Weekend binge — TV show quickies

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We are down to the final stretch of the fall semester, and with finals looming dangerously close, there is no time to have a movie marathon this weekend. So what better time than to start a new TV show?

We know, we know — how can there be no time to watch three movies but time to start a new show? But hear us out: All of the shows on this list were tragically canceled after one season. Not only does that mean that they have cemented cult followings after their untimely demise, but they are also the entertainment equivalent of a brief, casual hookup.

Just enough commitment to last you these trying weeks, but not enough to enter a serious relationship with (we’re looking at you, all eight seasons of “The Vampire Diaries” and all 10 seasons of “Friends”). These shows are the perfect entertainment distraction you need to tie you over before you dive into winter break and decide that you are finally going to commit to “Game of Thrones.” Get in, get out and leave with the ability to finally understand those obscure pop culture references, such as “Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!


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“Firefly” is the ultimate one-season cult show, and a defining cornerstone of this series is the fact that it was canceled too soon. Created by veteran Marvel Cinematic Universe director Joss Whedon, the show is set in the year 2517 and revolves around a ragtag team of renegade misfits who fly around the planetary outskirts, doing odd jobs and laying low after being a part of the wrong side of a civil war. It epitomizes the space Western genre, combining themes of space odysseys reminiscent of “Star Trek,” adventure films reminiscent of “Indiana Jones” and cowboy Westerns reminiscent of a pre-yelling-at-a-chair Clint Eastwood. 

Featuring a fresh-faced Nathan Fillion in his first of many iconic geek roles, a fierce-as-always Gina Torres and a “Wait, she was in something before ‘Deadpool’?” Morena Baccarin, “Firefly” has spawned a pop culture phenomenon since its short-lived residency on Fox from 2002-03. The show’s fervently loyal fan base even resulted in Whedon releasing a movie, “Serenity,” featuring all of the main characters to give the series the finale it deserved but was never given on air.

“Freaks and Geeks”

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There are very few one-season hitters that have the cult following of “Firefly,” but “Freaks and Geeks” may rival it. And there is a very good reason “Freak and Geeks” has a permanent pedestal in pop culture, despite its one-season run. The show is famous for being produced by Judd Apatow and is perhaps even more famous for being the starting point for many of today’s actors, including Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps and James Franco. 

Following the angsty lives of teenagers during the 1980s (the show’s theme song was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” you truly cannot get angstier than that), the show’s title aptly divides the ensemble cast into two groups: the ‘Freaks,’ your classic stoner-slackers, and ‘Geeks,’ your other classic, academically achieving nerds. It sounds like a run-of-the-mill high school dramedy, but “Freaks and Geeks” walked so “Dawson’s Creek,” “The O.C.,” “Stranger Things,” “Friday Night Lights” and countless other adolescence-centric shows could run. Or, if you’re “Riverdale,” stumble drunkenly.

“Harper’s Island”

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Drastically shifting in tone, “Harper’s Island” does not have the fandom of “Firefly” nor “Freaks and Geeks,” but like an indie band that never made it big, it still has a nice intimate following. Plus, since it was intended as an anthology series, the story is neatly contained within its one and only season.

The show revolves around a group of old friends who reunite on their childhood island, aptly titled Harper’s Island, for a wedding after a series of gruesome murders rocked the island years ago. Unfortunately for the wedding guests, a killer is on the loose again, and the destination wedding soon becomes a destination massacre. The show is essentially an extended slasher flick filled with angst-ridden childhood sweethearts, unnecessarily ominous wooded areas and a final girl plagued by mommy issues, but if there is any show to pop some popcorn and watch as a distraction from finals, it’s “Harper’s Island.”

Watch one of them or watch all three, these shows are the significant others you need during the final push of the fall semester!

Julie Lim covers film. Contact her at [email protected].