Firefly holds a special place in the world of television. For being on the air only one season, the show has managed to maintain a dedicated fan base and has inspired other sci-fi, space opera shows with a similar premise. In any discussion of memorable and beloved one season shows, I think Firefly will feature rather prominently.
But since we all know how great Firefly is, I thought I would share ten other shows I enjoyed that I feel were cut from the airwaves far too soon. It is May after all, and the cancel/renew cycle is in full swing. So let’s get to it!
Honorable Mentions: Emerald City and Powerless
Emerald City was one of the one-season-wonders from this year. I did enjoy the show (wrote a blog post about it even), but I’m not sure that I will miss it to the level of the shows I’m listing for the rest of this article. Mostly I think that the show had some promise and a lot of potential, but the first season ended up being something of a prologue for bigger things to come…which I guess now we’ll never see.
Powerless is another show that I enjoyed this season. I thought the concept was strong and the cast was great, especially Alan Tudyk who did a lot of the comedic heavy lifting. I think Hudgens and the other supporting cast members did do a great job though. Unfortunately it took about two episodes for the show to really hit its stride, and I think that is even more problematic for a comedy. While an audience might stick around for a drama that shows potential, it’s hard to justify watching a comedy that has potential but only earns a few laughs until three or four episodes in. I think that was largely the downfall of Powerless.
It’s possible that down the line I’ll re-watch these shows or suggest them to others, but we’ll see. My inkling is that while I enjoyed both of these shows, I don’t think they’ll have the sticking power in my head that the other entries here do.
Constantine was a show based very loosely on the comic series. It featured John Constantine traveling around America and putting down different demonic entities with the help of a psychic artist, a man with many lives, and an angel who is supposed to be watching over and supervising him.
It was a flawed show in some ways. Honestly I think clearly setting up Lucy Griffiths in a primary role during the pilot only to have her immediately leave the series was a little strange and kicked the series off to a weak start. Outside of that, the show had some interesting episodes and demons for the crew to deal with, but I don’t think there was much about any individual episode that stood out very strongly.
The primary reason this show was so watchable was its lead actor, Matt Smith, who embodied the character of Constantine and played a really great anti-hero. It was worth tuning in every week to see his performance, and I wish the show had gone on longer so that it could’ve found its footing better around him.
9.) Battle Creek
This is probably the most meat and potatoes show on this list, but personally I enjoy a good procedural. Battle Creek was basically a buddy-cop comedy-drama that starred Josh Duhamel as a decorated FBI agent assigned to Battle Creek, Michigan for no reason anyone can figure out. His partner is Dean Winters who plays a curmudgeonly local cop who is very effective at his job but doesn’t like Duhamel’s very clean cut character and wants to find out what dirty secret has landed this FBI agent in his home town.
I thought Duhamel and Winters made a great team and played off each other really well, which made the comedy aspect of the series shine. The mystery/procedural aspects were pretty standard, the type of stuff you’d expect from that sort of show, but I thought that was fine.
The supporting cast was also quite strong and featured Kal Penn and NCIS alum Liza Lapira. Most of those characters were local police who were enamored with the new FBI agent in their midst and excited to be able to solve crimes by utilizing the gear and resources he could access through his larger budget. They also had their own well defined quirks which added some great comedic elements to the series.
There are no shortage of procedural shows out there, but if you want to check out another one that I think was quite fun, I’d recommend Battle Creek.
8.) Clone High
Put together by Bill Lawrence and the writing/directing team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Clone High was a strange MTV series about a high school full of clones of famous people from throughout history. The primary characters were Abe Lincoln, his best friends Joan of Arc and Gandhi, his love interest Cleopatra, and his rival JFK.
The show puts these characters in a modern suburban high school and draws a lot of its comedy from meshing traditional teen movie tropes with the historical background we know about these people. Of course there is also some great random absurdity in there as well. If you’re looking for some laughs, I definitely recommend checking out Clone High, though I will warn you that the last episode ends on a cliffhanger, which is frustrating as there are no more new episodes.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers starred in an interesting adaptation of Dracula, which I quite enjoyed. Unlike most versions of the story, Rhys Meyers played Dracula as more of an anti-hero. He is a progressive, a man of science, and an entrepreneur. But he is also bent on revenge against the controlling and secretive religious organization that murdered his family long ago and cursed him to become a vampire. And, despite his good qualities, he does also require blood and ends up creating several vampires to do his bidding.
