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Kromm

Shows That: Died Before Their Time, Never Got A Fair Shot, Or Were Ahead Of Their Time

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I've mashed these three together, because I think they all lead to the same place--shows that COULD have been brilliant successes under other circumstances.  If only people had watched. Whether a network's screwups or impatience did it.  Or the audience wasn't ready for the show.  Or whatever.

 

IMPORTANT: I differentiate this from the Shows That Never Lived Up to Their Potential topic, because I see that topic as about shows that failed to live up to their premise.  Ones that could have been brilliant if they'd simply been done better.  Whereas THIS topic is about shows that didn't fail in their execution, but for some reason didn't catch the viewers they needed to stay on the air and so died young.

 

To start, I submit the name "Wonderfalls".

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Wonderfalls is a perfect example. Fun and quirky but just couldn't get enough people to watch it. Fox has a bad track record for cutting the cord prematurely.

 

I'd also submit Firefly and Kings.

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Journeyman was mentioned in "Shows That Never Lived Up to Their Potential", but IMO fits better here.  I liked it until the end, all 13 episodes, and saw great continuing potential in it. But bam.  Then it was gone.

 

Similar to Wonderfalls in how damn good it was and how sad it was that people didn't get it was Pushing Daisies.  In another better universe, or a time yet to come, these should have stayed around for years and years and years.  

 

I'm about 80% on-board with No Ordinary Family being on this list.  it had a few problems, but it had far more opportunities that even at the end outweighed those.  

 

The King of a topic like this is probably the UPN uber-cult-classic Nowhere Man.  Well, okay Star Trek the original series is the ultimate King, but I think we almost can't count a show that had such a resurgence later on in other forms.

Edited by Kromm
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Seconding @DittyDotDot with Firefly.  It's the quintessential example.

 

Freakylinks would be another example of Fox pulling the plug before the show had a decent shot. 

 

Roar, set in Ireland around 400AD and starring a young Heath Ledger.  Another Fox failure.

 

Brimstone.  John Glover as the Devil.  Dammit, Fox.

 

Alien Nation (the series), which only got one season, but ended up with enough of a following that it managed five movies.  Hmmm... Fox?

 

Reaper - Ray Wise as the Devil.  (And okay, this one was CW.)

 

I'd also say Jericho, because even though the peanut campaign resulted in seven or so episodes of a second season, the show struggled to get the audience it deserved.  (CBS this time.)

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Poor Bryan Fuller, he always struggles to find an audience, but has such brilliance. Pushing Daisies is still one of my all-time favorite shows. At least we'll get another season of Hannibal...still having a hard time finding an audience, though.

 

I remember Nowhere Man...I actually lived in Portland around the time they were filming that one. Of course, I had an actual life back then and didn't watch much of it, but from what I remember it was intriguing.

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I remember Nowhere Man...I actually lived in Portland around the time they were filming that one.

 

 

I used to be there part-time (visiting family) when that show was being filmed (mostly hanging out at Powell's). I used to watch for Bruce Greenwood, but never got lucky enough to see him.  I was there when Leverage was being filmed, too, but never spotted Timothy Hutton - though I would have given a limb to.

 

More cancelled too soon:

 

Joan of Arcadia. Great show, cancelled after only two seasons.

 

 Kyle XY,  which got three half-seasons but was a great show.

 

And while I'm possibly the only person who liked it, I really think Ravenswood should have been given more time to find an audience apart from the Pretty Little Liars fans, since the shows didn't really appeal to the same fanbase.  The show deserved a chance for Meg Foster alone, who was great in it.

Edited by ElleryAnne
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I definetly agree with Kyle xy : it was a great family show, that always held my attention and seemed to have a lot of fans. I still don't understand why it was canceled.

 

the 4400 : This show did loose some fiting at points particually in its 3rd season, but overall it was a great show. That didn't have a change to rap up because its unexpected hyatus cancelation.

 

Dead like me : While this show ends beatifully it could have gone on for a few more seasons.

Edited by blueray
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I used to be there part-time (visiting family) when that show was being filmed (mostly hanging out at Powell's). I used to watch for Bruce Greenwood, but never got lucky enough to see him.  I was there when Leverage was being filmed, too, but never spotted Timothy Hutton - though I would have given a limb to.

 

You're starting to creep me out @ElleryAnne...are or were you stalking me? Aside from me hanging out at Powell's, I also worked for a business that they filmed a small bit of an episode in. I didn't actually work at the store they were filming at and didn't even know they were filming there at the time. But I remember watching the episode later and going "hey, that's one of our stores." 

 

Anyway, back on topic...I would also like to submit Family Tree and Unscripted. I wouldn't have minded another season of either of those shows.

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I remember Nowhere Man...I actually lived in Portland around the time they were filming that one. Of course, I had an actual life back then and didn't watch much of it, but from what I remember it was intriguing.

It was brilliant.  It was the only true successor to The Prisoner I've ever seen (because it didn't try and copy it in the least).  It was kind of like.. take the basic paranoia of The Prisoner, take out the campy stuff (which wasn't bad mind you, just impossible to accurately copy), then add in the "lonely traveler on the road" aspects of The Fugitive/The Incredible Hulk/Highway To Heaven. I'd say you could even recognize elements of shows like The Pretender and Prison Break, except they actually all came after this show (so the influence, if any, went the other way).

 

It was dark and paranoid and not in the least like the REST of what was a totally shabby network at the time.  

Edited by Kromm

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Back to Fox again with Space: Above and Beyond.  Bad starting timeslot after Sunday football, some other schedule shuffling, and back to Fox again.

Edited by WhoAmIWorkingFor
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 Anyway, back on topic...I would also like to submit Family Tree and Unscripted. I wouldn't have minded another season of either of those shows.

I never would have thought of Family Tree for this topic, but I admit now that you've mentioned it that it fits (for me at least).  Assuming you mean the recent Chris O'Dowd/Christoper Guest project and not the early 90s show with Anne Archer (which I only remember existing and nothing specific about).

 

BTW: Three others mentioned in some of these posts, Joan of ArcadiaSpace: Above and Beyond and Jericho are all on my list BIGTIME.  JoA was just getting to its potential when it was killed.  SAaB was almost limitless in how good it COULD have been if they'd stuck with it. Jericho has some hickups near the end, but its always been my opinion that the half-hearted (7 episode) lease on life it got from the Nuts campaign (rather than a real strong renewal commitment) helped cause that failure.  

Edited by Kromm
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You're starting to creep me out @ElleryAnne...are or were you stalking me? Aside from me hanging out at Powell's, I also worked for a business that they filmed a small bit of an episode in. I didn't actually work at the store they were filming at and didn't even know they were filming there at the time. But I remember watching the episode later and going "hey, that's one of our stores."

 

LOL.  Not unless you're my cousin and went to Wilson High in the late '90's.  In which case, maybe.  

 

 

I definetly agree with Kyle xy : it was a great family show, that always held my attention and seemed to have a lot of fans. I still don't understand why it was canceled.

 

 

I was so sad when it was cancelled.  ABC Family kept practically every other show for years and years, but cancelled Kyle XY way too soon.   Matt Dallas and Marguerite MacIntyre had the best mom/son chemistry I've ever seen on a show, and the rest of the characters and relationships were terrifically done as well.  Of all the shows I think were cancelled too soon, this is the one I most would have wished to keep on the air.

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Definitely meant the recent Family Tree with Chris O'Dowd (was unaware there was another one.) I think it fits only because I believe it struggled to find an audience. I think it was really rather brilliant and charming in it's own unusual and quirky way. Admittedly though, I do like a good underdog.

 

ETA: Sorry @ElleryAnne, I did grow up in Oregon, but not Portland and never attended Wilson High, plus I'm thinking I might be a bit older than your cousin. ;)

Edited by DittyDotDot
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Freaks and Geeks has to be definitive on this list too, I bet.  It so worked (creatively) doing what so many other shows failed trying, before or since--or succeeded at only briefly--I'm looking at YOU, Glee

 

Then again, to be fair, Glee was good about as long as F&G was around (1 year).  So I suppose it's at least possible it could have sunk as low eventually (nah... Ryan Murphy is the only one who can sink a good idea that totally).


Poor Bryan Fuller, he always struggles to find an audience, but has such brilliance. Pushing Daisies is still one of my all-time favorite shows. At least we'll get another season of Hannibal...still having a hard time finding an audience, though.

