10 Cancelled Sci-Fi TV Shows Netflix Should Bring Back Before Terra Nova
Earlier this week we got wind that Netflix may be investigating the possibility of producing new episodes of the recently cancelled Fox series Terra Nova for broadcast on their streaming service. They’ve already committed to doing just that, for the once cancelled but much loved series Arrested Development. But in the case of Terra Nova, it feels like the wrong move.
The list of great science fiction programs unfairly cancelled before their time is long and, while Terra Nova has its charms, it should be near the bottom of the list when it comes to looking at cancelled sci-fi that Netflix should bring back. To help them figure out their next move we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the science fiction shows which not only should be resurrected by Netflix before they can consider Terra Nova, but also shows which it’s realistic to consider. That means no matter how much we loved Quantum Leap we realize it’s been gone so long there’s no way to bring it back. But Netflix could and should look into making new episodes of these shows, instead…
Fox produced fourteen episodes of Firefly. Only eleven of those actually aired before the show’s all too soon cancellation in December of 2002. It didn’t take long before Fox realized they’d made a huge mistake. In that short time the Joss Whedon written and produced space western earned an army of devoted fans who were left angry and clamoring for more. Hollywood responded by turning it into a movie in 2005 called Serenity, but even that really just scratched the surface of this show’s potential. It’s been gone a long time but when interviewed the cast retains an enthusiastic longing to do more. In 2011 star Nathan Fillion even hinted that if he had the money himself, he’d buy the rights to Firefly and make it on his own. The cast seems willing to do more and the rabid fanbase for the series hasn’t evaporated. In fact, while on the air, Firefly’s rating were better than those of Arrested Development, another cancelled television show which Netflix has already committed to bringing back. The Browncoats are ready waiting should Netflix aim to misbehave.
This is the other Joss Whedon written and produced series cancelled by Fox and while it was never as popular as Firefly it would probably be even easier to resurrect. The show aired 27 episodes between 2009 and 2010 before being cancelled, leaving the story of a beautiful brainwashed spy (played by Eliza Dushku) and the secret corporation she works for, unfinished. Unlike a lot of the other shows on this list Dollhouse doesn’t quire a lot of outer space effects. They don’t even really need to bring back Eliza Dushku. Any resurrection of the series could easily pick up the story of some other Doll from the Dollhouse and carry on from there. At its peak Dollhouse earned around 4.63 million viewers, roughly as many as the already in Netflix production (and likely to be more expensive to make given the cast) Arrested Development. Dollhouse may be the easiest show on this list to re-produce and with the loyalty of Joss Whedon fans to support it, this should be an incredibly attractive property for Netflix resurrection consideration.
Defying Gravity was one of those shows network television cancelled so fast almost no one had a chance to realize it was on the air. Eight episodes hit the airwaves in August and September of 2009, and with very little promotional effort behind them, it seemed clear that ABC had given up on it before the show even began. But hidden in those eight episodes and the other 5 which would eventually air on deep cable was loads of potential in telling the story of the first manned exploration of our solar system. The special effects, which included realistic depictions of weightlessness and sets which had a 2001: A Space Odyssey feel, were stunning and the characters (lead by Office Space’s Ron Livingston as chief engineer) were only beginning to unfold when the show was unceremoniously ended. It was an ambitious project, maybe even too ambitious for Netflix to take on, but if they really want to make a splash retooling and bringing back something as fresh and unique as Defying Gravity might be the way to do it.
Thanks to the 2009 movie the Star Trek universe has really moved on since the cancellation of Enterprise in 2005. There’s another movie on the way but at some point Star Trek really needs to find a way to get back on television. Netflix might be the perfect place to do it, as an experimental outlet willing to test out more niche Trek series ideas while leaving room for some big network to swoop in and start a more traditional Trek series too. For instance some have suggested that the next Trek could try exploring the inner workings of lesser known parts of the universe, maybe an entire series based on examining the inner workings of the Federation Council. It would play out like West Wing but set in the future. Or perhaps a Trek series set entirely in the Klingon Empire, following the exploits of a Klingon crew aboard a Bird of Prey. Star Trek: Bird of Prey would be a badass name for a series. Meanwhile CBS would still be free to do a more traditional Trek series on their channels, letting these other ideas play out on Netflix in the hopes that one of them might take off.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I was skeptical going into TSCC, to say the least. At the time the last we’d seen of the Terminator franchise was the forgettable Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and even that had felt like an unnecessary return to the well. Two performances changed my mind. As the show’s incarnation of Sarah Connor, Lena Headey found ways to make the role her own without just doing a Linda Hamilton impersonation. Summer Glau added yet another “ass-kicking female” role to her resume as a reprogrammed Terminator disguised as a high-school cheerleader. The show also found ways to build on the established mythology without outright contradicting it, but Fox decided not to renew it after the second season. That left fans with a nasty cliffhanger just itching to be continued, with young John Connor trapped in the apocalyptic future he’d been trying to prevent. The biggest obstacle would be luring the leads back, since Lena is doing Game of Thrones and Thomas Dekker is on the CW’s Secret Circle. Unless Summer Glau’s role in the next season of Syfy’s Alphas is increased dramatically, she might be easier to get. As for Brian Austin Green, you’d presumably just have to drag him off Megan Fox.
