Musings on Obscurity: TV Shows You Regret Not Watching

The longer you’ve been watching television, the more TV shows you’re aware of, even if you didn’t actually watch them. Maybe you saw promo spots or read an article in TV Guide or the newspaper or online. Nobody can watch everything. Even the most obsessive TV fans have to pick and choose what they watch. That likely means everyone has at least one TV show they wish they had watched, a TV show they regret not watching.

These days most network shows, even those that are cancelled quickly, have an afterlife. They may be available on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or some other streaming service. Maybe they’re available at the network’s website or On Demand through cable. Maybe they’re for sale as digital downloads through Amazon or iTunes. Maybe they even come out on DVD. That means if you didn’t watch a show during its original network run, you probably have an opportunity to watch them later. The window may not last forever–shows disappear from streaming services and network websites all the time–but it’s a second chance to watch a TV show you missed.

Even 10 or 15 years ago, if a network TV show went off the air quickly you were probably out of luck unless it ended up on a cable channel owned by the same media conglomerate or came out on DVD. Go back to the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s and aside from summer repeats for one season wonders, when a TV show went off the air that was it. If you were lucky, decades later the show popped up on a cable channel in the 1980s or 1990s.

For the purposes of this column, a TV show you regret not watching has to meet two important criteria. First, you have to be old enough to have watched it when it was on the air. Second, you have to have known about the TV show during its original run but for whatever reason didn’t watch it. Remember, I’m much younger than many regular visitors to Television Obscurities. I can’t regret not watching The New People on ABC during the 1969-1970 season because I wasn’t born yet. Likewise, I can’t regret not watching The Outsiders on FOX back in 1990 because I was a little kid who only watched cartoons on television.

There is one TV show I do regret not watching: Karen Sisco. The crime drama starred Carla Gugino, Robert Forster, and Bill Duke. It debuted on ABC on October 1st, 2003 and went off the air less than two months later after just seven episodes. Three others never aired on ABC but did air on USA Network in 2004.

I can’t remember now if I saw promos for the show or read about it in the 2003 TV Guide Fall Preview issue. Nor can I remember why I didn’t watch it. All I know is I was interested in the show but for whatever reason didn’t watch it. Aside from USA Network, Karen Sisco also aired on cable channels Universal HD and Sleuth, but has never been released on DVD. It hasn’t streamed anywhere either, as far as I know. It looks like most of the episodes are on YouTube, but the video quality is atrocious.

Are there any TV shows you regret not watching? Share your thoughts in the comments.

8 Replies to “Musings on Obscurity: TV Shows You Regret Not Watching”

  1. I hope that being slow to begin watching a series meets the criteria of this “Musings on Obscurities” post.
    I regret not watching the early seasons of “Call the Midwife” when they were shown on PBS. I love history in general, and have a special interest in historical medicine, so I don’t know why my brain didn’t immediately figure out “Call the Midwife” was the perfect show for me to watch.
    It wasn’t until I went to the PBS channel because I thought something else would be on, and saw the end half of a Christmas episode, that I officially decided to invest an hour of my time each week during the eight weeks of each season. I now adore the series and, though I’ve cried over many episodes, I eagerly await the show’s return to PBS.

  2. I never saw The Westerner with Brian Keith when it aired from September 30th to December 30th in 1960. I’ve read good things about it and a co-worker lauded it. I did get to see a few episodes on what was then Encore Westerns.
    Another one was Quark that was of for a few weeks in early 1978. At the time I wasn’t even aware of it.
    I did catch the first episode on YouTube. It was a scifi satire in the wake of Star Wars and I think Mel
    Brooks may have been involved. I didn’t even know about it until read the Complete Directory of Prime Time Network TV Shows.

    1. Mel Brooks had nothing to do with Quark, clearly you’re thinking of Spaceballs! I did see Quark and would love to see it again! “May the Schwartz be with you!”

    2. You’re thinking of Buck Henry, and it also had elements of Star Trek.
      It starred Richard Benjamin and featured Conrad Janis.

      1. You are right I was thinking of Buck Henry. He and Mel Brooks created Get Smart. I thought it was funny that Conrad Janis’ character was named Otto Palindrome.

  3. For me, it would be a couple of shows.

    First, there’s the very short-lived CBS detective series, “Khan!” starring Khigh Dhiegh, better known for playing the recurring role of a villain on “Hawaii Five-O”. The show ran for only four episodes in February 1975.

    It’s probably not great, but I’ve been curious about it. It was up against “Sanford and Son” and “Chico and the Man” on NBC.

    Another was “Shaft”, an attempt to bring the popular blaxploitation character to tv. This was a ninety minute program, confusingly shown every third week under the banner of “The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies”. “Shaft” alternated with another cop show, “Hawkins”, and an original TV movie on the other weeks. There were seven episodes, shown between late 1973 and early 1974.

    I was in third grade at the time and had to go to bed after “Hawaii Five-O” that came on just before this series on CBS’s schedule.

    Finally, there’s “On the Air”, an odd sitcom created by David Lynch about a 50s tv network that ran on ABC for a few episodes in June and July 1992. That was a period when I was starting to do some of my own filmmaking in my spare time and I just really didn’t have time to watch tv.

  4. I wouldn’t say I regret not watching a show, but there’s a number of them I’ve regretted not recording and keeping because they’re just not available anywhere.
    Many of the shows I didn’t see had to do more with not being in control of the TV. It wasn’t until I had my own TV that I could get to watch whatever I wanted.
    Nowadays, I’m finding more of a problem with multiple shows on at the same time and there are some shows I have to pass on.

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