Favorite or Interesting Short Lived Scifi Series

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Gotham Central, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Okay, I did some research, and apparently this is a fan myth that's rooted in some degree of truth. Yes, there were two separate production cycles, one with 13 episodes filmed from September 1966 to April 1967 and one with 4 episodes filmed from August 1967 to January 1968. But no, the second cycle was not a second 13-episode season that was cancelled prematurely.


    There's no question that it was McGoohan's own choice to make it a limited series. He didn't like the idea of dragging out a concept indefinitely, and even 17 episodes was more than he wanted and the absolute maximum he would agree to. The network absolutely did not "cancel" the series -- McGoohan ended it on his own terms.

    Not only considered to be, but definitely was. Battlestar Galactica was cancelled, period. Its cast and crew moved on to other projects. But ABC had lost a lot of money on the show and pressured Larson to make a sequel series that would amortize the cost of the sets, props, costumes, and stock footage while being shot in a more inexpensive Earthbound setting. Since most of the original show's creators and stars had gone, G80's production had few people in common with the original. It was definitely a separate series, a sequel rather than a continuation. (Not to mention a soft reboot, because the original was pretty clearly in Earth's future, and the sequel series supposedly set decades later was in Earth's present.)

    The basis for the confusion is that G80 was folded into BSG's rerun-syndication package and the episode had their title cards changed to read Battlestar Galactica, creating the impression that it was a continuation of the same series.

    On the other hand:
    That's definitely a single continuous series. Despite the title, network, and format changes, it was a continuing production with largely the same cast and crew. ABC was hesitant about renewing the show because of its period setting, so CBS swooped in and offered the producers a pickup if they'd move it to a contemporary setting and a more standard '70s adventure format.
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Oct 8, 2005
    Los Angeles, California
    Thanks for clearing that up, Christopher. That's a neat little blog.

    I've been re-watching the series (which is beautiful on Blu-Ray) and have so far enjoyed each of the "first 13" I've seen (some, of course, are better than others). My recollection of the "second 4" is less than fond, but it's been a while since I've seen them. I'm curious if they hold up or not. Of those, "Fall Out" is the one I recall best, even if it's sort of a mess.
  3. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    Wherever you go, there you are.
    For reference, here are the North American SFF (broadly defined) live action one-hour shows that were one-and-dones ordered chronologically:


    The Time Tunnel (ABC)
    The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (NBC)


    The Immortal (ABC)
    Search (NBC)
    Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (NBC)
    The Starlost (CTV)
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker (ABC, preceded by 2 telemovies)
    Planet of the Apes (CBS)
    The Invisible Man (NBC)
    The Gemini Man (NBC)
    The Fantastic Journey (NBC)
    Future Cop (ABC)
    Logan's Run (CBS)
    The Man from Atlantis (NBC, preceded by 4 telemovies)
    Battlestar Galactica (ABC)
    Time Express (CBS)
    A Man Called Sloane (NBC)


    Galactica 1980 (ABC)
    Beyond Westworld (CBS)
    Darkroom (ABC)
    Herbie, the Love Bug (CBS)
    Q.E.D. (CBS)
    The Phoenix (ABC)
    The Powers of Matthew Star (NBC)
    Voyagers! (NBC)
    Tucker's Witch (CBS)
    Wizards and Warriors (CBS)
    Manimal (NBC)
    Whiz Kids (CBS)
    Automan (ABC)
    V (NBC, preceded by 2 miniseries)
    Street Hawk (ABC)
    Otherworld (CBS)
    Misfits of Science (NBC)
    Shadow Chasers (ABC)
    The Wizard (CBS)
    Starman (ABC)
    Outlaws (CBS)
    Once a Hero (ABC)
    The Highwayman (NBC)
    Probe (ABC)
    Something Is Out There (NBC)
    Hard Time on Planet Earth (CBS)
    Alien Nation (Fox, followed by 5 telemovies)


