SciFi One-Hit-Wonders

Science fiction has had more than its share of failures. Below are some television shows that never made it past one season. Some of them still have cult followings. For some, it’s no wonder why they were cancelled. I give you SciFi’s One-Hit-Wonders:

1. Firefly – Joss Whedon’s under-rated hit. The cult following after it was cancelled, actually led him to make a following movie, Serenity. This amazing show was definitely cancelled before its time.

Synopsis(from Firefly is set five hundred years from today in a new planetary system after humanity abandons “Earth That Was”. Under the leadership of Malcolm Reynolds, a renegade who fought against the new unified central government (the “Alliance”), the crew of the Firefly-class vessel Serenity struggles to survive any way they can. They fly between the border planets to keep away from the Alliance and below its radar. This series was described as a “science fiction western” but is different from other space-based shows as it features no aliens.

2. Battlestar Galactica – I’m talking the original, not the sad excuse for a remake. This was one of the first shows that spawned my love of science fiction.

Synopsis(Read by Lorne Greene): “Fleeing from the Cylon Tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest. A shining planet, known as Earth.”

3. Planet of the Apes – This classic was based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. And several made-for-tv movies followed the short-lived series.

Synopsis(from Astronauts Alan Virdon and Pete Burke are thrown 1100 years forward in time to 3085 AD to find evolved apes have become the dominant species and humans their apathetic slaves. Feared by the ape authorities, their plight turns the head of a promising young chimpanzee named Galen, who adopts the heretical idea that maybe humans aren’t a lower species and can co-exist with apes as equals. As the three struggle to survive life on the run, a bond of friendship grows between them like an intricate tapestry woven right before our eyes, a multi-threaded miracle born of compassion, respect, and the desire to replace fear with understanding.

4. The Flash – From the comic books, the Scarlet Speedster was cancelled before its time simply because the networks could never decide on a timeslot. And viewers never knew when it was showing week to week!

Synopsis(from The Flash is the story of Barry Allen, a police scientist who is the victim of a freak accident. While working late, his lab is hit by lightning. The blast shatters a number of vials, so Barry is both electrocuted and bathed in dozens of chemicals. When he recovers, Barry finds that he has gained the ability to move at almost incomprehensible speed. Donning a red and yellow suit, Barry hides his identity from the world as he uses his powers to fight those who the police cannot catch.

5. Alien Nation – Another of my all-time favorites, this ground-breaking show touched on deeper issues of prejudice and racism.

Synopsis(from “That was the scene in California’s Mojave Desert five years ago – our historic first view of the Newcomers’ ship. Theirs was a slave ship, carrying a quarter million beings bred to adapt and labour in any environment. But they’d washed ashore on Earth, with no way to get back to where they came from. And in the last five years, the Newcomers have become the latest addition to the population of Los Angeles… ”

6. V – The classic alien invasion story. I just remember the aliens creeped me out as a kid.

Synopsis(from They came to Earth, disguised as friends. But instead, they took our water and our people for food. But there is a Resistance… to save our people and our planet. These are the stories of this Resistance…

7. The Tick – The big blue bug as a great comic book character spoof.

Synopsis(from The life of a superhero is not easy. There are not enough dangers. However, someone must fight evil and protect good. The few who face this challenge have to leave behind comfort, security and a little sanity. Jumping from roof to roof in one single jump, the mysterious blue justice defender The Tick patrols The City, and his limited knowledge of human life doesn’t interfere with his desire to protect society. The frustrated and well-behaved accountant known as Arthur left his job to join The Tick as The Moth, and now they’re a crime-fighting duo. Arthur has always secretly wished being a superhero. Well, not so secretly, since he used his moth outfit (which looks more like a bunny) to work. On this fight against injustice, The Tick also counts on Batmanuel, a Latino superhero who never promotes himself without a worthy cause. His kryptonite is Captain Liberty, the government’s number one weapon on the battle against supervillains.

8. Invasion – The show started out a bit slow, but actually got pretty good right before it got cancelled. And right before a big reveal. Dang it.

