10 SciFi Shows That Were Cancelled Before Their Time
Science fiction shows get cancelled at the drop of a hat these days. Here are 10 science fiction shows that were cancelled before their time.
If you want to make a TV show that lasts for several seasons and draws millions of on-again off-again viewers, don’t make a scifi show, make a show about some boring lawyers or cops or politicians or something. Science fiction shows get cancelled at the drop of a hat these days. Why? Well if millions of loyal fans, gripping stories, incredible DVD sales and merchandising potential aren’t enough – as some of these examples prove – I don’t know what is. Here are 10 science fiction shows that were cancelled before their time.
I really liked Caprica, and I don’t know why more Battlestar Galactica fans didn’t watch it. Although Caprica was a prequel to the modern Battlestar ‘reimagined sereis’, it was a very different type of show, opting to forgo epic space battles in favor of simpler, character driven stories and mixing a number of different themes, including religious terrorism, organized crime, grief, artificial reality and the development of artificial intelligence. I guess the show failed to capture a big enough audience to continue into a second series simply because it was so different to Battlestar Galactica. It was aimed squarely at Battlestar fans, already limiting the audience, but provided something out of the zone of expectation of those fans, and those who were expecting more of the same tuned out. Of course, you don’t have to be a Battlestar Galactica fan to watch Caprica, but it helps.
Everybody who has seen this scifi show agrees that it is awesome. If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know what you are missing. Firefly is most commonly described as a scifi-western. In reality, it’s about a bunch of interesting characters, on an interesting ship, who bounce around a star system packed with habitable planets while getting themselves into scrapes along the way.
Firefly was axed after just one season, following disappointing viewing figures, but DVD sales have since sky rocketed. Later, a Firefly follow-up movie – titled “Serenity” – was released to critical acclaim.
If you don’t know anything at all about the idea behind Dollhouse, here’s a quick overview (don’t worry, no spoilers).
The Dollhouse is a place you can go to hire a person with special skills. It might be your perfect woman, an assassin, a dominatrix or just a really good nanny. The Dollhouse takes the skills and characteristics you need, compiles them into a new personality and then implants it into the brain of one of their “actives”. The “actives” are essentially blank people, kinda like very sexy floppy disks. You might be thinking that the Dollhouse sounds like a high-tech whore house, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. But the technology used in the Dollhouse – technology that only the Dollhouse has access to – has limitless potential. Joss Whedon successful explores this potential, building his story towards an apocalyptic climax.
OK, so Stargate Universe wasn’t particularly good. In fact, it was pretty dull. Scratch that, it was very dull, but it had some interesting ideas and a few interesting characters. Alright, it had one interesting character, but at least there were a couple of cameo appearances from Stargate SG-1.
While the acting was good and the direction was superb, the writers of this show simply failed to give us enough interesting and engaging plot lines for us to sink our teeth into. While previous Stargate series had been action packed military scifi shows, both sprinkled with a healthy topping of cheese and humour, Stargate Universe set off in a completely different direction. It has been said that the show’s creators were trying to reinvent and reinvigorate the Stargate franchise. What it actually looked like they were doing was a sultry, seedy lap-dance to entice Battlestar Galactica fans to the show. Like all lap-dances, it was just a tease and there was absolutely no touching. Essentially it was form over substance.
But there definitely was promise for Stargate Universe, looking forward. While I watched the first season more through a sense of obligation than enjoyment, the second season actually started to show a lot of promise. About half-way through, the stories got better and a light seasoning of Stargate humor was applied. Of course, this is the point at which the show was cancelled, leaving the Destiny and her crew hanging between galaxies.
While there had been hope for a TV movie to finish the show, and talk of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis regular Dr Rodney McKay joining the crew, this now seems very unlikely. The lap-dance is over, and just when I was starting to get in the mood.
Like Stargate Universe, Terra Nova began on the pants side of quality TV. The problem with this show is that it stayed that way and showed no signs of improving. Despite having the backing of Steven Spielberg, the show seemed somehow uninspired and drab, with a lack of original story arcs, a lack of talented actors and a severe lack of dinosaurs.
The annoying thing is that the premise of the show was actually pretty interesting and, had the writers followed up on the success of the first episode, the rest of the show should have been too. Instead, what we ended up with was pants; a big pair of sweaty Y-fronts wrapped around Spielberg’s hairy balls. It was only ever going to end one way; with FOX giving those balls a good, hard kick.
I guess now we’ll never know what was out in the ‘Badlands’. I’ll just have to assume it was a civilization of talking apes, and that they enslaved the Novans for centuries to come.
