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10 Spectacular TV Series You Will Never Get to Watch

By Brian Byrd | Lists | August 20, 2015 |

By Brian Byrd | Lists | August 20, 2015 |

FX president John Landgraf, perhaps the savviest network exec in the business, made news at the 2015 Television Critics Association press tour for stating what even causal TV consumers have known for years — there’s too much scripted programming. Three hundred and seventy series in 2014; upwards of 400 this year. Between jobs and children and spousal demands and researching memes and organizing confederate flag support rallies, compulsively following more than a few dozen shows is unmanageable.

Incredibly, these 400-odd series represent only a fraction of the content that networks have in their development pipeline. For every pilot that emerges from developmental ooze, another dozen fail to achieve escape velocity. Promising projects frequently vanish into vapor for various reasons — funding complications, studio whims, brand shifts, lack of available white male actors. Last year we spotlighted 10 tantalizing concepts that never saw the light of day. Here are a bunch more.

The same caveat applies to this batch: loglines carry with them no guarantee of quality. Check out the summary for this highly anticipated 2008 HBO series: “A David Milch drama about how the dysfunctional Yost family intersects with two new arrivals to the community: a man spurned by the Yosts years ago, and an enigmatic young stranger who seems to be from another planet altogether.” Sounds intriguing, right? A Vine of a burning school bus running over baby seals is more watchable than John From Cincinnati.

Based on the infamous 1974 MMA match between Lucifer and former President Jimmy Carter (note: confirm this before publishing), Carter Beats The Devil has been stuck in development — wait for it — hell for nearly a decade and a half. Glen David Gold’s novel was originally optioned by Tom Cruise’s production company for Cruise to play the main role of Carter the Great, magician who finds himself on the run after supposedly killing Warren G. Harding during a performance. Nate Dogg wasn’t there to bail you out this time, was he Warren? AMC gave up trying to turn this into a series back in 2003.

With The Killing shipped off to Netflix, AMC hoped We Hate Paul Revere would become the new cornerstone of the network’s comedy lineup. Sadly, the pilot for this half-hour series from Ethan Sandler and Adrian Wenner underwhelmed and failed to secure a pickup order. The comedy would have followed Hugh and Ebenezer Moody, two brothers in Colonial Boston who are constantly overshadowed by other, more notable historical figures…especially the titular silversmith, played by Ron Livingston (pictured above looking like he was just rousted from a deep sleep and told he failed an AIDS test). In fairness to the Moodys, Paul Revere is an unfunny asshole who hasn’t been relevant since Mad About You, so I understand their position.

An alternate-universe drama where Yellowhammer state is not the backwards-thinking undereducated shithole it is today, but rather, an island of progressivism whose citizens discover a renewable energy source that has the power to unite or divide the world. Well, this synopsis isn’t entirely accurate. Alabama was actually a sci-fi comedy from Reno 911 creators Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant. Alabama is still a superfund site populated by people who refer to chocolate cereal as “colored Cheerios.” Or “NegrOs.” Whichever is more racist. FX chief Landgraf reportedly loved the Star Trek-meets-Reno 911 pilot, which starred Lennon, Garant, Rob Huebel, Natasha Leggero, Brandon Jackson, Eddie Izzard, and Mindy Sterling, but other execs wanted to retool before giving the greenlight. Rather than compromise their vision, Lennon and Garant decided to accept defeat and move forward peacefully…just like Alabama did immediately after the South lost the Civil War.

As I mentioned before, taglines are all I really have to go on when making these guides. And boy, is this a great one: a comedy about an adopted man who, at the urging of his wife, seeks out his biological mother, discovers she’s a former porn star, invites her to move in, and forces his family to deal with the unpredictable consequences. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, guess who was cast to play the GILF? None other than silver screen legend Lana Turner! Just kidding, Lana Turner would never do television. Because she’s dead.
How And Why, from celebrated insane person Charlie Kaufman and starring John Hawkes, Michael Cera, Sally Hawkins and Catherine Keener, told the story of a man who can explain how and why a nuclear reactor works but is clueless about life. Neato, right? Yet FX passed because, according to Deadline, they felt the “unusual mix of comedy and drama would not mesh well with the rest of the lineup.” Ya don’t say? This is like being surprised when you ask a degenerate coke fiend to hold your eightball for a week and she hands you back an empty bag seven days later. GODDAMMIT GRANDMA, AGAIN?!