Synopsis(from Man has searched the skies for centuries and has never come up with conclusive evidence to prove the existence of other forms of intelligent life. What if we have been looking in the wrong place? What if there were other forms of intelligent life already living among us? What if perceived natural disasters were really diversions created to conceal clandestine alien activities? When a small town at the edge of the Florida Everglades is threatened by a raging hurricane, U.S. Park Ranger Russell Varon must go to great lengths to protect the small community and his family safe. During the storm his young daughter claims to have seen mysterious lights, seemingly unaffected by the gale-force winds, floating near the water. Varon dismisses the sighting, but begins to wonder if there really was some truth to the story after his missing ex-wife turns up naked and her memory of the storm is completely gone. While the community begins to clean up after the storm and piece their lives back together, Varon begins to investigate the strange happenings as he tries to make sense of what is happening.

9. Surface – Sounded like a not-as-exciting version of Invasion. So I never bothered watching.

Synopsis(from Ever wonder what life would be like if a new form of sea life began to appear in locales all over the earth? “Surface” is an expansive drama and undersea adventure that centers on the appearance of mysterious sea creatures in the deep ocean — and tracks the lives of four characters. They are: Laura Daughtery, the young oceanographer who discovers the secret; Dr. Aleksander Cirko, the government scientist who tries to keep things under wraps; Richard Connelly, the Louisiana insurance salesman who loses his brother in a suspicious diving accident; and Miles Bennett, the young boy who brings one of the creatures ashore. The mystery ensnares a spectrum of people, including naval officers in the South Antarctic Sea, a family in North Carolina, scientists from the Oceanographic Institute in Monterey, and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico. The seemingly innocent creatures they find are beautiful, and kids may even want to play with them — but is there something more to them? One thing’s for sure – they’re full of surprises as viewers embark on this journey to discover what might be lurking in the sea.

10. Threshold – The pilot was too cheesy and contrived. It was a tad suspenseful, but obviously no one bothered to tune in.

Synopsis(from Threshold revolves around a female government contingency analyst who leads a team of scientists and military personnel who get in contact with a mysterious alien lifeform.

11. Point Pleasant – This is one that I never even heard of till it was cancelled. Then, plenty of people were talking about it and its soap opera qualities.

Synopsis(from Something wicked this way comes to Point Pleasant, a usually quiet New Jersey beach town, when a sudden, violent storm washes in more than the tide. After local lifeguard JESSE PARKER sees the beautiful CHRISTINA NICKSON floating in the ocean, he dives into the dangerous waters to save her life and bring her to safety. Little does Jesse know that his heroic rescue heralds the beginning of a battle between good and evil.

12. Night Stalker – re-vision of the 1974 series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It probably would have been more successful as a movie than a tv show remake.

Synopsis(from Crime reporter Carl Kolchak is partnered with Perri Reed at The Beacon, a Los Angeles newspaper. Together they investigate a string of strange murders…all of which may be related to the death of Kolchak’s wife 18 months earlier in a similarly bizarre manner. A murder that the FBI consider Kolchak the primary suspect.

13. Earth 2 – Never heard of it? I wouldn’t be surprised. But hey, Calvin Klein underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr. was in it. That should say it all.

Synopsis(from Two hundred years into the future, Devon Adair embarks on a mission to save her son’s life and to provide humanity with a second chance. After traveling through space for twenty-two years, Devon and her small Advance team are forced to crash-land onto the far-away planet known as G-889. They are thousands of miles from their destination: New Pacifica, where they’re supposed to set up a colony for the 250 families that are following. The survivors start out on a long and perilous journey toward New Pacifica. During their journey they will learn a lot about the mysteries of their new home and themselves.

43 thoughts on “SciFi One-Hit-Wonders”

  1. V freaked me out as a kid. I had to fight to let my parents watch it and then it gave me nightmares LOL! Should have listened to them.

    Another one hit wonder I love is Space: Above and Beyond. We just bought it on DVD and still can’t figure out why it got cancelled. It was another Firefly.

  2. This is great – i love the synopsis with each – since they’re mostly unknown to me. I’ve only ever seen two of those shows: Alien Nation and Battlestar Galactica.

  3. I was disappointed that Firefly didn’t make it to another season…but I know that they aired it out of order and I’m sure that had a lot to do with its downfall. Sigh.

    My 13 is up.

  4. Oh, V was a show I SOOOOOO loved! And I remember watching reruns of Planet of the Apes on UHF (back when there wasn’t cable!).

    Great list!

