Every season new television series come and go. Some are cancelled only to be brought back, such as Family Guy, whilst others once full of promise linger in obscurity. I’m looking at you Heroes. Then, there are those rare shows that were just too ahead of their time for the audiences they were being presented to. The show’s listed below were all risky in one way or another, and if there’s one thing television executives love, it’s a safe bet that panders to its audience. How the hell else do you explain crap like Two and A Half Men lasting for twelve seasons?
5. The Riches (2007-2008)
Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver are travelers :clans of traveling families that support themselves by scamming other people. A series of bizarre circumstances allows them to assume the identities of a wealthy family who were moving to the suburbs outside of Baton Rouge. The family has to adapt to their new surroundings while avoiding their old life. The series started out with strong ratings, but fell victim to 2007’s writers strike. After only two seasons it was abruptly canceled. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and Netflix.
4. Hannibal (2013 2015)
A reinterpretation of the Hannibal Lecter mythology, the show focuses on the relationship between FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Graham seeks out Hannibal’s help to deal with the stress of his job, never suspecting that his new confident is a serial killer/cannibal. While some may find it almost sacrilegious for someone other than Anthony Hopkins to portray Hannibal Lecter, Mikkelsen’s (Valhalla Rising) interpretation is nothing short of hypnotic. The show managed to push boundaries from day, not only in the level of violence depicted on major network television, but also in its suggestive subtext that Hannibal and Will are involved in more than just a professional relationship. Low ratings sealed the show’s fate, but the show’s creators are currently pitching it to digital markets such as Hulu and Netflix, so there’s a chance fans will be seeing more of their beloved cannibal. You can find Seasons 1 and 2 on Amazon Prime. Season 3 is available for purchase or rental.
3. Spaced (1999)
Tim (Simon Pegg) and Daisy (Jessica Hynes) are a couple of twenty somethings who find themselves homeless. In desperation they pretend to be a “professional couple” in order rent an apartment. Granted, the setup has a bit of a Three’s Company vibe to it, but it’s an aspect that is relegated to the background of most episodes. The humor of the show comes mainly from the whiplash like editing and pop culture spoofs that fly by every other second. Unlike the rest of the shows on this list Spaced’s cancellation was due more to the fact that the show’s creator Edgar Wright became a highly sought after director after the success of his film Shaun of the Dead. Both seasons are on Hulu. With only fourteen episodes, it’d be well worth your time to pick a lazy Saturday and just binge to your heart’s content.
2. Pushing Daisies (2007 2009)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit) plays Ned, a pie maker who has the power to bring people back to life with a single touch. Another touch returns the dearly departed to death. He uses his ability to help private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) solve murders. Then Ned’s childhood sweetheart Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel) is murdered, and instead of returning her to the death’s sweet embrace, he lets her live, but the two can never touch each other again. Despite being a show that revolves around murder it’s cheerful, full of humor and the striking visuals looked like something Willy Wonka dreamt up with while on a sugar rush. The show defied categorization from its first episode, which left audiences wondering just what they were watching. Out of all the series listed Pushing Daisies is the hardest to track down, but well worth the effort. You can purchase it digitally on Amazon Prime, or rent actual DVDs off of Netflix like I had to.
1. Firefly (2002)
Riding high off the success of his hit show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon pitched a science fiction television series to the Fox Network. The easiest way to describe the show is that it’s a science fiction western. Granted, that’s a concept that sounds silly, but was beautifully executed by the show’s creators. Starring Nathan Fillion (Castle) and Morena Baccarin (Deadpool) the show was meddled with by television executives from the start, including broadcasting episodes out of order and abruptly moving the show around the network’s schedule. It only lasted one season, leaving many plot threads still dangling.The show nevertheless managed to gather a dedicated fan base that supported the show when it was released on DVD, and even prompted Universal studios to take a chance on a cinematic sequel entitled Serenity in 2005. Both the series and the film can be watched on Netflix, while Hulu, and Amazon Prime only feature the television series.