Published on October 28th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie1
Great Underrated Television Series: Five That Escaped
Many television series rightly receive both large audiences and critical appraise. Nonetheless, ever now and then some slip under the net and fail to get the accolades and viewership they deserve. Here is Yellow Magpie’s list of five great series that are completely underrated.
Star Trek Enterprise
Star Trek Enterprise was in many ways one of the best of all the Star Trek’s series. Three things made it a cut above its predecessors. The quality of the cast was far superior to those of Voyager and even The Next Generation. The scripts were compiling and more action-orientated featuring long-running plots that were developed far more than any other of its sister series. In short, the writing was much better.
Finally, the special effects in television had dramatically improved allowing for more realistic alien species and settings.
All of the above should have assured Star Trek Enterprise of large audiences and a long-lived series. However, Star Trek fatigue and the appallingly poor immediate predecessor, Voyager, did not help its cause.
Viewers watching the series for the first time should skip the series finale as Brannon Braga’s appalling final episode should never have been aired.
Due South was a satirical comedy with an ultra nice Canadian Mountie partnered up with a world-weary, tough-talking urbane cynic. The light nature of the series meant that Due South always left you with a wide smile upon your face after viewing it.
The secret to the series’s popularity was the dynamic between the lead duo and the calibre of the actors playing the parts aided by a very clever dog/wolf. The unusual, inventive story-lines of Due South was also a cut above what it is typical of police programmes.
The series was given an extended life when European televisions stations rescued it from oblivion.
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip was a remarkable series from The Westwing creator, Aaron Sorkin. An ensemble piece, the series followed the cast and crew of a hit comedy show. Like Sorkin’s Westwing, Studio 60 was a behind the scenes look at a well-known industry. In this case that industry was television rather than politics.
One of the wonderful attributes of Studio 60 is the razor-sharp wit of the script. Its refined and polished lines bounce between the characters.
Odyssey 5 was a short-lived science fiction series. A group of five astronauts witness the world becoming a giant exploding fireball. Another life-form sends them back to an time five years previous to the explosion. The five now have five years to discover what caused the destruction of the Earth and prevent it.
An unusual storyline and a very solid cast of actors including the highly impressive Peter Weller together with a sharp script meant that Odyssey 5 should have become highly popular. Alas it was not to be.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a recurring theme that programmes from Canada, despite their obvious quality, have a poor relationship with U.S. networks.
Da Vinci’s City Hall
Timing in television, as in real life is crucial and often you can either be lucky or unluckly. Da Vinci’s City Hall was unlucky. The series was over-shadowed by the highly popular and critically acclaimed series, The Wire.
Da Vinci’s City Hall had three things going for it. Good acting, a solid script and a great idea. The film follows former Chief Corner and newly elected Mayor of Vancover, Dominic Da Vinci. Da Vinci possesses great ambition and wishes to revolutionise the city by introducing a Red Light District, an ‘injection site’ for drug addicts and cross-training between the police and the fire service.
Needless to say real-life in the form of back-stabbing politics, corruption and individuals pushing agendas have other things to say about Da Vinci’s plans and a battle of wits begins.
Da Vinci’s City Hall’s Vancouver, unlike The Wire’s Baltimore was a city that more people could readily identify with. It is unfortunate that this series never got the viewers its concept and execution demanded and it was cut after just one season.