  5. Thursday Thirteen has come to an end.
    I have enjoyed my visits here and consider us friends.
    Thank you for sharing your thirteens with me.
    The comments you left me filled me with glee.
    It is hard to believe it is really true.
    I am trying very hard to not be blue.
    Happy TT’ing!
    (“)_ (“)Ã…Â

  6. Serenity is great! I actually enjoyed watching Surface… and Invasion wasn’t bad either. I was sorry to see them off so fast. Lol…. I had completely forgotten about the Tick… too funny!! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing and for stopping by my blog.
    You have a fantastic Thursday.

  7. man, i loved V! And I liked ALien Nation, too, but I don’t remember much of it.

    I watched a little of Invasion when it first came out. Liked it, but not enough to keep up with it.

  8. The Tick OMG, loved the cartoon and the live action show. The guy (can’t remember his name but he played Elaines boyfriend on Seinfeld) was absolutely cast perfectly for the Tick.

    I missed Firefly and Serenity, but it something I definately have to see.

    My father would agree with you on the original Battlestar. They premeried it in a movie theatre, and my Dad fell in love with it. He liked it better than Star Wars.

  9. I remember Earth 2!! My bf in college and I for some reason got really into it and made time each week to watch it. We were so pissed when it got cancelled!

    Happy TT! And if you don’t continue on, thank you so much for great lists every week and coming to visit mine.

  10. I bought the Firefly DVDs when my sister and a friend raved about it. I still haven’t watched them all, but I love the show and can see why it has a cult following!

  11. I’m still PO’d that they cancelled Firefly. Alien Nation was surprisingly worthy, when you think about it. Gotta say I liked the original cartoon version of the Tick the best, although the live-action one wasn’t bad.

  12. I liked this list, but many I haven’t seen. I’ve become something of a sci-fi fan as an adult, but didn’t like it much as a kid. I LOVED Firefly/Serenity, LOVE the new Battlestar Galactica (sorry), and I’ve always loved Stargate SG-1, though that was on for 9 or 10 seasons. I remember watching Earth 2, I liked the way the “aliens” could drop down or come up out of the ground. I must confess that I mainly watched it because of Deborah Farentino (or however you spell her name).

  13. Oh my! I have never even HEARD of any of those shows! Where have I been Angela? Maybe I was abducted by aliens! 😉

    I like your idea of continuing TT, but with a list of ten – you don’t even need to change the abbreviation… thursday ten(ers.)

    I look forward to reading those too!

  14. I loved Firefly and got my roommate into it after taking her to see Serenity in the theater. V was awesome! I liked Threshold and rewatched all the episodes when they showed them on SciFi recently. I even liked Earth 2.

  15. Angela, this is a really cool list. I used to love watching The Flash with my family back in the day. But I wonder if it will be really corny if I buy it on DVD. I was a kid back then.

    I’m so glad they cancelled The Tick though!! I didn’t like the cartoon and the live-action show was worst.

    I did want to get into Invasion, but before I could it was gone. A Sci-Fi show with Eddie Cibrian…I’m sorry it had to go.

    Point Pleasant came on around the same time Blind Justice did and I really didn’t want those shows to get canceled.

    Lastly–I finally visited the Thursday 13 website and was just about to join, only to find out it was over. I think I’m going to start doing a Top Ten list…something like “Top Ten Tuesdays”. I wish I could have caught T13 before it was over though.

    Great post!

  16. SolShine – Flash is really corny, but I bought it on DVD anyway. I still love it.. and John Wesley Shipp.
    And I thought of you when I read about TT dying.. that stinks. But Top Ten Tuesdays is a good idea.. “TTT”! LOL

  17. V rocked! My dad will be estatic to hear they have the full series.

    Firefly is a must. Have every episode taped:)

    Earth 2 was good too. Never knew why it was canceled and yet Lost is still going on and on and on…

  18. I remember watching V as a kid and it being so suspenseful. My parents weren’t really into sci fi but it was cool that they watched it with my brother and I.

    Tick is fantastic. Never watched it when it was on TV, or maybe caught one episode, but I love the DVDs and wish they had made many more.

    Probably don’t have to tell you how much I cherish Firefly. Still the most amazing television/movie experience (watched after the fact on DVD) that I have ever seen.

    Also really enjoyed Battlestar as a kid. Haven’t watched the new one mostly because I just don’t want to take the time.

