The gifs should be pretty explanatory, but I’ll humor you (just because I like you readers). Many a TV series have gone the way of Firefly, cancelled while they still showed promise. Today I’m commemorating and/or arguing for a handful of such series who left us prematurely. Because there are already enough articles on the internet about it, Firefly is not featured in this list. I am also not including Leverage (my favorite series ever), because it managed five seasons and I already dedicated a lengthy post to it in the past.
Now, onto my fab four…
Almost Human (FOX)
Fox, why do you keep taking chances on sci-fi shows only to break our hearts in the end? Like its brethren Firefly, AH ran for one season before an abrupt cancellation. John Kennex (Karl Urban) is a cranky, anti-robot detective in a world where automatons are as commonplace as cell phones. After recovering from a coma, he struggles with his new partner Dorian, played by Michael Ealy. Dorian is an earlier android type from a decommissioned series that was developed to mimic emotions. Basically, he’s an android that’s actually capable of a personality, rather than logic-based decisions.
His banter with Kennex was one of the true gems of the series, but I also loved the supporting females in the show. There simply aren’t enough female captains in our procedural shows, so Lili Taylor as Capt. Maldonado was a breath of fresh air for me. And I was really getting into the mysteries of the show–what’s outside The Wall surrounding the city? Was Kennex’s missing ex-girlfriend part of the InSyndicate attack that cost him his leg?
I was disappointed about the cancellation, and then enraged when I realized Fox had made the same mistake for a second time: they aired episodes in the incorrect order. In a series about artificial intelligence’s capacity for emotion, continuity is HELLA IMPORTANT. And as someone who watched the series, YES, the changes they made to the order DID affect the story. Information like Valerie (Minka Kelly) being a genetically engineered human appeared out of nowhere when it was relevant to a case, and then a later-broadcast episode actually had a “reveal” about it. And Kennex recalling his ex-girlfriend at the scene of a crime was kept secret, went unmentioned for several episodes, and then suddenly everyone just seemed to know about it.
On a more positive note, I’ve just learned that Robert Rodrigeuz’s El Rey Network has picked up this show and others for off-network syndication.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)
WE FOUND WONDERLAND, YOU AND I GOT LOST IN IT–I’m sorry, I may have some feels up in this paragraph. OUaTiW was a very short spin-off for Once Upon a Time. And at the time it aired, Wonderland was doing a better narrative job that the main series. It was a little darker (Alice is considering a lobotomy when the Knave of Hearts finds her) and campy-er (hello Jabberwocky). But really, I fell for the characters. Although the main story was an inversion of the damsel-in-distress love story with Alice rescuing her genie boyfriend Cyrus, I got on board with a different “one true pairing.” The Knave of the Hearts (Michael Socha) and the Red Queen (Emma Rigby) were a confused, messy, passionate set of characters. Plus, the show offered a lot more racial diversity thanks to the Agrabah characters, including Cyrus and Jafar who were main cast members.
Jafar was a fun villain, even when his hair looked like something out of Purple Rain. He had a sympathetic backstory as the bastard song of a king, but in the end he was all about standing by his choices, not blaming his daddy issues for them. And while The Red Queen Anastasia started off an antagonist, she became more of an anti-hero looking to correct her mistakes.
Wonderland may have only been intended for one season, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have enough for a continuation. More could’ve been done with Barbara Hershey as Cora the Queen of Hearts, and the fate of the Jabberwocky was left ambiguous. And while we saw Alice and Cyrus get a happily ever after, the ending for Ana and Will was summarized by other characters. Watching them rebuild the kingdom could’ve been a great story, and Jafar returning after a discovery of his lamp would’ve been an ideal conflict.
I’ll admit I only checked out this show because I realized Beth Riesgraf from Leverage was in it. From the ads I couldn’t really figure out the plot, so I didn’t rush into watching when my DVR started recording it. But it ultimately got my attention as one of those shows where the plot is simply a domino effect.
Dr. John Ellison (Jason O’Mara) is already struggling to hold his family together after a painful loss when he saves the life of a boy wounded in a gang shooting. Antoine Tyler’s father heads up the Vine City Crew, and it becomes Ellison’s job to protect him when the rival gang comes back to finish the job. This is the catalyst for a long chain of deceptions and criminal acts that John commits in order to keep Antoine safe from the Nortenos Locos.
The first season wrapped up most of the arcs tied to Antoine’s case and even rooted out a corrupt detective. But it ended on a cliffhanger about John’s fate that will now never be answered. And I get it, the views were reeeeeally low, even for a summer series. But still, I’m really into characters doing wrong things for the right reasons, and I thought Beth Riesgraf knocked it out of the park as John’s conflicted wife and lawyer.
It’s an awfully long story, and WE DESERVE TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS. I got hooked on Forever really late, around episode 18. Then I completely binged on it and I may have flipped a desk when I heard it wasn’t getting a second season. Ioan Gruffud is Henry Morgan, a man who accidentally became immortal when he was shot and thrown off a ship in 1814. Everytime he dies, he disappears and revives in the nearest body of water. Detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza) only knows him as the quirky medical examiner, but she’s quickly impressed with his prowess for crime-solving. Cases-of-the-week under Jo and Henry’s purview were juxtaposed with flashbacks to Henry’s past, many involving Abigail, the love of his life. Her disappearance in 1984 still haunts Henry and their adopted son Abraham (Judd Hirsch).
Thankfully, this fantasy show rooted in a crime procedural tied up enough of the loose ends with its season one conclusion. We learned what happened to Abigail (*sob*) and Henry had a final face-off with fellow immortal Adam. The real tragedy of no continuation is we won’t see Jo reacting to Henry’s secret, as implied by the last scene. Regardless, Detective Jo Martinez is the sort of female lead we need more of–she can be tough and independent, but her flaws are treated with the same credibility as her other traits. She has weaknesses, but they don’t make her weak. Too many writers fail to grasp that with their characters.