Film and TV

These Shows Have Been Off the Air for 15 Years

As the 2011-12 television season ends, viewers are saying goodbye to House, The Closer, One Tree Hill, Desperate Housewives and Eastbound & Down. NBC's spy series Chuck ended back in January. The sweaty and gluttonous Man v. Food shuffles off this mortal coil soon, too.

Someone is going to miss these shows, somewhere, mostly House, which can be assumed. Chicks dig crippled, sassy doctors with drug addictions. Eastbound was cool for the first two seasons and then it became pretty rote.

Back in 1997, we were dealing with the ending of several shows which had mostly all worn out their welcome. And, of course, last seasons of ailing series always mean that the writers are throwing dung at the actors while also looking for work after the shows cease life.


Martin and other Fox Thursday shows like Living Single and New York Undercover acted as counter-programming to the white people problems on NBC, where Seinfeld, Friends, and others held a tight grip onto the ratings. To be honest, though, Martin was rarely funny, though he played nearly ten minor characters on the show that would have him embroiled in Gawker-style racial controversies had the show aired in 2012. Okay, Sheneneh was kinda funny.


For the last two seasons of Coach, the coaching team had moved from Minnesota State to Florida to lead the NFL expansion team the Orlando Breakers. I don't know about you, but I was waiting eight years for Coach Hayden Fox to finally bludgeon Luther Van Dam to death. It sadly never happened. To tell you the truth, after puberty hit I only stuck around to see Shelley Fabares.


This hit series, which was the perfect snapshot of a working-class family in the Clinton era, turned into a mind-fuck by the final season. Blues Traveler performed the theme song, the faces started morphing in the opening title sequences, the family won the lottery, there were oddball guest stars and then in the series finale, SURPRISE, it was all a reality dreamed up by Mrs. Conner. So a fictional character was presenting to us a fictional reality to mask her true fictional reality for the past season. And it was actually very depressing. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Married...with Children

The last and final season of Married...with Children was the perfect example of a show out of creative gas. And that's not easy to say for a show that could get laughs out of Al Bundy flushing the toilet off camera or putting his hand down the front of his pants. This season saw Al and wife Peggy briefly separated, Al challenging the devil for rights to exist, among other oddities. There was no "true" finale episode of MWC, and the show ended with a kooky hostage caper. In my dreams I wish for a modern MWC reboot, with Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Primetime TV wouldn't hit its critical and creative stride with the Superman character until the WB's Smallville, which premiered four years later in the fall of 2001. Super star Dean Cain would continue to do constant TV work, and Teri Hatcher would make a run at feature film roles before stumbling upon Desperate Housewives.

Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

Mark Curry starred as Mark Cooper, an ex-NBA star who glides smoothly into teaching and coaching basketball. You know it's hip since they left off the "g." Interestingly enough, the final season aired during the summer of 1997, and the news of the death of Princess Diana pre-empted the airing of the last episode of the series on the West Coast. There was something about a marriage and a rose. You don't care.


A cult hit, Duckman chronicled the seedy adventures of private dick Eric Tiberius Duckman, voiced by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander. The extended cast of characters, like Bernice, Ajax, Gecko, Mambo and Cornfed, kept things interesting on this USA Network effort.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty