The new Fall TV season kicked off on September 20. Each year dozens of new shows hit the air waves, each hoping to be a hit. Some have staying power, and some don’t. But every once in a while a show only gets one season but makes a big impression. These are One Season Wonders, series that didn’t last long on the air but remain treasured in the hearts of fans.
This week for Binge Watch, I’m going to celebrate some of my favorite One Season Wonders! Without further ado, here’s a few series that lasted only one season I really enjoyed.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993-1994)
Number of Episodes: 27
About: This western serial debuted on the same night—Friday—and same season as another FOX show, The X-Files. One became a multi-season hit that spawned two theatrical films and a revival, while Brisco County lasted just one season. It starred Bruce Campbell as a bounty hunter, the son of a famous Marshal, who is tasked with tracking down and arresting members of the gang that killed his father. It had some fun stories and fun supporting players, including John Astin and Kelly Rutherford. I loved the blend of humor and action from this series, co-created by Jeffrey Boam (Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Carlton Cuse (LOST, Bates Motel). I own the DVDs and have seen this all the way through several times.
Number of Episodes: 14
About: This one came from Joss Whedon and was a running joke on The Big Bang Theory. It also spawned a follow up film, Serenity, which debuted in 2005. This series was an ambitious space western that featured a high-profile cast led by Nathan Fillion. I loved the action and the comedy here. The style was great, as is the cast. There are a bunch of interesting episodes, but it struggled to find an audience. FOX aired episodes out of order and bounced it around the schedule and it lasted only one season. I loved the film that gave this some closure and continue to revisit the series, which has become a cult classic. I have it on disc but also recently purchased it on streaming!
Number of Episodes: 13
About: This one was co-created by Bryan Fuller and set at Niagara Falls, where a young woman, Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), works as a clerk at a souvenir shop. One day, the wax figures begin talking to her. Only she can hear them, and they’re pretty insistent, pushing her to help others. This was a wacky and fun premise, full of colorful and amusing characters. Another FOX series (this has come up plenty this week), I thought it was a delight. It struggled to find an audience and lasted just one chopped up season, though it did debut in the Spring, get a few episodes dropped in the summer and manage to finish its run in the Fall. This is another one I have on DVD that I’ve seen a few times.
Studio 60 (2006-2007)
Number of Episodes: 22
About: Aaron Sorkin is a great writer who has created some memorable shows. He created a hit for NBC in The West Wing. For a follow up, he decided to create an hour-long dramedy about the behind-the-scenes working of a late-night sketch show. Studio 60 debuted the same season as 30 Rock, a sitcom with a similar premise. Studio 60 featured a high-profile cast led by Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet and Bradley Whitford but just didn’t connect with audiences. It lasted one full broadcast season. I didn’t think it was great, but even an average Sorkin show is entertaining. People wanted The West Wing, but this aimed to be something different. I thought it was enjoyable for what it was and entertaining. I would have liked it to continue but I get why it didn’t.
The Unusuals (2009)
Number of Episodes: 10
About: This one was created by Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion). It was a dark comedy about a group of detectives for the NYPD. It had unconventional stories, to say the least. But it had an incredible cast, led by Jeremy Renner and Amber Tamblyn. I LOVED it. The series aired on ABC and lasted just 10 episodes, debuting in the Spring and getting cancelled shortly after its season wrapped. I thought it was weird and engaging. I loved the cast and the writing. Hawley went on to have a number of successful series after this but his first shot was a pretty good one. The only downside is it’s nearly impossible to find now.
Number of Episodes: 13
About: Another Spring premier that lasted into Summer, Kings was a modern day re-telling of the story of David. Like, David from the Bible. It featured Ian McShane in the Saul role as King Silas and Christopher Egan as David. The supporting cast included Allison Miller, Susanna Thompson, Dylan Baker and Sebastian Stan. Honestly, it wasn’t particularly religious despite its root origin. It was a big swing and the premise made me laugh. I thought I would hate it and yet, I found it totally compelling to the point I was kind of bummed when it got cancelled. It was another NBC series, created by Michael Green who went on to write the script for Logan and recently adapted Y: The Last Man.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.