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"Firefly" one of the shows that should have been

Sunday 29 January 2006, by Webmaster

In memory: the shows that should have been

Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today to remember the pretend people who have meant so much to us.

People we’ve gotten to know, learned to love, and then lost to a cruel twist of fate — and fickle TV network executives.

We’ll never forget these fake folk, and we take comfort in knowing that someday we’ll see them again — if only in a DVD boxed set.

Last week in this column, I wrote about television shows that had been prematurely yanked from devoted fans.

I listed a few that I’ve loved and lost — including dead-too-soon gems like "Once and Again" and "Miss Match" — and promised that if you told me your dearly departed favorites, we’d hold a mini-memorial this week.

Which, dearly beloved, is why we are here.

I heard back from a large number of people, all of whom are still in mourning.

And some have been mourning a long, long time — including Mike Ziegler, who wrote to tell me that he’s still not over the loss of "Coronet Blue," an amnesia/mystery show that aired in 1967.

Now that’s what I call devotion.

Like Mike, many of the people who responded said the passing of time had not lessened their desire to know what would have happened on their favorite shows had they been allowed to continue living.

Several titles were mentioned again and again.

Many people, for example, are still dreaming about "American Dreams," a drama that followed the lives of a Philadelphia family in the 1960s. It aired on NBC from 2002 to 2005.

Fan Emily Davis loved the show because of how accurately it portrayed the clothes, hairstyles and attitudes of the 1960s — and by how well it addressed that era’s social upheaval.

"Perhaps the name of the show was the problem," she said. "People didn’t know what it was about from the name. Maybe if it had been named ’That ’60s Show,’ it would still be on."

Several people also were still upset about the cancellation of "Firefly," a short-lived Fox series by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon.

The 2002 sci-fi show about life in space 500 years in the future had a devoted following but lasted only one season.

Fan Randy Allen of Great Bend said "Firefly" was one of those shows that could make you laugh and move you to tears in one episode.

But it wasn’t to be.

"Unfortunately, people don’t want to watch original, unique stories," he said. "They want another series about doctors, forensic law enforcement, and reconstructed families with cool adults and teenagers spouting sexual sarcasm."

I never saw "American Dreams" or "Firefly," but several readers reminded me of other shows I was sad to see go.

Jaime Simpson still misses the excellent bowling alley-based comedy "Ed," starring Tom Cavanaugh. (Hint to Jaime: Ed is now in a new show called "Love Monkey," only they’re now calling him Tom.)

And Donald Rogus loved "Sports Night," a 1998 show that starred suddenly hip housewife Felicity Huffman. It was gone after two seasons.

"Luckily for me, my thoughtful wife gave me the DVD collection for my birthday. It covers the entire series," he said.

Other shows that were mentioned several times: "Tru Calling," "Dead Like Me" and "American Gothic."

And now, to close our memorial, we’ll have a few words from Dr. Bill DeArmond, a professor of mass communications and film at Winfield’s Southwestern College.

DeArmond has taught science-fiction TV and the history of television for 25 years and, like the rest of us, is exasperated by networks that dump shows that don’t get immediate ratings.

DeArmond offers this difficult life lesson.

"Anyone who tries to follow network programming realizes life’s not fair," he said.

Let the pretend healing begin.