In the world of prime time television, shows have to fight hard to make it longer than one season. They have to work even harder to become a long standing show that will be remembered for years to come. Networks tend to drop shows after a season if they are not big money makers to save on the costs and if a show drops in the ratings after two to three seasons they are cancelled.
Shows that have over four seasons or even go past the 100 episode mark are the ones that are considered hit shows and having a good run. The shows listed here did not make it that long. Only one made it longer than 2 seasons. All of these shows could have been big hits if something had not been against them.
It could have been that the timing was off, the cast was not perfect or the time slot let them down. Whatever the reason these shows deserve to at least be seen. The episodes may be few, but they at least leave you with a taste of what could have been. I have listed if the shows are available on DVD and I can say that it is worth your time to see all of them.
The CBS summer show Swingtown only lasted 13 episodes in 2008, but left a mark with viewers. The show starring Grant Snow (Melrose Place), Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town), Molly Parker (Deadwood) and Lana Parrilla (Once Upon A Time) was set in the summer of 1976 in the Chicago suburb North Shore. The Millers move into the neighborhood and soon learn their neighbors, The Deckers, are swingers. The transplants are unsure, but interested in the new culture around them. Their former neighbors, The Thompson's, are still set in the old ways and are unhappy with their friend's new lifestyle. (The teenage children of the couples also have minor story lines.)
The sexual experimentation of the 1970s including key parties and open marriage were topics covered on the show. Still those were not the only elements of the show that took you back to the decade that brought us disco, the fashions, home décor and amazing music were like extra characters in the series. This show really will make you feel like you have gone back in time and was a treat for people like myself who were not born till after the decade had ended. The series is available on DVD and worth the purchase.
Mental was a FOX drama that aired from May to August of 2009. Starring Chris Vance (Prison Break), Annabella Sciorra (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle) and Jacqueline McKenzie (4400) the show took place in a psychiatric hospital in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Jack Gallaghar from the United Kingdom goes to the west coast to deal with some the hospitals most difficult cases and brings different methods that causes friction at work. He also has to deal with the personal issues brought on by his sister's schizophrenia. This show will make you rethink the human brain from the first episode. The series including all 13 episodes is available on DVD with an unrated alternate pilot episode.
The ABC series The Forgotten aired from September 2009 to July 2010. The 18 episode season was full of fantastic episodes. Based on the real life network NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) that was featured during episode along with real life case profiles. The team in the series would take on a case each week in the hopes of identifying each of the victims and returning them to their families. The victim (the body) narrated their episode as the case unfolded. The team who each have their own reasons for volunteering are portrayed by Christian Slater (Bed Of Roses, Windtalkers), Bob Stephenson (Jericho) and Michelle Borth (Tell Me You Love Me) to name a few. The series had a similar vibe to the non-fictional show Unsolved Mysteries. If you enjoy watching mysteries being solved this might be one you would want to see. Sadly, I have not been able to find the series on DVD anywhere online. Make sure to check out Netflix and your On-Demand services to see if it is available.
The series Life On Mars fits in an interesting genre being both a crime drama and a science fiction show. Based on a United Kingdom version of the same name the show starred Jason O'Mara (Vegas), Harvey Keitel (Thelma & Louise) and Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire) and aired from October 2008 to April 2009. The series followed Sam Tyler after he was struck by a car in New York City. The detective wakes up in 1973 New York City and spends his days solving crimes. His nights are spent trying to figure out how to get back to 2008 (the year the series was made). This is the only science fiction I have enjoyed and I was crushed when it was cancelled. I am not sure if it was the crime drama element that kept me interested or the great work making the year 1973 come to life, but I got sucked in. I think others could too. The DVD of the 17 episode series includes a blooper reel and deleted scenes.
The crime drama Past Life aired on Fox from February 2010 to June 2010. The show starring Kelli Giddish (Law and Order: SVU), Nicholas Bishop (Body of Proof) and Richard Schiff (The West Wing) only had 7 episodes. This short number of episodes means the chances of a DVD set ever being released are slim. The series based on the book Reincarnationist, Past Life followed doctors at The Talmadge Center for Behavioral Health in New York City. The team tries to go back into people's past lives to solve their current problems. Sadly, this show did not catch on at all, but I enjoyed the concept behind it. It was a very unique idea.