    The Flash (CBS)
    She-Wolf of London/Love and Curses (Syndicated)
    They Came from Outer Space (Syndicated)
    Shades of L.A. (Syndicated)
    Dark Shadows (NBC)
    The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage (NBC)
    Eerie, Indiana (NBC)
    Nightmare Cafe (NBC)
    Mann & Machine (NBC)
    Human Target (ABC)
    Space Rangers (CBS)
    Matrix (USA)
    The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (Fox)
    RoboCop (Syndicated)
    Heaven Help Us (Syndicated)
    M.A.N.T.I.S. (Fox)
    Space Precinct (Syndicated)
    Earth 2 (NBC)
    TekWar (CTV, preceded by 4 telemovies)
    VR.5 (Fox)
    Legend (UPN)
    Mysterious Island (Family Channel)
    Nowhere Man (UPN)
    Deadly Games (UPN)
    Strange Luck (Fox)
    American Gothic (CBS)
    Space: Above and Beyond (Fox)
    Kindred: The Embraced (Fox)
    Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (Syndicated)
    Dark Skies (NBC)
    Roar (Fox)
    The Visitor (Fox)
    Timecop (ABC)
    Conan (Syndicated)
    Team Knight Rider (ABC)
    Sleepwalkers (NBC)
    Prey (ABC)
    Welcome to Paradox (Sci-Fi)
    The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (Syndicated)
    Fantasy Island (ABC)
    Highlander: The Raven (Syndicated)
    Mortal Kombat: Conquest (Syndicated)
    Mercy Point (UPN)
    Brimstone (Fox)
    Total Recall 2070 (Showtime)
    Crusade (TNT)
    Now and Again (CBS)
    Harsh Realm (Fox)


    The Others (NBC)
    The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (CBC)
    Freakylinks (Fox)
    The Immortal (Syndicated)
    Queen of Swords (Syndicated)
    The Fearing Mind (Fox Family)
    Freedom (UPN)
    Level 9 (UPN)
    Black Scorpion (Sci-Fi)
    The Lone Gunmen (Fox)
    All Souls (UPN)
    The Chronicle (Sci-Fi)
    Dead Last (WB)
    MythQuest (PBS)
    Tales from the Neverending Story (Hallmark)
    Odyssey 5 (Showtime)
    The Twilight Zone (UPN)
    Firefly (Fox, followed by a feature film)
    John Doe (Fox)
    Haunted (UPN)
    That Was Then (ABC)
    Birds of Prey (WB)
    Dinotopia (ABC, preceded by a miniseries)
    Miracles (ABC)
    Veritas: The Quest (ABC)
    Tremors (Sci-Fi)
    Jake 2.0 (UPN)
    Tarzan (WB)
    Kingdom Hospital (ABC)
    Wonderfalls (Fox)
    Century City (CBS)
    Point Pleasant (Fox)
    Charlie Jade (Space)
    Threshold (CBS)
    Surface (NBC)
    Invasion (ABC)
    Night Stalker (ABC)
    Blade: The Series (Spike)
    Day Break (ABC)
    The Dresden Files (Sci-Fi)
    Painkiller Jane (Sci-Fi)
    John from Cincinnati (HBO)
    Masters of Science Fiction (ABC)
    Flash Gordon (Sci-Fi)
    Journeyman (NBC)
    Bionic Woman (NBC)
    Moonlight (CBS)
    The Middleman (ABC Family)
    Knight Rider (NBC)
    Life on Mars (ABC)
    Kings (NBC)
    Defying Gravity (ABC)
    Eastwick (ABC)
    FlashForward (ABC)


