Snuffed Out: Still More Series That Were Gone Too Soon

With the fate of ABC’s Happy Endings decided, it has officially become a member of the “Gone Too Soon” club, TV shows that were snuffed out before they had a chance to flourish … or jump the shark. The club used to be headed by the Holy Trinity of Arrested Development/Freaks & Geeks/Firefly, but Arrested Development has been miraculously resurrected, so let’s put … I don’t know … Pushing Daisies in its place.

While we mourn Happy Endings, let’s take a third trip down TV memory lane. In the first Snuffed Out, we paid tribute to the aforementioned Daisies, as well as Wonderfalls, Nightman, The Book Of Daniel, Popular, The Five Mrs. Buchanans, The Flash, Eerie Indiana, It’s All Relative, Paper Dolls and the newly-resurrected Veronica Mars.

The second Snuffed Out honored The Comeback, It Had To Be You, Mission Genesis, Flo, Women of The House, Baywatch Nights, Dante’s Cove, The Lair, Noah’s Arc, Bagdad Cafe, Free Spirit, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

So what shows should join them in the “Gone Too Soon” Club? Here are some more suggestions. Care to add any that haven’t been mentioned?

Ugly Betty
ABC (September 28, 2006 – April 14, 2010)

You’re probably thinking, “But Ugly Betty had a successful run. What is it doing here?” It’s true, Betty was by all accounts a success. It had Emmy love (with a win for America Ferrera and multiple noms for Vanessa Williams), and its four season run was longer than most “Gone Too Soon” club members. So why is it included here?


In the final season, Betty’s teenage nephew Justin comes to terms with his sexuality, kisses his friend Austin, and in one of the sweetest scenes in recent TV history, the two share a romantic dance. If the show had continued, who knows where they would have gone with Justin’s character. Would he be sharing a class at NYADA with Kurt Hummell? Yes, let’s pretend he is.

What Went Wrong?

By Betty’s third season, its pop culture zeitgeist had faded, and not even its fourth season creative resurgence could save it.

The WB (October 5 – November 23, 2003)

Travis Fimmel is Tarzan.

Airing for eight episodes until it was yanked from The WB, Tarzan was a modern day update of the classic FOW story, with Sarah Wayne Callies (yes, Lori from The Walking Dead) as Jane, and Lucy Lawless as … oh who cares who she played, it’s Lucy Frickin Lawless. And did I mention … Travis Fimmel is Tarzan.

What Went Wrong?

Okay … Travis Fimmel is Tarzan. So instead of naked in the jungle you have him … fully clothed in NYC helping Jane solve police cases?

New Amsterdam
Fox (March 4 – April 14, 2008)

Airing for eight episodes in mid-season, New Amsterdam starred Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a 400-year-old homicide detective in New York City. Think of it as NYPD Blue meets Highlander. Here’s the synopsis:

“He was a Dutch soldier in Manhattan in the year 1642 when he stepped in front of a sword to save the life of a Native American girl during a massacre of her tribe. The girl in turn rescued Amsterdam by weaving a spell that conferred immortality upon him. It was also prophesied that he would not age until he finds his one true love, and only then will he become whole and ready for mortality. Flashbacks in different episodes of the show reveal Amsterdam’s centuries of life since, using many names, though usually retaining “John”, marked by loss as his friends, lovers, children (63), and dogs gradually grow old and die.”

John solved crimes each week by using flashbacks to his first-hand knowledge of history, while trying to find the one true love that would free him from his immortality.

What Went Wrong?

It’s Fox. They originally had it scheduled for the fall of 2007, then pulled it at the last minute, which is never a good sign. They finally aired the pilot on March 6, 2008 and then the second episode two days later. Clearly they didn’t know what to do with or how to market the high concept series. But at least Nikolaj Coster-Waldau managed to go on to bigger and better things.

ABC (March 4 – May 6, 2012)

Featuring a terrific cast, all game for the over-the-top characters, GCB was comedy gold. Centering on southern Christian belles and their less-than-Christian lives, it was sharp, funny, and skewered the hypocrisy of the holier-than-thou. Best of all, it featured the fascinating couple of Cricket and Blake, who were living a White Marriage, with Blake canoodling with studly ranch hands. If the show had continued, this could have been one of the more intriguing relationships we’ve seen on TV.

What Went Wrong?

It replaced the low-rated Pan Am, and while it improved in the time-slot, ABC narrowly gave a second season a pass, and instead decided to stick us with … 666 Park Avenue. God will get them for that.

The Trials Of Rosie O’Neill
CBS (September 17, 1990 – November 15, 1991)

“I’m thinking about maybe getting my tits done.” That opening line caused a firestorm of controversy when The Trials of Rosie O’Neill debuted on CBS in September 1990. Sharon Gless, in her first series since the iconic Cagney & Lacey ended, played the title character, a lawyer in the L.A. Public Defender’s Office. While battling the D.A., she was also working her way through a very messy divorce. The show also featured the gorgeous opening song “I Wish I Knew,” written by Carole King and performed by Melissa Manchester

What Went Wrong?