The show was an interesting mash-up of fantasy and period piece that had a great cast, and I thought it worked quite well. The season came to a head at a point of rising conflict, and I was very curious to see how the story would have developed further. Given the story, I’m not sure that Dracula would have been a very long running series, but I think it could’ve been a solid three or four season show if it had been allowed to play out fully.
Rake starred Greg Kinnear as Keegan Deane, a self-centered and self-destructive defense attorney. He has complex relationships with the people around him, like his ex-wife who is also his psychiatrist, and a prostitute who he falls in love with. He is also in debt to everyone from a brothel owner to his bookie.
The show was adapted from a highly acclaimed Australian show, and I thought it was one of the funniest shows on the air during its time. I have found that I, personally, enjoy watching comedies about selfish, self-destructive people, so if that’s not your thing, you may want to give Rake a pass, but personally I think it’s a really great show.
Sadly this is another show whose last episode closes on quite the cliffhanger, just a warning.
5.) Almost Human
Sci-fi police procedural Almost Human starred Carl Urban as Detective John Kennex, a veteran cop who lost his leg and several fellow police in a raid he organized against a techno terrorist group. He returns to duty aided by Dorian (Michael Ealy), a synthetic humanoid who is capable of feeling emotions, a trait that makes his model unique.
Kennex doesn’t trust Synthetics and doesn’t want to work with one, but he is required to by department regulations, and eventually he and Dorian begin to bond as they solve crimes together.
Urban and Ealy had a strong onscreen chemistry that held the show together, and the supporting cast, featuring Minka Kelly and Lily Taylor, was quite good as well. It was nice to see a futuristic crime show, which I thought was a good twist on the cop procedural genre. Unfortunately it seems this isn’t a particularly popular genre, as Minority Report had a similar milieu and only lasted one season as well.
To add to its troubles, Almost Human is another Fox show that fell victim to the Firefly treatment of having its episodes aired out of order for some reason. Perhaps if Fox had aired the series in the order it was meant to be shown, they might have found a larger audience for the show.
4.) No Tomorrow
I started watching No Tomorrow because I saw its female lead, Tori Anderson, in Killjoys where she had a substantial guest role. Normally I’m not one for rom-coms, but I really enjoyed her character on Killjoys and wanted to see what she could do in a leading role. As such, I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this show.
Set in Seattle, the story follows Evie, a young, type-A personality woman working at a tech company who meets a free-spirited man named Xavier. She falls for him but soon learns that he has a strange theory about how the world is going to end in eight months when an asteroid will collide with it. Since he has been unable to get his theory into the hands of experts who might be able to do something about it, he has taken on a “live every day like it’s your last” lifestyle that Evie finds infectious. She isn’t sure she believes his theory, but she likes the idea of doing things outside her comfort zone.
Anderson and Joshua Sasse (Xavier) were really great together on screen. The supporting cast of the show, mostly Evie’s quirky co-workers, were also really great and made the show fun. If you enjoy rom-coms, I’d 100% recommend this show.
Also, while the series does end before a lot of things are resolved, the writers did tie-off the series in the finale at a point where you can sort of make your own speculations about how things work out. It’s not nearly as satisfying as a true fleshed out series ending would be, but it’s also not as frustrating as some of the other shows on this list that end with real cliffhangers.
The CW was also kind enough to provide an epilogue to the show so that fans could learn what happened to all of the characters. After you get through your binge of this show, you can check out that little ending to see what happened.
3.) Keen Eddie
Keen Eddie is another comedy procedural that follows NYPD Detective Eddie Arlette (Mark Valley) as he travels to London tracking down a drug ring he was pursuing in New York. He partners up with a Scotland Yard inspector named Monty Pippin (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and is supervised by Nathaniel Johnson (Colin Salmon), and together they track down the dealers. However, Arlette decides to remain in London and work with the police force on other crimes.
Arlette also rooms with Fiona Bickerton (Sienna Miller), the daughter of the woman he is supposed to be renting a flat from. She has taken over the premises after dropping out of college and not telling her parents. They have an adversarial relationship because Bickerton doesn’t want to room with him, but is forced to, since Arlette threatens to tell her parents that she’s no longer enrolled in school. Fiona often has her own subplots that play as foils to whatever case or issues Eddie is dealing with and provide some humorous asides from the cases.
