I just finished watching The Fades and all I can say is: what was the BBC thinking when it cancelled this show? The Fades is a zombie show with a twist. Instead of the zombies being lurching monsters driven only by their hunger for brains, they’re angry ghosts who have taken on physical form by eating human flesh and who are now virtually indistinguishable from humans (except for that pesky desire to eat more flesh). Of course, as you would expect, the zombies (known as fades) want to take over the world and only one person can stop them – Paul (Iain De Caestecker), a 17 year old sci-fi geek who has just discovered he has super powers. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most original horror series of recent years and won the BAFTA for Best Drama Series even after being axed.
Being a BBC series, The Fades one and only season contains just six episodes, but that season gets through a lot of material. Although the ending of the final episode provides a lead in to a second season that will never be made, it does tie off the majority of the Season One plot threads so that the audience is left with a feeling of closure. If you ignore the final minute or two of the last episode, it could even be viewed as a stand-alone mini-series.
Inspired by the disappointing fate of The Fades, here are five more series that were axed way too soon:
Point Pleasant (2005 – 2006)
Episodes: 13 (5 unaired)
What’s it About?: After washing up, unconscious, on the beach of the coastal town of Point Pleasant, Christina Nickson (Elisabeth Harnois) is taken in by the local doctor and his family. However, mysterious events around her soon lead her to the conclusion that she is really the daughter of Satan and that she has been brought to Point Pleasant for the final showdown between good and evil.
Why it Shouldn’t Have Been Axed?: Just as much soap opera as supernatural thriller, Point Pleasant was worth watching just to see gone-to-seed former Melrose Place star Grant Show chew the scenery as Lucas Boyd, a demon sent by Christina’s father to “look after her” and to stir things up. The idea of a demon trying to cause marriage breakups and the like may sound mundane, but his end game of trying to turn Christina over to the dark side was anything but.
Wolf Lake (2001 – 2002)
Episodes: 10 (5 initially unaired)
What’s it About?: Seattle police detective John Kanin (Lou Diamond Phillips) tracks his missing girlfriend to Wolf Lake, a small town in the Pacific Northwest that is home to a clan of werewolves. Convinced that there is something off about the town, he stays on and takes a job as a deputy-sheriff.
Why it Shouldn’t Have Been Axed?: It took a few episodes for Wolf Lake to find its feet. Was it a drama about warring werewolf clans with strong Native American undertones? A Twin Peaks inspired small town dramedy? Eventually, the writers decided it was, in fact, a police procedural with the detective in question, John Kanin, being the only person in town not in on the secret that all of his suspects were werewolves, and the show really started to hit its stride. Unfortunately, that was also the point when CBS decided to pull the plug. The best episodes in the series are the last few that were never aired.
Veronica Mars (2004 – 2007)
Stars: Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Teddy Dunn, Jason Dohring.
What’s it About?: A modern update of Nancy Drew by way of Philip Marlowe. High school outcast and private investigator’s daughter Veronica Mars solves her classmates’ mysteries by day and helps her father with his work by night. Buffy creator Joss Whedon once described it as the “Best. Show. Ever.”
Why it Shouldn’t Have Been Axed? : Although by the end of the third season, in which Veronica moved from high school to college (the point at which most teen shows falter), the show was getting a bit weak, prior to the show being cancelled, creator Rob Thomas pitched the fourth season as Veronica Mars: FBI. Set four years after the end of Season Three, it was to cover Veronica’s first year as a Special Agent with the FBI. Thomas made a trailer for the series, which can be found as an extra on the Season Three DVD release, and it looked great. Think an FBI version of 21 Jump Street. Considering the recent news of an upcoming Veronica Mars movie, clearly I'm not the only one who thinks that Veronica Mars still had something to say.
Hex (2004 - 2005)
What’s it About?: Marketed as ‘the British Buffy’, the first (six episode) season was about Cassie (Christina Cole), a 17 year old girl who discovers tha,t not only does she have supernatural powers, but Azazeal (Michael Fassbender before he hit the big time), the leader of a group of fallen angels known as the Nephelium, wants to impregnate her with the anti-Christ in order to release his fellow Nephelium into the world. In the (thirteen episode) second season, Christina Cole left the series, so Cassie was replaced by Ella Dee (Laura Pyper), a 400 year old teenager with a personal vendetta against the Nephelium, trying to cope with her competing desires to find love and stop Azazeal.
Why it Shouldn’t Have Been Axed?: Hex was all about teenagers making the wrong decisions, with apocalyptic consequences. Darker and more cynical than many of its American counterparts, it featured some great characters, including Leon, the class asshole who becomes a hero; Thelma, the self-absorbed ghost; and Roxanne, the class bitch who sets herself a goal of seducing a priest.
What’s it About?: Although Hex was marketed as the British Buffy, Demons really was British Buffy. Luke is the last descendent of Abraham Van Helsing and his destiny is to hunt and destroy demons, a task which he is trained for by his dead father’s best friend, Rupert Galvin (Philip Glenister – think Rupert Giles with an American accent), and Mina Harker (yes, that Mina Harker), a centuries-old vampire.
Why it Shouldn’t Have Been Axed?: OK, Demons probably did deserve to get cancelled. The monsters looked fake; Philip Glenister’s American accent was appalling; and none of the demons stayed alive long enough to develop any depth. However, the show was so bad that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Where else would you find lines like: “first we type them, then smite them”?