As FX's ''Terriers'' gets the boot, Ken Tucker remembers great shows from the past 20 years gone too soon -- but not forgotten by loyal fans.
Terriers (FX, 2010)
Two hapless private eyes played by Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James provided a fresh take on the California detective story, with the help of show creator Ted Griffin (Ocean's Eleven). Terriers often told shaggy-dog stories — plots meandered deceptively, only to be solved with abrupt cleverness — and both men's love lives were entertaining messes. It's too bad FX chose to cancel this after its first season was just revving up with more purpose and energy.
Freaks and Geeks (NBC, 1999-2000)
Arguably the most influential sitcom that barely lived, F&G was a smart disaffected-teen dramedy that gave us Seth Rogen, James Franco, Busy Philipps, Jason Segel, and more. Oh, and exec producer Judd Apatow went on to make a few movies, too.
Firefly (Fox, 2002)
Joss Whedon's grand folly: a Howard Hawks Western crossed with a George Lucas space opera. Filled with vivid characters led by Nathan Fillion's hotshot captain, Firefly applied a Buffy irony to shoot-outs and intergalactic action-adventure. The mass audience Firefly needed to survive didn't ''get'' the show, but the cult fans did, latching onto it immediately.
Robbery Homicide Division (CBS, 2002)
Only the most daring network cop show of the decade. This Michael Mann-produced stunner featured a terrific, pre–Celebrity Rehab Tom Sizemore leading cops through L.A. crime scenes. The show was bursting with terse, hard-boiled dialogue and visuals that glowed with eloquent menace.
Comeback (HBO, 2005)
Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King cashed in their Friends and Sex and the City chips to create this brilliantly squirmy yet laugh-out-loud series about a faded sitcom star (Kudrow) whose try for one more hit show is documented by a reality TV crew. As Valerie Cherish, Kudrow was at once hilarious and heartbreaking. Thank goodness you can now check out repeats on the Sundance Channel.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (Fox, 1993–94)
Burn Notice's Bruce Campbell, at that point known primarily for the Evil Dead movies, starred in a witty combination Western/sci-fi/steampunk drama. For all its old-fashioned action and laughs, the series was also ahead of its time; co-creator Carlton Cuse later helped run a little show called Lost.
Undeclared (Fox, 2001-02)
Judd Apatow's half-hour sitcom follow-up to Freaks and Geeks moved the setting from high school to college, with a cast that included Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, and singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. The show was packed with cameos from folks who later became famous: Jenna Fischer, Amy Poehler, Tom Welling, and Felicia Day, as well as guests Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler.
Relativity (ABC, 1996-97)
Produced by the guys who brought you thirtysomething and My So-Called Life and created by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights), this witty light-comedy romance starred Kimberley Williams and David Conrad. The series followed the pair as they fell in love and showed how their romance affected their friends and family (including House's Lisa Edelstein).
Rubicon (AMC, 2010)
A knotty conspiracy thriller starring James Badge Dale (The Pacific) as a government-agency data analyst. Medium's Arliss Howard was his boss. The show developed an interesting workplace family of dysfunctional analysts sifting through documents and Internet sites for possible terrorist plots. To the disappointment of its growing cult following, Rubicon was canceled by AMC after its 13-episode first season.
Jack & Bobby (The WB, 2004-05)
This intelligent drama starred Matt Long (the brash copywriter in this season's Mad Men) as Jack and Logan Lerman as Bobby, brothers who are destined for political careers, but who in the show are presented primarily as complicated teens. The show implied that these boys might be the Kennedy brothers without ever tipping its hand. The supporting cast included Bradley Cooper, Christine Lahti, and Mad Men's John Slattery, and was co-created by Greg Berlanti (No Ordinary Family) and bestselling novelist Brad Meltzer.
Profit (Fox, 1996)
Before he was in Heroes, Adrian Pasdar starred as Jim Profit, the creepily fascinating anti-hero of this brilliant satire of the business world. Ruthless and amoral, Profit rose rapidly in the ranks, leaving behind burned bosses and the broken hearts of female co-workers. Then each night, he went home, stripped naked, and climbed into a big cardboard box with a hole cut into the side to watch his TV. (He reverted to the perverted way he was raised.) Is it any wonder this became a cult classic? Is it any wonder it was canceled after only five of its nine episodes aired?
What are your favorites that were canceled way too damn early, ONTD?