When I wrote about the Nielsen Ratings I touched upon television shows that only last a single season. I wanted to dedicate an entire article to a handful of single season TV shows that I love and what makes them great. For the record there are some shows that I love that aren’t going to make this list due to popularity. Sorry, but everyone loves Firefly and Freaks & Geeks so they’ll not be seen here. And yes, I love and own both of them. I’m going to keep this brief with capping myself at five series. Without further ado, here we go.
-The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.-
This was a show I did not actually see during it’s initial airing on FOX, but from re-runs on TBS (or was it TNT or USA?) a few years later. When the commercials compared it to Indiana Jones I immediately took notice. What I discovered was a fun western/action/comedy/sci-fi hybrid starring one of the greatest action stars. This was also where I discovered Bruce Campbell and became a diehard fan. The best part is that aside from the pilot being the length of a feature film, the entire season has 27 episodes.
Bryan Fuller: The television producer who can not catch a break. Having created such brilliant shows like: Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal he seems to be cursed with short series runs. Wonderfalls is the shortest with only 13 episodes. Starring Caroline Dhavernas (Who later appeared on Hannibal) as an apathetic gift shop cashier who begins having inanimate objects speaking to her. Their words start affecting her life and the lives of people around her. Garnering rave reviews, but airing on Friday evening the show didn’t find an audience.
An ex-cop/recovering alcoholic teams up with a former criminal to start a private investigation agency. This sounds like a another run of the mill show that would be bland and of no merit. In fact it’s a funny subversive series that hangs on the strong talent of Donal Logue, Michael Raymond-James, and their brilliant chemistry. What should’ve been a huge hit got tarnished by bland advertising and got crushed in the ratings by Rescue Me and The Shield. Thankfully, you can find the entire series on Netflix Instant so give it a look.
In the 90’s MTV was where you could go for some of the greatest adult animated series of the time. Shows like Beavis and Butt-Head, it’s spin-off series Daria, and the trippy Aeon Flux found a home amongst music videos and seasons of Real World. Once the 2000’s hit it seemed like MTV Animation hit a slump. The brilliant (and also single season show) Clone High didn’t garner any interest nor did a revival of Celebrity Deathmatch. In 2011 Good Vibes debuted and felt like a return to form for the station’s animation. With David Gordon Green (director of Pineapple Express) as a co-creator you’d think the show would be a huge hit. Instead it was cancelled two days after the first season’s DVD release.
Once Emily Kapnek’s criminally underrated Suburgatory was axed after it’s third season I was gutted. She’d crafted amazing characters that were inhabited by fantastic actors. News surfaced that she was developing a new series that would star Karen Gillan and John Cho. I was ecstatic in spite of a title that left me indifferent. Again, Kapnek had built a new world that was a brilliant pairing of material and cast. Had ABC put more faith in show and given it time to grow I truly believe it would’ve been renewed.
Believe me, there are a ton of other shows I could’ve listed (Enlisted, Undeclared, Action!, Backstrom, The Lone Gunmen), but then you’d probably quit reading. So what are your thoughts? Do you have any single season shows you miss? Is it better that these shows got cancelled than going on for too many seasons?