Every year, dozens of TV series are canceled to make room for new shows in the fall. It's a fact of life in the world of television. Not every series is a hit and some of them never even take off at all.
While we've all got our favorite shows that were taken away too soon, there are also shows that deserved to die. For a variety of reasons, these are the television series that either let us down or they were so horrendously awful that cancellation was the least they deserved. That or burning in a fire…
So here are our top ten shows we won't miss next fall.
UPDATE!: We respond to your comments below on the latest episode of our TV podcast, The Idiot Box. If you want to keep up the debate, follow us there.
Fox has only themselves to blame for this one.
Although the first season of "Human Target" wasn't perfect, the series had a good dynamic between the star, Mark Valley as Christopher Chance and his allies, Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley). It wasn't "24," but it was a fun show.
Then the dark days of the second season came and the network attempted to fix a series that wasn't broken. First, they added Indira Varma as Ilsa Pucci, who became Chance's new boss and his potential love interest. On the face of it, that could have worked. But Varma's inept performance and the horrible writing for her character made Pucci's scenes almost unbearable to watch. Janet Montgomery fared a little bit better as Ames, the new thief on the team. But the writers quickly showed us that couldn't give her any compelling character beats either. In fact, their "proudest" moment for Ames seems to have been when they wrote an excuse for her to strip down to her underwear and navigate some air ducts.
The entire tone of the show also shifted into much softer territory, as it actually seemed to avoid depicting Chance as the ass-kicking hero that got our attention in the first place. Not to mention the way that the theme song was needlessly replaced for a remarkably bland piece of music. And to top it all off, Fox dumped most of the episodes in December and January on different days and never allowed the series a real chance to find an audience.
Fox couldn't have killed this show more effectively if it had put an actual hit on the series.
I really wanted to like "The Event."
A show that's a cross between "Lost" and "24" doesn't sound like a bad idea… until you see what the producers did with this series. "The Event" was wildly inconsistent from the start, with a flashback structure that was even harder to follow than "Lost," along with excruciatingly bad dialog and some of the lamest characters I've ever seen on TV. Paula Malcomson's brief guest stint as a crazed reporter who spouted the backstory about the humanoid aliens to Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) has to stand as one of the worst exposition dumps of all time.
And despite a cast including Blair Underwood and Željko Ivanek, there were no standout performers. Ivanek came close at times to delivering some strong work when his character, Blake Sterling briefly had a change of heart towards the aliens. But it was quickly done away with during a jarring mid-season shift that turned formerly sympathetic alien leader Sophia (Laura Innes) into a whiny villainess bent on eliminating humanity to make room for her own people.
More damningly, "The Event" introduced multiple layers of mystery and conspiracy, only to drop the narrative threads at random intervals without giving us any satisfying answers. There were no resolutions to be had here. I believe that the writers and producers just wanted to string us along as far as they could.
LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES
Dick Wolf and NBC can share the blame for this one.
First off, a 21st season of "Law & Order" couldn't have done worse than this show in the ratings; which makes NBC's cancellation of that series even more mind-boggling.
But when "Law & Order: LA" came along, it was literally more of the same. In fact, this show went even more wildly over-the-top than most of its predecessors. And when it failed to catch on, Skeet Ulrich's Detective Winters was written out and Alfred Molina's DA, Ricardo Morales was miraculously turned into a Police veteran who went back to the detective beat as Winters' replacement… in part to give Terrence Howard more screentime.
And a show that was already somewhat ridiculous became even more so, including a memorable sequence in which a cop-killing criminal was released immediately after a witness assassination that he was clearly behind, just to pump up the drama.
$#*! MY DAD SAYS
William Shatner is a national treasure. And I don't care if he's actually Canadian,
Last fall, Shatner starred in the world's first Twitter-based sitcom, "$#*! My Dad Says" on CBS as the aforementioned, $#*!-talking father, It wasn't a horrendously bad show like some of the series on this list. But it just simply wasn't that good and it was never really as funny as it could have been.
More than anything else, "$#*! My Dad Says" was… boring.
And the guy who played Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker and Denny Crane deserves better than that.
I've often said that NBC doesn't do genre shows very well. But "Chase" may prove that it can't do action either.
Kelli Giddish starred as U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, the leader of an elite team which hunts down and incarcerates the deadliest criminals in the country.
