I’ve read a couple reviews of the new season of Arrested Development, and they often say the original show was “cancelled too soon” or mention “the all too-brief original run” and I wonder about people’s expectations with TV shows. Because Arrested Development ran for 3 seasons on Fox, a total of 53 episodes. That’s not insubstantial. That’s more than 19 hours of Arrested Development, more than the run-time of all the Marx Brothers movies combined. It told many complete stories and had a full arc, not ending with any substantial cliffhangers or unresolved issues that I recall. And while it hadn’t gotten bad yet, it was at the point where the balance between new jokes and calling back old jokes was tipping dangerously towards the latter. I always thought, even in the immediate wake of people claiming they’d boycott Fox for cancelling it, that Arrested Development had a very satisfying run.
When I think about shows I do think were cancelled too soon, I think of shows that have awkward rushed finales (Freaks & Geeks) or non-serialized comedies that were still getting better and better (Difficult People). But I honestly can’t think of many examples because for me, shows that were cancelled too late are far more prominent. I think about the flabby aimlessness of The Soprano’s last few years or about the slow death of the X-Files. The fantasy of a hundred hours of amazing content is tantalizing but the reality seems to me that most television has a sweet spot of about 3 seasons at best and the shows that can identify that and move on are the ones I remember fondest.
What are some shows that were cancelled too soon? What did you want from them that you didn’t get? When you commit to a TV show, what are your expectations?