My Favorite Obscurities: The 2000s

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 wrapping things up by tackling the 2000s. So here, in chronological order, are my favorite obscurities from the 2000:

Freedom (UPN)
October 2000 – December 2000

I was a huge fan of Freedom–I even ran a website devoted to it for a few years. I have been waiting 15 years for the opportunity to watch the five unaired episodes (not to mention the original, unaired pilot episode) but sadly I will probably have to keep waiting. Although the unaired episodes have been broadcast internationally, the show has never been repeated in the United States and the odds of it being released on DVD or streamed via Netflix or Hulu are very, very low. I transferred my VHS copies of the seven aired episodes to DVD a few years ago. Maybe I’ll rewatch them in 2016.

My article on Freedom can be found here.

First Years (NBC)
March 2001 – April 2001

I can still remember watching series premiere promos for this very short-lived legal drama and for reasons I can no longer remember getting really excited about it. I taped the first episode but something went wrong when I tried to tape the second episode and I forgot to tape the third episode. There were no more after that. NBC yanked First Years after three weeks, leaving six episodes unaired. I eventually tracked down copies of the second and third episodes. I’ve considered writing a Spotlight about the series. Maybe I’ll get around to it next year.

The Lone Gunmen (FOX)
March 2001 – June 2001

I am not a fan of The X-Files, although I wanted to be. Five or six years ago I watched the first eight episodes and found them so boring I gave up. But I enjoyed the show’s short-lived spin-off The Lone Gunmen. It was fun and quirky and never took itself seriously. I was really disappointed when it was cancelled after 13 episodes. The complete series was released on DVD in March 2005.

Firefly (FOX)
September 2002 – December 2002

As was the case with Freaks and Geeks, one of my favorite obscurities from the 1990s, you can’t really call Firefly an obscurity even though it only ran for 11 episodes (with three others unaired). To my eternal regret I didn’t watch it during its original run, although I vividly recall seeing a few minutes from the episode “Jaynestown” while channel surfing. I got into the show a few years later and literally only finished watching it on DVD the day the movie Serenity came out.

John Doe (FOX)
September 2002 – April 2003

John Doe aired after Firefly on FOX during the 2002-2003 season and managed to survive for the entire season. I didn’t watch it during its original run either but I’ve since seen watched it all the way through three times. It’s one of the few shows I’d run out and buy right away if it was ever released on DVD. I will admit to being less than thrilled with what happened to one of the characters but overall it’s a great show and the cliffhanger ending was so frustrating. In October 2004, Entertainment Weekly asked the show’s creators what would have happened had the show been given an actual conclusion. It’s a decent explanation and more than most cancelled shows get in terms of closure.

Mister Sterling (ABC)
January 2003 – March 2003

Wikipedia says otherwise but I swear I remember reading back when it debuted that Mister Sterling was set in the same universe as The West Wing. Wikipedia also says all ten episodes aired but the tenth and final episode definitely wasn’t aired by NBC (I believe the entire series was repeated on Universal HD in the past few years). I can’t remember now exactly what drew me to the show but I both watched and taped it each week back in 2003. I think I rewatched it about five years ago.

Keen Eddie (NBC)
June 2003 – July 2003

Here’s another show I taped every week. It was a lot of fun so of course FOX only aired seven of the 13 episodes. The entire series was aired on Bravo in 2004. I think I managed to catch two of the unaired episodes. A DVD set released in September 2004 reportedly replaced much of the original music, which is unfortunate.

Surface (NBC)
September 2005 – February 2006

The phenomanal success of ABC’s Lost during the 2004-2005 season led all three networks to premiere sci-fi dramas the following season. Surface was NBC’s offering and of the three it was my favorite (the others were Invasion on ABC and Threshold on CBS). At times it was frustrating, with too many characters and plot strands, but I was hooked. I was really sad it only lasted 15 episodes. I seem to recall some or all of them being repeated on Sci-Fi Channel while the show was airing on NBC to try to drum up viewer interest. The series was released on DVD in August 2006.

Conviction (NBC)
March 2006 – May 2006

You know what drew me to this drama, set in the same universe as all the Law & Order shows? The promos. More specifically, the song used in the promos: “All Will Be Well” by The Gabe Dixon Band. I was so disappointed while watching the series premiere to discover it was not the theme song. I’m pretty sure one of the episode was pre-empted locally and I had to tape it at 1AM. I don’t remember much about any of the episodes other than one that involved people standing in windows in a courtroom to block any sniper fire. Repeats have aired on Universal HD. The series was released on DVD in August 2006 and can currently be streamed via Netflix.

