My Favorite Obscurities: The 1990s

Television Obscurities celebrated its 12th birthday earlier this year (on June 11th, to be exact). That’s not a milestone anniversary so I didn’t mark the occasion but in recognition of one dozen years online I decided to start examining my personal favorite TV obscurities. Once a month I’ll be writing about my 12 favorite obscurities from each decade starting with the 1940s in June and ending with the 2000s in December. Many of these shows I’ve written about over the past 12 years but not all of them. This month I’m tackling the 1990s. So here, in chronological order, are my favorite obscurities from the 1990s:

The Outsiders (FOX)
March 25th, 1990 – July 22nd, 1990

The Outsiders is one of my favorite books. I’ve probably read it at least 30 times. To be honest I don’t like the 1983 movie that much. I saw it once and have never felt the need to see it again. But I do like the TV series although to be honest I’ve only seen four of the 13 episodes. I recall flipping through my Alex McNeil’s Total Television and stumbling upon the brief entry for The Outsiders and being completely shocked to learn that there was a TV series. A few years later I found some short promos for the series and a few years after that got my hands on one episode. This is probably one of the few TV shows I’d buy on DVD.

My article on The Outsiders can be found here.

Ferris Bueller (NBC)
August 23rd, 1990 – December 16th, 1990; August 11th, 1991

I do really like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off which is why it’s a little surprising that I’m also a fan of the TV series. It’s nothing like the movie in large part because nobody could play Ferris the way Matthew Broderick did. The TV version smartly didn’t try to recapture the magic of the movie. It forged its own path. It wasn’t as much fun as the movie but somehow it still worked, at least for me. I’ve watched it three times, I think. Many critics hated it, though, and viewers didn’t like it any better.

My article on Ferris Bueller can be found here.

My Life and Times (ABC)
April 24th, 1991 – May 30th, 1991

This is another show I’d probably buy on DVD the minute it was released (which will sadly never happen, I’m sure). Tom Irwin was incredible as Ben Miller, a man looking back on his life. Irwin did a fantastic job playing the character as an old man and as a young man. ABC pulled it after just two episodes and quickly burned off another four. That left a seventh episode unaired. Will I ever get the chance to see it?

My article on My Life and Times can be found here.

Eerie, Indiana (NBC)
September 15th, 1991 – April 12th, 1992

I know I didn’t watch this when it was originally aired on NBC. I was too young. I probably watched repeats on either The Disney Channel or maybe on Fox Kids. I can only remember one episode. It was the series premiere and featured human-sized Tupperware containers. That sort of thing will stick with you. The entire series is available on DVD so perhaps one day I’ll get around to rewatching it.

Space Rangers (CBS)
January 6th, 1993 – January 26th, 1993

CBS did this sci-fi series no favors. The network decided not to air the pilot episode first, despite it introducing the characters and the setting. It then pulled the series after four of the six produced episodes had aired. All six were later edited into three telefilms, which were released on VHS and aired on ION Television in 2008. Mill Creek released both the telefilms and the six episodes on DVD in October 2013. The special effects aren’t great but it’s a lot of fun.

Home Free (ABC)
March 31st, 1993 – July 2nd, 1993

Critics did not like the series at all. One critic called it “a TV show with no interesting characters and a situation as lifeless as its characters.” It was too corny, they said, and too family-friendly. And the theme song by Christopher Cross was dated. Despite all that I still like it. ABC aired 11 of the 13 produced episodes. I’ve seen seven of them. I wouldn’t mind seeing the rest of them at some point.

My article on Home Free can be found here.

Earth 2 (NBC)
November 6th, 1994 – June 4th, 1995

Earth 2 celebrated its 20th anniversary last November and to commemorate the occasion I wrote a lengthy post about how much I love the show. It was the first “adult” TV series I remember watching on a regular basis and its cancellation taught me a cruel lesson about television. I was thrilled when it was released on DVD in 2005 (it is also available on Netflix) and will probably rewatch it every three or four years for the rest of my life.

