Arrested Development is back, and in light of the excitement I’d like to highlight five other awesome shows that ended well before their time.
5. Mission Hill
This comedy originally aired in 1999, and was part of the comedy animation boom of the late 90’s. Mission Hill is about Andy and Kevin French, two brothers with next to nothing in common beyond each utterly disdaining the other. Andy is a twenty-something ne’er-do-well who dreams of being a cartoonist, while Kevin is an over-achieving high school student. Forced to live together by their parents, the two brothers constantly bicker. While Andy must readjust his life to help take care of his brother, Kevin attempts to adjust to life in the city, as well as Andy’s unconventional roommates and neighbors.
Mission Hill was created by two executive producers of The Simpsons, and features a number of famous voice actors and comedians, such as Brian Posehn(A stand-up comedian), Tom Kenny(SpongeBob), and Jane Weidlin(bass guitarist for The Go-Go’s). Sometimes, even with a boatload of talent, shows just aren’t very good. That isn’t the case here, though. Mission Hill is witty, clever, and makes an effort to create funny, interesting characters. It has a unique animation style and interesting color palette. It had everything going for it, but sometimes that isn’t enough.
4. Clone High
The brainchild of Bill Lawrence(Scrubs), Chris Miller, and Phil Lord, Clone High is an animated comedy revolving around a high school populated almost solely by teenage clones of famous historical figures and run by a mad scientist and his robot vice principal, Mr. Butlertron. Abe Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi are nerdy best friends, whose small clique is rounded out with an artsy/goth Joan of Arc. John F. Kennedy is a mean-spirited jock in an on-again-off-again relationship with Cleopatra. A number of other famous clones have recurring roles, including George Washington Carver, Genghis Kahn, and Marie Curie. The show is almost always absurd. Each episode is advertised as “a very special episode.” The show stars the like of Will Forte(SNL) and Nicole Sullivan(MadTV), and nearly every episode features some major starts as guests, including Jack Black, Andy Dick, and Luke Perry. Bill Lawrence used his Scrubs connection to get many members of its cast to appear on the show, as well.
Like Mission Hill, Clone High aired for a single season. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, which is doubly sad.
Jericho was just a little before its time. While shows and films about various apocalypses have become all the rage, Jericho may have been the first of the new wave. Jericho is a small town in Kansas that was well outside the range of any major city. The show begins with twenty-three cities across the United States are leveled by nuclear weapons. The small town struggles to survive the fallout — both literally and figuratively. Alliances are formed and broken, relationships tested, and the very things that hold society together are strained to the breaking point. The town must deal with raiders, rebuilding trade, and questionable new governments.
It could be argued that Jericho ended properly. After being cancelled at the end of its first season, a fan campaign got the show renewed for a short second round that cleared up most of the questions posted during the first. However, the show could have easily continued past that point, as the final episode ends with the world growing ever larger, and society still has a great deal to rebuild. Although Jericho is about a small town, it could easily expand to show its place in a larger world.
2. Pushing Daisies
Bryan Fuller just doesn’t have much luck. That’s the only thing that can explain him creating so many great shows and having none of them get more than a second season. Before Pushing Daisies, Fuller created Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, both shows that could just as easily have appeared on this list. Dead Like Me got a less-than-stellar direct-to-video final movie, but Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies both end with unfinished business.
Pushing Daisies is the story of Ned the piemaker, a man with a mysterious gift: his touch can raise the dead. The catch? One minute after raising one corpse, a nearby equivalent will die. A second touch to the undead will revert them to their lifeless state, and if done within a minute, will negate the cost of raising them. Ned uses this gift to solve murder cases along with Emerson Cod, a private investigator.
Pushing Daisies is colorful and campy. It stars Lee Pace and Chi McBride as Ned and Emerson, respectively. It also stars Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Greene, and Swoosie Kurtz. Every episode also features whimsical narration by Jim Dale.
Now more than ever, it is incredibly obvious that Joss Whedon, when left to his own devices, creates good entertainment. Between Toy Story and The Avengers, he masterminded Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse. He also created Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and Cabin in the Woods. Nearly everything he has a hand in is golden. However, his most ardent following likely stems from the short-lived TV series Firefly. I admit, I didn’t watch it when it premiered. It’s probably good that I didn’t. FOX aired the series out of sequence, leaving the series’ exposition-filled first episode for last.
Firefly follows the crew of the firefly-class spaceship Serenity, captained by Malcolm Reynolds. Mal, along with the ship’s second-in-command, Zoe, was a soldier on the losing side of the Unification War — a battle to keep independence from the galaxy-ruling Alliance. In a bid to keep some form of freedom, Mal becomes an independent contractor, taking whatever jobs come his way, legal or not.
Honestly, there are a ton of sites dedicated to this show. There were a whopping fourteen episodes, and it has one of the most ardent followings in the history of television. It’s cowboys in space, and it’s fantastic. When you first watch it, you’ll think the theme song is stupid. By the end of the season, you’ll find it inspiring. That’s how awesome this show is.
Joss Whedon got a chance to continue the story of Firefly in the film Serenity. It was great. It wasn’t enough.