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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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TV That Was Gone Too Soon
Friday, October 02, 2009

Have you ever become addicted to a new show only to have it taken off the air as soon as it really gets going? It happens every year. The fall season brings about a bevy of new television shows and a large chunk of them don’t make it past their infancy. This year The Beautiful Life was canceled after only two episodes (which is just about the television equivalency of SIDS), and although that program may have deserved its early hook, plenty of others that end up sharing the same fate don’t. Today I’m taking a look at four such television shows that lasted one season or less that I felt were brilliant and deserved much longer runs.

Haunted
Sept. ’02 – Nov. ‘02
7 Episodes (13 filmed) - UPN

Matthew Fox seems to have landed on his feet since the early canceling of Haunted (I think that Lost show may make it), but that doesn’t negate the fact that it was an amazing program. The premise of a cop who, thanks to a near death experience, has found that the dead can communicate with him, and that while many attempt to help him solve his crimes (and their crimes), a handful actually attempt to lead him in the wrong direction and hurt him. The main evil spirit is that of Simon, a child abductor that Fox’s character killed while looking for the man who abducted his own son. Haunted was dark, it was intelligent, and it was on right after Buffy. I still have no idea why it was axed so quickly.

Brimstone
Oct. ’98 – Feb. ‘99
13 Episodes - Fox

Sticking with the whole “evil spirits” theme, Brimstone was a show that revolved around a dead police detective, Ezekiel Stone, who has been sent on a mission by the devil to return 113 spirits that have escaped from hell back to the firey depths. Each time he manages to get one back, one of his 113 tattoos disappears. Stone is in hell for murdering the man who raped his wife, but was somehow cleared of all charges. The devil drops clues for Stone regarding the spirits he has to find, but they aren’t always altogether helpful as he relishes his role as a demonic puppet master. Like Haunted, Brimstone was a dark show, although not without it’s moments of humor. It deserved a far better fate than to be just a plot idea for another quickly cancelled show, Reaper.

Vengeance Unlimited
Sept. ’98 – Feb. ‘99
16 Episodes - ABC

Vengeance Unlimited starred Michael Madsen as Mr. Chapel, a man who made it his mission to serve justice for those the law had ignored. Well, at least that was his mission until his first real payday, which he never saw. This is because Chapel told people they could pay him in one of two ways, they could either give him a million dollars, or do a favor for him - whenever, whatever, wherever - sometime down the road. No one ever paid him the million, but as he pointed out, it would only take one to do so to let him retire. His “favors” were always pretty big, which is why nobody liked seeing him come back and ask for them. Once the favor was completed, though, he’d let them know he’s out of their life forever. Vengeance Unlimited was a really fun show, as the people he received favors from had all different skills for him to utilize. It should have been a hit.

Shasta McNasty
Oct. ’99 – Aug. ‘00
22 Episodes - UPN

This will be the most debated of all the shows on my list. You either loved Shasta McNasty, or you hated it. I never understood the people who felt the latter as the writing in Shasta McNasty was brilliant, at times pretty brutal, but always brilliant. The humor of the show that focused on the lives of three slackers in a rap-rock group wasn’t politically correct in the least, and if you didn’t have both a good sense of humor, and some thick skin, it probably wasn’t going to be your cup of tea, or Squidmato, which was the fictional half squid, half tomato, drink that was on the show. I remember one plotline where Jake Busey’s character was down on his luck and felt only a girl with low self-esteem would want to date him, so on the advice of his friend he started dating a fat girl and attempted to keep her fat so she wouldn’t stray from him. This sounds horrible and mean written out like that, but it was actually hilarious. I still (roughly) remember the line of advice, which made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off my sofa:

“Who has lower self-esteem than a fat girl?”
“Michael Bolton.”
“Yes, but will Michael Bolton love you unconditionally?”

OK, so maybe some sensitive big girls might have been offended, but it’s comedy, it’s not meant to be taken personally.

Shasta McNasty, Haunted, Brimstone and Vengeance Unlimited are just four examples of some of the really great shows that didn’t make it past season one, or in some cases didn’t even make it through season one. If you have a personal fave that got axed after just one, or less than one, season, feel free to add on to this list by leaving some love for your favorite fallen program in the comments section.

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