And yes, I realize Firefly is not on this list. Of course I enjoyed it, but we’ve gotta let that one go, guys.
Campus is like the weirder, British brother of Community. It’s also a great illustrator of the one reason British television frustrates me: their seasons are like 6 episodes. If Campus had a been an American TV show, it probably would’ve lasted at least ten, seeing as how there weren’t any sci-fi special effects or anything.
The first episode is kind of crap, I’ll admit. But its wacky and bizarre and has people’s inner monologues talking back to them. Everything I love about the last season of Community, taken one step more meta. It was a show that didn’t have to be logical or realistic, it just did. Perhaps the strangest thing about it was how well it worked.
All the episodes are available for free on Hulu, if anybody’s interested.
This was a show that was on Cartoon Network (although notably, it was not a cartoon). It was plotted by one of my favorite comic writers, Paul Dini, and was about children who mysteriously wake up in a boarding school full of other kids with weird abilities. Cylon-like guards roam the grounds, the stars don’t match up with Earth’s geography, messages are left by prior students, and the last episode concluded with the main characters being met by a robot-like woman who tells them they are ready for “the next phase.”
It was everything I love about sci-fi: crazy plot twists, intrigue, and an ever-deeper plunge down the proverbial rabbit hole. Sure, the writing was stiff and wonky at times, especially on those first few episodes but hey it was made for preteens and the story was awesome regardless.
Cartoon Network canceled all of their live-action shows after one season (methinks the production costs scared a network with “cartoon” in the name), which ended the series on a cliffhanger. There was talk of it coming back with outside financing, but CN said they still wouldn’t show it despite the overall good reviews. Since this is a recent show, I’d love to see it come back with enough support.
Freaks and Geeks
I’ll admit, I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of this show. But what I’ve seen was very good. My guess was that it was one of those shows that appealed to a very narrow window of people. It kind of struck me as a poor man’s Diablo Cody enterprise, and I’d love to see more of it.
Now, I’ll admit this wasn’t a groundbreaking show. It was a slightly-above-average sitcom about parents with three kids. But it really highlights one of the things I love about British television: there’s always an element of strangeness. In the entirety of the series, there’s not a single joke about female anatomical parts. There’s no laugh track. There is, however, a point where the little girl hands over a drawing of cows killing people with machine guns, drawn because she doesn’t like hamburgers. In fact, throughout the entire series the little girl character will randomly appear psychic or crazy, just for one scene, and it’s awesome. Heck, the teacher dad is in hot water at his school for telling a fat student he “could use Ramadan all year long.” And it was played completely straight–which never would’ve happened if it had shown on NBC.
It wasn’t a show that’ll change your life, but it was awesome to put on while ironing or folding laundry.
Okay, so technically this one had a second season. But with a weird airing schedule and the fact that it was always the show to get pushed out of its timeslot for some special, I (and apparently lots of others) didn’t even know there was a second season.
The reason I liked this show–and I’m going to sound elitist here–was that it was for actual smart people. With six dozen dancing/singing shows on TV, it was so nice to have something interesting on. I really could care less about American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. I just don’t get how on earth the viewing public can support so many versions of the same damn thing.
Interestingly, there is a very similar show in the Arabic world, and its actually as popular over there as Idol is over here. And people wonder how other countries are getting ahead.
I guess what I really want is the Syfy channel to do a serious, crazy sci-fi mystery. *sigh* Like that’s going to happen.