There are some programmes that it’s pretty much obligatory to watch, if you’re any kind of self-respecting geek; staples of the geek canon, as it were. And outside of that, there are a ton of other shows which, for better or worse, just didn’t manage to persuade anyone to spend even one solitary hour per week of their lives thinking about them.
Here are five shows you may not even have heard of, let alone watched (but it’s okay, I did it for you, to make sure you weren’t missing out): 1. Wonderfalls
Soon after Buffy the Vampire Slayer got cancelled, several new shows popped up with Buffy alumni on the payroll. Wonderfalls was where Tim Minear ended up.
The obligatory central teen girl was Jaye; a directionless dropout with a dead-end job in a gift shop at Niagra Falls. Her destiny turned up in the form of any available animal-shaped object. A wax lion was amongst the throng of weird and wonderful creatures to give Jaye the cryptic advice she never followed.
In the UK, Channel 4 showed about four episodes at a respectable hour before hiding the rest of the handful of episodes to actually get produced in graveyard shifts on random days of the week, and even I gave up trying to watch it. It wasn’t very good, really. 2. Tru Calling
Another Buffy alumni, Eliza Dushku, in another nonsensical show about the supernatural. This time, a directionless dropout with a quite literally dead-end job at a morgue starts reliving days when dead people start asking her to help them.
For no apparent reason, it’s fallen to Tru – stupid name, stupid girl – to correct the path of fate so that those who’ve shuffled off the mortal coil before their time end up unshuffled again. Oddly enough, everyone she tries to tell about her weird life thinks she’s insane, and for good reason.
Apparently a season and a half of this drivel was actually produced; it’s available on DVD, if you’ve got some pressing need to watch utter, utter crap.
3. Dark Skies
Most geeks watched The X-Files. Not so many watched Dark Skies, though: another supernatural sci-fi show which dealt with aliens and government conspiracies.
Mind-controlling worms from another planet ran rampant as John and Kimberley tried to separate reality from fiction – I actually remember this being quite good, apart from the oops-we-ran-out-of-money finale, but I was about 14 and therefore my judgement is not to be trusted.
The fact that it’s not available on DVD doesn’t really bode well, does it? 4. Firefly
I’m sure that many people reading this will be making little outraged noises right now about the fact that they did watch Firefly, thank you very much! Well, good for you — but did you watch it when it was first on TV?
In the US, the Fox network refused to air the pilot episode first, choosing instead to chuck viewers in at the deep end with episode two; then they constantly rescheduled it; and finally cancelled it without showing the last three episodes.
In the UK, it was shown on the Sci-Fi Channel, in the right order, and constantly repeated, but Sci-Fi is hardly Sky One, is it? It’s a pity, because Firefly is probably one of the best TV programmes ever made, ever, but happily the DVD release restored order to the ‘Verse and recruited a whole new set of Brown Coats.
5. Dead Like Me
Another Buffy alumni, another disenfranchised teen… This time, a girl killed by a falling toilet seat is called upon to become a Reaper, of the grim variety. As per usual, she rebelled a bit and questioned why she had to do it before giving up and going along with it. (Because no normal person would actually want super powers, would they?).
The first three or four episodes were pretty dreadful, and the second season seemed to forget about several of the basic rules set out in the first season, but this was addictive stuff nevertheless.
The fact that George worked in the unusual deaths department helped, with wacky Final Destination style killings every episode.
But just like every other half-decent fledgling show, it was killed off in its prime. Sigh.
Wow, that was many flavours of depressing.