6 of the Best TV Shows You’ve Never Seen

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We’ve all experienced that moment of sheer panic when our favorite show has been cancelled. Any Arrested Development fan back in the day remembers what it was liking watching a brilliant show fight for its life. Or the devoted following of Firefly, who watched a brilliant show get cut tragically short. Meanwhile, less acclaimed shows power on and no one seems to know why. But while Arrested and Firefly had cult followings that later got both back on the air in some form, there is a host of other amazing shows that weren’t so lucky. Sometimes, even the best shows can’t get enough traction to hang around.

1. The Tomorrow People (The CW)

It’s hard to believe that a show not considered significant enough to hang around on The CW would be worth your trouble, but consider this one an exception. Rebooted from a British sci-fi series in 1979 of the same name, The Tomorrow People recounts the adventures of a group of supernaturally powered teens and 20-somethings under siege from a shady, monolithic government agency known as Ultra. The premise may seem a bit tired and the dialogue at times borders on cheesy (hey, it’s still The CW), but what it provides is an entertaining show with exciting stakes and fun characters. Sadly, it managed to eek out just one season before it got the ax.

Meta Critic Rating: 50; User Score: 7.9
Cancelled: 2014
Where to Watch: Netflix, 22 episodes

2. Alphas (SyFy)

Between The Tomorrow People and Alphas, it hasn’t been a good last couple of years for shows featuring a cast of X-Men-type characters. Alphas even carried with it some moderate star power in the form of Hollywood everyman David Straitharn, but never quite caught on the way SyFy had hoped. Featuring a group of super-powered individuals struggling with the downsides rather than the benefits of being gifted, it provided a real look at how a government would react to their presence (sorry X-Men fans, Sentinels probably aren’t happening). Incidentally, with Summer Glau appearing in four episodes, the curse of her shows getting unceremoniously cancelled continues (see also Firefly, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Cape, and Dollhouse).

Meta Critic Rating: 63; User Score: 7.1
Cancelled: 2012
Where to Watch: Netflix, 24 episodes

3. The Almighty Johnsons (TV3, New Zealand)

The Almighty Johnsons may very well be one of the best products to come out of New Zealand since Peter Jackson. Starring just about every famous actor the island nation has to offer, the Kiwi dramedy focuses on a family of reincarnated Norse gods living in Auckland, looking to re-ascend to Asgard. Its three-season run made for some incredible television, featuring insanely nuanced character development, edge-of-your-seat drama, and hilarious writing. Johnsons actually got the ax not once, but twice; back in 2012 the show was pulled, but brought back for a final, more satisfying conclusion in season 3 following mass fan protests.

Meta Critic Rating: 66; User Score: 6.8
Cancelled: 2013
Where to Watch: Season 1 is available on Netflix (12 episodes).

4. Dead Like Me (Showtime)

Dead Like Me was that rare show not afraid to explore death while also managing to make us laugh. The dark comedy followed the tribulations of Georgia Lass, a recently dead teenager tagged by the powers-that-be to work as a Grim Reaper. In it, we see the afterlife as a bureaucratic mess, run down on Earth by Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Homeland). The show ran for just two seasons, followed by an ill-advised movie that only retained half the original cast. The kiss of death (no pun intended) for Dead Like Me may very well have been having to compete with the wildly popular and also death-centric Six Feet Under on HBO.

Meta Critic User Score: 8.3
Cancelled: 2004
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, 29 episodes

5. Better Off Ted (ABC)

In terms of “laugh so hard you cry” shows, Better Off Ted lives atop that pantheon. The single-camera workplace comedy follows Ted Crisp, a middle manager working at a soulless conglomerate called Veridian Dynamics. Showrunner Victor Fresco was of course no stranger to having his brilliantly written comedies pulled off the air, having also been responsible for Andy Richter Controls the Universe during its two season run on Fox. Better of Ted made for a hilarious parody of corporate America, demonstrating the soul-sucking ridiculousness of life in a cubicle. It was tragically pulled after just two seasons, never garnering much attention despite glowing reviews from critics.

Meta Critic Rating: 66; User Score: 8.4
Cancelled: 2010
Where to Watch: Netflix, 26 episodes

6. Pushing Daisies (ABC)

The 00s was a rough decade for Bryan Fuller when it came to shows he created about death, having also been the showrunner during Dead Like Me‘s two-season adventure on Showtime. Fuller’s Pushing Daisies centered around Ned (played by Lee Pace), a simple pie-maker with the ability to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. After accidentally bringing his childhood sweetheart back from the grave, Ned seeks to solve the mystery of her death, and in doing so befriends a private investigator played by Chi McBride. Running just two seasons, it was a comedy/romance drama that touched on tons of heavy topics (much like its predecessor Dead Like Me), and had itself a small cult following that unfortunately wasn’t enough to keep it on the air.

Meta Critic Rating: 86; User Score: 8.3
Cancelled: 2009
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, 22 episodes

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