With the 2014/2015 television season nearing a close, there are still many new shows on the cancellation chopping block. However, some of these series are more deserving of being canceled than others.
Whether it's half-baked pilots that grew into unique, original shows - or a struggle to find viewership in very competitive time-slots - there are a handful of innocent series waiting in the wings of television execution. So, before it’s too late, it's time to give a worthy hand to five shows completely deserving of a season 2 pick-up later next month, when show renewals are announced.
Fresh Off the Boat
It may be the only sitcom on the list, but that’s because it’s the one of the only great new sitcoms of this season that still hasn’t received a second season renewal from ABC - which is understandable, considering the network hasn't announced any official renewals yet (though it did seem like it sort of announced a pick-up for How to Get Away with Murder earlier this year). However, this particular lack of renewal simply won't do as Fresh Off the Boat has managed to turn itself into one of the best new shows of the season. The fictionalized story of Eddie Huang’s family has been full of great laughs and shocking honesty about the intoxicating-like nature of the “American dream.”
In addition, Fresh Off the Boat marks the first time in a while audiences have gotten a chance to live life through the eyes of a child protagonist in a series that didn't feel like it was simply ripping off Malcolm in the Middle. That alone gives it a fresh-prospective that’s been lacking on the small screen for the better part of a decade. Given all those reasons, and the fact that the ratings were "acceptable" for a sitcom in its time-slot, Fresh Off the Boat has more than enough potential to gain a second season renewal from the alphabet network.
When it came to mid-season in January 2015, many were quick to write-off Hart Hanson’s Backstrom as another House knock-off about a piece of crap main character with a God complex. However, upon further examination, it’s clear to see why that fact is simply untrue. Rather, upon deeper analysis, Backstrom reveals itself to be something much more than the average procedural while still also acting as an homage to '70s cop shows.
Part of House’s dynamic came from the idea of how far the character could corrupt the people around him through cynicism. Many of the show’s struggles grew from watching the supporting cast step over their personal lines of morality again and again and again because they were simply following the genius doctor who was operating unchecked at the hospital. The big question was always, “what’s this character’s breaking point? Where do they finally decide House’s behavior has grown too corrupting?” Ultimately, what one roots for in House is the character’s redemption not for himself, but for the sake of those around him. Backstrom, however, operates on the opposite end of the same scale.
In the Hart Hanson show, you root for the character's downfall. No matter how hard Everett tries, he simply can’t corrupt the incorruptible. He can’t force his colleagues, who operate at supremely high levels of joy, to change their by the book ways no matter how much he barks or threatens to bite. He may be a genius cop, but unlike Gregory House, Everett Backstrom does not work unchecked, and it’s that dynamic that plays to the series’ advantage in a big way. To argue the show doesn’t deserve a season 2 because it’s a "House knock-off" is to argue a position that couldn't be further from the truth.
State of Affairs
It had some growing pains in its freshman run that we can get into another time, but there are reasons to be supportive of a new season of NBC’s State of Affairs for the same reason many were supportive of an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. renewal last year. For starters, the first two episodes of the series are rather fantastic when it comes to the show’s case-of-the-week premise. Watching the C.I.A. team lead by Charleston Tucker struggle to decide what to put in the daily brief of nation security threats to present to the President of the United States is a story worth continuing in the show’s second season. There’s a lot of drama to be mined from such an idea. How does one decide between the worthiness of a kidnapped journalist about to be beheaded by a terrorist group in the Middle East - and the potential (but unconfirmed) political assassination of a foreign leader with U.S. ties? It’s not as easy as it may seem.
Secondly: Alfre Woodard. Put simply, you don’t cancel Alfre Woodard because she’s Alfre Woodard - who, by a wide margin, is the best part of State of Affairs’ first season. The story of President Payton’s conflict between trusting the instincts of her top analyst or her Chief of Staff is one that started gain a lot of traction toward the end of the season and could really go places come a potential season two. What State of Affairs offered in season one was a world bursting with potential, just as S.H.I.E.L.D. was. The reason to support a new season is not because of where it is now, but where it could be by this time next year.
The first few episodes of the CW’s latest from creator Rob Thomas (Party Down, Veronica Mars) were a bit unfocused, but having gone further with the show, it’s begun to present reasons to continue with it. Liv’s quirk, while at first a hindrance, has started to balance out with the rest of the world in a way that’s actually fun. For example: in one of the most recent episodes, the half-zombie ate the rotting, liquefied brains of a dead guy and suffered from what was essentially zombie food poisoning. Ultimately, it was actually pretty funny to watch the ways this affected her ability to do menial tasks like speak in clear sentences.
It’s not Veronica Mars (which some would argue is a good thing), but iZombie is a show that’s truly grown on its audience. The series has a decent case-of-the-week premise, and the growing conspiracy of a rising zombie population all over Seattle is certainly something that could truly be expanded on in some great ways come season two. Also, it’s a Warner Bros. produced show airing on the Warner Bros. co-owned CW, so there are reasons to be hopeful that this year won’t be the last we see of Liv and the gang.
Co-created by House’s David Shore and Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan (though only showrun by the former, and based on the ten year old spec of the latter), Battle Creek is a great series not getting enough love from the viewing public simply because it’s on CBS. Despite airing on television’s “prestige night” of Sunday evening, the ratings of the series have been a struggle – a struggle only made worse by the fact that Sony Pictures Television is the producing studio. That means CBS is only getting a fraction of the series’ potential overall profit, including money from international broadcasts and streaming deals in addition to first-run broadcast airings. But, there are narrative reasons why the series should keep going.
Battle Creek is just now starting to enter a place of serious character intrigue. The further we go down the rabbit hole of David Shore’s latest, the more compelling the battling (pun intended) relationship of Russ Agnew and Milt Chamberlain becomes. Just in the most recent episode we watched a large chunk of the ensemble supporting cast get fleshed out in very substantial ways - highlighting the nature of Agnew’s relationship to those in positions superior to his own. To cancel the series now would mean canceling a show that’s right at the cusp of its potential (and about to break out in some very substantial ways on the character front).
What new shows do you think deserve a second season? Let us know in the comments below.