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Old 11-22-2021, 06:31 PM   #1
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TV TV Line: "The Best 2 Season Shows"

(NBC, 2012-13)

This fever dream of a musical drama may have flirted with a few nonsensical storylines (sabotage by poisoned smoothie!), but the toe-tapping, show-stopping numbers — written by the minds behind some of Broadway’s biggest shows, including Hairspray and Dear Evan Hansen — kept us coming back every week, even when NBC banished the doomed drama to Saturdays.

The Carrie Diaries
(The CW, 2013-14)

Sure, Sex and the City is the far more widely recognized Carrie Bradshaw series, but The CW’s high school-set prequel starred the charming AnnaSophia Robb as a far more likable version of the future writer.

Add in a killer ’80s soundtrack and a solid supporting cast (featuring Freema Agyeman, Matt Letscher, and Lindsey Gort as a young Samantha!), and you’ve got a truly delightful binge-watch that deserved a longer TV life.

Wonder Showzen
(MTV2, 2005-06)

Comedy doesn’t get any blacker than this children’s show parody that satirizes politics, religion, sex and other controversial subjects.

The absolutely-NOT-for-kids sketch series was almost too perverse, making spectacles out of the Bible, the Constitution, the American flag and more — which were smart and subversive, yes, but also borderline sacrilegious.

This one was not for the faint of heart.

The Mick
(Fox, 2017-18)

Sure, it could be argued that The Mick star Kaitlin Olson was only playing a slightly altered version of her character from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but is that really such a bad thing?

This underrated comedy about a hot mess forced to raise her M.I.A. sister’s kids was an absolute gem. And besides being consistently, gut-bustingly funny, the show’s most impressive feat was that it featured child actors we actually enjoyed watching — a rarity on television, if we’re being honest.

Midnight, Texas
(NBC, 2017-18)

The supernatural drama based on Charlaine Harris’ novels had a compelling ensemble, a scorching slow-burn love story and a charmingly anything-goes air. (Werewolf tigers! Really!)

Unfortunately, it also had cheap-looking special effects, time slot troubles and abysmal ratings, which led NBC to put a stake through its heart after Season 2.

For Life
(ABC, 2020-21)

Inspired by the life of Isaac Wright Jr., this fictional legal drama about an imprisoned man (Nicholas Pinnock) who becomes a lawyer, litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, pulled no punches in telling its quite-serious tale.

Thankfully, Season 2 nicely tied up the overarching storyline, leaving viewers with some closure (though of course wishing for more).

Single Parents
(ABC, 2018-20)

With its quirky warmth, ensemble chemistry and endless string of one-liners, Single Parents was the kind of cozy comedy we could have watched for years.

But ABC dashed our hopes of doing so, then salted that wound by cancelling the series juuust when Taran Killam’s Will and Leighton Meester’s Angie were finally confronting their romantic feelings for each other.

Witches of East End
(Lifetime, 2013-14)

We know it isn’t healthy to hold grudges, but we’ll never forgive Lifetime for axing this guilt-free pleasure about the all-powerful Beauchamp family of witches.

Magical escapades? Check. Satisfying romances? Big check. A stellar cast of female forces that included Julia Ormond, Madchen Amick, Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan? Don’t even get us started.

(HBO, 2015-16)

The Duplass brothers’ dramedy — about an L.A.-based couple (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey) attempting to salvage their marriage as the husband’s best friend (Steve Zissis) and the wife’s wild-child sister (Amanda Peet) move in — was too low-key to garner much attention, as great as it was.

But Peet previously told TVLine that the role of the free-spirited Tina was the greatest part she ever had.

(NBC, 2016-18)

Two seasons-and-a movie (and barely that!) is all that #Clockblockers would get of this timey-wimey thriller, in which three heroes of varying likeliness (played by Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter and Malcolm Barrett) travel in a time ship to keep the mysterious Rittenhouse organization from tinkering with history.

The aforementioned “Christmas movie,” which arrived seven months after the show’s second cancellation, delivered some nice closure (and a heart-tugging flash-forward), but loyal fans would gladly have made time for more seasons/episodes.

(ABC, 2015-16)

Created by Dan Fogelman (The Neighbors, This Is Us), co-starring Timothy Omundson as an irrepresible king, and with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the musical adventure saga was the Friends trifle of mid-2010s programming.

When the titular knight’s tale came to a decent end after 18 total episodes, we had to wonder why ABC burned through the series at a rate of two episodes per week.

