Tag Archives: television

Cancelled Too Soon #6: Birds of Prey (2002)

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Birds of Prey is a superhero show that I sadly did not learn about until it was long over. The show premiered in October of 2002 and followed Helena Kyle, aka Huntress, the daughter of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Selena Kyle (Catwoman). When Batman disappears from New Gotham City, Helena takes over as the city’s protector along with Oracle (Barbara Gordon) and Dinah (daughter of the original Black Canary) as the “Birds of Prey.” They are aided by Alfred Pennyworth and Det. Jesse Reese. The group frequently runs into schemes masterminded by Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn (assistant and sometime girlfriend of the Joker).

The show’s concept is intriguing, not to mention rare; how many all female groups of superheros on television can you name apart from Supergirl? For that reason I am especially sad that this show did not go beyond its first season, as what I’ve seen looks amazing.

As for why Birds of Prey was cancelled after only thirteen episodes, it looks like this show was another victim of ratings. While the show did premiere with excellent ratings (7.6 million viewers to be exact), the ratings began to sharply fall and the WB (now the CW Network) subsequently axed the show once the finale aired. I know that television networks need to make money and I understand why ratings play a big part in that, but I feel like it’s unfair to stop a great concept like this after only thirteen episodes. It is my personal belief that a television show should be given two seasons to prove themselves before they can be cancelled. After all, some of the greatest tv shows had abysmal first season ratings (MASH and Star Trek come to mind) and yet when they were given a second chance with another season, they rebounded. Who knows what might have happened if Birds of Prey had been given this chance.

Did you get the chance to watch Birds of Prey? What did you think about it? Should it have continued past season 1? Let me know in the comments!

For more of this series, see also:

Cancelled Too Soon #1: Constantine (2014-2015)

Cancelled Too Soon #2: Terra Nova (2011)

Cancelled Too Soon #3: Dracula (2013-2014)

Cancelled Too Soon #4: Moonlight (2007-2008)

Cancelled Too Soon #5: Firefly (2002)

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Cancelled Too Soon #5: Firefly (2002)

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Alright *deep breaths* here I go…the most infamous show in the “cancelled too soon” category has to be Firefly, a show from the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon that only aired eleven episodes (out of fourteen) before being summarily cancelled by Fox. Now I’ve hinted before that I have a confession to make regarding this show and here it is….

I have never seen Firefly. EVER. (I know that’s a terrible thing for a science fiction researcher like myself to say, but it’s true.) It’s not that I don’t WANT to, it’s just things keep coming up and as a result I’ve yet to see this show (or Serenity for that matter).

That being said, here is the gist of Firefly: In the year 2517 the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity travels in and around a distant star system ferrying cargo or doing smuggling for various clients. It is implied that a very long time ago, a large population of humans left Earth (due to overpopulation) and moved to this system to start over. All of the planets and moons are controlled by the Alliance (a fusion of the governments of the former United States and China, resulting in a fusion of Eastern/Western culture).

The crew of the Serenity is lead by Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion); he and his first mate Zoe Washburne are veterans of the Unification War where Independents fought to keep the Alliance from taking total control, but ultimately they lost. Mal then bought the Serenity to keep beyond Alliance control.

Now why was such an amazing show cancelled so quickly? Well….apparently the answer is a little complicated. The short excuse is that Fox cancelled the show due to ratings (which isn’t uncommon). The longer reason is that the network aired the episodes out of order (making the plot harder to follow), episodes were pre-empted for sporting events, and what is possibly worst of all: the show aired on Friday nights!! Fridays aren’t considered the “death slot” for no reason, and I think that greatly contributed to the show’s early demise despite its enthusiastic fandom.

Fifteen years later, Firefly retains a cult following that dreams of hearing the news that the show is being relaunched. I haven’t seen the show (yet) but I sincerely hope that their wish is granted, even if it was only for a few episodes (like when the X-Files came back for a limited series).

If you’d like to read more about the great television shows that left us far too soon, see the list below:

Cancelled Too Soon #1: Constantine (2014-2015)

Cancelled Too Soon #2: Terra Nova (2011)

Cancelled Too Soon #3: Dracula (2013-2014)

Cancelled Too Soon #4: Moonlight (2007-2008)

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Cancelled Too Soon #4: Moonlight (2007-2008)

You know it really stinks when a show is cancelled through no fault of its own. Moonlight (2007-2008) is one such example, and it still hurts to think about it.

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The series was billed as a detective show with a twist: the lead character, Mick St. John is a vampire who was unexpectedly turned by his new bride about fifty years ago on their wedding night. Mick ends up connecting with a woman named Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), whom Mick has been watching over in one way or another ever since he saved her life as a little girl. Together the pair end up investigating crimes or other intrigues that end up involving vampires at some level. It was an interesting look at the hidden world of vampires.