Planet of the Apes
That’s right, there was a Planet of the Apes TV series. If you’ve never seen it then you’re probably just too young to have seen its original airing. The show was cancelled after only one season and failed to make any kind of impact whatsoever, probably because it was so similar in plot to the original Planet of the Apes movies, and even starred one of the same actors (Roddy McDowall). But while the story lines were repetitive, I thought this show had potential. Towards the end of the season, it felt like Planet of the Apes was gearing up to something that the movies never really addressed - the social inequality that existed within ape society, and a potential civil war between the three species of ape, the militaristic gorillas, the hard-working and intelligent chimpanzees, and the dogmatic orangutans.
With Star Trek now being such a massive worldwide phenomenon, it’s hard to imagine that this classic scifi show was actually cancelled due to declining viewer numbers. Despite having literally millions of fans today, Star Trek was actually slow to catch on, and NBC threatened to end production after only two seasons. A furious letter-writing campaign by fans saw Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise return for a third season, after which the unrecognized genius of Star Trek was put into effective cold storage.
It was only through re-runs that Star Trek eventually received the attention that it deserved, and years later the seeds of the epic Star Trek franchise we know today were planted. This re-birth began with Star Trek: The Animated Series and increasing interest led to several feature films. Plans for a rebirth of the show featuring the original cast (minus Spock) and titled “Star Trek: Phase II” were scrapped, but Star Trek: The Next Generation was eventually spawned. The rest, as they say, is history.
Here’s a throwback from the mid-90′s that I actually think is worth a second look. Earth 2 was hardly a ground breaking show, and it was a long way from the action packed epics we expect our scifi TV shows to be today, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. There is definite potential for a reboot here.
Watching the show recently, it reminded me of some of the children’s mini dramas the BBC used to put out during the mid-90′s, some of which were of a surprisingly high standard for the time. I was actually trying to figure out whether it was made with children or adults in mind when I remembered that back then we all used to watch the same shows. Clearly it was created for both adults and children (what a novel idea!) and that actually doesn’t diminish it’s quality whatsoever. In fact, it had a kind of maturity that many adult dramas lack. It also had cute alien puppets and a guy dressed as a robot. Those were the days.
Earth 2 is a basic colonization story, only the characters spend their time in a ‘wagon train’ across the new planet. If the show had been allowed to continue past season 1, it would have been nice to have watched them actually build their new civilization. The writers were certainly working towards a future scenario where hundreds more colonists arrive, changing the dynamic of the show – it’s a shame we never got to see it. Instead we had to settle for the traditional time-shifting into the future bollocks to see how it all panned out.
If somebody does decide to reboot this scifi show, I hope they skip to the colony building much sooner. It would be nice to see a mature scifi drama where people actually work to build something for themselves, facing hardships along the way, unlike Terra Nova where dinosaurs shit Easter eggs and cry rainbows, and sonic hippie guns grow on trees.
This BBC sitcom combined the quirky sci-fi styling of Red Dwarf with the dry wit of The Office. A somewhat different look at the future of the human race, it follows the crew of the HMS Camden Lock as they attempt to persuade various alien races to move their warehousing facilities to Peterborough. Hyperdrive‘s only failing was that it wasn’t quite hilarious enough for demanding and discerning British audiences. Nevertheless, there are 12 episodes packed full of character humour and clever little science fiction ideas (like the insta-drunk tablet).
Blood and Chrome
The second and much-anticipated prequel to Battlestar Galactica (and sequel to Caprica) was cancelled even before it aired, but all is not lost. Originally planned as a series of webisodes, Blood and Chrome tells the story of the First Cylon War from the perspective of a young William Adama. Interest in the proposed web series led to the production of a feature-length TV pilot and a caused a huge amount of excitement amongst Battlestar fans. But no sooner had the pilot episode been completed as the trigger happy network executives axed the Blood and Chrome TV project. Instead, the series will be produced for online viewing as originally planned, with the feature-length pilot airing as a TV movie.
All that hype, all that money, and all we get is a series of webisodes as was originally planned. Why? Well, that’s anybody’s guess. The excuse given was that the TV pilot just cost too much money to make, on account of all the cool special effects. But isn’t this show exactly what viewers want? If the failure of Caprica proved anything it’s that Battlestar fans don’t want the kind of complex character-driven stories that can be produced relatively cheaply, they want what Blood and Chrome was promising; epic space battles, cool special effects, scary (and they do look pretty scary on the trailer) Cylon robots – Action, action, action!
Ah well, when the webisodes prove to be a hit, maybe they’ll start reconsidering the TV show once again. But by the time the people at SyFy finally get their act together, Battlestar Galactica will probably be due for another remake.