Most Underrated TV Series of the Past 20 Years

Think of these the greatest series that you probably should have watched when they were on. Perhaps they were ahead of their time, or too good for the TV networks that aired them. Some of them actually had a decent run, all things considered. At any rate, we present, in no particular order, 20 wonderful series that we wish had gotten more episodes.
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Firefly (2002 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  
Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them. (44 mins.)
“ In a future where the human race has colonized the outer reaches of the galaxy, the furthest-flung corners might as well be the Wild West, and Mal Reynolds, captain of the Serenity, is a daring smuggler with a crew that'll do just about anything to survive. Today, Joss Whedon's space Western is the poster child for network meddling and impatience; Fox aired it out of order, then killed it before it could gain a foothold. Only when the full 13-episode series was released on DVD did its faithful see what a gem Fox had tossed away. (At least it got a fitting ending of sorts with the theatrical release "Serenity.") ” - IMDb-Editors
Freaks and Geeks (1999 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A high school mathlete starts hanging out with a group of burnouts while her younger brother navigates his freshman year. (44 mins.)
“ Judd Apatow's examination of what high school was like "for the rest of us" - that is, the stoners, punks and victims of swirlies and wedgies - still strikes a chord with kids still enduring the horror of high school as well as adults who survived it and, in watching the DVDs, can finally look back and laugh. ” - IMDb-Editors
Veronica Mars (2004 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
After her best friend is murdered and her father is removed as county sheriff, Veronica Mars dedicates her life to cracking the toughest mysteries in the affluent town of Neptune. (44 mins.)
“ Before network executives mucked it up, this story of a teenage girl who uses her private investigative skills to help solve her best friend's murder quickly evolved beyond what people expected it to be. Kristen Bell made Veronica Mars a symbol of survival and strength, imbuing her with heartbreaking vulnerability at times as she navigates life in the fictional town of Neptune, where the rich and powerful have no problem treading on the rights and reputations of the poor and powerless. In our world of Snookis and bitchy Blair Waldolfs, Ms. Mars' down-to-Earth resilience is sorely missed. ” - IMDb-Editors
Arrested Development (2003 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable. (22 mins.)
“ Although fans appreciated the fact that this comedy's writers refused to bludgeon us with one-liners and idiocy, and in spite of multiple Best Comedy Emmy wins, "Arrested" teetered on the edge of cancellation throughout its existence, finally ending with a 13-episode third season. ” - IMDb-Editors
Undeclared (2001 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
College freshman Steve Karp, his girlfriend and their fellow dorm-mates embark on one the greatest experiences of their lives...unfortunately for Steve, his lonely and recently divorced father is tagging along for the ride. (22 mins.)
“ Judd Apatow's next attempt to examine young adulthood, this time through the prism of college life, met with an even swifter death on Fox than the time NBC granted to "Freaks and Geeks." But the theme and appeal is very similar - and like Apatow's other show, it gave viewers an early look at the budding careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Jay Baruchel. ” - IMDb-Editors
Friday Night Lights (2006 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
The trials and tribulations of small town Texas football players, their friends, family, and coaching staff. (44 mins.)
“ Yes, "Friday Night Lights" will have a five season run when all is said and done. But three of those only happened due to an intervention by DirecTV, which shouldered some of the production costs in exchange for premiering those shorter seasons on its channel The 101 Network (which is only available to the satellite provider's subscribers). One of the finest series on television should not have to struggle for viewers in the way this one has. But at least it will have enjoyed a longer life than most. ” - IMDb-Editors
Party Down (2009 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A group of actors move to LA to make it big, but end up working as caterers. (30 mins.)
Director: Rob Thomas
“ This ingenious comedy about a group of underachievers working for a Los Angeles catering company featured hilarious guest star appearances and tremendous work by Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, Adam Scott and Jane Lynch. Unfortunately it seems barely anybody has seen the show or heard of it. Starz might have shown a bit more patience with it if not for the success of another scripted series, "Spartacus," and the departures of Lynch and Scott for successful series on major networks. ” - IMDb-Editors
Wonderfalls (2004 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Jaye Tyler is a loner living in Niagara Falls who, after graduating college, has fallen into a care-free... (60 mins.)
