Roll the List #28: Dalton’s Take

Top 5 Underrated Miniseries/Short-Run Shows

Black Mirror – While not necessarily underrated, Black Mirror is not terribly well known in the states. A British TV miniseries, Black Mirror featured standalone installments of moral dilemmas using an oft-dark plot driven by technology and social/political issues. Each episode found an entertaining way to deliver a powerful message, that given the futuristic technology depicted in the episodes, would humanity truly behave this way? I have had longer conversations about this show with friends than most, because psychological and philosophical rabbit holes always open up.

Earth 2 – I remember loving this show as a kid. I was surprised to find that it only had one season. The show revolves around a group of explorers and colonizers who are looking for a cure for a world-destroying plague and also a possible new home for humanity to inhabit. There are seemingly-barbaric natives and traitorous crew members that make the show interesting. It had good ratings and was nominated for several awards during its initial run, and then suddenly the ratings plummeted inexplicably and the show was cancelled in the blink of an eye. Sad times.

Blue Sub 6 – I latched onto this anime miniseries when it first came out back in 2000. I watched it for the special effects, but I ended up loving the story. While generally bashed by critics for weak character structure, I found the motivations of the main antagonists and protagonists to be quite interesting. Yes, the main protagonist fits the cliché mold of the quiet, cold reluctant hero with a heart of gold, and the sea captain is loud and obnoxious, but they worked well in the context of the miniseries. Verg, the half shark-half human hybrid steals the show in my eyes, as every scene he is in had me glued. Verg’s final moments on screen are still some of the most moving to me in all of anime.

Better Off Ted – This and Earth 2 were the first shows to come to mind when I thought of underrated short-lived TV series. I started watching Better Off Ted after it had gone to Netflix. As soon as I finished the first few episodes, I looked more closely at the remaining number and was quickly disappointed. I couldn’t believe a show this clever got cancelled. I realize how disconnected I am from the general viewing public when shows like Big Bang Theory are going strong and a show like Better Off Ted can’t make it. I highly recommend checking this one out. You’ll laugh for 2 seasons’ worth, then cry when you realize there is no more…and never will be.

Alphas – Like many shows that didn’t make my list (i.e. Twin Peaks and Dark Skies in relation to X-Files), Alphas was a victim of its own attempt to cash on circumstance. Pseudo-realistic superpowers were the new thing. Heroes spawned multiple attempts at the same model, most notably Alphas and the British equivalent Misfits. Misfits succeeded, able to feed off of its own market. Alphas, on the other hand, barely survived 2 seasons. While noticeably weaker from a writing and acting perspective compared to Heroes and Misfits, Alphas posed a different model by pushing the concept of more reasonably explainable abilities. While this was something that intrigued me, the execution was not strong enough to overpower its similarities with other series, and the viewing public grew bored.

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