Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive list, just a small list of shows that happened to pop into my mind.
Surface (NBC: 2005)
Only 5% of our ocean has been explored. A team of scientists find an opening in the seabed after a small underwater earthquake. Inside, they discover a never before seen species of underwater creatures. However, these creatures are gigantic, intelligent and seemingly have an agenda. Miles, a young, mild-mannered kid finds one of the creatures eggs washed on shore and raises the creature in secret. As the season progresses, we begin to find out more about these creatures and that (shocker) they weren’t so undiscovered after all. On top of that, the season ends with a pretty climatic sequence of events that sinks the western seaboard into the ocean and basically makes Arizona beach front property. Being a big monster fan, this series definitely had that in spades, but what I liked most about it was that the characters seemed genuine and the underlying plot of the story was building momentum. I can only assume that due to low ratings and the expensive CGI budget, it just made this series untenable, but – it was such a cool little show and I was sad to see it go after one season.
Alphas (Syfy: 2011 – 2012)
A lot of series took notes from Heroes and improved upon them. However, the stink of the last two seasons of Heroes probably is another reason why Alphas, while superior in just about every way, couldn’t get the following it deserved. Alphas was the designation given to people who developed powers. What I liked about this series is that it didn’t just give people powers and used them just for show, each one of their powers were given a purpose and used as effective aspects to a story. The second (and last) season ended on a pretty somber note and I was eager to find out how it was going to be resolved, until Syfy recently announced that the series would not be renewed for a 3rd season. While bummed, I feel that I finally got a decent series, with fun characters, a great story line and even better uses of powers. Too bad, really.
Invasion (ABC: 2005)
The good thing about Invasion was probably the thing that actually got it canceled. Invasion was CREEEEPY and for me – in a good way. I find shows like American Horror Story to be a little silly, mostly because it’s all about shock value and not really well-crafted. If anything, it’s so baseline with it’s antics, that I guess that’s why it’s become such a huge hit with the larger viewing public – which is why I basically rarely watch network TV anymore. This series was suspenseful, eerie and set in a Florida Everglades, intensely overshadowing. After a major hurricane, a weird cascade of lights pop out of the ocean and around a small town in Florida. Russell, a Florida Park Ranger, has a complicated family life. His ex-wife is married to the town Sheriff and after the events of the hurricane, knows more than he’s letting on about the increasingly strange happenings and behavior of the people in their town. In fact, all indications point to the town being overrun with water-based, alien creatures and an underlying, major conspiracy taking place. This show was so much fun and at the end of the season, you knew there was more to the story and that what you think you knew – you didn’t. Who you thought was the enemy – wasn’t. Who’s an alien – who’s not? A great series that could have had a really strong 3-4 season of just good ol’ fashioned storytelling. This was probably one of the 10 best alien invasion stories of all time on TV.
Playmakers (ESPN: 2003)
Playmakers was one of those “hit too close to home” shows for the NFL. They originally envisioned it to be a benign, but realistic look into the NFL, their players and off the field lives. What the NFL didn’t count on was 1) how true to life the stories were, 2) the popularity of the series and 3) how this one little show was shaping the image of the NFL. All this led to the NFL/ESPN pulling the plug on this hit series well before its due. This was a series that could have EASILY gone 10 seasons with America’s obsession (me included) with America’s #1 sport – American Football. I don’t know if this on Hulu or Netflix, but go find this series and enjoy the fireworks. Great TV that was thrown off the bus WAAAAY too soon.
Space: Above and Beyond (Fox: 1995 – 1996)
Before Battlestar Galactica’s reboot, there was Space: Above and Beyond. This was a gritty series about humanity defending itself from an invading alien race they called “Chigs”. This series was gritty, dark and many time – depressing. Basically it was everything you found in the Battlestar Galactica rebooted series. Thus, I’ve never given Ron Moore that much credit for the BSG series because I had basically seen it already 10 years prior – not that I didn’t LOVE BSG. For one season in the 90’s, they took science-fiction seriously on TV and this was a joy to watch. My mom (a bigger sci-fi nut than me) couldn’t watch the show because she said it just depressed her too much – but that was the beauty of the series. It truly made you feel for the cast, the stories and the fate of the human race. I wish this had gotten more love like BSG did, but back then there wasn’t a Syfy network and the Sci-Fi Network was still in it’s infancy. Either way, this one series any fan of BSG or sci-fi fan in general needs to find.
Again, this was not supposed to be a definitive list as there are TONS of shows that I left off like Freak and Geeks, Awake, Earth 2, etc. This was just a list that popped into my mind in between meetings. These are WORTH the effort to find on which ever portal you find TV shows.
Enjoy and EXCELSIOR!!!!