The cast for the show was amazing and funny, the characters super quirky and lovable. The style in which the show was shot was also fresh, which made it fun and visually different. The cases the crew had to solve were also fairly unique. The most memorable of them involved racing horse semen. And I’ll leave it at that.
While I feel like Battle Creek is a bit closer to the standard procedural fair, Keen Eddie is a stand out, in my opinion, and brings some new stylish elements to the genre. If you like comedy and you like police procedurals, I highly recommend giving this show a look.
However, like both Firefly and Almost Human, Keen Eddie was aired out of production order (because Fox likes to screw over its own shows), and the order of the episodes on the DVDs are the airing order, not the production order. If you want to see the series in the order it was intended, which I recommend, you can find the production order on its Wikipedia page.
Starring the ever-charming Mary Elizabeth Winstead, BrainDead aired this past summer during the presidential campaign and was a great commentary on Washington politics and our highly polarized nation. Also it had alien mind-control bugs.
Laurel Healy (Winstead), an aspiring documentary filmmaker who wants nothing to do with politics, ends up agreeing to work for her brother, a high powered Democrat, at the behest of her father who says he will fund her next film if she does him this favor. She ends up accidentally discovering that several members of congress have been corrupted by bug-like aliens that eat their host’s brains and take over their mind. She and a small group of friends who believe her story have to get together and stop the aliens from destroying America.
Winstead was amazing in this show, but it also had standout performances by Johnny Ray Gill, who plays Healy’s conspiracy theorist friend who actually believes her story, as well as Tony Shalhoub who plays the main antagonist of the series, a Republican senator who is controlled by the queen bug. If you want a good political comedy, definitely check out this show.
As a bonus, the series actually comes to a full conclusion at the end of its thirteen episodes. You can see where the writers left room for sequel potential if they got renewed, but you can watch this show essentially as a mini-series, and you’ll have a very fulfilling viewing experience.
I never ended up watching the Limitless movie, but I really enjoyed the TV show. It’s another procedural and comedy hybrid with a little bit of a sci-fi element. Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) is a deadbeat who is given a productivity pill by a friend of his that opens up his mind and allows him to become a genius. However, the drug is highly illegal and ends up getting him in trouble when his friend is murdered and the FBI shows up looking for a suspect. He solves his friend’s murder and is then brought on at the FBI. They want to keep an eye on him, as the drug has deadly side effects.
However, what they don’t know is that Finch is receiving an antidote shot from Senator Morra (Bradley Cooper) that mitigates the pill’s side effects. This way he is able to help the FBI solve crimes without having to worry about dying.
This set-up is very similar to shows like Castle, The Mentalist, or even more supernatural style shows like Lucifer or iZombie. But what made Limitless so special was McDorman’s performance, especially in the way that he executed voice overs for his character. His explanations of what was going on were hilarious, as were the many daydream sequences he has about how he thinks a case should play out versus how it actually does.
The high level of comedic writing and character performances really set this show apart from some others, and if you like some of the shows I previously mentioned in this section, then you should definitely give Limitless a look.
While it doesn’t fully close out the way that BrainDead does, the show ends its first season wrapping up most of the loose ends, so it does come to a reasonably satisfying conclusion that doesn’t have a major cliffhanger. I’d say this another plus.
I hope you enjoyed my list of non-Firefly one season awesome shows. Would you rank any of these differently? Or are there other one-season wonders that didn’t make my list that you think are worth a watch? Let me know in the comments.
On another note, I will be moving blog posts back to Wednesdays in the future, so next week look for a Wednesday post. I will be writing up my thoughts on Agents of SHIELD’s fourth season and what I think it did well this year.
Thanks for reading! See you guys next week.
I will be writing a recap and review of the Arrowverse shows for my next post instead as a) the timing works out well for it, and b) I don’t think I can actually write a full enough post on the AoS topic. Basically I think the show was super well written because it divided into story pods that allowed the writers to focus heavily on one conflict at a time and avoid having any filler episodes. The end.
Anyway, Arrowverse season recap and review up next! Hope you’ll check it out.