This year we saw Charlie Brooker’s futuristic dystopia series Black Mirror get another series thanks to Netflix along with the revival of long-running Canadian teen drama Degrassi – which once famously starred charismatic hip-hop mope Drake – was announced. Even if neither of those shows floats your boat, it’s good news because in theory it opens the door to other cruelly cancelled shows being brought back from the TV dead. It’s not the first time, either: absurd American comedy Arrested Development made a kind of successful return in 2013, while fans of Community got a sixth season thanks to Yahoo! Screen. Here’s the 10 shows we’d resurrect if we had the chance. Are you listening, Netflix? C’mon, bring ’em back!
Utopia – Cinematic, cerebral and colourful, Utopia dealt in big, violent dystopian ideas and ended up succumbing to their weight, now seemingly replaced by new domestic robot sci-fi Humans. Channel 4 announced the cancellation was to make way for new drama – it was an expensive show to produce – but its writer Dennis Kelly has written two more seasons, so there could be life in the old show yet.
Firefly – Joss Whedon’s 2002 sci-fi epic was first-class TV. Centring on a rag-tag group of lovable space-hopping reprobates, it had a nuanced fictional world full of complex characters, but despite this, everything about the show felt remarkably light. Sadly it was cancelled after 14 episodes and all fans got in return was a slightly disappointing film follow-up called ‘Serenity’. Given the show’s now-cult status, and the fact that director Whedon is now done making Avengers flicks, the time is right for a Netflix comeback.
Looking – HBO’s flagship gay drama, often mentioned in the same breath as the hugely successful Girls, was cancelled after its second season in 2015 due to low ratings. It’s a shame, because its depiction of LGBT life in San Francisco was refreshingly frank and without cliche. The channel has commissioned a one-off special to tie up loose ends, but a better acknowledgement of the show’s smart, progressive storytelling would be another series.
Freaks and Geeks – Executive produced by Judd Apatow, 1999 show Freaks and Geeks was a charming comedy about navigating the choppy waters of high school. The careers of big comedy names were launched here, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segal, but that didn’t stop it being cancelled after just 12 of its 18 episodes had aired. Now its actors are a little bit older, with a lot more clout, Netflix could feasibly bring the slacker comedy into the sort-of adulthood portrayed in many of Apatow’s films.
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Nathan Barley – Looking back on this 6-episode wonder reveals a startling prescience on the part of writers Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris. It’s a brilliant satirical look at the most innovative and idiotic hipster of 2005, Nathan Barley and is almost more accurate now than it was back then. Featuring actors from pretty much all the British comedy shows in recent memory, and a youthful Benedict Cumberbatch, a return from this Dalston-parodying diamond could warn us about the new things coming up in urban awfulness.
Enlightened – The second series of HBO comedy-drama Enlightened, about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough, was critically acclaimed but like so many, it couldn’t hold on to its viewers. Played by Jurassic Park lead Laura Dern, its central character Amy Jellicoe had a fascinating arc, changing her self-destructive ways to become a new-age activist, facing down her unethical employer. There’s plenty of room for it to grow – it just needs someone to place their trust it, maaan.
Happy Endings – Bogged down on its release by comparisons to Friends, Chicago-based comedy Happy Endings carved its own path once it got its awful premise out of the way: a group of six friends in their 20s, one of whom abandons another at the altar. The pop-culture references came thick and fast, the characters were charming and weird, and every episode prioritised fun, from the parrot murder mystery to the million-dollar lottery prank. When you consider How I Met Your Mother had 9 seasons, it doesn’t really add up that Happy Endings only got 3.
Caprica – You’ve almost definitely heard of mega sci-fi success Battlestar Galactica, but its spin-off prequel ‘Caprica’ remains relatively unknown, possibly thanks to its cancellation after one season. Described by its creator as “a sci-fi version of ‘Dallas’”, it might not sound like the most intriguing show, but this tale about mankind hubristically overreaching itself with artificial intelligence and technology should have been given more of a chance.
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip – Aaron Sorkin’s one-series flop about a Saturday Night Live style sketch show featured an atheist sketch-writer, played by Matthew Perry, his evangelical Christian ex, his rehabilitated producer, the idealistic new network president, and the nefarious American broadcasting system. Fine, it was a little bit too clever for its own good, but the story itself was far more interesting than Sorkin’s follow-up, The Newsroom. Its only real failing point was that the sketches were completely unfunny – we’d suggest bringing Tina Fey on board for the funnies.
Party Down – Slightly depressing and menial jobs are fertile ground for comedies: in the same vein as ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’, Party Down was about an LA catering company and the failed actors who worked there. It was blessed with acting talent in the form of Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Megan Mullally and Lizzy Caplan, but was cancelled in its prime after 2 seasons.