Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Best of the Best VII

Here lies the broken dreams, the forgotten promises, the disappeared but not unloved. Here are the children of entertainment, television, video games, and movies that nearly saw success but were cut down before their time. In the words of the immortal John Keats, ‘Here lies one whose name was writ on water’:

Best Science Fiction MMO:

The Matrix Online

This should have been a rousing success, certainly there were no competitors of similar MMO’s on the market, but the meteoric rise of the Matrix franchises’ popularity was matched only by its meteoric fall. The Matrix Online was a direct causality of the franchises surprisingly short shelf life. Although it is remembered fondly by those who played it, it was gone far too quickly.

Honorable Mention: Tabula Rasa/Star Wars Galaxies

Best Science Fiction TV Show:


It’s hard to say that 88 episodes and a two part movie should be classed as failures, but Farscape spent the majority of its four year run with a sword of Damocles over its head. Starting from the second season there were talks of cancelation each season, as it survived each by a hair. Although fan outcry enabled a series end-capping three hour movie, the show died well before its time.

 Honorable Mention: Defying Gravity/Firefly

Best Science Fiction Game:

Advent Rising

Advent Rising suffered from the long slow death of its publisher. A game well before its time it had a magnificent soundtrack composed by Emmanuel Fratianni, Michael Richard Plowman, Laurie Robinson, and Tommy Tallarico  and a story written by Orson Scott Card and Cameron Dayton. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the fact that both Halo 4 and Stargate SG-1 have similar storylines should be a testament to its quality.

Best Science Fiction Movie:

The Chronicles of Riddick

Following the success Pitch Black, starring a young mostly unheard of Vin Diesel, Chronicles of Riddick was to be the first part of a trilogy staring the titular anti-hero. Despite a well-regarded cast and a good script fans didn’t take to the more epic feel of the gritty Furyan and it died a quick and unlamented death. However, with the continued success of the Fast and Furious series there is again interest in the Riddick series, but what will come out of the third movie, aptly named Riddick no one can say.

Best Mystery Television Show:

Veronica Mars

Three seasons of Mars was all it took for the show to achieve cult status. A causality of the merging of The WB and UPN networks, Veronica Mars was at its heart a private eye show centered on the titular teenage heroine. Often witty, sometimes dark, Mars tackled real issues before its demise. Recent fan outpouring has made possible the filming of a new movie. With most of the regular cast expected to be aboard, Mars fans will have one last chance to see their heroine in action.

Honorable Mention: Law & Order Criminal Intent/Endgame

Best Fantasy TV Show:

The Legend of the Seeker

The television adaptation of Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series was not what it might have been. However, Seeker proved the old adage about the sum of parts being more than the whole. Most episodes were mundane, and yet the two full seasons are proof that Fantasy on TV is not only possible, it can be done well. It can not be said definitively, that it paved the way for Game of Thrones, but it undoubtedly didn’t hurt.

Honorable Mention: Hercules/Xena/Beastmaster

Best Quirky Television Show:

Tie: Dead Like Me/Keen Eddie/Wonderfalls/Love Monkey

From a show about Grim Reapers, to a cop show about across the pond, talking to inanimate objects, and just loving music; these quirky and odd shows may not have left a large footprint in entertainment history but will not be forgotten by those who watched them. After all, isn’t that the most important part?

Best Classic Movie:

Tie: The Wizard of Oz/It’s a Wonderful Life

A little known fact is that while these two movies are classics that we grew up with, both movies in their theatrical debuts were flops. Proving time does indeed heal all wounds, Oz, a movie taken from the books of L. Frank Baum and Wonderful Life, taken from the short story by Phillip Van Doren Stern; prove that a movie that be down but not out.

Best Western:


The best western show in the modern era, and perhaps the only one of note before Justified; Deadwood was a story about a town in the territories struggling to become more than a gold rush camp. Featuring Timothy Olyphant with trademark swagger, Deadwood featured heroes from historical record with a sprinkling of Tall Tale on top.

Best TV Show for your Brain:

The Pretender

A show about an ultra-genius boy who grows into a man, trying to track down his past and help people along the way to balance his sins, the Pretender was a show that managed to meld the serialized and the case of the week storylines fairly well. It and many shows like it are the prototypes of the modern era procedurals. These traveling hero shows were all the rage back in the nineties and included Vanishing Son and Renegade, just to name a few.

Honorable Mention: The Profiler/Sliders/Vanishing Son

Best Cancelled Video Game:

Tie: Star Wars 1313/True Fantasy Live Online

Xbox owners still talk about the one that got away. Before Microsoft killed any chances of a MMO gracing its console there was TFLO, a game by Japanese developer Level 5. After years in development and monies spent, this game was inexplicably cancelled with nary a word on why. Level 5 and Microsoft never worked together again, and to say their relationship has been strained since then is an understatement. With the closing of Lucas Arts by Disney, 1313 is in development limbo, though Disney had reportedly been looking at shunting the project to an outside development house, there is less and less hope for this game ever launching with each passing day.

Best Emo-filled Teen-Angst TV Show:

The OC/My So-Called Life/Gilmore Girls

Each show has its fans and each show has its detractors, but these three of some of the best of the crop. Often faced with an audience that was growing up before the show could follow in turn, each show is marked by rapid character turnover, especially The O.C.

Best TV Show featuring Immortal Characters:

Tie: Angel/Highlander

Shows with Immortal characters rarely play well, of the many that have come over the years, only a few have even seen a second season no matter how successful they were initially. There is always the exception that proves the rule, in this case True Blood is entering its sixth season, but Angel and Highlander stand out as the best of those cut short. Angel even had the distinction of having its final year be one of its most successful years.

Best TV Franchises that have been Dead for too Long:

Tie: Star Trek/Stargate

Even with the success of Star Trek the Movie, Trekkie’s will have to continue to wait a while longer before their beloved franchise returns to television. Like Star Gate fans, the issue seems to fall on their past success. Fans aren’t easily satisfied with any old show, and when the fans revolt the shows tend to die quick unlamented deaths (Both series final shows were widely criticized by fans before being cancelled). While Star Trek is likely to be the first show series to return, SG fans will not be so easily forgotten.

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