Nowhere Man (UPN)
August 28th, 1995 – May 20th, 1996

Nowhere Man was part of the UPN’s first fall schedule, debuting in August 1995, but I didn’t watch it then. I finally got around to watching it back in 2011. Quite a lot of it felt dated, the virtual reality episode was laughable, and the final episode left me confused and frustrated. It probably did not help that I watched it over the course of three months, mostly in mini-marathons of four or five episodes. It might make more sense watched over the course of a single weekend–but who has the time for that?

Space: Above and Beyond (FOX)
September 24th, 1995 – June 2nd, 1996

Here’s yet another show I didn’t watch when it was originally on the air. I do remember seeing a few minutes from one episode and promos. It’s a dense show to watch, with a lot going on over the course of just one season. Not everything worked but I enjoyed watching the show on DVD so much I bought the two tie-in novels and the tie-in comic books.

Brother’s Keeper (ABC)
September 25th, 1998 – May 14th, 1999

Brother’s Keeper was part of the penultimate season of ABC’s TGIF block. I watched a lot of TGIF in the late 1990s and although I can’t recall any specifics about episodes about this show, I know I really liked it more than most of the others TGIF shows at the time, perhaps because it wasn’t aimed solely at kids but attempted to balance storylines that would interest kids and adults.

Thanks (CBS)
August 2nd, 1999 – September 6th, 1999

I can’t say I saw all six episodes of this very short-lived sitcom but I know I watched more than one during the summer of 1999. A sitcom about a family of Puritans may not sound hilarious but it was a funny show. The only episode I clearly remember involved one of the characters getting a mail-order bride from England.

Freaks and Geeks (NBC)
September 25th, 1999 – July 8th, 2000

I suppose you can’t call this cult favorite an obscurity but it was short-lived. I didn’t watch it when it originally aired on NBC. I do have a vivid memory of seeing promos for it but I think they were for the episodes aired on Fox Family during the summer of 2000. I didn’t watch it all the way through until two years ago. It’s a really great show. The last episode serves as a pretty good series finale but you’re still left wanting more.

Hit the comments with your thoughts on these shows and any favorite TV obscurities you may have from the 1990s. Check back next month for my 12 favorite obscurities from the 2000s.


3 Comments

  • michael shonk says:

    I enjoy these lists and reading about your favorites. I turned 40 during the 1990s so we were watching different TV series.
    My 12 from the 90s are:
    BLACK TIE AFFAIR (NBC, 1993)
    THE FIFTH CORNER (NBC, 1992)
    LEAVING L.A. (ABC, 1997)
    MOON OVER MIAMI (ABC 1993)
    DEADLY GAMES (UPN, 1995)
    HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE (A&E, 1990)
    CRUSADE (TNT, 1999)
    SHE-WOLF OF LONDON (aka LOVE & CURSES) (Syndicated, 1990)
    MR. AND MRS. SMITH (CBS, 1996)
    SHANNON’S DEAL (NBC, 1990)
    SPY GAME (ABC, 1997)
    EERIE, INDIANA (NBC, 1992)
    Did you watch the original series on NBC or the spin-off EERIE, INDIANA: THE OTHER DIMENSION on Fox Kids in 1998?

  • stevie g says:

    My favorite obscurites from the 90s:
    After the success of Friends, there wer a number of sit-coms that came out to try and cash in on their success. My favorites were:
    The Single Guy, staring Jonathan Silverman who had guested on Freinds in the previous season
    You Can’t Hurry Love which featured a pre SVU Mariska Hagarty and had five friends instead of six.
    Suddenly Susan, staring Brooke Sheilds, I spose it may not be an obscurity as it ran for more than a couple of seasons, but I havn’t seen it re-run since it ended.
    My other 90s obscurites are short lived music soap The Heights and Daren Starr’s soap Central Park West.

  • Mike Johnson says:

    Does anybody remember the 1994-95 police show “Under Suspicion”, which focused on the professional and personal life of a female police detective in Portland, Oregon? I absolutely loved it….the episodes I got on tape were among the few old VCR tapes I saved. Its star. Karen Sillas, was a dead ringer for Kate Winslet. It is still lamented as a show the network (CBS) never gave a chance to expand its audience.

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