Speaking of Daises and Fuller, I'd also mention the other TV work of his partner on that, Barry Sonnenfeld.  It wasn't fully realized, so it might fit into the "Shows That Never Lived Up to Their Potential" topic as much or more than here, but I'd ALMOST put his reboot of Fantasy Island on this rare list we're building.  I enjoyed the hell out of it when it was on, and the flaws were all ones that could have been worked out if it had a longer run (all it had was 13 episodes).  It was like the Dark Weird Cousin of the original show.  No Little People ringing bells, admittedly, but Sonnefeld got that the potential of the premise was Fucked Up Shit and ran with it.

Edited by Kromm
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Undeclared? I think they ran 13 episodes, but the cast is a modern day who's who of comedy actors. 

 

I'd add Party Down, but I don't think it was intended to be long running. That Steve Guttenberg episode is a comedy clinic.

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Two shows that I think were cancelled too soon that were never going to be great emmy caliber shows but were really fun to watch were The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Fastlane.

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Better Off Ted. One of my favorite comedy series of all time got only two seasons of 13 episodes each. I still miss Ted, Veronica, Phil and Lem. I still love to rewatch it once or twice per year.

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I loved The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. My sister--who is a bit of a western nut--and I spent many an hour laughing our butts off watching that one.

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Gross Pointe. Such a hilarious satire of the teen drama genre. I do understand its failure to catch on, though. One really had to "get" how the backstage tv machine ran and if you didn't, a lot of the jokes could go over your head.

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Briscoe County is the reason I give Carlton Cuse a pass on Lost while Damon Lindelof is dead to me.

 

I submit due South. It was ahead of its time in mixing comedy with drama.

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I'd also say Jericho, because even though the peanut campaign resulted in seven or so episodes of a second season, the show struggled to get the audience it deserved.  (CBS this time.)

The problem in part wasn't the audience attention--in spite of coming across as a post apocalyptic soap opera, it was still the highest rated new drama for 2005. But TIIC at CBS decided to not air reruns at ALL and instead host old episodes entirely online. Again, I point out this was nine years ago when a good number of people were still on dialup and this new site called Youtube had less than a million videos. That more than anything else led to a huge drop off in ratings.

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I have a list. I loved the US version of Life on Mars with Jason O'Mara. I loved The Unusuals a quirky cop show starring Jeremy Renner and Amber Tamblyn. Breaking In was a cross between the Office and Leverage with great 80's references until Fox decided to change the cast and it wasn't as good then they canceled it.

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Now sure how long Brisco County, Jr. could have survived.   The actors themselves said it was the hardest show they had ever worked on.   They loved it, but it was physically and mentally demanding.   Burnout would have happened no matter how much they wanted to continue.

 

Vegas last year.   Oh my.   Dennis Quaid, Jason O'Mara and that young cutie that played Quaid's son.   Compelling storylines about Old Las Vegas and the mob.   Had so so much potential.   And TPTB after greenlighting it to series killed it off practically before it aired.   Don't greenlight something that change your mind.   Either promote a show or don't produce it in the first place.

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Seconding Vegas. It would've made an excellent block with CSI, showing LV then and now. I'm not sure where they were going to go but I was willing to watch. Quaid was getting on my nerves a bit, though.

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My answers to this will always be Don't Trust the B---- In Apt. 23 on ABC and Ben & Kate on Fox.  Both those shows were not only hilarious, but so brilliantly written and cast.  I shall mourn them all the rest of my days.

 

And as a Lucy Liu fan, I have to show some love for Dirty Sexy Money (I shipped the heck out of Jeremy & Nola) and Cashmere Mafia.  They both had some soapy goodness and ended too soon for me.

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Better Off Ted would have been a *perfect* fit for netflix if that was available at the time. 

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Does anyone else remember Frank's Place?  This show goes back a long way; I only saw it during a brief rerun stint on some cable network that I don't even remember, and then only because I was told about it.  I think it originally ran on CBS in the 1980's.  I own a very bad version that was copied to DVD from a VHS tape. I still watch it from time to time, fuzzy quality and all.  Delightfully quirky ensemble show that I guess just never found an audience, but 22 wonderful episodes.

 

I wish it had been given the chance that NBC gave Cheers; not many people realize the dismal ratings Cheers had it's first season.

 

Agree with Better Off Ted.  Fun show.  Loved Veronica, Phil and Lem.