This is the only show on this list that had over 2 seasons. Life To Me was a 3 season, 48 episode series on FOX that might be considered to some. The crime procedural starring Tim Roth (Rob Roy, Planet Of The Apes), Kelli Williams (The Practice) and Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire) aired from January 2009 to January 2011. The series follows Dr. Lightman and his team as they assist law enforcement and government agencies by reading faces. This ability is also called deception detection or reading micro-expressions. The lead character Cal Lightman has many issues that add multiple side stories throughout the series that are just as entertaining as the cases. The complete series is available on DVD in sets for each season. There are extensive special features that make the purchase even more worth it. There is not another show on air like this show and it is not to be missed. I will admit I have considered watching the series again myself.
Pan Am aired on ABC from September 2011 to February 2012. The period drama followed the lives of pilots and stewardesses working at Pan Am World Airways, one of the largest and most prestigious airlines during the jet age of the 1960s. The show starring Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, Grey's Anatomy), Mike Vogel (The Help) and Margot Robbie (Neighbours) was a media darling when it started. The success overseas seemed even greater with the show winning "Best Series" at the Rose d' awards, the European equivalent of the Emmys.
With all of these great praises for the show it was surprising the ratings fell so much and the series was not renewed for a second season. The 14 episode series covered stories like CIA spies and cold war drama mixed with the glamorous soap opera story lines that women love. If you want to go back to the high class world of the 1960s and world class travel don't miss seeing these episodes. The complete series is available on DVD with extras including set visits and interviews with a real Pan Am stewardess.
The remake of a British show of the same name, Prime Suspect, premiered on NBC in September 2011 and would the last episode in January 2012. The crime drama followed female detective Jane Timoney of the NYPD. The cast included Maria Bello (ER, Touch), Aidan Quinn (Legends Of The Fall, Elementary) and Kick Acevedo (Fringe) who play their roles perfectly. The role of Jane Timoney was played perfectly with the right touches of cocky, abrupt and focused that placed her in the ranks of Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU.
I really grew to respect this character and though her constant fedora was slightly distracting I was able to look past it. The cases and cast should not be missed by crime drama fans, but so far I have not been able to find the series on DVD. The British version is on DVD, but from what I can tell is very different. Make sure to check Netflix and your On-Demand television services to see if the series is available to you.
The series Lipstick Jungle was an American comedy-drama (dramady) on ABC. The series based on the novel of the same name by Candace Bushell aired from February 2008 to January 2009. The series followed three women who were at the top of their respective fields. The friends helped each other deal with the drama of big business, romance and family troubles in New York City. The cast for the series was one of the best on television including Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan), Kim Raver (Third Watch, 24), Lindsay Price (Beverly Hills 90210) and Andrew McCarthy (Weekend At Bernie's).
This series is the classy version of Sex And The City with less sex and more friendship. (Candace Bushell also wrote Sex And The City as a book first.) If you liked Sex And The City you will like this show as well. These characters are more relatable, lovable and believable. They are the women you want to be. The women you would want to call your friend and the women you would to date. The two seasons of this series are available on DVD.
The Starter Wife was a mini series that was turned into a one season series on the USA Network. The 2007 mini series aired from May to June 2007 while the television series premiere was held up by the writer strike. The first season of the series aired from October to December of 2008. I do believe writer's strike pushing back the series hurt the ratings. People had time to forget the mini series and lose interest.
The mini series and television series were based on the idea of Hollywood starter wives and followed Molly Kagan as her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Molly's friends are also a large part of the series and her failing marriage leaves a big impact on both of them. Starring Debra Messing (Will And Grace), Judy Davis (Life With Judy Garland: Me And My Shadow), Peter Jacobson (House) and Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds) the 16 hour episodes are full of drama and comedy with many Hollywood references. The mini series was a hit in Hollywood circles and was nominated for 10 Emmys and they won one of those.
This was a show that really could have been a game changer for cable networks, but sadly the timing was not right. If you are a fan of the actors, Hollywood culture and glamorous show you need to check this out. You will not be disappointed. Both parts of the series are available on DVD.