Some shows don’t get to go to syndication. They don’t get awards. They may or may not get cult followings, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t truly loved by one or more people. Sometimes they get to comeback but sometimes they fade into obscurity leaving nothing else, but the memories of what once was…..
1. Torkelsons (1991-1993)
Single mom, Millicent Torkelson played by Connie Ray was raising her large family after her husband left the family. Millicent has six children. Olivia Burnette who played fourteen year old Dorothy Jane who talked to an imaginary Man in the Moon and had the coolest haircut ever because she had bangs that made me jealous which ended up leading me to a lifetime of feeling jealous of people who have bangs. I just can’t do bangs well. There was also Steven Floyd who was played by Aaron Michael Metchik, 10-year-old Ruth Ann played by Anna Slotky, 8-year-old Chuckie Lee played by Lee Norris and six year old Rachel Sue who was played by Rachel Duncan whom I think was the daughter of my history teacher in middle school who told me once he had never met anyone who was hearing impaired and didn’t know how to teach a hearing impaired student. Yeah, so there was that. Anyway, after the first season the show was retooled and two of the children (Steven Floyd and Ruth Ann) pulled a Judy Winslow where they simply vanished and were never heard from again. The family also relocated to Seattle and the show was renamed Almost Home and added three more kids, including James Mardsen and Brittany Murphy. I enjoyed this show. It was cute, it was sweet, it probably changed way too much but it was still sweet. I enjoyed it immensely.
2. Just the Ten of Us (1988-1990)
A lovely family sitcom that was spun off from Growing Pains and aired from 1988-1990. This centered around Coach Lubbock, played by Bill Kirchenbauer and his wife, Elizabeth played by Deborah Harmon and their large Catholic family that included four teenage daughters. Coach Lubbock loses his job in the Growing Pains world and ends up getting a job coaching at an all-boys Catholic school in California. He moves his large family across the country and the girls end up being the only females at this school. It can happen. The four teenage girls included Marie (Heather Langenkamp who appeared in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies), twins Cindy and Wendy (Jami Luner and Brooke Theiss respectively) and Connie (JoAnn Willette). There were three other kids, Sherry (Heidi Ziegler), Graham Jr. (Matt Shakman) and there were two babies, Melissa, and Harvey. It was like 7th Heaven before 7th Heaven. Now, much like The Torklesons, Just the Ten of Us did a major switch in the second season. Cindy and Wendy completely switched their personalities. Cindy became the dumb one and Wendy became the one with all the plans that would get them in trouble and it also did not seem plausible that they were twins in the first place, fraternal, identical or otherwise….but okay. The second season focused on the older four and they formed a singing group called, The Lubbock Babes. Maybe the lesson is that you should never completely remake your television show between the first and second season because then it might confuse people. I followed and I wanted to be in a girl singing group….despite the fact that I have no vocal talent to speak of. Although, I have practiced my Grammy speech….’cause you know, that’s what people do in the world.
3. Rags to Riches (1987-1988)
This show had 8 episodes in 1987 and then had 12 episodes that ran from 1987-1988. This was Glee meets Annie. This really, super rich dude named Nick (Joseph Bologna….yes, that’s his real name) is a millionaire who owns a frozen foods company and he is living this playboy life but he wants to develop a family man image by adopting six orphaned girls. Why do I get the feeling that if this was on the air today, it would be an episode of Law and Order SVU? So it’s about a rich dude learning to be a dad and orphaned girls going from well….rags to riches. I see what they did there. The three teenage girls are Rose (Kimiko Gelman who is in the Hunger Game movies as Venia), Diane (Bridget Michele), Marva (Tisha Campbell), Patti (Bianca De Garr) and Mickey (Heidi Ziegler). The cast would often just start singing to express emotions and feelings and one time they were in a bomb shelter during a sweet sixteen and they would also sing Rockin’ Robin a lot. Why did this show get canceled? It had goodness attached to it and it wasn’t at all creepy. Okay, it was super creepy but come on!
4. Ferris Bueller….the television show (1990)
Okay, this aired in 1990 and was cancelled 13 episodes later and one of the stars was some girl who would go on to star in some show where she was super close with like five other people. I wonder whatever happened to her? Oh and little known or maybe slightly known fact, Jennifer Aniston who played Jeannie dated the guy who played her brother. I know! It was supposed to be kinda based on the movie, but not really just the characters were different but the names were the same…..it was still awesome and I will stand by it as good TV, not great TV but good TV and quite possibly the reason I will never be a network executive.
