RIP Great TV, dead and bloodied and dying along the way

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:

"Katie," he says, so softly it almost comes out as a whisper, but just loudly enough to wake her. And just as he vanishes, her eyes open wide, taking in all the incredible sight of a living, breathing person disappearing into thin air.

And so ends the series "Journeyman," which was not as cheesy as I made it sound but which ran for a whole 13 episodes before the hacks at NBC pulled the plug on yet another great, promising new show.

I understand that TV is a business, that stations need advertisers to pay for the shows on the air, and that if there aren't enough viewers and aren't good enough ratings, advertisers won't pay high enough prices to support the show continuing to run. I get it. I'm a capitalist, after all (though I'm also a selfish hippie, and no, those two things don't contradict each other). What I don't understand is that if TV stations are so cash-strapped that they can't even give a promising show that had a healthy supply of buzz about it, why are they still staging gimmicks like giving guest appearances to washed up spastics like Britney Spears or useless sex video stars like Paris Hilton?

Okay, sure, two guest appearances by these "celebrities" probably aren't costing the networks much because Brit and Paris want to somehow remove the stains from their tarnished dignity and image. Still, it's not the specific costs that matter as much as the poor decisions that lead to actually giving these people money to make a sitcom less funny. Let's like if I paid some illiterate sixth grader a couple bucks to write a post on here about the housing bubble and the Dow Jones; sure, it'd be funny for about two seconds as we all laughed at the kid for being an idiot, but it definitely would not be worth my $2.

So to extend the metaphor, if we hadn't given all of the sixth-grade man-children with the single digit IQs huge chunks of cash, perhaps we would still be enjoying high-end television programming and we wouldn't have such brain-meltingly bad shows like "The Hills," "Laguna Beach," or pretty much anything on Bravo.

With that in mind, here's a few shows that have been pulled off the air in recent years that, had the network execs been slightly less idiotic, perhaps could have and definitely should have been saved.

  • Smith - Ray Liotta was excellent in this heist drama that looked, sounded and felt like it was a major motion picture playing one week at a time. I guess it cost a lot of money to create that look and feel, because this one only lasted three episodes.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Okay sure, Aaron Sorkin got lost in his own head a little bit with this hourlong dramedy about the inner workings of a sketch comedy show, but it was still better than 90% of TV.
...and my all time favorite show ever in the world...
  • Sports Night - Before Sorkin focused on the pretentious inner workings of a sketch comedy show, he did a two season run focused on the inner workings of a Sportscenter-esque show. This program was clever in some parts and downright hilarious in all others, but it also had more heart and emotion than most hourlong dramas, all packed into a half hour and paced within an inch of its life.
What shows were your favorites that have gotten trashed before they had a chance to shine?
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