10. Life Unexpected was a sweet little series that aired on the CW for two short seasons throughout 2010. The basic plot was a child who was given up for adoption by a teenage mother reappears in the mother’s life sixteen years later, to the surprise of the father who never knew she existed. It was a low key show that had a lot of heart. It was well acted by stars Shiri Appleby, Kristoffer Polaha, Kerr Smith, and Brittany Robertson. (This nomination is based on everything but the finale, which was possibly the worst ending to a tv show in history.)
9. Undeclared was a comedy series that aired on Fox during the 2001-2002 television season. This show was about a group of freshman adjusting to college life. It was Judd Apatow’s second television series, and featured many of his regular actors, including Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Carla Gallo, and Jason Segel. It was a very funny gem that never got the opportunity to prove itself.
8. The Unusuals was a dramedy about a vice squad on the NYPD that receives all the unusual cases the other departments can’t handle. Airing for a short ten episodes in the 2009 seasons on ABC, it was far from the typical police procedural show. The characters were interesting and layered, instead of the archetypal flat detectives in these types of shows. The humor was actually funny, rather than bad puns. It featured an excellent cast, including Amber Tamblyn, Jeremy Renner, and Harold Perrineau.
7. Moonlight was a supernatural drama which appeared on CBS during the 2007-2008 television season. It followed a vampire private detective and his human journalist friend and love interest. It maybe relied too much on overdone vampire struggles, but it had a lot of romance and intrigue. The main characters were played by the excellent Alex O’Loughlin and Sophia Myles, and featured the always perfect Jason Dohring. It was a victim of the 2007-2008 WGA strike, and too many competing vampire stories that were everywhere that year.
6. Kings was an epic series that aired (briefly) on NBC in 2009. It played on Sundays for four episodes before NBC pulled it for low ratings, and played out the remaining seven episodes on Saturday nights during the summer. The plot was loosely based on the biblical tale of King David. It was set in the fictitious kingdom of Gilboa, and was about the royal family and a soldier who became close to the family after saving the King’s son’s life. The plot was grand and imaginative, with romance, action, drama, and intrigue. The set designs were magnificent and sweeping, truly making for a magical kingdom in what could have been modern day America. It starred Ian McShane, Christopher Egan, and Dylan Baker. It’s still available to stream through NBC, I highly recommend checking it out. It makes me sad that highly original and ambitious television like this can’t make it, but networks will keep crapping out the same CSI copies.
5. Arrested Development aired for three seasons on Fox, from 2003 to 2006. The show centered on the dysfunctional, formerly wealthy Bluth family, whose patriarch was sent to prison for “creative accounting.” The middle son is left to run the business and keep his family under control. The show featured handheld cameras, narration, and biting humor. Despite its critical success and Emmy wins, it never found a large audience. It starred Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, and Alia Shawkat.
4. Freaks and Geeks aired on NBC for only one short season in 1999-2000. It was about two groups of friends who were on the fringes of society in 1980s high school. The freaks were slacker kids who were acted by an all star cast of James Franco, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips, and Seth Rogen. The geeks were played by John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, and Samm Levine. Although it was only on for a short time, it has a huge cult following, and served as a launch pad for several of the biggest stars of our generation.
3. Dead Like Me was a highly original show from creative genius Bryan Fuller that appeared on Showtime from 2003-2004. It followed around a group of grim reapers, who have to remove the souls of bodies just before they die and escort them to the afterlife. It was narrated by 18 year old freshly dead reaper Georgia Lass. It starred Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, and Mandy Patinkin. It seems to have been cancelled over creative differences, rather than lack of viewers, but that is unconfirmed. I cannot recommend watching this highly enough, but whatever you do, don’t watch the sequel movie that was made. Seriously. Don’t do it.
2. Pushing Daisies was another innovative short lived show from Bryan Fuller that aired for two seasons from 2007-2009 on ABC. It was about a humble pie maker named Ned with the ability to bring dead things back to life with the touch of his hand, then back to death if he touches them again. The stipulation is that they can only stay alive for one minute or something else dies in its place. He used his “gift” to bring people back to life to solve the mystery of who killed them with the help of PI Emerson Cod. He brings his childhood sweetheart back to life and romances her without being able to touch her. It has the most visually breathtaking cinematography I’ve ever seen on a television show, along with intricate and larger than life sets, fast paced witty dialogue, and quirky interesting characters. It stars the impeccable Lee Pace as Ned, with Chi McBride, Anna Friel, and Kristin Chenoweth.
1. Veronica Mars aired for three seasons, from 2004-2007. The first two were on UPN, and followed around sassy high school girl detective Veronica Mars as she solved the mystery of who killed her best friend and who caused a bus crash which killed many of her classmates, along with many other smaller cases for her friends and classmates. The third season aired on the CW, and followed Veronica and many of her high school friends during their freshman year of college, with shorter mystery arcs. The change of format and the new network made it hard for the show to find an audience, and the CW pulled the plug. It’s sharp dialogue, intriguing mysteries, and excellent cast made for an amazing show, and I’m still sad that it was cancelled. It starred Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, and Francis Capra, among others.
Editors Note: These are my personal 10, so no, certain shows aren’t on the list. Before you Whedon-heads attack, next week we’ll do a top 10 of just Sci-fi shows.