The best TV shows that only lasted one season
We are in the age of YouTube streaming and Netflix browsing. It is easier than ever to discover forgotten television gems, and revisit our old favorite shows. Some current programs remain on our TV’s well into their six, seventh or eighth seasons, gaining ratings from mysterious places, while stellar shows are canceled too early in the game. With the graceful ease of the Internet, we no longer have to suffer through the carbon-copy crime shows and mindless reality nonsense that plays between endless commercials on our televisions. We can easily rediscover some of television's forgotten treasures. Check out some of the best TV shows that were unfortunately canceled after only one season.
1 Freaks and Geeks
It's hard to believe this flawless teen “dramedy” only lasted one season. Though it debuted at the end of the `90s, the comedy took place in the late 1970s. The show isn't styled in a typical sitcom format like “That `70s Show,” and it’s almost-cinematic quality made it fit in perfectly amongst some of the best dramas of the `90s. “Freaks and Geeks,” however, wasn't the kind of cheesy-teen blabber more commonly seen on ABC Family and The CW these days. Its focus on the freaks and geeks of the typical American high school was refreshing and relatable. The show introduced us to Jason Segel, James Franco and Seth Rogan, in this wonderful series that we could laugh at and relate to. It was like hanging out with a group of high school buddies. It didn't exploit or stereotype typical high school clichés, which is what made it so great. The geeks, for example, included “real” geeks depicted as the comedy buff who loves to do impressions and the sci-fi dork who seems creepy and awkward. They were completely lovable, which made them a refreshing sort of protagonists, paving the way for shows like “The Big Bang Theory.”
Original Air Dates: September 1999 – July 2000 Must-See Episode: “Beers and Weirs”
2 My So-Called Life
The cancellation of this perfect `90s drama was a great travesty in the history of television. Teenage protagonist Angela Chase was the essential crimson-haired heroine for the disaffected youth of Generation X. The show is so classically `90s that it has already found a place in that nostalgic trend that `90s kids can relate to. Angela's relentless crush on the pre-30 Seconds to Mars Jared Leto (who plays slacker dreamboat Jordan Catalano) is one small, but important, plot point. What the show did most successfully was to tackle issues that were very real, but still a bit taboo on TV at the time – from teen homelessness to suicide to being bullied because of one's sexuality – it was more than just a go-to artifact of the grunge era. The whole atmosphere of the series speaks to the misunderstood teen (and adult) in all of us. The show's one and only season left us with such an epic and frustrating cliff-hanger that the discussions about it are probably still going on. “My So-Called Life” is a must see, plain and simple.
Original Run Date: August 1994 – January 1995 Must-See Episode: “Self-Esteem”
3 Clone High
In the post-Daria era, MTV took a go at a new kind of animated high school series — this time with teenage clones of famous historical figures. If you missed this short-lived cartoon, try pausing “Family Guy” and giving “Clone High” a view or two. Seductive teen Cleopatra is dating thick-accented John F. Kennedy while Abe Lincoln pines for her. Joan of Arc is secretly in love with Abe. Gandhi is, well, basically just desperate to get everyone's attention. The show brought us hilarious episodes that parody popular high school shows of the past century – the “very special” drug episode was particularly hilarious (two words: smoking raisins), as were the multiple proms (Mid-Semester Prom, Post Prom and Clean-Up Prom) throughout one school year. The cartoon was like “Powerpuff Girls” meets Adult Swim with a lot of clever, historical information sprinkled throughout the show. Keep an eye out for the Marilyn Manson cameo, and the dolphin reference hidden in every episode.
Original Run Dates: February 2002 – February 2003 Must-See Episode: “Raisin The Stakes”
Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain banded together in dapper suits to create a surreal sort of comedy previously unseen on the small screen. It's amazing that the show was picked up in the first place, and even more remarkable that it played on Comedy Central throughout 2005. The comedy was absurd and laden with non-sequiturs, and the guys somehow managed a slew of hilarious cameos from the likes of Paul Rudd and Edward Norton. To get a feel for the wacky humor this show depicts, think of “Portlandia” with a dash of “Monty Python's Flying Circus” tossed in. The humor is definitely the opposite of broad, but the random and nonsensical elements are what make this show so uniquely funny. To get a taste of this troupe, check out one of Stella's pre-TV shorts. Stella Comedy
Original Run Dates: June 2005 – August 2005 Must-See Episode: “Meeting Girls”
5 The Dana Carvey Show
If you think of some of the best early `90s “Saturday Night Live” skits, The Church Lady and Wayne's World probably crossed your mind. The star of these sketches is the beloved Dana Carvey, and after his work on SNL, he took these characters to his own a wacky variety show. The program was a launch for some of today's best comedians, including Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. Each episode was titled after its name brand sponsor (although many top names pulled out once they saw some of the more, uh, colorful skits, like the one where Bill Clinton breast-fed some puppies), and each became more ridiculous as the season progressed. The comedy most certainly pushed the envelope, but it should be remembered as the beginnings of the satirical, deadpan humor we see more and more in today’s comedy.
Original Run Dates: March 1996 – April 1996 Must-See Episode: “The Diet Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show” 6. Pushing Daisies
6 Pushing Daisies
This colorful, quirky TV show touched on a morbid subject in an endearing and thoughtful way by literally giving life to death. It managed a two-season run, but only six episodes of its sophomore season were broadcast before it got the axe. The so-called “forensic fairy tale” focused on a pie-maker named Ned who can bring dead things back to life. The only catch is that if the formerly dead person remains alive for more than one minute, something (or someone) else around them will die as a result. The show's concept was unique with its vibrant, stylized cinematography that made it such a thrill to watch. Imagine the show “Dead Like Me” in a surreal Tim Burton-esque world, and you have the basic formula for “Pushing Daisies.” The program was just right for the 2000s and made clever use of today's CGI technology while still remaining witty, childlike and fun.
Original Run Dates: October 2007-June 2009 Must-See Episode: “Pie-lette”