not that it wasn’t realistic. But, it was just… unsatisfying. And that’s why I was thrilled when I found out a couple years ago that “Prison Break: Sequel” was in production, with nearly all of the original cast returning — even at least one who was thought to be dead. Yessss! You better believe I am looking forward to its debut this April.

3) I could not do a post like this without including everyone’s favorite space-Western, the short-lived “Firefly” (2002-2003). For a show only given 14 episodes to leave its mark, it has an unexpectedly large and dedicated following — “Browncoats”, as many of them prefer to be called. And everyone has their favorites — from the brave and dashing Captain Mal to the enigmatic and unstable River Tam. Our renegade crew of “heroes” did their best to survive in an often hostile ‘verse, taking risky transport jobs and (mostly) evading criminals and authorities alike — always with liberal doses of humor and romantic adventure. It was so different from any other series (that I can think of, anyway) and executed so well, that I still don’t understand why it was given the axe only part way through its first season.

It was great to get the Serenity movie (2005), which picked up with the crew of the eponymous ship and a few plot threads left hanging from the series. The movie was fairly satisfying, yet sad on more than one level. (Fans know what I’m talking about.) So, it’s not surprising that fans have been talking for years and asking about the possibility of “Firefly” returning to TV or possibly another movie. Rumors abound. Would any of the cast be up for it, 12+ years after the movie? A couple of them have expressed interest, but most have moved on and/or feel that it would be a bad idea to try to recapture the magic. Fox has recently indicated that they might be interested in reviving it somehow, but only if creator Joss Whedon was “fully on board for the project.” However, Whedon is a very busy guy, plus he has stated repeatedly that he has no intention of returning to the world of “Firefly”/Serenity.

What about a reboot with new cast? Much of the show’s popularity with the fans was the terrific casting of, and chemistry between, the various characters. It would be nearly impossible to find that again. No, except for maybe a sequel movie with the original cast, I think it’s best to just leave it alone. We’ll have to be satisfied with repeated viewing of our “Firefly” DVDs. (Sniff!)

4) I loved “Alias”! I really did. How could you go wrong with a cute girl — excuse me, smart and attractive young woman — as a tough-yet-vulnerable student-cum-superspy? Jennifer Garner’s “Sydney Bristow” was a younger, prettier, less cynical, American version of James Bond. Sort of. The show may have involved globe-hopping superspies fighting evil organizations, but it wasn’t a Bond ripoff. Bristow was a different sort of character, and she was surrounded by a supporting cast of very interesting and talented individuals — both the actors and the characters they played. (Incidentally, in case you weren’t aware, Victor Garber (“Legends of Tomorrow”) played Sydney’s dad and Gina Torres (“Firefly”, “Suits”) had a recurring role as a rival operative. Many other stars and soon-to-be stars appeared on the show, and Bradley Cooper’s “Will Tippin” was arguably his first major (breakout?) role.)

alias_poster58The plots were quite entertaining, whether they involved internal “politics” or field missions, shoot-outs with rival agencies or chasing down mysterious, archaeological artifacts. Viewers got to watch Sydney dress up and play all sorts of different undercover roles, using superspy tech, doing superspy stuff, and generally kicking butt and taking names. She was a strong, independent woman, yet one who was equally at home (if not moreso) just chilling out alone or with friends as she was sneaking into a secure location and fighting off armed baddies. In retrospect, the show had elements of not just James Bond but Jack Bauer, Indiana Jones, and, umm… Kim Possible! And I still miss it!

I haven’t heard of any plans to revive the show/character, but I’d certainly be in favor of it. Even a mini-series or just a TV movie. Garner still looks great, and I’d bet most of her former co-stars do, too. Well, assuming that never happens, I’m gonna have to hunt down those “Alias” DVDs….

5) Finally, “Star Trek”. Not any particular ST series. I just miss having a new Star Trek to look forward to every week. Reruns are fine. (Though, I admit I haven’t watched any for a few years.) But, the end of the last Star Trek TV series (which, unlike some people, I mostly enjoyed), “Enterprise”, seemed kind of sudden and, again, unsatisfying. I was glad to see the Star Trek reboot in theaters, even though they turned out to be somewhat disappointing — a subject for another post. But, the franchise really needs to have a presence on the small-screen. After all, from 1987 to 2005, we fans had nearly 20 years of almost continuous Star Trek, spanning 4 live-action series, sometimes two at once. We were spoiled! Now, it has been almost 12 years with no new Star Trek on TV.

But, as you all know, that is about to change. Starting this May, “Star Trek: Discovery” will air on CBS All Access. All fandom holds its collective breath, hopeful yet wary, to see if the latest attempt to renew this incomparable franchise will live up to expectations and fill that hole in our entertainment schedules. (Not to mention, give us plenty of new characters to talk about and merchandise to buy.) Fingers crossed…

So, with three out of five wished-for series here or on their way, I count myself pretty lucky! Whodathunkit just 5 years ago? What about you? Any old shows you’ve been jonesing for, wishing there was a new season on the way? Let us know below…

P.S.  Just for the heck of it, here are five more (and more recent) cancelled shows that I would love to see resurrected from the TV graveyard: “Almost Human” (2013-2014), “Covert Affairs” (2010-2014), “Revolution” (2012-2014), “Fringe” (2008-2013), and Leverage (2008-2012).

