The art form of television has become a near integral part of almost every person’s life. It fills nearly every mid-conversational gap, and offers thousands on top of thousands of options for whatever you may be looking for. As is inherent with the system, only the most popular shows survive. For every show on the air, there are dozens upon dozens that bit the bullet around it for dozens upon dozens of reasons. Many sucked; but some were too strange, too different, too complex, and even too funny- and the general audiences just couldn’t quite catch onto them. And, with all the money that goes into creating, advertising, and airing television shows; a show is only allowed a very, very short window of time to prove that it can perform. If it falls short in those first few critical weeks, it is quickly booted and forgotten and becomes nary a memory in the viewers mind as another replacement show is bum rushed into the position.
But all of those former givens seem to be changing, now. Over the last couple of years, with the super nifty medium of DVD, shows that were once left for dead are finally getting new life breathed into them, thanks to fan out cry and release gambles that appear to be paying off for the most part. Look no further than Amazon to find tons on top of tons of shows that have been released to DVD. Pretty much every show that was ever remotely popular has found itself a home on these magical little discs. So here, I’m going to bring light a few forgotten series that died before their time, and truly deserve your attention.
Freaks & Geeks. A fan favorite of many, Freaks & Geeks followed the travails of a band of outsiders and high school students in the random years that we all fondly call the 1980s. The show was created by the super talented Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, and features all 18 episodes that were created of the show. It’s an absolutely hilarious series, and it still boggles my mind that NBC chose to can it back in 1999. But now, it lives forever.
The Tick. Based on the ridiculous old Fox Saturday morning cartoon of the same name, this live action incarnation was positively hilarious, but found itself quite a bit too quirky, and slapstick, to really find any success on a grand scale. Factor that in with the crummy jump-around scheduling that Fox is famous for, and you’ve got a near guarantee that a show this odd will crash, and surely burn. I remember watching this one when it debuted on November, in 2001; and it’s just great. As expected, the nine episodes included here were all that were made. If you’re up for some wacky fun, you can do no better than The Tick. Spoon!
Firefly. This show here stands as an absolute testament for just how much affect enough fan outcry can have. This one showed up on the Fox schedule in ’03, created by Joss Whedon, the watchful eye behind both Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. It was an odd premise, chronicling the tales of an outcast group of rebels in a Wild West take on the future, kind of the anti-Star Trek, if you will. The show was beloved by a core fan base, and was eventually revived for the theatrical film Serenity that found moderate success in theaters a year and some odd months ago. There are 14 solid little episodes here, and if you’re a fan of nothing more than well-written, and well-acted television; you’ll love it.
God, The Devil, And Bob. I have no idea what the execs at ABC were thinking when they green lit this show. It’s an edgy, animated series about a man–Bob–who is at the middle of a bet made by God and Satan over the fate of mankind. The show was flippin’ hilarious, but it’s no shocker that it only lasted a couple of weeks once it was unabashedly bashed by virtually every conservative media outlet in existence. Though only 4 episodes actually made it to air, 12 were made; and are all included here. This show stands a head above both Family Guy and South Park in my mind, for quality and perfectly irreverently handled subject matter that was some of the most entertaining stuff ever put together.
Undeclared. With Undeclared comes another gem from Freaks & Geeks mastermind Judd Apatow, which brings the same wit and charm into the current age, and creates a show just as compelling as Freaks & Geeks, and sadly doomed to exactly its fate. To describe it best: If the iffy old WB series Popular had been awesome, it would have been Undeclared. All 17 episodes of the show are here, and deserve to be seen.
Miracles. I remember at a former gig of mine I got the treat of interviewing the co-creator of this show, Richard Hatem, and his passion for the project just broke my heart that it found this sad fate. But luckily, after close to a year of outcry from the fans, this series finally landed on DVD. It actually debuted to some positive buzz on ABC back in ’03, but sadly the network’s coverage of the Iraqi war screwed the airing schedule up so bad that people that actually liked the show were left unable to actually find it. It followed the exploits of a group who, basically, proved or disproved ‘miracles.’ The premise was handled wonderfully, and the show was fantastically done. I watched it every airing until it was officially pulled. A few unaired episodes are included here, as it closes the first season’s story arc. I highly, highly recommend you give this one a look.
Greg The Bunny. I recently picked this one up on DVD, and it’s just yet another great little quirky Fox gem that got canned way, way too early. It was set in a world where puppets were people, and followed the underbelly behind the scene exploits of the cast and crew of a children’s puppet show. It may sound ridiculous, but the show was great. Probably a little too quirky to succeed, but still a great find, nonetheless.
Wonderfalls. This is, you guessed it, another Fox show that found the axe (are you seeing a trend yet) that deserved a longer run. It debuted to some great buzz, but proved not quite well enough a performer, and was quickly shelved, and later canceled. The show was about a girl who was spoken to by inanimate objects, which told her the problems of strangers, and also told her to help them (similar to CBS’ Joan Of Arcadia; except it didn’t take itself quite as seriously; to fantastic effect). All 13 episodes of the first, and only, season are here, and they make up some truly quality television.