Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Facts Were These...

Some shows you may have missed because 1.  The network Gods deigned them unpopular and pulled them off the air too soon; 2. The audience didn't give them enough support and the network Gods cancelled them or 3. They were too smart for the new demographic:  Dimwits who prefer to watch obese people work out and be yelled at, losers living in an apartment together "hook up" or single men/women act like idiots to get a rose and maybe "find love" than to actually have to pay attention to dialogue, story lines and character development.  But I'm not bitter.

The first to pop into my head is the eccentric, enchanting "Pushing Daisies".  This fabulous little show centered around the character named Ned (played perfectly by Lee Pace), who discovered in his youth that one touch of his finger could bring a dead person or animal back to life, at the unfortunate cost of another person or animal's life, unless he touched the dead person or animal again within 60 seconds, which rendered them dead for good.  Featuring brightly colored sets and costumes, clever narration, distinct and funny dialogue and plots, viewers followed Ned as he and his new partner, Emerson Cod (subtly understated and fabulously played by Chi McBride), ran around solving murders by simply asking the deceased how they had died.  Not to be deterred from his day job, as a pie baker, however, Ned kept up his shop (called "The Pie Hole" ha ha!) and his friendship with his waitress, Olive Snook (played brilliantly by Kristin Chenoweth).  Each crime solving foray began with the narrator stating "The facts were these..." and describing the situation.  It was funny, tender, silly, heart-felt fantasy.  It was a wonderful little show and I was so sorry when they cancelled it.  It just didn't catch on, I suppose.  I failed to mention that Ned also had a love interest, whom he had brought back from the dead, and didn't have the heart to put her back down, and so she lives on (a beautiful, vibrant zombie, I suppose) but they can never touch, even though they are in love.

Next on my list is the fantastic, quirky, spiritual-yet not preachy "Eli Stone".  This show was touching, sweet, thoughtful, intense, funny, classy, dirty, exciting, dramatic, and brilliant.  The pilot takes off (no pun intended) with Eli (played with the perfect balance of incredulity, humor, intelligence, and man-in-crisis by Johnny Lee Miller) having the first of many hallucinations/visions.  This one: George Michael in his front room, singing "Faith".  This becomes the theme for the show.  Eli is a lawyer who, when the visions begin changing his priorities, goes through a major transformation.  This has been done before, but never with such a unique cause or such imaginative set pieces. There were two seasons of this fantastic show.  I would recommend watching every episode in order.  I'm not including other rich characters in this description, but there are many, including Eli's brother, the women in his life, and his acupuncturist.  This show is so layered and detailed, I can't even begin to give you an accurate picture of it.  Just go watch it on Netflix, okay?  For my high-standard friends, be warned, there are the occasional adult themed scenes here and there.  I personally wish they would edit sex scenes out (we know what goes on when the lights go down, after all), but this show is one that I think is worth fast-forwarding anything you don't want to see.  It's outweighed by the lessons on God, faith, truth, trust and love.

I knew from the first episode that I would like "Freaks and Geeks".  This show made me uncomfortable while making me laugh.  It is a coming-of-age comedy/drama about teenagers in the 80s, living in Michigan and it is incredibly real in it's portrayal of both the times and what life can be like as teens, tweens and in-betweens. The show was hilarious, painful to watch and thought-provoking all at the same time, and featured a cast of unknowns (including a certain failed Oscar host, James Franco, and others you will recognize from recent roles.) who were perfect in their roles.  A great, great show.  My review here is short, I am needed back at my job.  Look it up on imdb, then rent or stream it.  I think you'll enjoy yourself.

No list like this would be complete without including "Firefly".  I admit that I have a bit of a crush on Captain Hammer, Rick Castle and Captain Reynolds himself, Nathan Fillion.  He manages to make me like every character he plays.  "Firefly" is famously frustrating for nerds across the nation.  It was a good show by Joss Whedon who was also the brain behind "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" (as well as other things, I know...) and it was very upsetting to fans when "Firefly" got the axe.  Luckily, it is available to watch, as is the film that continues the story, "Serenity".  This show is basically a western drama set in outer space.  A sci-fi western.  That was a unique idea, the merging of these two genres (at least, unique in my limited experience. Soon we will have "Coyboys and Aliens" but "Firefly" was the first on my radar to use both genres.)  I did not love this show as much as die-hard fans did.  I had a little trouble with the dialogue using old-timey western-ese-type phrases and terms.  I loved the characters, however, and the episode storylines were interesting and intriguing.  I have to admit here, I have yet to watch "Serenity", so I can't speak to the film, but the show is worth checking out.  Especially if you happen to like outer space shows.  Or tough-guy shows.  Or Nathan Fillion.

So add to my list-- what shows did you love that bit the dust?  Why do you think it is that so many great shows get cancelled?  Am I being too hard on the watchers of "reality" TV?  Is there intelligent life out there?


Marc T. said...

I would have to add the "Legend of the Seeker" series. It only lasted 2 seasons, but was magnificently produced and the acting was amazing. Terry Goodkind's amazing series brought to the small screen!

Angie said...

I thought I posted a comment on this one already. I wanted you to add "Arrested Development" and "Better Off Ted". I think I may have had one or two more:) I miss those two.

Steph said...

Ang, I agree, especially about "Arrested Development", but I didn't include it because it is so naughty I hesitate to recommend it to anyone. But it was one of the few shows out there that was PERFECTLY cast, and had intelligent, witty dialogue and hilarious stories. I loved the characters-- especially GOB and Buster. Oh man, that show makes me laugh every time... "Ted" was good, too.

Marc, I've never seen that, I should check it out one day. :)