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5 Short Lived and Underrated TV Shows That Deserved a Longer Run

Updated on October 8, 2019

Quality has never been the sole determining factor when it comes to a TV show’s lifespan. There are highly successful shows that were cancelled and there are crappy, low-rating ones that reached multiple seasons. However, there are quality shows that were not even given a chance to be successful, as they were cancelled before they even got a chance to build up a viewership. Here are 5 of the less known ones:

#5. Fear Itself

Fear Itself is a horror anthology series that lasted only 13 episodes. The concept for the show is that popular horror directors, including the likes of Rupert Wainwright and John Landis, helm each episode, which makes the show a great way to check out different approaches to the horror genre. The show’s creator, Mick Garris, has already been successful with a similar project, The Masters of Horror series, but unlike Masters, Fear Itself toned down a lot of the gore and sexual content, making it much more accessible to the average horror buff.

What Happened

Out of 13 episodes, Fear Itself only managed to air 8 episodes before it was put on hiatus because of the 2008 Summer Olympics occupying its timeslot. NBC did not fulfill its promise of bringing back the show after the sporting event, choosing to fill the timeslot with re-runs of other NBC shows.

Find Fear Itself on Amazon

#4. MotorCity

Motorcity is a vehicle-oriented action adventure cartoon from Chris Prynoski and Disney Television Animation. The series follows the adventures of Mike Chilton and his group of teenaged rebels called the Burners, as they try to liberate a futuristic version of Detroit from the dictatorship of evil billionaire Abraham Kane.

What Happened

MotorCity had everything done right – it had pedigree when it comes to the creative staff (Prynoski is a legend in the industry, with shows like Daria, Beavis and Butthead, Metalocalypse, and The Venture Bros. under his belt) and the voice cast (which includes Mark Hamill himself voicing the villain.) It’s also under a network – Disney XD – that had enough moolah and clout to give it a marketing boost. It would have been a guaranteed hit, especially since it developed a dedicated online fanbase during its 20 episode run.

Except it didn’t. Motorcity tanked in the ratings because the show was poorly promoted and the timeslot was frequently changed without rhyme or reason. The latter is bad enough, but if you couple it with the former – fans fail to keep up and won’t know which timeslot it moved to. The final nail in the coffin is that the episodes were shown out of order.

#3. Andy Barker P.I.

Andy Barker, P.I. is a comedy sitcom starring longtime Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter. The series is styled as a detective pastiche, in which Andy plays a certified public accountant who got mistaken for a private investigator, and ended up solving cases full time.

The show was produced by Conan O’Brien’s Conaco, so you can expect the same brand of comedy that garnered Conan accolades of fans. Andy Barker, P.I. boasted of decent writing, a strong cast, and excellent command of self-deprecating humor.

What Happened

Andy Barker, P.I. seems to have got the same amount of love from NBC as Conan did, because it only lasted for one season and not all of its episodes were aired the first time around. The show was also the victim of frequent timeslot changes. Popular rumor has it that NBC dropped it to focus more on 30 Rock, which had more potential due to a stronger cast and wider demographic. It is also said that the show wasn’t able to jump ship to another network because Conan at the time was still on good terms with NBC.

Find Andy Barker P.I. on Amazon

#2. Kindred: The Embraced

Kindred: The Embraced is a horror/crime drama series based on White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade role playing game franchise, centered around a fictional San Francisco which is clandestinely controlled by numerous vampire clans. The series is perfect for fans of the RPG franchise, and for people who enjoy the concept of vampire politics but don’t want to get mired up in cheesy romance (although Kindred has that too, but not to the point where it starts to take over the narrative.) Plus, there’s no sparkling involved – Vampires in Kindred burst into flames when exposed to sunlight, except when they’ve just fed or if they’re one of the particularly strong/elderly kind.

What Happened

Kindred: The Embraced managed to run for 8 episodes (April 2 – May 9, 1996) before being cancelled by Fox. There was talk of Showtime reviving the series, but the lead actor Mark Frankel – who plays the Ventrue Prince of San Francisco, Julian Luna – died in a motorcycle accident and halted negotiations.

#1. The River

Take Lost, put it in a blender with Paranormal Activity and a healthy dose of Asian and African folklore and what do you get? ABC’s horror/found footage TV series The River. The found footage influence is not surprising, considering that the creator is PA’s Oren Peli. The series follows the crew of the ship called The Magus as they try to search for famous reality TV star and explorer Dr. Emmet Cole, who mysteriously disappeared during an expedition deep into the Amazon basin months before the events in the show. Over the course of the season, which lasted only for 8 episodes, The Magus’ crew encounters various demons, cannibals, monsters, and ancient curses while trying to find out the true cause of Dr. Cole’s disappearance.

What Happened

The show ran from February 7, 2012 to March 20. It was officially cancelled by ABC on May 11 of the same year due to poor ratings, despite the show itself garnering favorable reviews over the Internet. No official reason for the poor ratings has been given, but many people point to bad timing – The River had to fight for the attention of people who are already committed to AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Find The River on Amazon


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