Jack Bauer and the X-Men

No, no, not together. But, that would be pretty cool. I can just imagine Bauer arriving at a warehouse or factory of some sort, ready for action. As he scopes out the situation, Wolverine and a couple other X-folks emerge from the shadows nearby.

Wolverine: “‘Bout time ya got here, bub. Ya almost missed the fun. Where ya been?”

Jack: “Sorry. It’s been one of those days….”

Alas, such a scene is probably never gonna happen. But, there were a couple announcements from FOX back in January that should excite fans of both properties, and I wanted to make sure you were aware….

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer

Apparently, there have been talks about bringing “24” back in some form — but not until 2016. Unfortunately, it might not include Jack Bauer. Or, would it? Things are a bit murky on that point, what with Kiefer Sutherland saying that “24: Live Another Day” served as closure for his character and he doesn’t see himself returning to the franchise. On the other hand, FOX Chairman and CEO Dana Walden insists,

“First of all, we’re not talking about continuing the show without him. We’re talking about whether there’s one installment that he’s not in.”

Also, based on the flexibility of the story being pitched and depending on what Sutherland ultimately decides,

“Jack Bauer could come in very organically in the story, or [producers are] prepared to do something that would be the one installment without him.”

These comments are a little unclear to me. First, “installment” needs to be defined, but I think it could mean anything from a regular season to a mini-series or even another movie. Second, it sounds like, if Sutherland chooses not to be involved, they would only do one Bauer-free “installment”, then quit. But, if the interest is there, why not leave the possibility open for more?

Obviously, all of the fans would prefer Jack Bauer to be part of — preferably central to — any new story arcs. Personally, I think Jack deserves a happier ending, possibly retiring to Canada, where he manages a bar frequented by a short, hairy guy with claws. But, if Sutherland decides not to be involved, or maybe just exec produce, then I can see “24” continuing with other characters — some new, some familiar (e.g., Chloe O’Brian, Kate Morgan). As long as the writing is top-notch and they stick to the unique format and whatever other elements made the best seasons so good, it could work.

A few days after the above announcement, we learned that FOX Entertainment co-chair Gary Newman confirmed the rumor that they are developing a live-action, X-Men-related TV series. Last we heard, though, the contract was still in negotiations with Marvel (owned by Disney), with no specific concept settled on, let alone a creative team. Given everything that has to happen yet, Newman said this likely means a 2016-2017 TV season debut.

So, who/what do you think the series should be about? Jamie Lovett over at Comicbook.com suggests five possibilities:

1) X-Factor (the mutant detective agency version of the team)
2) New Mutants (presumably not the originals)
3) District X
4) Weapon X
5) Ultimate X-Men

Since we don’t know how much, if any, connection there will be to the X-Men movies or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I suppose anything’s possible. I’m guessing it will be connected, since that seems to be Marvel’s modus operandi, and 20th Century Fox owns the X-movies. If I’m right, the “Ultimate X-Men” is the least likely concept to adapt.

X-Factor Investigations“X-Factor” is a much more probable candidate and seems to be the odds-on favorite, at least based on the online rumor mill. It’s my favorite, too, and the “X-Factor Investigations” incarnation seems “made for TV”, as they say. (I wonder if they would do a CGI Strong Guy….) “New Mutants” might work as an angsty teen drama, and it would be great if it all took place at the X-Mansion / Xavier’s School; but, as Lovett points out, it’s unlikely we’d see any of the big names doing the teaching and mentoring. In case you missed the 14-issue comic series, “District X” featured Bishop as a cop in the “Mutant Town” ghetto in Manhattan. It could work as a police procedural but would probably have to leave out a lot of the surrounding storylines from the comics. (Also, would Omar Sy reprise his role of Bishop from the movies?) A show based on the U.S. government’s shady “Weapon X” program could be pretty cool, especially with the dark & sinister tone it deserves. Wolverine would probably not be in it (except maybe a cameo?), but other mutants (e.g. Maverick, Wraith, Kane) could be. Might be best if it took place in the past (e.g., 1980s or ’90s).

Whatever they decide on, I’m all for it. Just pleeeeeaaasse don’t let it turn into another “Generation X” (1996)….

As if this weren’t exciting news enough, FOX is also looking to bring back “The X-Files” for a limited run — with original series creator Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning as Agents(?) Fox Mulder & Dana Scully. It would be difficult, given Duchovny and Anderson’s busy schedules, but everybody wants it to happen. FOX also has a pilot order for a new “Minority Report” TV series based on the 2002 Cruise/Spielberg movie (based on the Philip K. Dick short story), and they’re talking about maybe bringing back “Prison Break”, too! It all sounds good to me!