    Caprica (Syfy)
    Past Life (Fox)
    Persons Unknown (NBC)
    The Gates (ABC)
    The Event (NBC)
    No Ordinary Family (ABC)
    The Cape (NBC)
    Camelot (Starz)
    The Nine Lives of Chloe King (ABC Family)
    The Secret Circle (CW)
    A Gifted Man (CBS)
    Terra Nova (Fox)
    Alcatraz (Fox)
    The River (ABC)
    Awake (NBC)
    Last Resort (ABC)
    666 Park Avenue (ABC)
    Primeval: New World (Space)
    Do No Harm (NBC)
    Zero Hour (ABC)
    Siberia (NBC)
    Ravenswood (ABC Family)
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  4. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 15, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Looking at this list makes me wish that we still had the old Sci-Fi Channel. So many of these shows have fallen down the old memory hole never to be seen again. They are neither on DVD or streaming. That's unfortunate. Its also funny how many of these shows were only one season even though I could have sworn they had more. For instance, I remember The Man From Atlantis in syndication. I could have sworn that it was more than one season. But I suppose constantly being in repeats will distort your perception.

    Eerie Indiana must have had a sequel because I know they had more episodes with a slightly different name.
  5. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    Wherever you go, there you are.
    There was also Cult on the CW, but I'm not sure if that ended up having SFF elements.
  6. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    Wherever you go, there you are.
    Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension was a half-hour spin-off show that ran on Fox Kids. It ran for one season.
    As I've edited in, it also had four telemovies prior to its one regular season.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  7. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    Otherworld (one of my favorite shows when I was in junior high):


    Charlie Jade


    The 80's version of The Twilight Zone

  8. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    Wherever you go, there you are.
    The 1980s Twilight Zone ran for three seasons.
  9. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    ^ Yep, too short. ;)
  10. Sci Fi Fan

    Sci Fi Fan Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Feb 8, 2014
    Two of my sentimental favorites are The Invaders (from the 60s), although it's quite dated now but if a serious re-make was made it could be quite good. Also, I liked the short lived War of the Worlds (from the 1990s?); I liked the edge to it.
  11. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

    May 19, 2001
    Columbus, Ohio
    I also loved:

    Space Precinct
    Star Cops
    The Misfits Of Science
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    May 12, 2004
    Oxford, PA
    How could I forget Kolchak:The Night Stalker? I would've loved to have seen more of that.

    Although it's funny. Even as a kid, it bothered me that none of Kolchak's scoops ever saw print, which made me wonder how he kept his job. I always thought that, if they'd done a a second season, Kolchak should've ended up working for some sleazy Weekly World News type tabloid that would actually print his stories.

    Kolchak would still be itching to make it back into serious journalism and there would be angst every time he tried and failed to get proof that a legit paper would accept, but at least he could pay the bills and there would be a reason for him to be deliberately chasing after News of the Weird.

    The more I think about it, the more it works. Instead of accidentally running into ghosts and witches and werewolves everywhere, he would be driven to salvage his reputation by proving that he was right all along.

    In short, I want a Kolchak/Chronicle mashup! :)
  13. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

    May 19, 2001
    Columbus, Ohio
    I loved The Night Stalker too and I it's too bad Darrin McGavin didn't consent to reprising the role on The X-Files.
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    What's your source? That's a pretty thorough list, as far as I can tell.

    I kinda liked this one, though it was pretty goofy. David Rappaport starred as a supergenius inventor who'd given up building military weapons to become a toymaker, although he was teamed up with an FBI agent or something and they solved crimes and weird-science cases together. I'm not sure if there's ever been another TV drama/action series with a Little Person lead actor -- that just announced HBO series being developed for Peter Dinklage is the only other one I know of.

    This was a weird one, created by Incredible Hulk producer Nicholas Corea. Rod Taylor, Richard Roundtree, William Lucking, and a couple of others starred as Old West marshals who got zapped into the 1980s by a naturally occurring time warp and became private detectives. It didn't really have any genre elements beyond the one-time temporal displacement.

