Let's see, off the top of my head:
-Freespace. Not only because the games were fun and the story experience compelling, but because they were masterworks of minimalist storytelling. There were actual named (and voiced) human (and Vasudan) characters, but aside from Aken Bosch, I dare you to name one. The characters those games were the starships; grand and glorious and fragile. And huge! I still have a picture of the magazine ad with a (slightly distorted) four-page foldout of the Lucifer, and the tiny dot labeled "you are here". Just think what modern graphics and processing power could do for a game like that. Plus, both of them were fully force-feedback compliant. Come to think of it...
-Force Feedback. Okay, this wasn't abandoned by the creator (come to think of it, none of these were, but no one else's posts have stuck to Drathnoxis's conditions, so neither will I); it's stuck behind IP protections and lawsuits, but still. In a society where everyone seems to think that "virtual reality" consists of nothing more than "strapping a monitor to your face", it's galling to realize that not only were we promised so much more, but many of us actually HAD so much more. Some still do. And when it seemed like Novint had finally done it- either found a technical workaround or a legal one- and was poised to conquer the market, showing the youngsters what this new version of old tech could do, and even impressing the veterans, and then... then the depression hit, the economy shook, and Novint and the falcon crumbled. They still see some use in medical, industrial, and architectural training and visualization, but that the biggest step forward in immersion was sidelined by bad timing just feels bogus.
-Reaper. This was a show about a young man who's driving home from work on his twenty-first birthday when the devil (played by Ray Wise at his gloriously affable best) pops up in the back of his car and tells him that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born, and now he has to work as a bounty hunter capturing escaped souls and returning them to Hell. A simple premise that wound up going in some very interesting directions before the writer's strike happened. The second season, only half-length, ramped up the overarching plot, but also had a stupidly long digression that consisted of one of the characters being attracted to his new stepsister. Social awkwardness can lead to funny situations, but doesn't work as a substitute for humor (I still suspect that the sucess of Seinfeld was due to some kind of deal with the devil), and it really can't do it over multiple episodes. Once that nonsense was dealt with, things really started getting interesting- how can someone else sell your soul, anyway?- and then the show got canceled.
-Battlestar Galactica. No, not that one, the original. The first sci-fi show to cost more than a million dollars per episode, and show what that sort of money could do. Also... well, it's hard for me to type these words; it's even hard for me to think them, but apparently people in the 70's were smarter than they are today; they realized that if a cameraman has epilepsy, it would be best to not
have him work in a field of marbles during an earthquake. I tried to watch the new series and got about an hour in before I couldn't fight the nausea and threw up. When a guy who has no problems with Descent and plays the Alien in AVP needs a puke bucket to watch your show, something's gone wrong. The original BG (battlestar is one one; "BSG" stands for 'battlestar ship group') was a bit cheesy and more than a bit campy, and it reused footage to the point that even blind people noticed, but it did not deserve to get canceled after only one season- and the real kick in the pants was what followed: I have been trying, on and off, for decades, the come up with something positive to say about Galactica 1980, and all I've got is that the title would be a good name for a roller disco.
-The Critic. Think of what Family Guy would be if they dropped the crudity but kept the relatability, lost the hostility but kept the bite, and kept the rapid-fire change-of-reference-frame jokes, but made them actually funny (consistently) and often actually clever. Then it gets canceled after the second season and its final episode is a clip show.
-Jagged Alliance. So back in '94 Julian Gollop descended from on high and gave us X-Com: UFO Defense (well, okay; he gave us UFO: Enemy Unknown, but if the worst part of a game is that its name is limp and uninspiring, it's a success by any reasonable measure). X-Com was wonderful, but over the ensuing decades, only two games have really done anything to improve the basic formulas: Terror From the Deep was an expansion pack that walked like a game, Interceptor was an essentially unrelated game cashing in on the name, and Enforcer was an abomination unto all that was good and true. The Bureau- well, let's just say they looked at the worst game in the series, said "we need more of that", then made a version of it that was a Bioshock ripoff. When people complained about the E3 preview, they retooled it into a Mass Effect ripoff. That's all that needs to be said, really. XCOM: Enemy Unknown oversimplified the game, removed the tactical options that came with firing and then moving, and got rid of the title hyphen without ever explaining why. Apocalypse was the only game in the series that gave us real concrete improvements (beyond opening doors without walking through them, and reserving time units for kneeling, thanks TFTD!), and it was essentially the Sith Lords of its time: an excellent two-thirds of a game, sold as a finished product. Jagged Alliance was a separate series, and it's not like X-Com invented squad-based tactical combat, but JA2 pushed things farther than even Apocalypse had done. It, too, was far from perfect, but you had the baseline here for a series that would rise to take up where X-Com had left off, and what came of it? Nothing. Lots and lots of nothing. An updated rerelease that added nothing but bugs, an lackluster expansion for that rerelease, and a bunch of farming out the title to third-party devs who did nothing with it. Bleh.
Major Tom said:
There was once an English TV show called about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun moving next door to a Jewish couple. This probably sounds like a high-tension drama, but was actually a sitcom. It was called "Heil Honey, I'm Home!". Now, while this premise could
have been hilarious, it would
have been deeply insensitive and insulting, so the show was canceled after a single episode, an impressively short run.
Back in 1969, some of the people behind the wildly popular Laugh In made a show called Turn On, which was supposed to be a sex-themed version of the same idea. It was canceled during
the airing of the first episode. Crusade, however, beat them both: it was canceled before the first episode aired
, which I believe is still the record. Babylon 5 was a creation of almost Wagnerian intensity and control, and it beat the hell out of JMS; look at pictures of him before and after. It only lasted five years, but it looks like he aged twenty. The result was one of the finest TV shows ever made, but it definitely took its toll.
Also, there was one thing that came after Legend of the Rangers: The Lost Tales. The idea was to have a series of short anthology set pieces, thematically connected, but freestanding. Only one disc got released, and it didn't sell well enough to warrant making more; JMS said he wouldn't do anything more with B5 if the project wouldn't have the money to do it right.
The Lost Tales themselves were... well, they weren't bad, but they were very small. Each has two main characters and one secondary, and that's basically it. The scenes taking place in a recreated station (Warner Brothers lost the old sets) are empty and dark and quiet, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the station we'd last seen a decade before. It's hard to watch without feeling that something truly amazing was lost, and you're standing in the ruins. A testament to the power of the show, I suppose, but it's still sad.