From being cancelled too soon, to problems getting ahold of the right actors, to unplanned pregnancies, there are many cult TV series out there that had an awful lot of potential – and still are worth a watch – but, for one reason or another, don’t quite reach the heights they have the capability to. This post will look at 4 of the big culprits when it comes to dropping the ball:
4. POINT PLEASANT
Aired back in 2005, Point Pleasant followed the story of Christina (Elisabeth Harnois), a girl who washes ashore the town of Point Pleasant one day with no memory of her past. It soon comes to pass that she is the daughter of the antichrist and has dark supernatural powers. The catch here being that she didn’t want to be evil, and viewers were always left in the dark over which side she would ultimately choose – would her dark temper lead her to destroy the world, or could the innocent girl she wanted to be banish her dark desires? Add in a love interest who also happens to be chosen by God to fight Christina, and you have an intriguing plot of epic proportions.
Sadly, the Fox network aired Point Pleasant at consistently different times, often around midnight, and often changed the day of the week it was aired on. After drawing in poor viewing figures (No wonder why!) it was cancelled, and Fox didn’t even air the full 13 episodes, only showing 8 of them. The full 13 episodes are now available on DVD. Point Pleasant really did get cancelled just as it was hitting its peak and tension was at boiling point – the series ends on an enormous cliffhanger, and it shows what the power of being given a good time-slot can do for a TV series.
Aired from 2009-2010, Dollhouse starred Eliza Dushku in one of the most thought-provoking TV series I’ve seen. The sci-fi series showed technology that could imprint a different personality in to a persons’ body. ‘Dolls’, living in the Dollhouse, would be hired out by the wealthy, who would imprint them with a personality of their choice and spend time with them. Yes, very much like prostitution. The show is difficult to explain in writing, and is extremely complicated, but has two seasons-worth of absolute TV gold.
Again, similar to Point Pleasant, the Fox network gave Dollhouse ridiculous time slots, pulling it from its scheduling entirely for a month at a time and expecting viewers to return remembering the confusing story lines the show dealt with. Ratings dropped, and eventually Dollhouse was cancelled. The second half of season 2 then became a rush of getting what could have been five years worth of story lines out in the open. Dollhouse is an amazing series – but could have been even better if it was given the time to properly develop; rather than the rushed conclusion fans of the show were given.
Buffys’ spin-off series struggled to find its footing in the first season, and started to hit a dark and captivating stride by the second. Personally, it never hit the heights that Buffy did for me, but one plot in particular has even the hardcore fans of the show gritting their teeth. In season 4, actress Charisma Carpenter told creator Joss Whedon that she was pregnant. This lead to the two having an extremely strained relationship (See this Dragoncon 2009 Panel with Charisma for the full story).
Whatever the original plan for season 4 was got canned, and instead viewers were given a possessed evil Cordelia (played by Charisma) who slept with her son-figure and suddenly fell in to a coma, not to return to the show until the 100th episode a year later, where she was quickly killed off. Cordelia was an enormous character in the Buffyverse, and had what I consider the worst closing story arc in any TV series. Poor CC.
Alias aired from 2001-2006, and had an absolutely incredible first three seasons. The premise: a college student is recruited by the CIA and goes undercover to infiltrate an evil organisation who are posing as the CIA. There was a hint of the absurd in the storyline too – alongside the crime-fighting was the story of Milo Rambaldi, a prophet who made many accurate predictions and left fabled inventions allowing for things such as invincibility hidden around the world.
Starring Jennifer Garner, the series was full of twists and turns and was one of the most captivating series on television at its peak. But when Lena Olin, who played a key role as Sydney’s double-agent mother, couldn’t commit to returning to the show full-time past season 2, major plots had to be abandoned and changed. Things that were said in both the seasons 2 and 3 finales failed to make any sense and were retconned away, and the plot ultimately ended up becoming a bit of a mess. Applaud the writers for trying to do the best with what they had; but the original story-lines planned for Alias would have been much more interesting than the recycled and over-the-top story-lines viewers were given in Season 5.