TV Shows About the Deceased that Should be Resurrected
By Crystal Harrell
2016 has arrived, and while the new year is generally a perfect time to kickstart new resolutions, habits, and/or a Christmas dessert detox diet, I want to talk about something else. I want to propose that 2016, being the harbinger of new possibilities, is the ideal opportunity to bring back some shows that are no longer with us. I mean that both literally and metaphorically. Not to sound morbid, but a lot of characters in these TV series are dead--physically, emotionally, and spiritually dead. But that doesn't mean they're unworthy to be dug up from their graves and put back into the glow of television screens. These shows ended prematurely, had improper burials, and have unfinished business to tend to. Judge for yourself whether you think they deserve a second chance at life.
1. Tru Calling (October 30, 2003 - March 11, 2005)
Fox has a notorious reputation for canceling its fan-favorite programming (*cough* Firefly, The Sarah Connor Chronicles *cough*), and Tru Calling was one of them. The series followed young medical student Tru Davies as she takes a job at the city morgue, only to have corpses come back to life and ask for her help. She finds that she possesses the ability to relive the day of a person’s death in order to prevent it from happening. Tru must learn how to keep her power a secret from her friends and discover what happens when you tamper with fate. This show suffered from lower than expected ratings and was pulled from Fox’s lineup, but it definitely was a mistake on their part. Tru Calling is like a mix of Groundhog Day and Ghost Whisperer, as there are elements of humor stemming from Tru having to relive a single day multiple times to stop a death and some Melinda Gordon vibes from having to be this unexpected vigilante seeking justice for the deceased. Each episode also has its share of suspense and situational tension, because you find yourself rooting for Tru to successfully prevent each person’s demise, especially since it’s a wrongful death or murder most of the time. Actress Elisa Dushku carries the role of Tru well, and it’s a shame the show only lasted 26 episodes before we got to see more development from her character. Also, who doesn’t like some good old-fashioned alternative rock and overly-saturated opening sequences from the early 2000’s?
2. Ghost Whisperer (September 23, 2005 - May 21, 2010)
I know, I know, Ghost Whisperer lasted five years; not exactly a short-lived show. But like the premise of the series itself, it has some unfinished business to carry out for fans. The CBS Emmy-nominated series starred Jennifer Love Hewitt as Melinda Gordon, a small-town antique shop owner who has been able to communicate with earthbound spirits since she was a young girl. She helps the aimless ghosts cross over into the light by solving mysteries or carrying out requests pertaining to their death. What I love about Ghost Whisperer was that, sure, it had some cheesy background music to score the sappiest speeches you’ve ever heard and perhaps it was a little impractical to have Melinda wear couture fashion and stilettos whilst being terrorized by testy spirits, but it is just so engaging to watch. The ghosts are ambiguous and frightening at first, but you see their humanity shine through by the episode’s end while employing some eerie visions for a surreal viewing experience. There’s also plenty of feel-good moments that make for an interesting combination with its scarier elements. Low ratings during the show’s fifth season spurred CBS to cancel Ghost Whisperer (probably due to the addition of annoying child actors and Jamie Kennedy, but that’s just my opinion). The show amassed a strong following during its run, spawning graphic novels, a video game, and a web series. Also, its composer is Mark Snow—otherwise known as the guy who came up with the iconic theme to The X-Files. Have a listen:
3. Pushing Daises (October 3, 2007 - June 13, 2009)
Oh Pushing Daisies, how I love thee. I wholeheartedly believe that this show is the greatest thing since apple pie (you’ll get the reference later), and was very upset to learn that the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike had played a part in the premature conclusion of this whimsically delicious series. The seven-time Emmy winning program spins the tale of Ned the Pie Maker who has the ability to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. The catch is that they only have a minute to live before another person in a nearby proximity must die to balance out the cosmic scale. Ned must touch the person again so they can go back to being dead forever, which becomes a problem when he brings his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles, back to life. Pushing Daisies is a beautiful amalgamation of Tim Burton and Wes Anderson’s visual styles, in that every color, pattern, and shape in each shot looks like a piece of art. Clever script writing is also a plus, making an episode seem like a modern day storybook complete with a narrator. I guarantee that you’ll have to pause while watching to either digest the golden stream of rapport that you just heard or admire all the creative technicalities that went into a particular sentence. An unfortunate circumstance of the show’s ending was that all the important plot lines had to be resolved in the last episode, which takes all of two minutes. Another interesting factoid is that Pushing Daisies took first place in Esquire’s “TV Reboot Tournament,” where fans were asked which show they would most like to see return to television. You know it’s good when a series beats Firefly in a poll like that.
4. Dead Like Me (June 27, 2003 - October 31, 2004)
Poor, poor Bryan Fuller. He’s a super talented screenwriter and television producer who creates these amazing shows, but they all somehow end up cancelled too soon. Case in point being Pushing Daisies and its spiritual predecessor Dead Like Me. The latter follows 18-year-old Georgia “George” Lass as she dies on the first day of her temp job when a toilet seat from a space station hurtles down to Earth and lands on her. She becomes a reaper in the afterlife who marks people for death and escorts them to their resting place while dealing with the effects of assuming a new identity among the living. Like Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me’s dialogue is very intelligent and full of flamboyant language—just slightly more cynical. George’s narrative monologues act as colorful segues into the topic of each episode, all of them pertaining to the inevitable cycle of birth, life, and death. The characters are also fleshed out and add that touch of relatable humanity in a show centered around supernatural events. Dead Like Me faired well with ratings, but Showtime decided to pull the plug after the completion of its second season. A direct-to-DVD movie was released in 2009 called Dead Like Me: Life After Death, but received lukewarm reviews from fans. What better reason to visit the wold of the series once again? Plus, one can never get enough of Ellen Muth.