    This was Ira Steven Behr's first SF series, and it lasted all of three episodes. It was a fantasy about a comic-book superhero coming to life in the real world and discovering that right and wrong weren't so simple here. I think it failed to find an audience because the premise suggested a wacky comedy but it was actually a serious if offbeat drama. I've always regretted that they pulled the show before airing the fourth episode, because it would've featured Adam West as an actor who'd played the superhero in an old TV series and was suing the real hero for stealing his act.

    This was a novelty, a series co-created by Isaac Asimov. Parker Stevenson was an eccentric, reclusive scientific genius who solved scientific mysteries with an assistant (Ashley Crow) who provided a humanizing influence. Kinda like Pertwee-era Doctor Who, or a more sciencey Elementary.

    This was a miniseries first. Maryam d'Abo starred as an alien cop who partnered with a human detective (Joe Cortese, I think), with all the usual alien-fish-out-of-water stuff and sexual innuendo you'd expect (on her planet, they have no nudity taboo!). It wasn't that great, but hey, Maryam d'Abo!

    I kinda liked this one, though it was cheesy. Martin Kove as an alien criminal sentenced to do community service on Earth. His "probation officer" was a crudely CG-animated floating robot called Control, who was a lot like Booster Gold's Skeets, and whose catchphrase was "Negative outcome -- not good."

    Another short-lived show I really miss. From the producers of The Flash, based on the Carmine Infantino comics character and immensely more faithful than the recent Mark Valley version. I thought it was very good, with innovative special effects and some nice psychological exploration of the lead character (played by Rick Springfield). But it only lasted seven episodes.

    This started as a pilot movie from Sam Raimi and Sam Hamm, which was pretty good, but the network was uncomfortable with how African-American-centric it was. So they completely retooled and rebooted it for the weekly series, which was abominably awful. Here's my blog discussion.

    Wonderful, wonderful show from Michael Piller and Bill Dial, starring Richard Dean Anderson and John DeLancie. Basically, "What if Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla had become steampunk crimefighters?" I guess the world wasn't yet ready for an idea that awesome.

    Ohh, I remember this one -- a series Leonard Nimoy co-created. Video game villains come to life in the real world and their creator must defeat them. With Christopher Lloyd as the main villain and Cynthia Gibb as the female lead. Goofy but kind of fun.

    My father was a really big fan of this show, though I was more lukewarm about it. It was smart, but not really my cup of tea genre-wise (and the Moon was full every single damn night!).

    Actually one of the better syndicated action-fantasy shows that proliferated in imitation of Hercules/Xena. Relatively faithful to the Tarzan books' mythos, albeit much more respectful toward Africans. Actually filmed in South Africa, which made for a mismatch between the scenes shot in the real African savannah and those shot in the fake soundstage jungle that's unlike any real African biome. Unfortunately, after one season, the backers decided it was cheaper to do a "second season" consisting of repackaged reruns of an earlier half-hour Tarzan series that hadn't previously aired in the US, rather than making any more new episodes. That was frustrating, because the earlier series was pretty dumb.

    This was a really good show, starring a young Heath Ledger, along with John Saint Ryan, Vera Farmiga, Sebastian Roche, and Lisa Zane. It was from Shaun Cassidy, who also did American Gothic. A historical fantasy set in Roman-occupied Ireland.

    Wasn't crazy about this one. It was supposedly about the young Verne having the adventures that inspired his fiction, but it rarely had any connection to any of Verne's real works, and often delved into supernatural and fantasy elements which the real Verne would have looked on with scorn. Plus their "Verne," Chris Demetral, had a very American accent and was quite bland. But I did like Michael Praed as "secret agent Phileas Fogg," and I really, really liked Francesca Hunt as his sister Rebecca, essentially a Victorian Emma Peel.

    Oh, some of these just make me laugh to remember them. This was a distaff Zorro with a really gorgeous star, Tessie Santiago. This stunning, raven-haired noblewoman who's good with a sword shows up in the colony and clashes with the corrupt authorities, and almost immediately thereafter a stunning, raven-haired masked swordswoman begins battling those selfsame authorities, and nobody suspects a connection? Even though her lacy mask does little to conceal her striking features? It was preposterous. And I think it was sued out of existence by the Zorro copyright holders.