 

ETA because how could I forget to mention Sports Night? *smacks self*  How I would have loved five or six seasons of Dan Rydell and Casey McCall.  This show probably owns the thread title for me.

Edited by amaranta
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Back to Fox again with Space: Above and Beyond.  Bad starting timeslot after Sunday football, some other schedule shuffling, and back to Fox again.

I really liked Space too but I am really not sure how well it could have done. I mean it was a pretty high concept show (World War 2 being retold in space). Plus I think somewhere I read that it was one of the more expensive to produce tv series of its day (those CG effects were cutting edge at the time). And this was at a time when Fox was still kind of thought of as a second rate network.

 

For something completely unrelated my wife and I have been working our way through Happy Endings on Netflix. Never watched it when it was on and it is kind of disappointing to know that when we finish season 3 that will be it. Of those dating people in a big city shows it is probably one of the funnier ones I have seen in a long time. 

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Once upon a time, way back in 1996, there was a wee little show called Profit, which was created by David Greenwalt and lasted for all of eight episodes, only three of which actually aired. (Damn you, Fux!) It was deemed "too dark" to catch on and was quickly cancelled, even though Adrian Pasdar was Don Draper way before Jon Hamm ever even thought of being Don Draper. And the firm the program was centered around, Gracen & Gracen, was the precursor from Wolfram & Hart fro Angel.

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My So-Called Life.  ABC waited a year to pick up the pilot, then aired it after other shows had started their seasons, so most people had already gotten into a routine with another network's show in that timeslot.  Then it was aired in fits and starts, again cutting into the general audience's ability/willingness to keep with it (and it wasn't a show that could be effectively watched sporadically given the number of ongoing storylines).  Finally, after leaving everyone hanging as to its future, ABC offered to pick up a second season four episodes at a time ... right around the time Claire Danes came to the producers and said she didn't want to do the show anymore even if it was picked up. 

 

Brilliant, but doomed.

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Definitely in the 'Ahead of its Time' category was Profit. Pre-Sopranos, America was not ready for a psychopath as protagonist.  But this show was awesome, and should have made Adrian Pasdar more than Mr. Natalie Maines. 

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I have a list. I loved the US version of Life on Mars with Jason O'mara. I loved the Unusuals a quirky cop show starring Jeremy Renner and Amber Tamblny

I can easily agree on The Unusuals.  Not so readily though with US-LoM. 

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Kings.  Oh yes.  An expensive, lavish, massively serialized project that--in spite of Ian McShane, Susanna Thompson, Sebastian Stan, and a fairly graceful buildup to a wonderful finale and setup for a second season--may literally have been the best show nobody watched.  (OMFG, the epic low ratings!).

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Ok, I've found my people here...

 

The Unusuals, Carnivale, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Kings, Dead Like Me... I'll add to that list The Chicago Code, US version of Touching Evil, Kidnapped, and The Hour (UK show).

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Breakout Kings. I never understood why A&E pulled the plug on it. They're not usually that discerning.

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Ahh, Carnivale. Another brilliant show that was just building up to something and poof, it's pulled.  I do understand why it had a hard time finding an audience--it was all kinds of messed up at times--but damn did I love it!

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I was the one who mentioned Journeyman in the other thread but yeah, I wish I could have seen an ending to that other than just about epic love.

I also found Eli Stone cute if just for JLM and Victor Garber singing and dancing.

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Keen Eddie. Typical FOX, bouncing it to summer and then cancelling it in 7 episodes for low ratings. At least the DVDs got released. I rewatched recently and was surprised at the stuff the censors let slip past. But it was hysterical.

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Hmm, while ABC shows up a lot, it's amazing what a leader FOX is in this topic.

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Doesn't ABC stand for Already Been Cancelled? Agree that Fox has given ABC a run for its money in the cancelling (albeit too soon in some cases) dept. 

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Kings.  Oh yes.  An expensive, lavish, massively serialized project that--in spite of Ian McShane, Susanna Thompson, Sebastian Stan, and a fairly graceful buildup to a wonderful finale and setup for a second season--may literally have been the best show nobody watched.  (OMFG, the epic low ratings!).

It was like a double whammy for expensive shows. I mean every scene was either like some gala event, in a fancy real world location with 100's of extras all in fancy clothes, or it was an action scene with tank battles and explosions and that sort of thing. 

