There was once a time when animated sitcoms were all the rage in the wake of shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill. It seemed like every network threw their hat into the ring at some point. However, many of these shows were either mega ratings bombs or were canned for not pulling in Simpsons-esque numbers. As a result, these series were canceled after their first season, several before their entire run had finished. These are a few of the unlucky ones that never found their place on network television, though most of them enjoy relatively decent success on cable and DVD.
The Goode Family (2009)
While Mike Judge satirized conservative southerners with King of the Hill, his next project after the show’s cancellation would satirize the other side of the coin. The Goode Family follows the lives of an eco-friendly family that tries to do the right thing, but more often than not end up screwing things up. They try to adopt an African child, but end up adopting a white child who happened to live in Africa. They try to give some Asians a place to stay, but end up being accused of immigrant slavery. Mike Judge’s humor is as pitch-perfect as it was in King of the Hill with characters that are more believable than stereotypical gag machines. However, it didn’t take long for ratings on ABC to slip and the show was dumped into the Friday night graveyard slot to play out before expiring. The show is not currently on DVD or replaying on cable.
Sit Down, Shut Up (2009)
Based on the hit show from Australia, STSU had all the right ingredients for a hit. The show follows the lives of teachers who are constantly screwing up their jobs and breaking the fourth wall in terms of story structure. The show featured an all-star voice cast with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Will Forte, Henry Winkler, and Tom Kenny among others. The humor was fast-paced, self-aware and perfectly timed. Some jokes were quite random in their evolution, but managed to be pretty funny such as one episode where Will Arnett’s character crashes into a car and becomes a hybrid car/human ala Knight Rider. But placing a newcomer up against the likes of The Simpsons and Family Guy is suicide. And it was. The ratings tanked so hard that FOX didn’t just sink it into the graveyard slot, but a slot that would kill even the finest of reality shows: Saturday nights after Mad TV. The show is rerun on Comedy Central and is not yet on DVD.
Mission Hill (1999)
The Simpsons writers and producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein created an unconventional animated sitcom about a 20-something named Andy living in a city loft with his friends and high-school student brother. They all encounter such odd acquaintances such as an old gay couple and a businessman who constantly whispers ‘penis penis penis’. Everything about this show was incredibly different from it’s competition: the characters, the animation, fearless humor and candid discussion about taboo subjects. Most of the stories involved such subjects as the shame of masturbation and the confusion of prostitution. With all this and an alcoholic dog, you’d think Mission Hill would capture the much desired 18-34 demographic. Sadly, the show only made it half-way through it’s season before WB axed it. Mission Hill reran on Cartoon Network is now on DVD.
The Oblongs (2001)
If The Simpsons were considered a dysfunctional family, The Oblongs are a horrible mistake of life (literally). This family, rendered handicapped by either genetics or radiation exposure, live in a poor, desolate town just close enough to the rich people homes to envy them. Their deformities consist of hair-loss, body fusion, ADD, extra limbs and zero limbs. It’s also the only animated sitcoms to feature the voice of Will Ferrell. Episodes revolved around the unfair nature of class separation and the cruel fate of those with low-incomes (you know, in a darkly comedic sense). This is a very odd turn for a show that was originally based on a children’s book. It should come as no surprise why this show had such a short life. But for being a dark, mean-spirited comedy about the tragedy of life, it certainly delivers. The Oblongs reran on Cartoon Network and eventually made it’s way to DVD.
Clerks: The Animated Series (2000)
Dante and Randal return to man Quick Stop and RST Video in their quest to past time. In an animated format, the two of them go on much bigger adventures involving virus outbreaks and slavery scams. However, their snarky dialogue and crass attitudes still carry the show with the same humorous candor of the movie. Kevin Smith’s cult classic seemed like good material for an animated series and it was. The problem? It was sold to the wrong network. ABC barely aired two of the six ordered episodes before pulling it. The show has gained a cult status over the years being available on a nice DVD and having reran on several cable networks.
3 South (2002)
A show that was too stupid for MTV? Apparently the border-line mentally-retarded antics of two college students just never hit a core with MTV’s demographic. Sanford and Dell are two massive failures who constantly annoy their A-student roommate, Joe. The show was written by such comedy writers who went on to write for Family Guy and Drawn Together and you can really see their work shine through in the low-brow humor. For a network that embraced such simplistic concepts as Beavis & Butt-head and Celebrity Deathmatch, you’d think something as simple as rowdy college roommates would gain some attention. 3 South finished it’s run and left the network quietly, never to be seen anywhere again outside of MTV2.
Yep, its another show about college roommates. This time, however, it’s a much diverse group made up of a jock, a pretty boy, a nerd and an average student who hasn’t quite found his place. Technically, their not roommates as they are spread out across dorms, sororities and different colleges, but they still stay in contact with each other. The stories are nothing ground-breaking. Volunteer to get the girl, get a job to make some food money, take part in college traditions, etc. The only element that stood out from the rest was the incredible art style and witty dialogue. Not to mention there is one great episode where all four of them wage an all-night game of Risk. The show finished its run on Canadian television and reran on Comedy Central where it holds a mild-cult status.
The Critic (1994)
Jay Sherman is an eccentric, fat New York film critic. Despite his angry southern boss, his elderly smoking make-up lady, his crazy ex-wife and his boy who ain’t quite right, Jay struggles to find some joy in a world filled with tiredly dull and played-out movies. Featuring top-notch voice talent from Jon Lovitz, Nancy Cartwright and Maurice LaMarche, as well as the brilliant writing of Al Jean and Mike Reiss from The Simpsons, The Critic had the makings of a show destined to run side-by-side with The Simpsons for many years. Technically, this show had two seasons, but both of them were on different networks (first ABC and then FOX). There was even a short-lived online series after the success of the reruns on Comedy Central. Unfortunately, The Critic never quite found a home for a lengthy run. The show is currently available on DVD.
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