    Oh yes, the WB's attempt to Smallville-ize Tarzan -- set in New York City with Jane Porter as a policewoman, and with John Clayton only once referring to himself as Tarzan. It was actually better than you'd think. Although it was retooled on an almost weekly basis for the first half of its 9-episode season, with a new direction being set up in one episode and then negated or reversed in the next, it nonetheless managed to hold together as a surprisingly cohesive narrative, and came to a satisfactory conclusion in episode 9, so that it worked as a limited series. Plus Sarah Wayne Callies was a captivating Jane.

    An underappreciated gem. The first 5-6 episodes were pretty lame, so people tuned out quickly, but then it got so very much better after most of its audience had fled. A real shame, but it's available on DVD now, so I like to sing its praises when I get the opportunity:


    Does it need to be said how awesome this show was? It's getting a new graphic-novel sequel which crosses its characters over with their counterparts from the original comic book.
  15. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    Wherever you go, there you are.
    I've put together a list of SFF shows from various online sources - mainly Wiki, IMDB and epguides - and periodically update it with new shows and any omissions that come to my attention.
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, two network seasons produced by Philip DeGuere, followed by a syndicated season produced by J. Michael Straczynski. I liked the syndicated version better. JMS was very good at mimicing Serling's voice.

    That ran for two seasons from 1988-90. Although it was drastically retooled in season 2 and became an almost totally different, far worse show. And I'm saying that as someone who found, when I revisited it on DVD a couple of years ago, that the first season was much worse than I'd remembered. All that really worked for me about season 1 was the cast, who weren't the best actors but had really good chemistry. But then season 2 killed half of them off.

    Imagine: Kolchak appears in an '80s Incredible Hulk episode as Jack McGee's mentor at the National Register. Kolchak would believe the Hulk was real!
  17. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 16, 2009
    In the Joel Zone, identifying as Sexually Fluid.
    They tried to remake it back in the late 1990s with Scott Bakula and Elizabeth Pena. It was pretty bad. On the other hand, I loved the original.

    I also enjoyed the War of the Worlds series - 1st season - which started in 1988, around the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation and The New Mission Impossible. (The New Mission Impossible is another one I'm looking to watch all the way through. I've only seen episodes here and there).

    Someone mentioned Quark with Richard Benjamin, and that's another I also have on my list of 'TV series to Watch.'

    Other honorable mentions:
  18. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    May 12, 2004
    Oxford, PA
    The only thing I remember about the CW's Tarzan was that Lucy Lawless was in it, playing Tarzan's wealthy aunt, I believe.
  19. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    Wherever you go, there you are.
    US one-hour SFF shows that ran for two seasons but ended up with a limited number of episodes (around 30 or fewer):


    The Sixth Sense
    Lucan (ABC)
    Project U.F.O. (NBC)
    The Amazing Spider-Man (CBS)
    Salvage 1 (ABC)


    Max Headroom


    Twin Peaks
    Strange World (ABC/Sci-Fi)
    G vs. E/Good vs. Evil (Sci-Fi/USA)


    Cleopatra 2525
    (Syndicated, started off as a half-hour show)
    Special Unit 2 (UPN)
    Witchblade (TNT)
    Dead Like Me (Showtime)
    CarnivĂ le (HBO)
    Tru Calling (Fox)
    Jericho (CBS)
    Pushing Daisies (ABC)
    Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox)
    Eli Stone (ABC)
    Dollhouse (Fox)
    V (ABC)


    Touch (Fox)
  20. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

    Jun 9, 2001
    Mr. Adventure
    Ah, Max Headroom. As a kid I thought Matt Frewer was so cool as Edison Carter and he's been a goofy guy in everything since. :lol: