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2011-06-29 - 17:51:00 - by AlisonW - Topic: Personal: Television |

In the last few days I've watched the final episodes of two television series I've liked a lot. In both cases this was their second season and in both cases they were cancelled earlier this year by the American networks which broadcast them.

The first was Stargate Universe; part of the Stargate Sci-fi franchise which started with a major film of that name in 1994. Whereas the previous television incarnations had lasted ten years and five years, the latest – and now known to be the last – series was canned during its second season. And because that cancellation, announced just before last Christmas, happened after the succeeding episodes had already been filmed the series ended without a resolution to the complex storylines. I have my own personal view of what might have happened and, briefly, a film was planned which was then cancelled, so I'll never know. Oddly, the pre-penultimate episode of the second season almost provided a sort of closure, and the final edition provided a bookend to the very first, with the lights on each floor of the Destiny going out in order at the end, reflecting them coming on at the series opener.

The other, however, had some warning of the impending end. Life Unexpected was light-years away from Stargate (though 'Light Years' was the original working title,) being the story of a girl called Lux who had been put up for adoption as a new baby and her search, sixteen years later, for emancipation which led her to her birth father and mother. Wonderfully acted and moving it was a series I greatly enjoyed for its two, all-too-short seasons and in many ways reminding me of the earlier Gilmore Girls also from the WB/ CW stable.

And where Stargate Universe left its viewers on a knife-edge, Life Unexpected had a (clearly rewritten) final episode which tied most of its plot threads together, at least in the last twenty-five minutes! There was a "Two years later" title which cut to a graduation class, wherein we saw most of the main characters but weren't initially clear who were together as couples and which just happened to be sitting near each other right up until the final moments. And yes, the final scene played out as many of us viewers had probably written it way back in the series' pilot two years before, but we cried nonetheless.

I find this way of American television being happy to cancel a show on a whim quite annoying for two reasons. One is the simple "but I liked that show!" which also applied to other recent cancellations (like Lie to Me and Human Target, both of which were cancelled after their final episodes had been broadcast), the other is the short-sightedness that a series may take a while to grow an audience.



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