“ Executive producer Bryan Fuller's fantasy about a girl surfing through life by living in a trailer and working at a Niagara Falls gift shop - and who happens to be guided to help people by a series of talking animal figurines - was far too weird for most viewers to get. But its deadpan humor, and an ending that broke the hearts of the few who actually did watch, makes us mourn for what this weird little show could have been had it been granted even one complete, 22-episode season. ” - IMDb-Editors
Strangers with Candy (1999 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A 46-year-old ex-drug addict returns to high school as a freshman. (22 mins.)
“ Comedy Central had no clue of what a diamond it had in this raunchy, brazenly bizarre scripted half-hour. "Strangers with Candy" was shut down to make way for a comedy vehicle for Julie Brown called "Strip Mall," which people neither watched nor remember. But Jerri Blank is such an unbelievably bizarre character that her reputation lives on nearly a decade following the series' cancellation. It also gave viewers their first introduction to a comedic talent named Stephen Colbert. ” - IMDb-Editors
Life (2007 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A former police officer returns to the force after having been wrongly imprisoned for years. (45 mins.)
“ The talented Damian Lewis starred as Charlie Crews, a detective wrongfully imprisoned, only to be released and returned to his job. But he emerged from the clink oddly calm, obsessed with fresh fruit, and espousing the virtues of Zen philosophy. As the series progressed, Crews and his partner Dani Reese were drawn into a conspiracy and faced a variety of cases as weird as Crews could be. And as the conspiracy intensified, viewers were treated to Lewis slowly revealing the menace beneath Crews' calm mask. Before the producers could explore more of that side of him, NBC ended the low-rated "Life" to make way for more straightforward crime procedurals. ” - IMDb-Editors
Sports Night (1998 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Casey McCall and Dan Rydell are sports anchors and best friends. At "Sports Night", their nightly cable program... (30 mins.)
“ Before Aaron Sorkin took us inside the White House, he explored the humor, frustrations and frenetic pace inherent to working in a television news room with "Sports Night." The crisp punchlines and dialogue highlighted outstanding performances from one of the more perfectly assembled ensemble casts of any decade, including Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause, Robert Guillaume and Josh Malina. Critics heaped adoration on "Sports Night," but the ratings didn't come close to matching those accolades. It was canceled after two seasons and 45 episodes. ” - IMDb-Editors
Action (1999 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A series that centers on Peter Dragon (played by Jay Mohr), a Hollywood executive. His last, massively expensive, movie bombed and he needs a hit. Will "Beverley Hills Gun Club" be it? (30 mins.)
“ Before "Entourage" sexed up the sausage-making aspect of the entertainment business, there was Peter Dragon (played by Jay Mohr), a soulless Hollywood producer well-versed in the art of the deal - particularly the aspect that requires him to lie, sexually harass his subordinates and starlets, and engage in blatant nepotism.
To call "Action" edgy is putting it mildly - this was a series that never should have made it on to network TV, and arrived on the scene before cable had become brazen enough to present such content. It was over in 13 episodes. ” - IMDb-Editors
Profit (1996 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
Jim Profit works for a multinational company, and isn't above using any means necessary to get ahead... (90 mins.)
“ As the prosperous '90s were headed toward their peak, executive producers David Greenwalt ("Angel," "The X-Files"), John McNamara ("The Fugitive") and the late Stephen J. Cannell - may he rest in peace - dreamed up Jim Profit, an amoral sociopath of an executive driven to win at any cost, even if he has to blackmail, extort, lie or possibly kill his way to the top. Far too dark for television, "Profit" lasted a scant eight episodes. ” - IMDb-Editors
The Job (2001 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
New York detective Mike McNeil is well-known for his unconventional approach of fighting crime. But it also takes a toll in his personal life complicated by his wife and girlfriend on the side. (30 mins.)
Director: Tucker Gates
“ Before Denis Leary lit up our screens as "Rescue Me's" Tommy Gavin, he played Mike McNeil, a world-weary cop that shares many of Gavin's least attractive qualities. The faux-documentary style of "The Job" adds to its B.S.-free authenticity, and Leary's humor punched up the absurdity of McNeil's day-to-day life on the force in ways no other comedian had done on TV before. But network TV thrives on straightforward cop shows, not comedies about crime. ABC pulled it before it could realize its full potential. ” - IMDb-Editors
Boomtown (2002 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Each episode of this series, set in present day Los Angeles, examines one crime from many different viewpoints - uniformed cops... (45 mins.)
“ While notable for the way in which each episode presented a case from a variety of perspectives, it was the stellar performances by "Boomtown's" ensemble cast that made it one of the best dramas of the 2002-2003 season. But it was no match for "The Practice" on Sundays, and when NBC moved it to the Friday night dead zone, it signed its death sentence. ” - IMDb-Editors
I'll Fly Away (1991 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Forrest Bedford is a Southern lawyer in the late 1950s, generally content with his privileged life. But the winds of change are blowing... (60 mins.)
“ Set during the late '50 and early '60s, "I'll Fly Away" followed the story of a white district attorney living and working in an unspecified Southern state, and the relationship he and his family shared with his African American housekeeper, who grew increasingly involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Excellent storytellling and heartbreaking, honest performances did not translate to high ratings, as viewers shied away from revisiting such an uncomfortable era in American history. Canned at the end of two seasons, PBS aired a follow-up movie, "I'll Fly Away: Then and Now," to provide loyal viewers with true closure. ” - IMDb-Editors
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (1993 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A bounty hunter rides the Old West, fighting bad guys, many with futuristic-type gadgets. (45 mins.)
“ A Western oddity that mixed the classic tropes of cowboy adventure with elements of sci-fi and slapstick comedy, "Brisco" also provided cult favorite Bruce Campbell with ample room to display his unique comedic timing and presence. Over the course of its 27-episode run, it only grew weirder...but that was the charm of it. ” - IMDb-Editors
The Tick (1994 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An invulnerable, somewhat dim, superhero protects The City from all manner of evil-doers. (30 mins.)
“ SPOON! The adventures of the invulnerable, noble and thick-headed blue hero and his pal Arthur, owner of an extraordinary moth suit that allowed him to fly, were some of the funniest episodes on television at that time. It was also the first glimpse we received of executive producer Ben Edlund's tremendous talent. Edlund went on to write for "Firefly" and "Angel," and is responsible for some of "Supernatural's" best episodes. But it all started here. ” - IMDb-Editors
Rude Awakening (1998 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Billie Frank, an out of work alcoholic actress, used to be somewhat of a star in her day, but now she's all washed up... (22 mins.)
“ Among Showtime's first attempts to compete with HBO's scripted stable was this comedy about Billie Frank (Sherilyn Fenn), a down-and-out actress struggling with sobriety. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to her recovery is her mother Trudy (Lynn Redgrave), an unapologetic boozehound to the core. Honest to the point of being painful to watch on occasion, in its finest moments it was far funnier than a number of half-hours passing for comedies currently airing on Showtime. ” - IMDb-Editors
Cupid (1998 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Trevor Hale is attractive, witty, uncommonly intelligent - and he may be Cupid, the Greco-Roman god of erotic love... (60 mins.)
“ Before Jeremy Piven gave viewers "Entourage's" legendary land shark Ari Gold, he portrayed a charming mental patient named Trevor Hale. Hale insists he is the one and only god of love, and to regain entry to Olympus, he has to unite 100 couples without using any powers. Each episode was romantic without devolving into sugary goo but, really, did anyone expect a show called "Cupid" to live happily ever after on network TV? Heck no. But thank the gods for granting it an afterlife on DVD. ” - IMDb-Editors