By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
Most of these shows never even made it on the air...and the ones that did were treated unfairly. This list could easily be extended to a top 10 or a top 20 if the greatest canceled TV shows were included, but this is a list of television shows that were never even given a chance:
Number 6: Heat Vision and Jack (Honorable Mention)
In 1999, Ben Stiller directed a sci-fi comedy pilot starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Ron Silver that was written and executive produced by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab. FOX never picked up the show and it was never aired.
Black played Jack Austin, an astronaut granted superintelligence from exposure to inappropriate levels of solar energy, and Wilson was the voice of Heat Vision, Austin’s talking motorcycle. Silver played himself, a NASA employee trying to capture Austin (either dead or alive), who sometimes dabbles in acting.
The entire premise of this show was completely ridiculous and silly, and that’s the main reason it would have been great. It even developed a bit of a cult following online and a little over a year ago there were rumors of a Heat Vision and Jack movie, but now it seems a bit unlikely.
Lost in Oz was going to be a sequel to the original Wizard of Oz, but the series was cancelled and the 2002 television pilot was never released. It was written by David Hayter, screenwriter of the first two X-Men films, and directed by Mick Garris and starred Melissa George, Colin Egglesfield, Mia Sara, Sandra Allen and Lynn Whitfield.
The story started with Alexandra Wilder (Melissa George) and her adventures in the Land of Oz after getting caught in a cyclone. She meets World War II soldier Caleb Jansen (Colin Egglesfield), and is given the task of rescuing Princess Ozma from the new Wicked Witch of the West, Loriellidere (Mia Sara). In order to get through Loriellidere's labyrinth they enlist the help of the quirky/cute Patchwork Girl Serena (Sandra Allen). The pilot was filled with too much story and it felt a little rushed, but Alexandra, unlike Dorothy, was going to end up stuck in Oz for however long the series would have been on the air. The possibilities for cool stories in the Land of Oz are probably limitless, but now we will never know.
Only five years later the Sci-Fi Channel released a “reimagined” version of the original Oz called Tin Man, but Lost in Oz was a project with more potential. Tin Man seemed at first to have several things working in its favor: Zooey Deschanel is always great, Alan Cumming has been good a few times in the past and, really, how can you go wrong with a bit of sci-fi and some steampunk? It’s easier than it seems, I guess, because Tin Man really didn’t work for me on any level. If Kathleen Robertson was not cast as Azkadellia I may never have watched past the first installment.
The pilot for Nobody’s Watching was produced in 2005, but apparently it was a little too confusing with test audiences and the WB passed on the show. I’m not sure what kind of people they had in the tests, but the premise for the series seemed simple enough: Two longtime friends send tapes to every television network claiming that they can produce better sitcoms than the ones currently on the air and the WB accepts their challenge, placing them in a reality show while they develop their sitcom.
In the first twenty seconds of the pilot the characters list a bunch of good sitcoms from the past and ask why we don’t have more shows like them…then they slam a few of the terrible sitcoms currently on the air. The writers had it exactly right and the potential for some really funny stuff was there, but I guess some people get confused when characters break the fourth wall.
In 2007, six episodes of Drive were created, but FOX only gave the show about ten days to find an audience and then cancelled the series after the fourth episode was aired. The mostly-ensemble cast starred Nathan Fillion and Kristin Lehman as two of about twelve characters that were involved in a secret, illegal, underground, cross-country road race.
The show had tons of potential and is a perfect example of a mishandled FOX property. Tim Minear, one of the show’s creators, claimed that Drive could “be anything from Cannonball Run to The Game to North by Northwest to Magnolia-on-wheels" and it would have been nice to see that happen.
My favorite Tim Minear project was Wonderfalls (it’s your fault that Wonderfalls was cancelled, btw), but he also worked on the other great FOX casualty and one of the best shows ever, Firefly and Angel, respectively. I'm sure he had great things planned for Drive.
Smith was a CBS show from 2006 starring Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Simon Baker, Amy Smart, Johnny Lee Miller, Franky G and Chris Bauer. Seven episodes were filmed, but only three were aired before the network cancelled the series.
Liotta played Bobby Stevens, the leader of a band of thieves pretending to be a typical nine-to-five, suburban family man. The intricate heists that he planned were often multi-layered and, when something inevitably went wrong, he always had a back-up plan. The group of criminals he assembled were definitely not the typical characters found on television, and it was a pleasant change.
The show’s producer, John Wells, said the robbers were “not a particularly likable group, but a compelling group, we hope.” I guess they weren’t compelling enough…or maybe the general public isn’t sophisticated enough to handle amoral characters.
Global Frequency was a pilot based on a comic book that was produced for the WB in 2005, but they never commissioned the series and it never aired. Michelle Forbes, Josh Hopkins, Jenni Baird and Aimee Garcia starred in the show, written by John Rogers and directed by Nelson McCormick. Warren Ellis, the writer of the original comic, was credited as producer and creator.
The Global Frequency is a worldwide covert intelligence agency comprised of 1,001 members (each with some specialized skill) that would be randomly called upon to protect the world from various unconventional threats. The general public is frequently unaware that these threats even exist. The comic book featured a constantly changing cast of field agents, but the television series introduced a couple of new characters to preserve continuity.
John Rogers talked about Global Frequency on his blog: “[W]hat the hell was I thinking? It's a show about how the institutions around us have failed us, and we live in a world of chaos and death, held back only by borderline sociopaths. The HAPPY ending is our hero shoots an innocent man in the face.” He then goes on to explain exactly why the death of this project is so tragic: “We had a five year plan, with a goddam MORAL, not some flash pilot and wing it out as we go ... but most of all, we had that concept. Warren Ellis's beautiful, crystalline find. In a TV wasteland, we had the one show that wasn't just about stories, it was about SOMETHING -- faith in us. Not faith in the treacherous fat white men in suits, not power, not money -- faith in US.”