Welcome to our 2nd installment of the Most Underrated TV Shows of all time.
I’ll have Amazon links where available for any unsung treasures you’d like to own.
29. The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (1986-1989-Syndicated)
[amazon_image id=”B0013D8LZE” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Adventures of The Galaxy Rangers – The Collection, Vol. 1[/amazon_image]
This animated series’ sci-fi/western hybrid predated Firefly, and the backstory involving government mutation experiments gave it a Phillip K. Dick-ian tone that was more sophisticated than other animated fare, thereby relegating it to an underrated obscurity with a short life span.
28. The Tick (Animated 1994-1996)/The Tick (live action 2001-2002)-Fox
[amazon_image id=”B000FS9MVK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Tick Vs. Season One[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B0000AUHQE” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Tick: The Entire Series[/amazon_image]
Fox made two adaptations of this underrated comic character. Both were equally hilarious. But each got squashed like a bug due to low ratings.
27. Not Necessarily The News (1992-1990-HBO)
It’s unlikely that The Daily Show, or The Onion would exist without this comedy that spoofed the nightly news.
While it was on for several years, premium cable was in its infancy, and it played to a smaller audience. Anyone else remember Sniglets?
Trivia: this was one of Conan O’Brien’s first writing gigs.
26. Space 1999 (1975-1977-Syndicated)
[amazon_image id=”B000P6R5TI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Space: 1999 (30th Anniversary Edition Megaset)[/amazon_image]
Space 1999’s bizarre concept was certainly original. A space colony are set adrift when Earth’s moon is knocked out of orbit by a catastrophic explosion. Unlike Star Trek’s logical/moralistic tone, 1999 was more atmospheric, and didn’t try to over explain its odd phenomena.
It was one of the most expensive shows of its time, with a look akin to Kubrick’s 2001. The budget combined with low ratings sent it into a black hole.
*This series was produced by Gerry Anderson, the pioneer of Super-Marionation. Check out his ranking on the Weirdest Kid Shows of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
25. Bosom Buddies (1980-1982-ABC)
[amazon_image id=”B000R7I3YG” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Bosom Buddies – The Complete Series[/amazon_image]
Tom Hanks got his start in this quirky comedy. He and Peter Scolari played two broke friends who dress in drag so they can live in a cheap apartment bldg. that only allows women tenants.
The show’s focus on gender discrimination and the absurdity of male/female stereotypes was daring at the time, even if the premise required a major suspension of disbelief.
24. Night Flight (1981-1996-USA)/120 Minutes (1986-2000-MTV)
These two shows planted the seeds of alternative culture that would explode in the early 90’s.
Night Flight was a hodgepodge of alternative rock, short films and B-movie clips. It was perfect entertainment for disaffected kids with nothing to do on the weekends.
23. The Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town (2010-IFC)
[amazon_image id=”B004J713LA” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes To Town[/amazon_image]
The Kids In The Hall 90’s comedy sketch show was a touchstone for Generation X. Sadly, this 2010 mini-series that reunited the cast didn’t get the same exposure. Rather than random skits, the concept revolved around a slovenly grim reaper picking off residents of a quiet Canadian burg.
22. The Gong Show (orig. run 1976-1978-NBC)
The Gong Show was the first talent show that celebrated when performers sucked. The concept was simple. If a performer was good they got a pass, if not, they got gonged. Contestants dreaded that sound, but audiences ate it up.
But NBC censors were never fond of the show and this notorious segment was the deathblow. Pardon the pun…
But if there was ever a show that espoused what was awfully awesome about the 70’s, this was it.
21. Batman Beyond (1999-2001-WB)/Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006-Cartoon Network)
[amazon_image id=”B003XMZVHY” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Batman Beyond: The Complete Series[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000LE179S” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Justice League Unlimited, Seasons 1-2 (DC Comics Classic Collection)[/amazon_image]
Batman: The Animated Series, is regarded as a classic that appealed to adults and kids. Producer Bruce Timm followed up that show with these equally impressive series. Batman Beyond showed a future where an aging Bruce Wayne mentors a younger protegé who takes on the Batman mantle.
JLU, is an expanded version of the Justice League cartoon, allowing for obscure DC characters to share the spotlight with bigger names like Superman and Batman. Both were critically acclaimed, but neither were given a long shelf life by their respective networks.
Click here to read about the new Superman/Batman live-action movie and click here for my Justice League dream cast.
20. The Killing (2011-present-AMC)
[amazon_image id=”B00DY0SXES” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Try[/amazon_image]
The Killing started with good buzz, but ratings fizzled when it took two seasons to solve the murder of Rosie Larsen. So it was surprising that it was renewed for a third season. But while the show is the best it’s ever been, sadly ratings are still low.
Get onboard people! Holder and Linden are one of the greatest cop TV duos, and the cinematography is feature film worthy.
19. American Gothic (1995-1996-CBS)
[amazon_image id=”B000ATQYXI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]American Gothic – Complete Series[/amazon_image]
Sam Raimi produced this horror drama that pushed the envelope for dark subject matter. Gary Cole plays a murderous sheriff who rules a town with occult powers. His attempts to claim his young son (conceived against a woman’s will) was a terrifying premise, that was largely left untold due to poor ratings.
18. The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998-HBO)
[amazon_image id=”B003NHMYJW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series[/amazon_image]
This show helped position HBO as an arbiter of cutting edge television, even if it never proved a massive hit. It developed a new style of comedy; no laugh tracks, and celebrities playing themselves in a negative caricature.
Garry Shandling played Sanders, a late night host who’s neurosis and self-loathing is compounded by the constant drama of appeasing the huge egos of his celebrity guests.
It’s focus on the behind the scenes antics of celebrity culture inspired both Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock.
17. The Ben Stiller Show- (1990-1991-MTV and 1992-1993-FOX)
[amazon_image id=”B00008PHCU” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Ben Stiller Show[/amazon_image]
Another pioneering comedy that eschewed the laugh track, this series launched the careers of Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, and comedy director Judd Apatow, to name but a few. It was full of offbeat pop-culture spoofing (i.e. ‘Cape Münster’ a great send up of both Eddy Munster and Cape Fear.)
*Apatow’s Freaks And Geeks is seen by many as an underrated classic. I’ve not overly familiar with it, but feel it deserves mentioning.
16. Night Gallery (1970-1973-NBC)
[amazon_image id=”B0002CX1M0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Night Gallery – The Complete First Season[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B001DXS4DI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Night Gallery: Season Two[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B006TBYC76″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Night Gallery: Season Three[/amazon_image]
Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is rightfully celebrated as one of the best and most influential television shows ever made..
But Night Gallery, is treated like his red-headed step child. And while it was erratic (Serling didn’t have creative control as he did with TZ), it did have some creepy episodes.
The Caterpillar is a perfect example. An unseemly man hires an assassin to kill the husband of a woman he lusts after. The assassin will place an earwig in the husband’s ear, which will result in a slow, agonizing death as it works it’s way through the brain.
But the killer gets sloppy, and the earwig doesn’t go to its intended target. The result is one of the greatest, sickest comeuppances in TV history. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so click here to check it out .
So that wraps up part 2 in our series of the most underrated TV shows of all time! Click here for the top 15!
And check out these other TV-related goodies: