With the cancellation of Hannibal leaving many feeling dissatisfied and outraged, our group of writers take a look at some other great shows that were undeservedly cut short in their prime.
Firefly is a cult favourite, with a fan following that just won’t let it die peacefully. And why should it? As an explosive, strange and utterly entertaining combination of sci-fi, horror, drama and western influences; there hasn’t been anything that has come close to the series’ wacky adventure storylines. Cancelled upon airing the 11th episode, the 14 part series was never allowed to fully explore and expand into the something-great that it could have been. The impending threat of the Reavers, the interesting combination of cultures that formed the alliance, the character arcs and relationships that were never allowed to blossom – all cut short before a fully rounded world (and hopefully some improved CGI) could properly form.
Yes, Serenity provided a wonderful sense of closure to the series and was created from the sheer force of angry fans – but that doesn’t mean the premature death of such an original concept is justified. With DVD releases, the film itself, a documentary, comic books and even a video game being born from the power of the people – maybe one day the beloved Firefly series will make a comeback. Who’s to say we can’t do the impossible twice?
Words by Ashleigh Millman
Freaks And Geeks
Shot down in the prime of life after just one hilarious, heartfelt season, Paul Feig’s Emmy-award winning Freaks and Geeks left behind a legacy many other TV shows and even movies have since struggled to trump. Successfully launching the careers of (deep breath): James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Siegel, Lizzy Caplan and Linda Cardellini (not to mention early cameos from the likes of Jason Schwartzman, Ben Foster, Shia LaBeouf and many others), Freaks and Geeks shone a rather charming light on teen life in the 1980s, chronicling the ever present divide between the Led Zeppelin-obsessed burnout kids – the “freaks” – and the weedy, D&D-loving room dwellers – “the geeks”. A very gradual coming-of-age tale centred largely around Cardellini’s Lindsey, the show ran for 18 glorious episodes, encircling a whole range of teen-based topics, from the serious depths of early pregnancy and bullying, to the far lighter likes of wacko teachers and the disco revolution. Feig’s comic touch was always present and the energy and humour generated by the young cast’s winning chemistry made Freaks and Geeks very much a landmark comedy. But sadly, one that obviously came too soon.
Words by Ben Robins
Pushing Daisies first graced our screens back in 2007, bringing us the endearingly original story of Ned, a pie maker with the ability to bring people back from the dead. This ability, which allowed him 60 seconds to chat to the deceased, he used in his crime solving partnership with Emerson Cod. Ned’s ability got very touching when he brought back his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, and was unable to return her to death.
What made the show so great was its ability to have consistently interesting and original crime stories, whilst not letting slip the closer-to-home relationships. Pushing Daisies interestingly presented that every action has a consequence. If Ned lets something live, then something else has to die. I admit that the crime-solving storyline may have eventually run dry, but it was a really great show that deserved more life than two seasons.
If only Ned were around to bring it back to life.
Words by Amy Wooten
Focussing on the lives of three gay men living in San Francisco, Looking was a gritty, evocative and candid drama that bled with a captivating authenticity and spontaneity, evidently influenced by its fellow HBO show, the Lena Dunham-created Girls. After only two seasons, it was revealed that the show was not to have any more seasons, but will rather end with a ‘special’ episode some time in the near future. But this rushed finale just won’t cut it for plot lines that hold such emotional depth and which have slowly gathered momentum in the past season. From the love-triangle that is Patrick, Kevin and Richie, to the new relationship between Agustin and Eddie, Looking has expertly crafted stories that universally characterise 21st century romance, whether they be gay or straight. With the added dimension of comedy woven into script (particularly through the character of Doris), Looking was a rare achievement that managed to make the mundane so involving and fearlessly pursued issues that others stray from. The narratives could have gone on for at least two more seasons, and cutting it to just a special episode is not a sufficient goodbye to characters that still seem to be caught in a storm within their rites of passage.
Words by Lewis Taplin
In The Flesh
Zombies have, pardon the pun, been done to death. In The Flesh – cancelled in January due to budget cuts at the BBC – was different. While it involved the fallout of ‘The Rising’, it was less blood, gore and pump-action shotguns, and instead full of subtle, character driven drama. It followed the return of reanimated teenager Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry) to his remote and insular Lancashire hometown, which in his absence had become militarised into the Human Volunteer Force. While zombies like Kieren have been medicated so that they can return to society – “I am a Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferer, and what I did in my untreated state was not my fault” – they are ostracised, victims to assault or lynching by their former friends and families, and represent startling reflections of the racism and homophobia that still exist in society today. Visually stunning and with the sort of soundtrack that makes your soul ache, In The Flesh wasn’t so much a show about zombies, as it was one about humanity.
Words by Camilla Cassidy
The downfall of Twin Peaks is a classic tale of the visionary artist being undone by the pressures of studio executives, though I’m not sure why anybody thought David Lynch would be a good fit to head a long-running TV drama in the first place. Such shows tend to depend on richly developed characters, novelistic plotting and clear thematic through-lines, and Lynch has never had much of an interest in any of these things. This friction formed the foundation of one of the most radical experiments in the history of the medium, a show that seemed to play most of its emotional beats sarcastically while delighting in bizarre images, rich textures and oddball behavioural tics. Twin Peaks indulged in tangents and non-sequiturs so heavily that they became its very subject. Fittingly, Lynch – who admitted to making up many of the plot elements on the fly and not worrying about how they’d fit together until later – originally intended to never solve Laura Palmer’s murder and instead continue to detail the fallout of the tragedy on the community.
Needless to say, NBC execs weren’t on board with this idea and forced him to reveal the killer early into season 2, as well as to start providing concrete explanations for the series’ opaque imagery. For a certain subset of cinephiles this was an act of cultural blasphemy, akin to asking Dali “What’s up with all those melted clocks anyway?” Increasingly tired of these demands, Lynch soon left production to work on Wild At Heart and the series took an extreme nosedive in his absence. Without a clear narrative focus and a strong central voice, the series quickly devolved into a string of weak subplots that lamely approximated Lynchian weirdness. Fortunately when Lynch returned to write and direct the final episode, he delivered what must be the most galling finale in TV history, unceremoniously killing off half the main cast within the first 20 minutes, then turning the remainder of the episode into an abstract non-narrative tone poem. Luckily, the recently announced Twin Peaks reboot sounds like everything the show should have been the first time round: the episode number has slimmed considerably and Lynch will direct the whole thing.
Words by James Slaymaker