Sure, that sounds like it could be interesting… but it wasn't. Somehow, Giddish made Frost seem like a female cartoon of Jack Bauer, including a ludicrous jump from a helicopter to catch a suspect on the run. And neither she nor her team were particularly interesting or compelling to watch. Even the criminals were difficult to believe in, as their crimes (and ability to elude the authorities) would have gotten Frost demoted if this wasn't her own series.
It's just bad television.
Speaking of bad television, "Hellcats," ladies and gentlemen!
Perhaps the only TV series ever set in the world of college cheerleading, on the network that noxzema built. Frankly, I feel this way towards most of the shows on The CW (especially the reality shows). But it was particularly satisfying to see "Hellcats" go away. Because this series did something amazing: it somehow made an hour of beautiful women dressed as cheerleaders into some of the dullest TV that I've ever seen.
Do you remember how great "Alias" used to be?
Now, cut to a couple of years later, recast the leads, dump the mythology and any sense of danger and you've got, "Undercovers." This failed spy series is the fourth NBC show to make this list (hint: it won't be the last).
Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw both look like they could be good performers… but they had some of the least believable onscreen chemistry that I've ever seen between a couple that was supposed to be married and wildly in love. For a network series, the action was surprisingly low rent and the stories lacked any real sense of drama. This show made "Chuck" look like "24" by comparison.
J.J. Abrams, hang your head in shame!
For years, I've heard that Olivia Munn is great at improv… but I've yet to see any proof that she's a good actress.
But Munn can't take the blame alone for "Perfect Couples," a comedy abortion of epic proportions. No… she has to share that with the rest of her cast mates, Kyle Bornheimer, Christine Woods, David Walton, Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Hayes MacArthur. Between them, they were supposed to be three couples in different stages of their relationships that just happened to be friends with each other.
However, after the first episode I had trouble believing that any of these people were friends, much less couples!
To put it charitably, the writing was s*** and I couldn't wait until these characters left my TV screen.
If they show sitcoms in hell, this one leads off the evening.
But as bad as "Perfect Couples" was, it doesn't compare to the epic wreckage of "Breaking In," a show that was almost offensively unfunny.
Christian Slater struck out again as the leader of a high tech security firm of geeks and misfits. In fact, Slater seemed to play so small a role on the series that he was practically a guest star here!
Personally, the one I hated most was Alphonso McAuley's fake Donald Glover-like character, Cash. I believe my Idiot Box co-host Sax Carr put it best when he said that this series felt like it was written by jocks who thought they knew Geek culture. The Comic-Con episode in particular reflected poorly on the people who the writers thought were watching the show. Plenty of shows have made comedy gold out of making fun of geeks, but only "Breaking In" has managed to completely miss the mark on every level.
You'd never know Michael Rosenbaum was great on "Smallville" from his character on this show. And poor Bret Harrison just can't convincingly play a smart guy to save his life.
Amazingly, this show almost got a second chance from Fox. Thankfully, it's now in TV Hell where it belongs.
I don't even know where to start with this one.
But when it comes to epic failures, no show failed harder than "The Cape."
Whoever thought that this weird ripoff of Batman, Robocop(?!) and countless other comic books was a good idea desperately needs to be fired.
David Lyons starred in the title role as a cop who was framed as a masked criminal and left for dead. But even in this "heightened reality," taking on the identity of a masked hero and keeping his family in the dark about his survival just seemed like a really bad idea. Plus there were added touches of lunacy like making "The Carnival of Crime" (I swear, I did not make that up) into The Cape''s sidekicks and even subplots focusing on The Cape's family even when their only story involved the mother being stuck in traffic on her son's birthday!
James Frain had a great turn last summer on "True Blood," so it was stunning how horrible he was as Chess, the Joker to the Cape's Batman. Even genre veterans Keith David and Summer Glau couldn't rise above this mess.
"The Cape" reached its ultimate indignity when it was canceled and forced to halt production before finishing its last three episodes. And even the last finished episode was pulled from NBC's schedule because of the incredibly low ratings.
At least M.A.N.T.I.S. had the dignity of being murdered by an invisible dinosaur in his final episode. But "The Cape" gets to lie unmourned in its grave as the worst superhero series of all time.