Here are 10 animated shows that didn't last long on the air and went over some people's radars, but were fantastic and regaling to watch.
10. Baby Blues
Believe it or not, the Baby Blues comic strip had its own TV show that ran for 13 episodes (another 13 have been left unaired) before being cancelled. The show centered around the McPhersons: Darryl (Mike O'Malley), Wanda (Julia Sweeney) and their daughter Zoe (EG Daily), and their daily misadventures. Baby Blues borrowed a few cliche, comedy tropes: such as Darryl being a doofus, Wanda a nag, and the their family is portrayed as the "normal" clan living next door to obnoxious hillbillies.
However, the principal and secondary cast were colorful, three dimensional and even those who were tagged to a stereotypical role managed to render something new with their otherwise typical personas. Not to mention the humor was fresh and funny, and the scenarios these characters found themselves in were constantly priceless.
9. The Oblongs
Spun off from the illustration book, 'Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children' by Angus Oblong, The Oblongs took place in a world where the wealthy dominate the poor, which is basically reality, except every third class citizen isn't deformed. It was a Simpsons-esque sitcom that touched upon social stratification and hierarchy, gentrification, midget tossing, feline smoking, alien probing, etc.
The Oblongs had an intriguing ensemble of individuals who - despite their unflattering appearance - were charming and light hearted. Funnily enough, Valley (impoverished) residents were usually more happy and upbeat than the Hills (rich) residents. Overall, it was a surreal, delightful romp that left us too soon at only 13 episodes.
8. Pepper Ann
She's one in a million, Pepper Ann aired on ABC from 1997 to 2000. The program's titular protagonist dealt with pre-teen issues such as puberty, embarrassing relatives and awkward, social situations. Pepe (as she's affectionately called) like Doug, would daydream and even hold conversations with her alternate self (usually her reflection), much to her friends' concern. While it was generally comedic, it could also be serious. Ranging from topics like death and shaming to divorce, sibling estrangement and chicken.
7. Bob & Margaret
The Oscar winning short Bob's Birthday was a precursor to this animated series about an overweight, childless and middle aged couple. For the first two seasons it took place in Britain, while the last two took place in Canada. Bob & Margaret took us into the lives of, well, Bob and Margaret and their peculiarly, entertaining encounters in what is otherwise their mundane life. The show had that unique sense of British humor we all love, with authentic voice acting (especially from Alison Snowden as Margaret) and witty writing.
In my opinion, after the move to Canada the series seemed to dwindle in quality, but other than that its four seasons were mostly enjoyable to watch.
6. Duck Dodgers
Duck Dodgers was on for two seasons, but man was it a jam packed show. Space battles, romance, unforgettable pop culture references, perfect high brow and slap stick humor, and an intro sung by Tom Jones! It took place centuries after Dodgers was crynologically frozen and then unfrozen to serve the Galactic Protectorate. He turned out to be an incompetent leader who needed to be frequently bailed out by the cadet (Porky Pig) or extreme, good luck.
One of the program's best attributes was its writing, and it's no surprise one member its staff included acclaimed TV writer Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League). Thus, its storylines, characters, and gags were consistently top notch.
It was zany, hilarious, cunning, playful, entertaining, kooky, cheeky and out there. Freakazoid! was only on for two seasons, but it made quite the impression. The series was about a teenager turned superhero who fights for justice, unless a sporadic shenanigan happens. Take a preview below and witness its superb use of dry humor.
4. God, the Devil and Bob
We always root for the average joe, but could we trust them with saving our entire existence? God has gotten sick of how crappy humanity has become, and since he's not the type of lord to just wipe out life (well, on a grand scale) he makes a wager with the devil where the prince of darkness gets to choose our savior. And that's where Bob comes in.
Bob's a family man, who excessively drinks, watches porn and has bad judgement. Yet, he tries his best and genuinely cares about his loved ones, even though they sometimes take a back seat and don't believe he works for God (except his son Andy). As suspected, it dealt with moral issues, but was rarely preachy. And there were times it could hit you emotionally. In the U.S., it only aired for three episodes before being cancelled and the remaining ten episodes were shown later. During its original run it was controversial because of its religious subject matter, which angered some dogma groups. One of their complaints was God resembling Jerry Garcia.
3. Toad Patrol
Eight "toadlet" siblings miss the migration and with the help of an elderly, wise toad named Mistle Toad they band together to reach Toad Hollow before the Fairy Ring closes and they get left behind or become toad stools. A strange concept, I know, but it's surprisingly a fun, adventurous and magical journey. The characters are unique and serve their purpose, there's true tension as the struggle to survive becomes greater and greater. And the mystical aspect of this show, and its realm, are innovative and captivate your attention.
Unfortunately, it only ran for two seasons and is hard to catch on TV. However, some of its episodes are on DVD.
2. The Critic
The Critic is a comedic gem. Co-creators Al Jean and Mike Reiss were formerly writers/show runners on The Simpsons during its glory days. The show was about a portly, unattractive film critic named Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz) whose icy and cynical reviews made him an infamous figure in the film industry. He's also the underdog, as he fights for respect among his colleagues, superiors and family (with the exception of his son Marty and sister Margo).
It was infused with funny film parodies, memorable characters, heart and many quotable lines. The Critic also replicated the atmosphere of New York City to a T, and watching it made me feel like I was there. This I can vouch for, having been to the city many times.
1. Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man
Duckman was about a crude, offensive, obscene, perverted, sexist, ignorant, disgusting, insulting and repulsive duck detective and his work/family life. Many adult oriented shows fail when they believe all that they need to satiate viewers is to have crass and inappropriate material. Instead, this show excelled in all genres of humor, gave us endearing and realistic characters, and managed to make us fall in love and sympathize with this "fowl" derelict.
It ran for four seasons from 1994-1997. Speaking of Duckman, if you're a fan of Jason Alexander make sure to watch it. In my opinion, this is one of his top roles.
(The image below is by Starimo, click on their name to see their other work on deviantart.com)