AR2 (FX)
Hard to imagine why, in 2008, FX opted not to greenlight a show about Michigan natives inciting a second American Revolution. Just can’t think of a single Lipton-and-tri-corner-hat-related reason. Not one black-president-with-the-middle-name-Hussein-related cause. Shame, because AR2 showrunners Paul Scheuring (Prison Break) Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing) planned to use the series explore the nuances of rebellion, including the role of corporations and the idea that patriotism is often a matter of perspective. For instance, my local grocery store has labeled me a “criminal” for repeatedly spray-painting “PISS WATER” on their Coors Light display, but you and I can agree that I’m basically the 21st century Samuel John Adams.

A cross between The Punisher and Bringing Out The Dead, Eye for an Eye centered on a disillusioned paramedic (a crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube) driven to vigilantism in the wake of a violent crime spree that shatters his community… the same kind of violent crime spree Ice Cube rapped about unleashing on his Compton community in the 80s (“When I’m called off, I got a sawed-off. Squeeze the trigger and bodies are hauled off.”). Instead of passing on the series — thus depriving us of the opportunity to have two Ice-prefixed actors on television at the same time — FX should have added a time travel element where Cube journeys to the past to mete out justice against his younger self. When finished, he could travel to the Amazon to inform his cameraman character that yes, there are in fact snakes out there this big.

Baseball is boring. I enjoy the sport, but it’s tedium personified. Long games, long seasons, long needles resulting in long balls (home runs, not GOP presidential hopeful Deez Nuts). Oz creators Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana hoped to make the emerald chessboard more interesting by shifting the focus away from the game and toward the women who sit and watch their husbands stand in a field. Hilarious third-degree baseball burns aside, Baseball Wives seemed like a lock to bridge the gap between The Sopranos and final season of Oz. HBO even ordered eight episodes, secured a cast (which included Amy Ryan), and had Steve Buscemi onboard to direct the pilot before backing out in late 2002. Instead, the pay cable giant picked up some clichéd cop show starring a bunch of nobody minority actors. What a stupid decision. HEY HBO, YOU KNOW WHAT SHOW HAS THE SAME NUMBER OF EMMY WINS AS THE WIRE? BASEBALL WIVES! YOU SUCK, BLUE! YOU SUCK!

If The Rock is movie-franchise Viagra, then Matthew Perry is TV series, well, something that can eradicate an erection in seconds. A video of Donald Trump shaving his taint and sprinkling the hair on a child’s birthday cake? Pictures of your spouse fisting a newborn giraffe? Perry hasn’t toplined a successful series in more than a decade. The End of Steve seemed like a sure bet — Perry was to play an egomaniacal daytime talk show host who decided to find some happiness and redemption in his personal life — yet Showtime passed in 2009. My favorite part of this story is an email co-creator Peter Tolan sent Entertainment Weekly in which he lamented Showtime’s decision but vowed to take the series elsewhere. “Talks have already started with HBO!” Tolan told EW. This is the next sentence in the article: “‘We’re not in discussions with them,’ says a rep for the cable network.”

Part Edge of Tomorrow, part Halo, part Band of Brothers, this sci-fi series from Spartacus showrunner Steven DeKnight would have followed a squad of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race, with each season taking place on a new planet. Dsfkjhhe=121wou8ryeXX??:<{:KAuasoxawde. Sorry, my massive erection just smashed through the bottom of my laptop. Let me see if I can find a Go On episode online somewhere. Watching a few seconds of that should clear this right up. OK, all better. Where were we? Oh, the kickass alien war show. As you can imagine, Incursion commanded a slightly higher budget than, say, Flight of the Conchords. With Black Sails burning through Starz’s treasure and American Gods on the horizon, network president Chris Albrecht moved Incursion “to the backburner” in early 2014, where it will sit until Starz finds a spare $100 million stashed in a maintenance closet somewhere.

Related: 10 Amazing TV Series You’ll Never Get to See