Let’s face it, in the past science fiction and fantasy television shows weren’t always great.  Many got to stick it out due to syndication.  Many more weren’t spared the axe of network executioners.  That doesn’t mean they weren’t good.  A few jumped the shark (lovely term) early but still managed to hold on for a while.  Fewer still were never given a good opportunity to work out the kinks.  Here are some shows that got far less credit than they deserved.

SeaQuest DSV – NBC (1993-1996)

SeaQuest had a lot going for it early on.  A great cast, great writing and a production team that had a pretty impressive pedigree.  Steven Speilberg and Rockne S. O’Bannon were part of the creative team so how could you go wrong?  When I watched the first episode I immediately thought Star Trek: The Next Generation underwater.  At that time, science fiction television was dominated by Star Trek.  It was THE show to watch for science fiction.  SeaQuest tried to separate itself from Trek by having stories that dealt with more down to earth ideas.  Eco-disasters and technology even though advanced, wasn’t too out of the realm of possibility.  There were even nifty little educational tidbits at the end of each episode.  It was good family entertainment that fit in well into a Sunday night primetime slot.

The cast became a major problem.  After season one, they did a shuffle of characters that left out some of the favorites from season one.  The addition of new characters was realistic due to the plot, but was frustrating to viewers.  Ratings dropped and in an effort to keep the show going, they did the crew shuffle again for season three and catapulted the story ten years into the future.  But the show had already jumped the shark in season two with the introduction of aliens and other more outlandish stories.  SeaQuest DSV then renamed to SeaQuest 2032 was cancelled in its third season.

Birds of Prey – WB (2002-2003)

One of the WB’s early attempts at a superhero series and probably one of the most disappointing.  The overall story was a great idea.  Gotham City after Batman has passed the torch to his and Catwoman’s daughter Helena.  She teams up with former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon and Black Canary’s daughter Dinah.  They receive occasional assistance from Bruce Wayne’s ever faithful butler Alfred against The Joker’s girlfriend Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

The show had promise but suffered early on from plot issues and bad ratings.  Even though the show was built on the Batman legacy, it was just too radical for hardcore fans to accept.  The show strayed far from its comic book counterpart and in the end only lasted one season.  The most disappointing of all was in the final scene of the season/series finale we get to see Alfred speak to Bruce Wayne on the telephone.  A possible teaser for what might have been.  Birds of Prey was was cancelled after only thirteen episodes.

V – ABC (2009-2011)

V suffered the fate of most television remakes but for different reasons.  Most weren’t as good as the originals and fans wouldn’t accept them.  But in the case of V, it far surpassed the original.  It was slow to get moving but once it did it was a hell of a ride.  Based on the 1980’s mini-series V and V- The Final Battle the new series tried to build on an already flawed concept.  Originally developed by Kenneth Johnson, the mini series also had a run as a regular series that didn’t make it long.

One of the main problems with V was that it had been done before with limited success.  Once the two mini series were over, fans just weren’t as interested and the series suffered from serious story problems.  Even though the remake was far better written and conceptualized, it moved too slow.  The reason was trying to stretch the original concept farther to keep the series fresh.  V was slow to take off in the beginning but after the mid-point of the first season the stories got increasingly better.

Special effects sometimes looked cheesy and there were many holes in the plot that made viewers scratch their heads.  In this rare case the remake was vastly superior to the original.  In the end the series worked for a while but people just didn’t get it and ratings weren’t there.  The season two finale turned out to be the series finale and the show was cancelled during the off season after twenty-two episodes.

Kindred: The Embraced – WB (1996)

Several  years before vampires became cool and their coffins weren’t lined with gold, the WB network tried its hand at a vampire soap opera.  Based on the popular role playing game Vampire – The Masquerade this series was a grand gesture at a time when people just weren’t into vampires yet.  The show was more like Melrose Place than Dark Shadows but still seemed to work on a level people weren’t ready for.

The show was surprisingly well written and featured a cast of relative unknowns.  The overall plot was a bit complex due to the introduction of different vamp clans and gangs.  It was harder to figure out what clan someone belonged to than anything else.  Perhaps it paved the way for other shows like it that would soon follow like Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Great idea, great writing, great cast, just done at the wrong time.  Kindred: The Embraced was cancelled after only eight episodes.

Threshold – CBS (2005-2006)

The best alien conspiracy/invasion series since The X-Files.  Centered around a specific event instead of a series of random encounters, Threshold followed a team of government agents and scientists trying to find clues to an alien invasion of Earth.

One of Threshold’s major problems was the writing was too good.  The stories were complex and hard to follow at times.  That general confusion is what led to it’s downfall.  The writing was top notch with an even better cast.  Carla Gugino, Brent Spiner, Peter Dinklage and Charles S. Dutton, what more could you ask for?  With very little character development, an overly cerebral plot and a bad time slot, Threshold was its own worst enemy.  Had it been given a chance to work out the flaws, this series could have been one to remember.  Sadly it was cancelled after thirteen episodes.

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