Some canceled TV shows are cult favorites, and some have a quality and mass appeal that was discovered too late. The 2007 Writers’ Strike had a hand in the demise of several popular TV series, and recent economy and budget concerns have caused networks to become more ruthless than ever in canceling shows. The good news is that we can revisit our canceled series favorites, and check out what we missed online. While everyone has their personal favorites, here are 5 of the best canceled series worth viewing on Hulu.
The Dresden Files
This Canadian series, about a wizard private detective who helps normal folks with supernatural problems, is an entertaining noir fantasy that had just started to hit its stride when it got canceled. Paul Blackthorne (The Gates, 24) is a perfectly handsome, rumpled, sarcastic, and powerful Harry Dresden. Valerie Cruz (True Blood, Dexter) strikes the right balance as Lt. Connie Murphy, a tough Chicago cop that likes Harry, but is often suspicious of his motives.
Fans of the Jim Butcher books may be boggled by some of the pointless changes in The Dresden Files TV series, like Harry carrying a hockey stick instead of a staff and driving a jeep instead of the Blue Beetle. One of the notable positive changes is the delightfully sly Bob, played here as a full apparition by Broadway star Terrence Mann. The Dresden Files would have been a fun, alternate universe companion to the book series, had it not been inexplicably canceled by the Sci-Fi channel after one season.
Check out all 12 episodes of this canceled series for yourself on the Dresden Files Hulu show page. Then read the books.
An alt-universe tale of a futuristic monarchy, canceled series Kings is a re-imagined version of the biblical David & Goliath story. In this case, David is a humble soldier who “slays” an enemy tank and gets long-warring factions to consider peace. Innocent David ascends from a folk hero to a threat to the crown, all the while being manipulated by various members of the royal family–and others with political aspirations.
Led by heavy-hitters Ian McShane (The Pillars of the Earth, Deadwood) and Susanna Thompson (NCIS, Once and Again), this ridiculously addictive Shakespearean style melodrama mixed in action, romance, intrigue, angst, and even a little supernatural spirituality. It also revealed the nuanced acting prowess of Sebastian Stan (Captain America, Gossip Girl) as the arrogant, emotionally tortured, closeted gay Prince Jack. NBC flooded the airwaves with vague promos for the show before it aired, then promptly forgot about the show, switching its time slots around before sadly giving up on it completely.
Watch the full canceled series of Kings on its Hulu show page. Then let your imagination run wild with all of the ways this brilliant canceled series could have continued.
Watching night after night of heartless, gruesome procedurals and medical shows can really drag your mood and outlook on life way down. Enter canceled series Eli Stone, a refreshing cool breeze of positivity and good intentions. Starring Jonny Lee Miller (Aeon Flux, Mansfield Park) as a cutthroat lawyer who suddenly starts having visions that urge him to help people in need, Eli Stone took a typical law show and injected it with humanity, humor, and spirituality.
A victim of the Writer’s Strike, as well as being ahead of its time (it likely would have flourished in the “Yes, We Can!” era), Eli Stone managed two seasons and at least a partial resolution for the finale. When you’re looking for a pick-me-up and an escape from all the TV autopsies and nihilism, tune in to Eli Stone.
Season 1 of canceled series Eli Stone is currently available on Hulu.
Another tragic victim of the 2007-08 Writers’ Strike, canceled series Life was also a tough sell to viewers because it defied labeling. The story centers on Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a detective who returns to the police force after 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Charlie now has a boatload of settlement money that he’s not quite sure what to do with, a Zen attitude he adopted to get him through prison life, and a dozen years of pent-up vengeance in his heart. The quirky drama has the continuing arc of the conspiracy that put Charlie away, paired with a weekly investigation Crews conducts with his no-nonsense partner Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi).
Life is by turns sexy, adventurous, darkly humorous, suspenseful, clever, and even absurd. Shahi and Lewis have wonderful chemistry, and it’s a joy to watch the perfect yin/yang balance of Charlie and Dani develop as the episodes progress. Though this canceled series has a few flaws, mainly due to some cheap “sex sells” attempts to bring in a wider audience, the charm of the characters will continually draw you in. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop, all the way up to one of the most beautifully done canceled series finales ever shot.
Hulu has the entire run of canceled series Life available until September 18, 2011.
Probably the most popular one-season TV series ever, the canceled show Firefly is one of Joss Whedon’s finest works. Its cancellation was one of Fox’s biggest blunders. The stellar cast of Firefly, led by endlessly charming Nathan Fillion (Castle), treat us to an appealing and intriguing array of characters we can’t help but cheer for. Firefly‘s hybrid of space fantasy and cowboy show creates a perfect environment for Old West style showdowns and heroics, rapid fire witty banter, and romantic intrigues–along with darker moments of mystery and terror.
You won’t be sorry following this band of misfits and smugglers through space, eyes glued to the screen as they work their way out of scrapes involving corrupt businessmen, heart-of-gold prostitutes, con artists, and contract killers. Then there’s the beastly, cannibalistic Reavers. The Firefly TV series consists of tightly woven adventure stories with complex characters, including four kick-ass women who kick female character stereotypes to the curb.
The complete Firefly series DVD set is well worth the purchase price, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the five rotating episodes of this canceled series on the Hulu Firefly show page.
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