This is the real long-shot of the bunch, as it aired a full decade ago and many of you have probably never even seen an episode. Odyssey 5 follows five shuttle astronauts who witness Earth’s destruction from orbit, and are then thrown back in time by an alien intelligence known as the Seeker. They have five years to solve the mystery of Earth’s destruction, and prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, Showtime canceled the series after one season and left the show without any resolution. Odyssey 5 was the creation of Manny Coto, who went on to run the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise. The show’s biggest star was Peter Weller, who played mission commander Chuck Taggart. He’s doing some directing in recent years but isn’t tied down to a continuing series, so he could conceivably be lured back, especially if Netflix baited him with the prospect of directing some of the episodes. This is probably the least likely of our picks, but I for one would love to see where the show was headed. As for the actors aging a decade? Just claim it’s an adverse effect of being thrown back in time.
Another one-season wonder that I really enjoyed, Journeyman aired for 13 short episodes back in 2007. Kevin McKidd starred as Dan Vasser, a newspaper reporter who finds himself being thrown back in time over and over again, each time meant to help a certain individual avoid an unpleasant fate. The whole “setting right what once went wrong” thing is a concept that’s been done many times before, most notably in Quantum Leap, but Journeyman did it well. It was also building up a fascinating mythology involving other time-jumpers, including Dan’s formerly believed-dead fiance (played by Moon Bloodgood), and the origins of Dan’s abilities. There is still plenty of meat to the concept to merit a resurrection. McKidd has been appearing on Grey’s Anatomy and Bloodgood is on TNT’s Falling Skies, but since Netflix isn’t restricted to a specific season length, they still might be able to make it work. Unfortunately, series creator Kevin Falls has moved on to running TNT’s Franklin and Bash, which might make things tricky.
Stargate is without question the most popular science fiction franchise of the modern era. When it debuted in 2009 Stargate Universe was an attempt to get away from the formula of previous Stargate series’ in favor of telling the more self-contained story of a group of humans stranded on the other side of the universe in a starship they couldn’t really control. After a slow start the show’s scripts started to pick up steam as the ensemble cast (led by Robert Carlyle and Louis Ferreira) found a real chemistry and there seemed to be real potential there… right before its unceremonious cancellation by the SyFy network in 2010. Of all the shows on this list Stargate Universe would be the easiest to bring back. It hasn’t been gone long and most of the cast should still be available. It would be easy to pick right up where the show left off, almost as though it had never been gone. There’s huge potential here, if Netflix just bites and the existing Stargate fanbase is big enough and devoted enough that they’re sure to show up and give it a shot at living up to the potential only glimpsed in the series’ final few episodes.
It’s been almost a decade since Farscape last graced the airwaves, but it’s the show I would most love to see return, even more than Firefly. No other fictional universe has intrigued me like Farscape‘s, and I challenge you to find two leading actors with better chemistry together than Ben Browder and Claudia Black. Claudia has done lots of voiceover work and put in some TV appearances in recent years. Ben’s last recurring role was on Stargate SG-1. It’s criminal that these two didn’t become bigger stars after Farscape, so I’d love to see them back in the roles that made many fans fall in love with them. There has been talk of resurrecting it in some form over the years, including as webisodes, but the closest we’ve come is the ongoing comic series by Boom! Studios. Creator Rockne S. O’Bannon is at work on the CW pilot Cult, but assuming that doesn’t go to series I have a feeling he could be lured back to work on his baby again. Farscape still has a devoted fanbase even all these years later, and god knows it’s a better show than Terra Nova. Let’s make it happen, Netflix.
Cancelled after the completion of its first full season, fan support for Jericho was so strong that CBS was forced to bring it back. It wasn’t enough, however, for them to keep it on the air for very long. After an abbreviated second season, Jericho’s story of a small town surviving in the aftermath of all out nuclear disaster, left the airwaves never to return. It seems like a slam dunk to bring it back. The show left fans with many unanswered questions, a story still left to be told. And those fans, who were so devoted to the series that they launched a campaign which strongarmed network television into giving it more, are sure to show up again in support of the Jericho cause should Netflix have the good judgement to give it a second chance. Better still, since most of it is set in a very familiar modern-day town, productions costs should be low enough that it won’t require much of an investment from the streaming service. Bring back Jericho just makes sense.
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