Among the cast of characters was Josef Kostan (played by Jason Dohring), a 410 year old vampire and Mick’s mentor and Coraline Duvall (Shannyn Sossamon), a 340 year old vampire, Mick’s ex-wife, and formerly a courtesan in 18th century France.

The series had me hooked from the start (I’d read Interview with a Vampire not too long before and so I was in my “I Love Vampires” phase”) and I eagerly waited for every episode. But then…real life intervened in the form of the 2007 Writer’s Guild of America strike. What happened was, the people who write television episodes? Yea, they all went on strike and once a show ran out of material to film, it stopped airing any episodes (most of the older shows just aired re-runs until it was over). The strike went on so long that by the time new episodes were produced, the audience had lost interest (also I remember the air time had been changed) and the show was subsequently cancelled. I’m certain that if the strike hadn’t occurred, the show would have returned for at least a second season, as before it seemed to be on track for renewal. It’s a real shame, because this series had so much potential.

If you never got the chance to try this show, the 16 episodes have long since been out on DVD (under the title Moonlight: The Complete Series). I don’t know that it’s streaming anywhere, given that it was cancelled nearly a decade ago, but it could potentially be on Netflix (sadly it is not on Hulu, I checked to be sure).

The next entry will likely focus on the most (in)famous short-lived show of all time: Firefly!!! (I’ll need to start with a small confession regarding that show….)

For more short lived (but totally awesome!!) series, see also:

Cancelled Too Soon #1: Constantine (2014-2015)

Cancelled Too Soon #2: Terra Nova (2011)

Cancelled Too Soon #3: Dracula (2013-2014)

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Cancelled Too Soon #3: Dracula (2013-2014)

A little known fact about me is that I have this thing for stories about Dracula. Ever since I read Bram Stoker’s novel in high school, I’ve found myself drawn to the various interpretations of the character. So when I heard that NBC was launching a series with a unique twist on the Dracula story…I was intrigued.

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Dracula takes all the known characters of the novel and rearranges them somewhat. Rather than hunting down Dracula’s trapped body to destroy him, Abraham Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) sets the vampire free….to gain his help. See, the doctor was betrayed by the Order of the Dragon, the same Order that turned Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) into a vampire in the first place (and killed his beloved wife Ilona). Both have a mutual desire to get revenge on the Order, and so they enter into a pact of mutual cooperation. Until the Order is destroyed, the pair will work together. A side condition stipulates that Van Helsing will also investigate ways to allow Dracula to move about more freely in sunlight (something a vampire normally cannot do).

Dracula and Van Helsing then spend a significant amount of time in America, where Dracula reinvents himself as an American entrepreneuer named Alexander Grayson. Having built a large fortune creating strange and wonderful inventions, “Grayson” now comes to London, promoting his latest invention: “wireless electricity”, an invention which, if accepted, would render the use of coal and oil obsolete for lighting and bankrupt most of the members of the Order.

Also in London is the beautiful Mina Murray (Jessica DeGouw) (who bears an exact resemblance to Ilona, it should be noted), her fiance Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a sometime writer and lawyer, and Mina’s best friend Lucy (Katie McGrath) (who, in this version of the story, has genuine romantic feelings for Mina and doesn’t know how to express them or understand them). Renfield (Nonso Anozie), in this version, is Grayson’s loyal servant, the latter having saved his life in the states.

I loved this show from beginning to end. The backdrop of Victorian England was beautifully arranged, and the complex love triangle between Grayson, Mina and Jonathan was executed perfectly. I even enjoyed the plot arc that followed Lucy trying to understand how she felt about Mina (spoiler: it ends badly).

And yet, despite the brilliant casting, the complex story and a quickly grown cult following…the show was cancelled after a single season. To say I was angry would be an understatement. I don’t try new television shows very often for a reason, because when I invest, I go all the way. As for why the show was cancelled…if I remember correctly it had something to do with high production costs, and also that the ratings weren’t high enough to justify continuing the series, blah blah, which is all ridiculous because, once again, NBC chose to place this show in the Friday night slot (aka the “kill slot” where shows go to die).  I don’t know why NBC insists on sabotaging themselves like this, but it is super frustrating.

Thankfully, the sole season of Dracula has since been made available on DVD (I picked up a copy the first chance I could get.) There are only ten episodes, but it remains some of the best television I have seen in recent years.

See also:

Cancelled Too Soon #1: Constantine (2014-2015)

Cancelled Too Soon #2: Terra Nova (2011)

 

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