  19. The V aliens totally creeped me out as a kid. But I couldn’t stop watching…

    I’ve heard lots of rumblings about Firefly but never knew what anyone was talking about. Now I do.

    Great list!

  20. I used to watch the Planet of the Apes show, loved it. I also loved the Logan’s Run t.v. show which starred Greg Harrison and Heather Menzies. It’s really frightening that I remember that much detail.

  21. I loved the old Battlestar and love the new one just as much! :p

    Firefly and Serenity rocked more than I ever imagined.

    I enjoyed Flash but didn’t miss it when it left.

    V was a complete blast!

    I watched all the episodes of Surface and thought it was going in a very nice direction. I can see why it failed though. What a cliff hanger the season ended with.

  22. The Nightstalker used to scare the living crap out of me when I was a kid. I used to beg my mom to let me sleep in the basement cause my room was too hot, but it was really so I could sneak into the family room and watch Kolchak really late with her none-the-wiser. Oooo, I SO paid for it!!! Those nights were scary/thrilling/forbidden/wonderful!!

    Thanks for the memories!

  23. Firefly was definitely a diamond in the rough; I love it and have it in my DVD collection, along with Serenity.

    Hmmm, there’s a few others in there that I haven’t heard of before but Australia can be a bit slow in getting things at times; I’ll be keeping an eye out for them, for sure.

    Thanks for the synopses on all of them – much appreciated.

  24. I LOVED V when I was a kid. A friend of mine used to call me and we’d talk (sort of) on the phone as we watched it together. *Sigh* Memories of sci-fi geekdom.

    I’m still in denial that Firefly may come back.

  25. There are several of my favourites in your list: Galactica, Alien Nation, V, Earth 2… Great list!
    I hope someone takes over TT, so this won’t be our last one. My TT shows 13 pictures of me.

  26. I love Firefly. It was a great show. Its so sad that they cancel such wonderful shows. I’m also a big fan of Wonderfalls, another show that only lasted a season, but wasn’t really sci-fi.

  27. Good call Bobbi, Wonderfalls was fantastic. It could definitely be classified in the fantasy realm because of the fantastical elements in it. Amazing show.

  28. V blew my mind when it came out! Battlestar Galactica was one of my favourite series when I was a kid, watched an old episode a couple of years back and it just seems so cheesy and cliched. Still not gotten round to watching Firefly. Invasion was ok but so slooooow! Planet of the Apes – still good, hence I was disappointed with the most recent remake of it, which seemed to have lost some of the grittiness and bleakness of it all.

  29. Ahh, I love Firefly sooo much! If anything, that alone has made me expand my appreciation for sci fi.

    But now I’ve got a whole lot of watching to do! I’m definitely keeping track of this list, as there will hopefully be some time when I’ve got nothing better to do than just watch some damn good one-hit-wonder sci fi!

  30. The shame about E2 & the Flash is that, IMO, they were just starting to hit their groove when they ended.

    I’d place the original Night Stalker there myself. I bought the DVDs recently. Such fun. The show’s opening gave me bad dreams as a kid.

    Others for consideration.

    Max Headroom: Why isn’t this on DVD yet!

    The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Western and SF.

    UFO: I’m watching it on DVD now. Some of it is silly, some of it is still surprisingly good.

  31. I loved Earth 2! I was so mad when they cancelled. it. Antonio Sabato Jr, Clancey Brown…..I could cry.

    Loved V, loved the original BSG, love the new one more. The other one didn’t age well.

    Oh, The Adventures of Brisco Co Jr! Loved that show! Still have my old VCR tapes of it.

    And Firefly, ‘course.

  32. I blush to admit this, but until your TT, I had no idea some of these shows never made it past one season since I had been watching them as reruns or late-night shows. I knew about Firefly, but not about Alien Nation or V for example.

    Threshold was indeed cheesy, and Surface and Invasion just couldn’t lure me in to watching them every week. There just wasn’t any appeal to their story lines when you had other shows addressing bigger, better issues.

  33. Ah, this post upset me! I had almost managed to forget about all of the amazing sci-fi shows that were CANCELLED. Such as Threshold (which was amazing) and Invasion. I LOVED Threshold…

    Found your post through a TT 100th Edition post.

    Happy TT!

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