Eli Stone
(ABC, 2008-09)

Before musical dramas and shows about a higher calling were all the rage, Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim brought us this delightful dramedy starring Jonny Lee Miller as a lawyer who has musical hallucinations (sometimes featuring George Michael tunes — with George Michael in the flesh!).

Did we mention it also had musical numbers performed by Victor Garber and Loretta Devine?

(Fox, 2009-10)

Come for the intelligent sci-fi, stay for Enver Gjokaj and Dichen Lachman’s performances. Heaps of standalone episodes distracted from the underlying (and far more interesting) mythology; plus, a main character whose memory is repeatedly wiped is both a tricky sell and a sloooow burn.

That said, those who stuck around until the end certainly earned a rewarding payoff.

Lodge 49
(AMC, 2018-19)

Yeah, in retrospect, this excessively quirky dramedy — starring Wyatt Russell as an aimless ex-surfer who finds a new lease on life at his local fraternal lodge — was probably too weird to live.

So we’re thankful we even got two seasons out of it, especially for Russell’s charmingly laid-back lead performance.

(WGN America, 2016-17)

Boasting a dynamite cast (including Aldis Hodge, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Alano Miller and Amirah Vann), Season 1 of this pre-Civil War drama played out like an episode of Prison Break.

Season 2, having introduced the legendary Harriet Tubman, then dove deeper into the difficult material and explored the fine points of the Underground Railroad. But when WGN America opted to get out of the originals game, Noah and Rosalee’s journey ended.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
(Fox, 2008-09)

We’d pay good money for a third season of this short-lived drama, especially after that “OMG!” Season 2 finale cliffhanger, which found Thomas Dekker’s John Connor transported to the post-apocalyptic future, where he met his father Kyle Reese (Jonathan Jackson) and the human version of Summer Glau’s character.

(Comedy Central, 2017-18)

This was one of those quirky comedy gems that just fell through the cracks for some reason — but if you like Sam Richardson on Veep or Tim Robinson on I Think You Should Leave, you’d love them together as goofy best friends who work in advertising, cooking up dumb jingles for local businesses in the Motor City.

These two formed a world-class comedy duo, and the show’s oddball sense of humor fit them perfectly. Too bad they couldn’t sell Comedy Central on a third season.

Men of a Certain Age
(TNT, 2009-11)

Most people didn’t realize Ray Romano had serious dramatic chops until they saw him on NBC’s Parenthood, but that’s only because they missed out on this terrific TNT dramedy on which he starred opposite Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula.

The show took home a Peabody Award in 2010, and even earned Braugher a pair of Emmy nominations, but that didn’t stop the cabler from pulling it just days after its second season came to an end.

(HBO, 2003-05)

A supernatural drama about a traveling band of carnival freaks set during the Great Depression was admittedly a hard sell, but it actually made for quite gorgeous and compelling TV, and even set a record for HBO’s most watched debut.

Ratings fell sharply in Season 2, however, and a planned six-season run fell short by, oh, just four seasons.

Great News
(NBC, 2017-18)

This workplace comedy, with Briga Heelan starring as a TV news producer whose nosy mom lands a job alongside her, was a loopy delight, with snappy dialogue reminiscent of 30 Rock (Tina Fey was an executive producer) and an excellent supporting cast highlighted by John Michael Higgins’ oblivious anchor Chuck Pierce.

Even a guest arc from Fey in Season 2 couldn’t bolster its ratings, though, and it joined the list of dearly departed shows that signed off too soon.

Marvel's Agent Carter
(ABC, 2015-16)

What at the time was TV’s most MCU-adjacent live-action Marvel series found Hayley Atwell reprising her Captain America role, with Peggy fighting to prove herself at the pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) while also abetting the industrious Howard Stark.

Season 2 moved the action from NYC to L.A., eventually leaving us with a cliffhanger — who shot [Spoiler] in order to steal an explosive file about Carter? — that, alas, will never be resolved.

Sports Night
(ABC, 1998-2000)

Looking back, it’s a little surprising that this talky peek behind the curtain at a SportsCenter-like highlight show lasted just a pair of seasons, considering the talent involved. Aaron Sorkin created the series, juggling its second season with The West Wing, and the cast was top-notch, including a great screwball-comedy pairing in Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman.

It also struck a tone between drama and comedy that was ahead of its time… maybe too far ahead, as low ratings led to an unceremonious axing.

Party Down
(Starz, 2009-10)

Are we having fun yet? We are, if we’re watching this impeccably cast, sharply cynical comedy about a loose-knit group of bored caterers working fancy L.A. parties.

In fact, the cast, including a pre-Parks and Rec Adam Scott and a pre-Glee Jane Lynch, was almost too good, with the departure of both of those actors contributing to an early demise.

(It was recently announced that Party Down is coming back for a new season, so this will be disqualified when that is released)

Better Off Ted
(ABC, 2009-10)

This workplace satire about the sinister Veridian Dynamics corporation proved too good for this world, only lasting 26 episodes before ABC pulled the plug.

S.W.A.T.‘s Jay Harrington portrayed the title character, the beloved head of a research-and-development team, and Arrested Development‘s Portia de Rossi played his cold and calculating supervisor Veronica — a role that proved every bit as good as Lindsay Bluth.

The Knick
(Cinemax, 2014-15)

If it had aired on HBO, this rapturously shot and nail-bitingly tense medical drama from Steven Soderbergh, starring Clive Owen as a prickly genius surgeon in New York City circa 1900, would have a shelf full of Emmys and might even still be running to this day.

But alas, it aired on Cinemax, where an executive tone shift doomed it to an early date with the mortician.

Twin Peaks
(ABC, 1990-91)

Cult classics don’t get much cult-ier than this certified oddball: a twisty murder-mystery that delivered some of the strangest, most surreal imagery ever aired on network TV. Season 1 was eerie perfection, but we had to ding it slightly for a disappointing sophomore run that doomed it to two-and-done status.

(For the record, we’re counting the recent Showtime revival as a miniseries sequel, not a proper third season.)

Flight of the Conchords
(HBO, 2007-09)

This silly, shaggy musical comedy about a pair of New Zealand folk musicians trying to make it in the Big Apple was packed with laughs — Rhys Darby was terrific as the boys’ eager manager Murray — along with memorable original tunes like the classic ode to scheduled sex, “Business Time.”

It only ended because the two stars decided it wasn’t fun anymore… which is such a Bret and Jemaine thing to do, isn’t it?

Pushing Daisies
(ABC, 2007-09)

A lot of shows on this list were doomed by ambitiously weird premises, and this might be the most ambitiously weird one of all. Lee Pace starred as Ned, a pie baker who’s able to bring back the dead with a single touch… but then he can’t touch them again, which becomes a problem when he reanimates his childhood sweetheart Chuck, played by Anna Friel. (They were social distancing before it was cool!)

The result was a cavalcade of surreal whimsy from Bryan Fuller, but the writers’ strike stunted its momentum, and tumbling ratings were the last, um, nail in the coffin.

The Comeback
(HBO, 2005, 2014)

We cherished every last moment we got to spend in the company of Valerie Cherish, the hopelessly self-deluded former sitcom star played by Lisa Kudrow in this wickedly funny showbiz satire.

Kudrow gave a career-best performance here — yeah, Friends fans, we said it — and the shots at Hollywood were savagely on target. It got axed after just one season, but then returned nearly a decade later for an even better sophomore run… and yes, we did want to see that.

(HBO, 2011-13)

We’re still upset that it got the pink slip after just 18 episodes, but Mike White and Laura Dern’s acid-tongued takedown of corporate America still stands as a remarkable achievement.

As annoyingly earnest corporate crusader Amy Jellicoe, Dern turns in one of the finest TV performances of the last decade, and it walked the tightrope between stinging satire and poignant human drama with astonishing precision.

Unfortunately, it was a formula for viewer indifference — the series never topped 300,000 total viewers per episode — but those who stuck with it know that two seasons of something this special are better than most shows’ entire runs.
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:45 AM   #2
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I miss Galavant. But Single Parent Losers will always be a horrible show, certainly doesn't deserve any best list. Brad Garrett chose a terrible starring vehicle here, screwed over TKAA was much better. Liz Meriwether is one of the worst creators ever, Bless This Garbage from the same season was also horrible.
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:48 AM   #3
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Better Off Ted is better off dead. I don't have anything against the show, but that joke writes itself. maybe would have a mild interest now being a Jay Harrington fan from S.W.A.T.
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Old 11-29-2021, 09:23 AM   #4
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Nice to see Smash get some recognition in that post. I thought it deserved at least another season myself.
I love me some Susanna Hoffs -

And many other very talented ladies too.
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