Welcome back! Last time we kicked off the list with three series that undeniably deserved another season of production. Those three were 'Deadwood' with Timothy Olyphant, 'Kindred: The Embraced,' the 1990s vampire saga, and of course...
Which other three shows are rounding out our list? Look no further than a couple of lines below THIS VERY SENTENCE!
There is a distinct possibility that you've never heard of 'Huff,' even though it ran for two seasons in the Aughts. The series never got the coverage it deserved and the excellent dramatic writing and absolutely stellar cast showcased their abilities each episode, making for great television.
Just how stellar was the cast of 'Huff?' Let's see... We've got Paget Brewster, the actress who is far too stunningly beautiful to take as much voice-over work as she does (we want you in front of the camera, Paget!). We have Anton Yelchin, star of such features as 'Fright Night' and 'Star Trek' (the remakes... the kid isn't in his sixties). There is Blythe Danner, star of 'Adam's Rib' and countless features. Throw in Oliver Platt, star of features such as 'Benny & Joon,' 'A Time to Kill' and the blockbuster 'The Three Musketeers'..... oh, and then we have the title character, Craig Huffstodt himself, played by the incomparable Hank Azaria.
You know Hank Azaria. Trust me, even if you don't recognize the name on the screen, you KNOW Hank Azaria. Why am I so certain? Well, his voice has helped put together over 490 episodes of 'The Simpsons,' where Azaria plays each of the following:
Moe Szyslack, Chief Wiggum, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Carl Carlson, Comic Book Guy, Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Lou, Drederick Tatum, Snake, Akira, and basically every store clerk, background character and speaking toy that has ever appeared on the program.
He has recently been seen live-action in 'Free Agents' and 'The Smurfs,' but no role allowed Azaria to flex his dramatic talents moreso than on 'Huff.'
'Huff' was about Craig Huffstodt and his family. Huff was a shrink who had a fifteen-year-old patient take his own life... while in session in Huff's office. This triggers a mid-life crisis and questions of his own mortality, causing ripples that trigger his wife, mother, son and best friend to begin acting out of character. The show was brilliant, Azaria's performance was memorable, and it never got the finale that it deserved.
'Huff' deserved one more season.
SPORTS NIGHT (1998)
Just as almost any list of shows that were cancelled too soon must include 'Firefly,' there is a very good chance that you'll see 'Sports Night' on those lists as well. Much like the glut of television shows out today that center around the backstage goings-on during the production of a television show, 'Sports Night' was about the people who create nightly sports recap programs. Why is that special? Well it was created by none other than Aaron Sorkin.
Sorkin has won Academy Awards, he has won Emmy Awards. He has written features like 'A Few Good Men' and 'The Social Network' as well as television series like 'The West Wing.' And his 'Sports Night' harkened back to the tone and atmosphere of 'The Larry Sanders Show,' a backstage under constant pressure but never losing its humorous buoyancy.
And I know I just ran down the accolades of the cast for 'Huff' above, but check out that 'Sports Night' photo: there's Josh Charles, star of 'The Good Wife.' We've got Peter Krause, star of 'Parenthood' and 'Six Feet Under.' There is Oscar-nominated Felicity Huffman ('Transamerica'). And there is Robert Guillaume, whose screen credits span over five decades. FIVE DECADES.
That is a veritable who's-who of television talent, all assembled under a Sorkin umbrella.
'Sports Night' failed to find its audience after two seasons, however the wide-spread critical acclaim of the series has driven DVD sales and created a cult following ever since it went off the air. It is a shame that Sorkin opted to focus on 'The West Wing' rather than bring 'Sports Night' to another network (many were interested), as it seems that the widespread interest that Sorkin was seeking was right around the corner. That makes 'Sports Night' a missed opportunity certainly deserving of one more season.
MY SO-CALLED LIFE (1994)
'My So-Called Life' launched careers into superstardom, created an entire sub-genre of teenage dramas and made the Time Magazine list of Top 100 Television Shows of All-Time--and it did it with a mere nineteen episodes.
Claire Danes broke new ground as main character Angela Chase, a girl who struggled with--gasp--the same issues that teenage girls struggled with in real life. 'My So-Called Life' wasn't an after-school special aimed at warning wayward girls against the evils of sin; the series was a slice-of-life portrayal of the real social pressures and complex political dramas taking place in Anywhere, USA.
The series dealt with child abuse, homophobia, alcoholism, homelessness, adultery and drug abuse, amongst other themes. ABC was bold enough to give producers of 'My So-Called Life' the creative freedom to pursue whatever angle they so desired, and the result is a lasting classic that is remembered fondly by an entire generation.
So why only nineteen episodes?
'My So-Called Life' was placed in a timeslot in direct competition with heavyweight shows 'Mad About You' and 'Friends.' ABC contended that 'So-Called' was seeking a different demographic than the NBC sitcoms, however that seems short-sighted considering the demographic drawn to 'Friends' at the time could be aptly described as "friggin' everyone."
This was a costly mistake on the part of ABC, as the quality of 'My So-Called Life' was undeniable. Many television executives learned from ABC's error, as a massive wave of teenage programming (largely aimed at a female audience) exploded mere weeks after 'So-Called's cancellation. The WB Network launched a single week after 'My So-Called Life' was taken off the air, bringing a slate of teen-based programming along with it. Anyone who enjoys series on the CW today has 'My So-Called Life' to thank.
The saddest aspect of the entire ordeal is that if you consider the mammoth boom of teenage programming throughout the 00's, there is not a single series that could hold a candle to 'My So-Called Life' in terms of scripting and storytelling. There can be no question that 'My So-Called Life' deserved one more season.
There's our list! What do you think? Yell at me in the comments below!
(Seriously, yell at me. All of the commenters at TVRage are intelligent and polite, the opposite of the rest of the internet. It's starting to freak me out a lil')