I still have no idea. Sharon was at her caustic best, the show was well-written, but not even a fun guest shot by Tyne Daly could save it, and it was canceled after a season and a half.

The Tick
Fox (November 8, 2001 – January 31, 2002)

Airing for only nine episodes, The Tick has gained a loyal cult following the last decade for its skewered taKe on superheroes. Based on the beloved animated series and comic book, the live-action version starred the perfectly-cast Patrick Warburton as the deadpan title character.

What Went Wrong?

It’s Fox. They scheduled it at 8:30 on Thursdays, a tough timeslot, when it would have been perfect for a Sunday night slot in between their animated hits. They also gave it almost no promotion, prompting the castmembers and creators to actually go public with their grievances.

Wind On Water
NBC (October 17, 1998 – October 24, 1998)

This one really hurt. Bo Derek in a combination primetime soap/flesh feast? I was so there (sadly, I was the only one). Bo (in her first and last series), starred as CiCi, the matriarch of a Hawaiian cattle ranch, who tried to keep her family and home together while holding off the business and romantic advances of land developer Lee Horsley. Add in a post-Real World Jacinda Barrett, a pre-Dante’s Cove William Gregory Lee, and a pre-Days Of Our Lives Shawn Christian, and you have all the ingredients for a great camp fest.

What Went Wrong?

Well, it was pretty terrible. BUT … it was terrible in a great trashy “Saturday night at 10 PM” way, and could have been a lot of fun if it was allowed to continue. Or even air all of its episodes. But it was yanked off the air and cancelled … after two weeks.

Jack & Bobby
The WB (September 12, 2004 – May 11, 2005)

Out mega-producer Greg Berlanti co-created this drama, which starred Christine Lahti as the mom of young brothers Jack (Matt Long) and Bobby (Logan Lerman), one of whom would grow up to become the President Of The United States in 2041. Each episode juxtaposed their early life with “documentary” scenes from the future. It also had a great supporting cast, including John Slattery and the little-known Bradley Cooper.

What Went Wrong?

The loyal following just wasn’t large enough, and The WB decided against a second season. Fortunately, the writing was on the wall ahead of time, and they were able to craft a fitting final episode.

2000 Malibu Road
CBS (August 23, 1992 – September 9, 1992)

Aaron Spelling may have tried to go to the primetime soap well a bit too often during the 90’s, but of all of his short-lived attempts (Savannah, Pacific Palisades, Models Inc., Malibu Shores, The Heights), it was 92’s 2000 Malibu Road that was the most fun. Lisa Hartman starred as a high class hooker who was trying to get out of the business. To make money, she opened her home to roommates Jennifer Beals (as an alcoholic lawyer), Drew Barrymore (as a struggling actress), and Tuesday Knight as Drew’s evil, scheming sister/agent. The hunk factor was ably represented by Brian Bloom, Michael T. Weiss and Scott Bryce. Here … enjoy the soft core sounds of the hilarious opening credits.

What Went Wrong?

It had decent-to-good ratings, but CBS decided not to order more than the initial six episodes. It was scheduled up against Melrose Place, and it may have been too much Aaron for people to take. It’s a shame, because it went out on a hell of a cliffhanger, with Joy (Tuesday Knight), the evil schemer … struck by lightning!

The New Normal
NBC (September 10, 2012 – April 2, 2013)

Last season started out with two high-profile gay-themed network shows … neither of which survived for a second season. The CBS sitcom Partners only lasted six episodes before it was canceled, and frankly, its demise doesn’t hurt nearly as much as NBC’s The New Normal, which started off rocky, but matured into a warm and funny slice-of-over-the-top-life.

What Went Wrong?

Chris O’Guinn explains. Fortunately, Ryan Murphy had time to construct a season finale that doubled as a lovely series finale.

NBC (February 27, 1979 – May 1, 1979)

NBC had high hopes for this unusual series, which featured three serialized stories each week, each ending on a … cliffhanger. Stop Susan Williams featured Susan Anton as a globe-trotting photographer investigating the death of her brother. The Secret Empire had future Dynasty star Geoffrey Scott as an old-timey U.S Marshal who discovers an alien city beneath the earth. And Dracula ’79 starred Michael Nouri as the hot count.

Here, let Don Pardo fill you in.

What Went Wrong?

NBC scheduled it on Tuesdays at 8 PM, opposite the two top shows on TV, Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. Its days were numbered. NBC later edited Stop Susan Williams and Dracula into two TV movies to wrap up their stories.

Okay, your turn! What are more shows you think ended too soon?

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.