Live Fast, Die Young and Leave a Good-Looking Corpse.

Christian Slater uttered those words in True Romance.

On my drive home tonight, I found myself thinking about some great shows that got canceled way too early. And that’s when this quote came to mind. I went from being bummed by all the great shows that only lasted a season to thinking maybe early cancellation was the best thing to happen to the shows!

Freaks & Geeks is one such show. To this day, I wouldn’t be surprised if people were still writing NBC to beg them to bring the show back despite being canceled a decade ago, now. I was one who jumped up and down and stomped my feet when  NBC pulled the plug. I wanted to know where that summer was going to take those characters. The last we saw, James Franco’s character had found that playing Dungeons & Dragons with the Geeks felt surprisingly … natural. And Linda Cardellini’s character skipped out on her college visit. What came of all this?! AHHHH!

But in retrospect, it was rather fitting for the show.

After all, how often do we lose track of our former classmates and wonder what happened to them? Maybe we weren’t meant to go with the Freaks or the Geeks on their journey … like smalltown childhood friends who graduate high school, split up and are lucky if they bump into each other when visiting their parents over Christmas or New Years. I “bumped into” James Franco on a daytime soap while channel surfing during my last days of being out of work. It gave me shivers.

Arrested Development is another one you hear people talking about, still. For the reasons that so many people didn’t watch it, were the same reasons its rabid fans voraciously loved it. Because it was unlike anything else on television. There was no laugh track prompting you and notifying you of when you were supposed to laugh. And its jokes were so subtle and quirky that if you blinked or hiccuped, you could miss the funniest second of television that entire year. That wasn’t exactly conducive to Joe TV-viewer who likes to do forty-seven things while half-listening to a TV show. But do you know which show used to have a similar impact on me? Scrubs. No laugh track. Quirky characters and dialogue. The anti-television show.

And look what that has become after all of these years.

Don’t get me wrong. I still watch Scrubs. But I do it for the same reasons people still go to see King Kong Bundy or the Honky Tonk Man wrestle in small auditoriums. It isn’t because you expect to see great wrestling out of them, anymore. But they’ve been in your life for the last twenty years. And you’ve invested so much time in them that you still want to support them because you know they won’t be rasslin’ wrestling forever.

Scrubs has become King Kong Bundy. It’s a shell of its former self, but I’ll be damned if I don’t still watch every week. Imagine how disappointing it would have been to see Arrested Development similarly die a slow, painful death season by season? After Jason Bateman and Michael Cera decided they wanted millions of dollars to only appear in three of the show’s twelve episodes, so they’d have to cast additional distant Bluth family members that turned out to be bad Cousin Eddie-like knockoffs that nobody really cared about.

Television is home to far too much mediocrity. If I wanted mediocrity, I’d still have a MySpace account.


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