Thursday, September 8, 2016

AFT Awards: The “Threshold” Award for Best Cancelled Series

This is the nineteenth category of the 10th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2015-2016 season. This category is a special one, given out four times in the past six years, honoring those shows which died this past season. "Threshold", for those who do not know, was a fantastic science fiction drama that premiered in 2005 on CBS and was axed after only nine episodes (the DVD release contains four additional unaired episodes). Led by the great Carla Gugino and featuring a fun cast, the show began with an electrifying pilot surrounding an interesting type of alien invasion strategy. Unfortunately, the show premiered around the same time as two similar sci-fi series, the dreadful "Surface" and the impressive "Invasion." Both those shows outlived "Threshold" but ultimately did not make the cut for a renewal order. "Threshold" was the victim of a bad timeslot, and just to make it worse, CBS decided to renew a staggering six series from the 2005-2006 season. This category was suggested by a friend several years to be titled the "Firefly" award, but I hadn’t yet seen that show, which has a large enough fan base, thus, I would like to honor the memory of "Threshold" with this award.

The “Threshold” Award for Best Cancelled Series

The Brink (HBO): This show featured Jack Black as an unpopular Pakistani embassy employee and Tim Robbins as a sex-crazed secretary of state was so absurd that it shouldn’t have worked, but it proved to be tremendously entertaining. Why HBO decided to reverse its renewal and continue only with “Ballers” is a mystery - I would have enjoyed seeing more of this political parody.

Granfathered (Fox): I don’t think one ever got great reviews but it was a crowdpleaser. John Stamos matched his ability to not age with a fine performance as a man suddenly gifted with both a grown son and a young granddaughter, and he wasn’t even the best member of the cast - that honor goes to Paget Brewster. This show was genuinely funny, and I especially liked Josh Peck and Cristina Millian as the new parents who actually seemed to work together pretty well as a couple in the end.

The Grinder (Fox): This show got better reviews from its timeslot companion and even scored a Golden Globe nomination for Rob Lowe, who for the first time was actually the lead on a show he claimed to be. His hilarious lead performance matched with Fred Savage’s more down-to-earth turn worked well, and this show embraced its silliness and used it to maximum effect for the episodes it got.

Limitless (CBS): This show came the closest to being renewed, initially not mentioned when all of the network’s other series were being picked up. I still haven’t seen the movie that inspired this show, but I really enjoyed the creative way in which this show portrayed the use of a mind-altering drug. Jake McDorman’s performance is another thing I’ll miss very much, as well as his dynamic with costar Jennifer Carpenter.

Minority Report (Fox): This show was dead almost at the beginning of the season, but I enjoyed it a lot. The remake of one of my favorite sci-fi movies from the last decade or two never plummeted in quality the same way “Terra Nova” and “Almost Human” both did after tremendous starts. This show may never have been that great, but it certainly deserved a longer life that what it got.

Significant Mother (CW): This show technically hasn’t been cancelled, but many sites that track such things are reporting it as presumed dead because nothing’s been written about it in over a year. Its title was clever and its premise very funny, and I wanted to see more than just nine episodes of what could have well turned into an enduring comedy.

Next up: Best Drama Series

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