 

As far as ratings go, I remember one of the Saturday episodes set a record for lowest rating of a first run episode for a prime time show on a major network in the history of television.

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Breakout Kings was a good show period. I don't remember if it was the timeslot or the season, but they didn't get a ton of ratings. 

 

There was an article many years ago about Fox and how schitzo it is. The gist was: Fox is the only network to greenlight these weird shows that are pretty good, but they also ax them so fast if they aren't gangbusters out of the gate. And, they also meddle way to fucking much. 

 

Breaking In and Human Target are two classic examples of this. Thankfully, there are enough options nowadays that you can pitch your show to shitload of other places. 

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I really liked Space too but I am really not sure how well it could have done. I mean it was a pretty high concept show (World War 2 being retold in space). Plus I think somewhere I read that it was one of the more expensive to produce tv series of its day (those CG effects were cutting edge at the time). And this was at a time when Fox was still kind of thought of as a second rate network.

Slightly ahead of its time too.  It did tap into some of the conspiratorial weirdness that The X-Files also fed off in the '90s, but that whole mood plus the gritty war stuff didn't really take off until, well, several years later.

 

I can't source 20-year-old listserv gossip at all, (holy crap I feel old now) but I recall reading that while Morgan and Wong wanted more of a straight WWII show, Fox wanted sci-fi, so it ended up as the occasionally-flaky hybrid that it turned out to be.  Once again, though, a straight-up WWII show in the mid-'90s wouldn't have made it either.

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Along with Firefly, I would have liked another chance for The Dresden Files. It was perfect but it wasn't bad.

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Carnivàle - I loved this show so much. The setting, the gothic/supernatural elements, the characters, the acting, the cinematography, the music by Jeff Beal. Unfortunately, it didn't have the ratings and was too expensive for HBO to bring it back for a third year. I think back then they only counted overnight ratings. I think if it had premiered along with Game of Thrones or at least after True Blood became successful, it probably would have been a hit series for them. It frustrates me that this little gem has faded into oblivion, HBO doesn't even list it on its website anymore and treats it as if it had never existed, while the fanbase has dissolved as well.

 

I used to love the hell out of that show. Also from HBO: Rome had it's second season rushed into a series finale, which sucked something fierce, because it was really good stuff that needed proper room to breathe. But the one that will haunt me forever is the cancelling of Deadwood. Best. Show. Ever.

 

I also think Being Human (syfy) was shut down too soon.

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Still bummed about Breakout Kings.  It was just a fun show, and I liked the entire cast and characters, which is rare for me.  I do think the it lost some viewership in it's second season though, so that's what caused it to go.  I think it was just the time-slot.  It was on Sunday nights, which is just rough.  I know it was competing against Mad Men, and maybe Game of Thrones too.

 

Another one that still stings was Legend of the Seeker.  Yes, it was a syndicated, fantasy show, but after a few rough episodes early on, it actually became kind of awesome.  Probably one of the few times I ever gave a damn about the big couple (Richard/Kahlan), fun villains (oh, Darken Rahl), eye-candy for everyone (consistent shirtless Richard and Kahlan's badass leather outfit) and it had not one, but two, of my favorite women character's on TV: Kahlan and Cara.  And their bond and friendship ended up being amazing and one of the best things about the show.  Sadly, it was canceled after the second season, and from what I remember, it was mainly out of their hands.  The ratings were good and the fanbase was decent, but the studio that funded it went bankrupt, and they couldn't find another backer.  Bummer.

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Reaper - Ray Wise as the Devil.  (And okay, this one was CW.)

Oh, Reaper. Guys, now I'm sad. Are any of you watching Deadbeat? It's not nearly as good but I enjoy it. Tyler stars and Ray Wise shows up in an episode or two as the mayor. 

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Oh, Reaper. Guys, now I'm sad. Are any of you watching Deadbeat? It's not nearly as good but I enjoy it. Tyler stars and Ray Wise shows up in an episode or two as the mayor. 

Holy crap.  That's the one with Cat Deeley?  I haven't seen it.  But maybe I'll look.  I'd seen a news item on it but forgotten it existed.  And it's Hulu.  Which I browse a lot, but still didn't see it (and a lot of people never look at Hulu at all).  Do we even have a forum here for the show? {looks}  Apparently not. 

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