The Black Donnellys (NBC)
February 2007 – April 2007

Watching the series premiere of this short-lived drama was thrilling but I don’t remember exactly why. I do recall NBC refusing to air one episode but putting it online. The network only aired six of the 13 produced episodes but all of them ended up online. The final episode ended on a cliffhanger. HDNet started airing repeats of The Black Donnellys, including the unaired episodes, in June 2007. The series was released on DVD in September 2007.

Journeyman (NBC)
September 24th, 2007 – December 19th, 2007

The premiere of this sci-fi series gave me chills. Literally. That’s how good it was. I vividly remember a scene in which the main character is outside in the rain digging furiously. It was very well done. I was furious when NBC cancelled it after just 13 episodes. In August 2008, Journeyman creator Kevin Falls revealed details about the series and its mythology. It used to be available on Hulu and that’s how I watched it a second time a year or so after it went off the air. I’d love to see it again.

Kath & Kim (NBC)
October 9th, 2008 – March 12th, 2009

It’s entirely possible that I’m the only person in the world who thought this sitcom was hilarious. I never saw the original Australian version so I can’t compare and contrast. All I can say is I enjoyed each and every episode. The main cast–Molly Shannon, Selma Blair, John Michael Higgins, and Mikey Day–were perfect together. Especially Selma Blair, in my opinion. I’m not in any rush to rewatch it, though. I think it might be one of those shows served best as a fond memory.

Honorable Mentions

I had a really hard time deciding which twelve obscurities from the 2000s are my favorite. A few that didn’t quite make the cut include The Tick (FOX, 2001-2002), Jake 2.0 (UPN, 2003), Related (The WB, 2005-2006), Blind Justice (ABC, 2005), Swingtown (CBS, 2008), and Eleventh Hour (CBS, 2008-2009).

Hit the comments with your thoughts on these shows and any favorite TV obscurities you may have from the 2000s. Check back in five years when it’s time to discuss my favorite obscurities from the 2010s.


4 Comments

  • Mike Donovan says:

    Rubicon. AMC’s much-promoted first original series. Honestly, it was too smart for the masses. One season and out. Rubicon holds up well today if viewed like a one-off mini series.

  • michael shonk says:

    I agree with RUBICON except it aired in 2010. But it is too missed for us to wait five years to mention it.
    My choices are:
    RAINES (NBC, 07)
    THE MIDDLEMAN (ABC Family, 08i)
    EYES (ABC, 05)
    THE INSIDE (FOX, 05)
    KAREN SISCO (ABC, 03)
    THE UNUSUALS (ABC, 09)
    THE COLLECTOR (Syndicated, 04)
    SHEEP IN THE BIG CITY (Cartoon Network, 00)
    BETTER OFF TED (ABC, 09)
    DR VEGAS (CBS, 04)
    PUSH, NEVADA (ABC, 02)
    THE CHRONICLE (Sci-Fi – now SYFY, 01)

    Honorable Mention: SAVING GRACE (TNT, 07), QUEEN OF SWORDS (Syndicated, 00) and MEGAS XLR (Cartoon Network, 04).

  • Andrew says:

    Being Australian I loved Kath & Kim, the sitcom being derived from a series of comedy sketches that appeared in earlier TV shows in the 1990s. I wasn’t so thrilled with the American remake when we finally got to see it in Australia but I think it was a fantastic achievement just to get an Australian made show picked up for an American remake. It had only happened a few times before but sadly those efforts also became TV obscurities. Thinking mainly of the 1980 NBC series Number 96, based on the hit Australian drama series of the 1970s of the same name, and Dangerous Women, which was loosely based on the Australian series Prisoner, which did screen in parts of the US as Prisoner Cell Block H.

  • stevie g says:

    Obscurities from the 2000s that I liked were a show called Young Americans ( i think), which was linked to Dawsons Creek. It was IMO better than Dawsons.
    Joey the spin off from Friends. I liked it. It was good that we were finally getting to know some of Joey’s family. I wish they would loop these episodes in when they re-run Friends.
    There was a show based on behind the scenes of 90210, which was really good. It was called Grosse Point and was written by Darren Starr who created 90210.
    I would count Freaks and Geeks as a 2000s obscurity as we didn’t see it until then, here in Aus. I’d love to see it again as i only saw a few episodes here and there when it aired here late at night.

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