5. Death Valley
In contrast to some of the deadly serious shows on our list, this one was deliberately silly. Based in post-zombie-apocalypse California, it was a fake reality TV show that followed the Death Valley police force as they attempted to keep order in the midst of werewolf- and vampire-induced mayhem. The comedy was often physical and gross, with copious amounts of gore and splatter but it was a very entertaining watch. It may have been on the wrong channel, as it sat oddly among the celebrity homes shows of MTV but something about the comedy cops and zombies format wasn’t working, and only one series was ever made.
From the makers of Lost, with Jorge Garcia of Lost, you’d expect this to have the same runaway success as Lost, wouldn’t you? Set on the legendary prison island, with flashbacks between the past and the present, it employed many of the same, jumpy narrative devices as that other series. So why didn’t it replicate Lost’s success? Well, it seems that viewers may have been jaded by the 6 seasons of Lost which dawdled on, failed to answer any of the questions it asked and finished with a very unsatisfying Macguffin of an ending. After that, TV fans just weren’t ready to trust JJ Abrams again, and the show was swiftly cancelled. Oh,and it may have also featured Sam Neill….
3. The Event
This was another show with strong potential, which failed to deliver. Based around alien-looking Leila and her computer hacker boyfriend Shaun, it started well, with a kidnapping and a plane crash and then it all got a little silly. I won’t spoiler it for you, but the revelations that followed were a bit predictable and the characters just unsympathetic. By halfway through the season, when we still had no idea what “The Event” was, I switched off. As did every other viewer, and the show failed to be renewed for a second season. From initial ratings of 10.88million, it had dwindled down to around the 5million mark, with some episodes dipping as low as 4million. So, a steady decline and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a second series. But it did teach us that bog-standard computer hackers can get into FBI files within seconds. Worth paying attention in Computing class!
2. Flash Forward
An interesting premise and a strong cast makes this one of the less explicable failures. The series opened with a global blackout, where everyone in the world fell unconscious for two minutes. Cars crashed, planes dropped out of the sky and those who didn’t die in the ensuing chaos saw a “flash forward” – a glimpse of what their life would be like in 6 months’ time. The rest of the series was devoted to finding out what or who had caused the blackout, and how to stop it happening again. Starring Joseph Fiennes, Dominic Monaghan and Jack Davenport, it was a tense and pacey show. The end of the series wrapped things up, but also set up a season 2, with our own “flashforward” to another blackout sometime in the future. Sadly, however the network decided not to renew it, and we never got to see just what would happen next.
The ultimate in fan-loved, network-hated “gone too soon” shows. Firefly was Joss Whedon’s first project after the mammoths of Buffy and Angel and was a complete break with that universe. It featured none of the Buffy regulars, although lead actor Nathan Fillion had played a recurring baddie in the last season, and it was set aboard the spaceship Serenity. Describing itself as a kind of space-western, it was a slow burner and ratings faltered. Without warning, it was cancelled mid-season, leaving bereft fans feeling that it was never given a chance. It retains a strong fanbase in sci-fi circles, which resulted in a spin-off movie in 2005 (Serenity), and at conventions the so-called “Browncoats” still gather to mourn the loss of their favorite show. But they haven’t given up hope. As one site puts it “As long as Joss & Co. believe there is a future for Firefly, we fans will keep believing.”