This week we saw the first casualty of the 2010-2011 television season with the cancellation of Fox's Lone Star. The partially Houston-set, but not Houston-filmed, series centered on a man living two lives. It only lasted two episodes before the network pulled the plug on the series and ended production.
It happens to scores of shows every September and October, getting the axe before they really and truly get off the ground. Some are canceled due to poor ratings, while some are just plain disliked by the public. True misfires.
For every dog of a TV series, there are a few that get unceremoniously shuttered while they're just gathering steam. Some get brought back to life on other networks, like Futurama, and thrive. Then some do what Buffy The Vampire Slayer did and well, suck.
We have our favorites of course, our largely unsung fallen idols that didn't quite make it to syndication, nor a second or third season. Some were just too weird to live.
Here are the Top 10 ...
10. Banzai Imagine if Tim & Eric was crossed with ABC's Wipeout and you get the gist of Banzai, with its screaming Japanese announcers and asinine stunts. Come on, it wasn't meant to last too terribly long.
9. Carnivale HBO's Carnivale came on the heels of the beloved Deadwood and was set in a Great Depression-era traveling carnival. It was incredibly creepy, dense and engaging (if not a tad confusing).
8. Freaks & Geeks NBC aired only 12 episodes of this cult hit before cutting and running. Think a darker and much more artful version of That '70s Show. Most every cast member from F&G would go on to huge film success, thanks in no small part to the show being produced by hugely-popular comedy producer Judd Apatow. This show was the first time many people would be introduced to Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, James Franco, and Jason Segel.
7. The Secret Life Of Desmond Pfieffer More of a long-form SNL sketch than a television series, this UPN sitcom only made it to four episodes before a blitzkrieg of controversy got it shelved. 12 years on, it might have made it on FX or Comedy Central. The subject matter, an African-American adviser and butler for Abraham Lincoln, proved too weird for mass consumption.
6. The Lone Gunmen This X-Files spin-off centered on the Lone Gunmen, who played a key figure in the mythology of the original series. Their own show only lasted 13 episodes. Fox Mulder depended on them for tips and help in quite a few episodes (before they were killed in the ninth season of The X-Files).
5. Lil' Bush The animated Lil' Bush was set during Dubya's formative years, a la Little Rascals, with his future cabinet and cronies as his pals. It only lasted two seasons and ended before the real Dubya's second term was up.
4. Party Down It was two seasons and out for the Starz comedy series Party Down. Centered on a catering service, the show had members of another sadly-lost series, The State, in its cast, along with Glee breakout star Jane Lynch.
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3. Testees This short-lived FX show aired during the same hour as It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and we honestly think we were the only ones watching. We have yet to meet anyone who remembers the show. It was about two losers who were human lab rats at a testing facility and the adventures they had while experiencing the effects of various drugs in the trial stages. The show also featured Kenny Hotz from the Canadian cult hit Kenny Vs. Spenny.
2. That's My Bush It only lasted eight episodes in mid-2001, but That's My Bush helped break barriers for all the Bush-bashing comedy to come for the next seven years. It only lasted from April to May before it was canceled. (Something tells us it wouldn't have made it past that September.) Timothy Bottoms portrayed the bumbling president as a sort of stoner teenager, and oddly enough played him again for a dramatic Showtime film about 9/11.
1. TV Funhouse Robert Smigel took his talents to Comedy Central in 2000 for a half-hour version of his Saturday Night Live cartoon sketches, throwing in live-action work as well. It was an expensive show to make, with the puppetry of the Anipals. For one season it was must-see viewing for every deviant we knew.