Film and TV

6 TV Shows That Never Should've Been Canceled

An inevitability as harsh as an Arizona winter, TV show cancellations are upon us. Like the leaves changing or avoiding the flu shot, finding out your favorite show won’t get another season is another annual tribulation.

But we have hope, everybody, in the form of sweet, clickable lists such as these. They provide fodder for the fatcats of Hollywood, with their lips filled with Juvederm, their live-plus-seven ratings, and their queso dip made by actors’ spouses. Lists like these resurrected Arrested Development and Twin Peaks. How else will the fatcats know what mistakes they made unless you retweet your favorite entries?

With your help, perhaps we can cast those Burbank bastards to the pits of despair from whence they came — and maybe save some of our favorite shows in the process.

The Grinder
In the latest victim of being criminally underwatched, Rob Lowe and Fred Savage starred as two brothers with nothing in common except their love of the law. Also, one is a retired TV lawyer and wannabe practicing attorney.

Each episode begins with members of the Sanderson family or their law firm watching episodes of the older Sanderson brother’s TV show, also called The Grinder. It’s a procedural much like Castle, The Mentalist, or The Closer: a gimmicky crime-solver working in a courtroom.

These segments began the season skewering the cliches, logic leaps, and gratuitous beefcake scenes typical of network fare. But as the show progressed, the production clearly targeted television executives forcing them into focus testing, hackneyed storylines, and a family-oriented episode.

Despite low ratings and network interference, The Grinder managed to pull off an impressive full-season run. But when you go against the teens and their Arrowverses, you’re bound to come up short in the Live+ game.

The show was a weekly exercise in “how the hell did they show that on TV?” Chronicling Adam Graham’s first encounter with Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the show was an ambitious attempt from Bryan Fuller to bring premium cable quality to a network.

Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy played Lecter and Graham, respectively, in stellar performances that redefined the term “bromance.” Gillian Anderson was captivating in every scene as Bedelia Du Maurier. And the show displayed levels of horror and violence pushing TV's boundaries.

There were few shows like it on television, even fewer on broadcast networks. And while Fuller and the cast hold out hope that the show might be picked up as a miniseries or continued on film, the series finale serves as a fitting end and the right way to do a cliffhanger.

After Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and now this, Fuller’s profile has increased as a capable storyteller who can’t catch a break. Maybe that will change with his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for Starz.

Lucky Louie
On the bright side, if this weren’t canceled we’d probably never have gotten the equally brilliant Louie on FX. Louis C.K.’s first attempt at adapting his life and comedy was a little more traditional.

Lucky Louie was a multi-camera sitcom with a studio audience and a laugh track, unique to HBO, but initially jarring with gratuitous cussing and themes such as racism and sexism. But the show was hilarious, and highlighted the comedian's trademark sense of humor while showcasing the talents of Jim Norton, Laura Kightlinger, and a young Emma Stone.

The show was canceled after one season despite HBO’s order for work on a second season. It might not have been a ratings hit or a critical darling, but it was a brilliant showcase of Louis C.K. and his observations of mundane family life, taking the bleak and making it funny.

'Deadwood' Main Titles from JD Smyth on Vimeo.

Occupying a unique space between charming and gritty, Deadwood focused on a small Dakota mining village that was home to some of the most lovable, lawless sons of bitches in the Old West.

But the show ended rather unceremoniously after three seasons with its status up in the air. While actors and production staff seemed confident in returning, HBO never moved forward and plans for season four were dead in the water. But hope remained for a movie at the very least.

Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant were the best parts of this show, and both actors have enjoyed higher profiles due to their great roles. Olyphant recently wrapped a highly regarded run with Justified, and McShane has had starring turns in franchises Pirates of the Caribbean and Kung Fu Panda. With news that HBO gave the green light to series creator David Milch to write a film script earlier this year, maybe we can hold out hope to return to Deadwood one day.

Strangers with Candy
Amy Sedaris' classic collaboration with Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello might go down as the actress/comedian’s definitive role, and it’s still regarded as a cult classic.

Despite three seasons and a movie, the show deserved a much broader audience and wider acclaim. Sedaris starred as Jerri Blank, a self-described boozer, user, and loser. Sedaris is a great physical comedian, and the role allowed her to transform physically and really dive into the character.

An anti-after-school special, Strangers with Candy documented Jerri as she manipulated classmates, teachers, and other adults to increase her social status and have a good time. Colbert further honed his persona as a powerful idiot as the high school history teacher, doling out inaccurate facts.

Strangers with Candy got a follow-up film that premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2005, but any further adventures at Flatpoint High seem highly unlikely.

Gilmore Girls
It got seven seasons, whatever. It didn’t end on a cliffhanger, whatever. It’s been picked up for a revival on Netflix. WHATEVER.

Gilmore Girls deserves to be on this list because Gilmore Girls should have never been canceled. In a cruel world where we have 40 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy but only a fraction of Gilmore Girls episodes, this show belongs on the list.

Because Gilmore Girls is the fucking best.
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Joseph Schmidt
Contact: Joseph Schmidt