5. My So Called Life (1994-1995)
I am still in mourning over this show because while the four I discussed earlier could possibly have had good reasons to be cancelled. I see no good reason for this. It starred Claire Danes in full ’90’s glory as Angela Chase. There was also Jared Leto who played Jordan Catalano and if you did not have a crush on Jordan Catalano, then I question if you have a soul. I don’t care. Men, women, chickens…..monkeys. It was so full of flannel and ultimate teenage angst. It was overflowing. There was an episode where Ricky (Wilson Cruz) is out on the street after a fight with his uncle who abuses him….and that’s the Christmas episode! Oh and then there was also Rayanne played by A.J. Langer who I think married like a king or something in real life….Rayanne is an alcoholic. This is all high school. When this show got canceled, kids in my school started petitions to get it back on the air. Arrested Development and The Comeback came back…..why can’t this? I mean, okay, maybe Angela Chase went on to be like super crazy and work in the CIA and Jordan joined a band and also was in a movie where he won an Oscar. It’s got Emmy written all over it!!
6. Second Chance (1987-1988)
Another failed show starring some guy who would also eventually be in that show with the group of really close people. It aired from 1987-1988. Perhaps in my youth, I had questionable taste in quality programming because I thought this show was hilarious. It starred Kiel Martin as Charles Russell who dies (by the way Kiel Martin did die in 1990 at age 46…..spooky). Anyway, Charles Russell goes back to his younger self, played by Matthew Perry to change the direction of his life. Get it? It’s also a comedy. It also predicts the dates people will die in real life. In the pilot, there was a line saying that Gaddafi would die on July 29, 2011 from multiple gunshot wounds. Fast forward and he did actually die within three months of that date and from multiple gunshot wounds. Whoa, Nelly…..
7. Home Free (1993)
Another Matthew Perry show that I guess I’m happy got cancelled because it aired in 1993 and had it been successful he would never have been Chandler. But still….this was a charming show. It was Matthew Perry and Dan Schneider who now does all those Nickelodeon shows and is responsible for Ariana Grande. Matthew Perry was Matt Bailey who was struggling to grow up and take on responsibilities. It was a fine show and he was a newspaper reporter. It was not bad. Not good. Not bad.
8. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)
Much like My So Called Life, I am still in mourning. There was no reason for this show to be cancelled after one season. It starred James Franco, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps and Jason Segel as high school students and they were freaks and geeks and they were fantastic. It takes place in a high school in a fictional town in Michigan and it aired from 1999-2000. This was phenomenal. The writing was spot on, everything was so perfect that it really should never have been cancelled. Linda Cardellini plays Lindsey and it’s about her and her brother Sam who was played by John Francis Daley. Lindsey’s group are the “freaks” and Sam’s group are the “geeks” and it follows the interactions and reflects on the angst of school. There is always room for teenage angst and they should have made room for it.
9. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006-2007)
Yet another Matthew Perry show, I swear this is not intentional, it aired from 2006-2007 and I found it fascinating. It starred Matthey Perry as Matt Albie and Bradley Whitford as Danny Tripp and it was an Aaron Sorkin drama about the interworkings of a television sketch comedy show like SNL. Okay, yes Sorkin may not be for everyone and he does have a tendency to knock us over the head with his views, but it’s like eating a fried Twinkie and being shocked it’s bad for you. You know what you’re getting into when you watch it. I thought it was cool and fascinating and probably not all true, but it was fun to watch.
10. Undeclared (2001-2002)
This show aired during 2001-2002 and was about a group of college freshmen at a fictional university in California. It had an impressively large cast that included Charles Hunnam who would go on to be one of the stars of Sons of Anarchy. It was funny, it was humorous and seeing as how this aired a year after I graduated, I could totally relate to the struggles of trying to figure out who you are in this strange new college world. This show was created by Judd Apatow who also created Freaks and Geeks and he is awesome and deserves awards.
And the final two……that came back:
11. Arrested Development (2003-2006)
So this show aired from 2003-2006, a season longer than a lot of others on this list but it is still simply the best and should not have been cancelled. It came back on Netflix in 2013. It was a fantastic show that centered around the misadventures of the Bluth Family and starred a really impressive cast. Jason Bateman. Tony Hale. Portia DeRossi. Jeffery Tambor. Jessica Walter. Will Arnett. David Cross. Michael Cera. Every actor in that cast is just brilliant and I think Netflix is the perfect place for it.
12. The Comeback (2005, 2014)
The Comeback first aired 2005 and it starred Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish, a washed up actress who is trying to make a comeback. Valerie Cherish had a reality show crew following her through one humiliating moment to the next. She was on a bad a sitcom called, “Room and Bored” and she is completely degraded. The Comeback was cancelled after one season. It came back in 2014. This season was more powerful than the first. I guess it’s called meta or whatever it might be called, but if it doesn’t come back for another season, there will be some problems.
So there you have it…..my super important list. It’s good. I think so.