Dear Santa: 7 TV Shows We Want Back

by | December 23, 2013 | Comments

Television is a fickle industry; for every hit series, there are dozens that failed even to make it past a pilot episode. Sometimes a show will get a fair chance to make an impression and build an audience, but even then, there is no shortage of fan favorite programs that have been yanked off the air prematurely. With this in mind, we here at RT thought we might implore Santa to bring us back some of our most beloved TV shows, ranging from deep, dark dramas to animated childhood favorites. Hit the comments to let us know what shows you’d like to have back.


Carnivale

As a kid, I never dreamed of running away with the circus. Until I saw Carnivale for the first time. The dust bowl carnies, evangelist preachers, Knights Templar, circus freaks and ever-watchful Management; it was all alluring and fascinating, and I was hooked. Then in 2005, it was all ripped away without explanation. We were left with a season two finale full of people being shot, sliced up by scythes, healed in cornfields, and secreted out of town in caravans, with promises that all would be explained in season 3. In my mind, they are all still trapped on a ferris wheel in limbo, and part of me is too. There were supposed to be six seasons — we only made it a third of the way through the journey, and there was so much farther to go! Okay, so it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and it ran about $2M an episode to make. Those reasons might make sense to some, but I never said that I was being rational about all this. One last thought: Clancy Brown still scares me. I just needed to mention that. I feel better now. — Beki Lane


The Critic

The Critic was broadcast in 1994 at the height of on-air film criticism, when Siskel & Ebert, Leonard Maltin, and the channel 4 woman with the big hat dominated our airwaves. Jon Lovitz voiced the eponymous Jay Sherman for 23 episodes in a season shared between ABC and Fox, and then for 10 more webisodes in a 2000 revitalization on AtomFilms (now Comedy Central). Sherman was a cynical Manhattanite, host of TV show Coming Attractions whose duty was to skewer Hollywood plums like Abe Lincoln: Pet Detective, Howard Stern’s End, and Scent of a Wolfman. Lovitz has always been up to reprise the Critic role. So then the question becomes: Who would Jay Sherman be in our internet age? Blogger? YouTube personality? Machinima beat reporter? At any rate, now that Rainer Wolfcastle is no longer governor of wherever state and slumming it in movies with Johnny Knoxville, the tomato is ripe for the revenge of a killer Sherman. — Alex Vo


Deadwood

In its three stellar seasons on HBO, Deadwood did a lot of things. It brought the dusty, dirty, demystified West of such classic films as McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Unforgiven to the serial format, and the result was a deeper, more detailed look into how the West was won. It provided meaty, high profile roles for such outstanding character actors as Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, John Hawkes, Paula Malcomson, Anna Gunn, and a bunch more folks that have subsequently become staples of indie films and quality television series. And it elevated swearing to delirious, almost Shakespearean heights of expressiveness. Unfortunately, one thing Deadwood couldn’t do was bring itself to a satisfactory close. When the show was cancelled in 2006, creator David Milch agreed to make two two-hour movies to close things out, but things never quite came together. In the ensuing years, Milch and Deadwood‘s principal cast members have alternately declared the prospect of a conclusion in hibernation or completely dead. Even if it’s a longshot, there are plenty of fans — myself included — who hold out hope that we’ll all get another chance to mosey down Deadwood‘s muddy streets. — Tim Ryan


Jem and the Holograms

Anyone that says television doesn’t influence people is crazy. There was one show that taught me about things that I would hold dear well into my adult life — pink hair, rock music, and computers, to name a few — and that was Jem and the Holograms. Jem was a great role model, because even though her rock persona was a smoke and mirrors illusion created by a headband-wearing computer named Synergy, her day-to-day persona was Jerrica, who ran an orphanage. The Holograms helped, of course. Together with the orphans, they would fight for good and sing a lot, usually against The Misfits, who had uglier hair colors and scowls on their animated faces. This wasn’t a great show that stands up to the test of time. What we need is a live-action remake that would appeal to kids and women, like a Law and Order: SVU with more sequins and less gross killing. — Grae Drake


My So-Called Life

In the mid-1990s, ABC aired this fantastic show that got cancelled way too soon. My So-Called Life was simply ahead of its time, being one of the first dramas geared toward teens that gave a voice to young females — which had yet to be seen. Every week, I tuned in to see Angela, Ricky, and Rayanne deal with what it was really like to be a teenager, and this was no sugar-coated version of adolescence; it depicted taboo topics like homophobia, teenage alcoholism, and homelessness throughout its 19 episode run. The series came to an end as Angela received a note from Jordan — written by Brian despite his own massive crush on Angela — in an effort to win her back, so there was still a lot left there to explore. And let’s not forget about all the alternative music it introduced me to (hello Violent Femmes)! My So-Called Life launched the careers of Claire Danes and Jared Leto, but due to low ratings and the lack of interest from Danes to return, ABC unfortunately cancelled this fan favorite. Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano 4eva! — Catherine Pricci



NewsRadio

In all honesty, this isn’t merely a request to revive a screwy workplace comedy; it’s also a plea for Santa to bend the laws of nature and bring us back Phil Hartman, whose tragic death just ten days after NBC renewed NewsRadio for its fifth season in 1998 spelled almost certain doom for the series. At its best, NewsRadio was wacky, unpredictable, and clever, chronicling the absurd antics and professional relationships among the staff of WNYX, a fictional AM news radio station in New York. Dave Foley grounded the show as WNYX’s put-upon news director, but the eccentric characters who surrounded him — his brainy producer (Maura Tierney), the awkward reporter (Andy Dick), the station’s enigmatic owner (Stephen Root), the handyman (Joe Rogan), and the egomaniacal, often misinformed news anchor (Hartman) — excelled at joyful hijinks and witty banter, making NewsRadio one of the most consistently laugh-out-loud sitcoms of its time. Hartman’s passing simply left too big a void to fill, even by SNL colleague Jon Lovitz, and the show’s fifth season was its last. If we could have the old NewsRadio back — and, by proxy, Phil Hartman — we’d all be very grateful. — Ryan Fujitani



Surface

Lake Bell starred in this odd gem of a show about a mysterious new species of sea creature. The first (and only) season focused on a regular high school kid, Miles Barnett (Carter Jenkins), who discovered a mysterious egg. He, of course, dropped the foreign egg into the family fish tank in the living room (I’m certain that’s what we’d all do). The creature hatched, resulting in a wet carpet full of glass and dead guppies, and managed to become the boy’s secret pet. Before cancellation, we visited other parts of the world, where folks overseas encountered the species. Leighton Meester had a supporting role, before we came to know her as Gossip Girl‘s fancy Blair Waldorf. Critics didn’t love the show, but Variety’s Brian Lowry said, “Surface should have a shot at being sampled.” A cult following of fans formed quickly, and they still discuss their disappointment in the show’s abrupt end. Surface was unique, weird and kept us guessing what would happen next. The result was fascinatingly addictive.
Kerr Lordygan