Unfortunately, television shows have got to make money and capture huge ratings if they’re going to have a long life, especially in America, which means that many don’t make it past the first couple of seasons.
Below I’ve listed a few shows that I enjoy, none of which have managed to gain popularity outside cult circles. You can also check out 14 of my favourite kick ass Nineties TV shows.
Created by Joss Whedon, the brains behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show is possibly one of the most popular series ever to be cancelled during its first season. Network executives never really grasped Whedon’s space adventure meets Western concept, but it secured an army of loyal fans who fought unsuccessfully for the show’s reprieve. It made a final outing in 2005’s film Serenity, which brought the story to a conclusion.
A quirky little gem full of retro whimsy, Pushing Daisies was a lot darker than it appeared on the surface. Pie-maker Ned has a unique ability; one touch from him can bring the dead back to life and a second touch will end their existence forever. But Ned only has one minute to make his second touch, or someone else will die in the first victim’s place.
Ned uses his unconventional ability to team up with a private-eye and solve murders, but when a case brings them to the pie-maker’s murdered childhood sweetheart, things start to get very complicated.
This is one of my favourite shows of recent years, but admittedly it’s not for everyone. The 50s-esque setting and cute, upbeat storylines featuring lighthouse keepers, nuns and confectioners are in stark contrast to the brutal murders and reanimated corpses and some people just didn’t get it.
This sci-fi show is best-known as Jessica Alba’s breakthrough; she played Max, a transgenic girl engineered in a military facility to be the perfect soldier. But many of the transgenics escape as children and grow up on the run from the sinister organisation that created them.
Although it went a little crazy in its second series with the introduction of mutant transgenics with animal heads and human bodies, this started as an action packed drama about identity and the search for family that had some moving storylines.
Another of Joss Whedon’s creations, this show never lived up Buffy or Firefly. Starring Eliza Dushku, the story explores a mysterious underground facility filled with people who exist in a fugue state, their own identities wiped. Instead they are implanted with new personalities and skills and sent to carry out various missions, some more sinister than others.
The problem with Dollhouse was it never really hit its stride. It took a while for the some of the underlying twists to be revealed and some of the episodes were a bit frivolous against the background of a company that is essentially peddling mind-control. But some of the storylines were genuinely chilling and thought-provoking, which makes it worth a watch.
After she left Buffy, Tru Calling was Eliza Dushku’s star vehicle, but it barely made it into series two before it was axed. Dushku starred as a medical student still struggling to cope with the death of her mother years earlier. After securing a job in a morgue, Tru is shocked when a she discovers that she has the ability to travel back in time to prevent people from dying.
Tru Calling also gave an early role to Zach Galifianakis before The Hangover.
Fringe has just reached its conclusion after five years on our screens, but it never really got the ratings it deserved. Initially, the programme came across as a more up-to-date version of The X Files, as FBI Agent Olivia Dunham investigates bizarre incidents with the help of veteran scientist Walter Bishop and his son Peter. But as the series progressed, the various plot strands began to intertwine and things got very clever.
A really inventive show full of gruesome events and seemingly impossible science, the best thing about Fringe was John Noble’s performance as ‘mad’ scientist Walter Bishop. Veering from cold and calculating to heartbroken old man, Noble manages to create moments of real humour through Walter’s social awkwardness and inappropriately timed requests for food.
Now in its eighth series, this is arguably the most successful show included on the list; however, it’s never drawn massive ratings in the UK. In fact, I barely know anyone who has even heard of Supernatural, never mind watched it on a regular basis!
Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester are hunters; they travel across America tracking down and killing monsters, demons and supernatural creatures whilst dealing with a troubling family legacy.
This is a fantastic programme, full of action, drama and, at times, great comedy moments. Plus, the show’s biggest draw is its lead actors, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles – I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why!
So, if you’re looking for a new show to fall in love with, give one of these a try!