Remember Playmakers? It was ESPN’s first successful foray into TV drama and it was amazing.
Playmakers made an accurate depiction of the NFL, while maintaining a fictional setting around a made-up team. With a surprisingly thuggish Omar Gooding (brother of Cuba; you may remember him from his time on Nickelodeon’s Wild and Crazy Kids or ABC’s Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper) playing the featured role of running back Demetrius Harris, the cast of relative unknowns was well put-together and lent good acting chops to supplement the football action. Unfortunately, ESPN was forced to cancel the show after just one season thanks to the NFL, who takes control over these types of things.
Now, in a world of premium cable, it’s high time we brought Playmakers back. The show may no longer have a place on ESPN, but what’s stopping it from ending up on the likes of HBO, Showtime, or Starz? Somewhere there’s a spot for Playmakers, just as there is for the rest of these TV Shows That Need To Be Brought Back.
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. When ABC launched this new edition of the Superman franchise in 1993, people between the ages of five and 105 rejoiced. Who doesn’t like Superman? Kids and adults alike could relate to Dean Cain’s title character. A pre-Desperate Housewives Teri Hatcher made Lois Lane much steamier than the matronly news reporter we were accustomed to seeing Clark Kent hook up with. This show had everything, save for the fact that it was on ABC in a time when pushing the envelope meant saying “damn” on-air. With special effects, an edgier network, and the changing of the times, this show would be primed to make a comeback on cable.
Head of the Class. From 1986 to 1991, HOTC was an unheralded sitcom on the pre-TGIF ABC. The show’s premise was simple: an unorthodox substitute teacher becomes a mentor to a group of socially outcast high school students who happen to be geniuses. While the students teach their teacher about things like math and science, the teacher helps the students work through life’s problems as they affect each of the kids individually. All I really remember about HOTC is that it was relatively funny and captured every stereotype of the generation. You had your old white man, a fat kid, the Super Nerd, an Asian, the cool guy, the hot chick, a Middle Eastern guy, and the obligatory Robin Givens appearance (because what would an ’80’s TV show be without Robin Givens). All in all, this show was fantastic.
Freaks and Geeks. Freaks and Geeks remains, to this day, one of the most lamented television cancellations of all-time. A genius show probably released before its time, F&G made its debut in 1999, but couldn’t last through 2000. The show was created by Judd Apatow (the force behind Superbad, The 40-year-old Virgin, and Knocked Up) and Paul Feig (the co-executive producer of The Office), and boasted an ensemble cast that featured, among others, Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segel. F&G portrayed life in high school in the 1980’s for two different groups of kids, the older in-crowd, and the younger misfits. The interactions between these cliques resulted in comic gold, and this show that pushed the envelope back then, would likely have no problem fitting in now. Recasting might be a problem, however.
Stump the Schwab. Imagine turning on Jeopardy, and having Alex Trebek reveal every single category as “Sports.” That’s basically Stump the Schwab, in a nutshell. For those of us that enjoy both trivia and athletics, Schwab combined two of our favorite things, and gave us a barometer to measure our sports knowledge upon. Featuring resident ESPN know-it-all Howie Schwab as the zen master of sports information, contestants faced off with one another in a modified Jeopardy-like setting before squaring off with the one and only Schwab himself in the final round. The show was hosted by Stuart Scott, and co-hosted by Stu’s increasingly lazy eye; the requisite “boo-yow” made a cameo appearance now and again. Schwab lasted from 2004 to 2006, but now resides mainly in rerun format on ESPN Classic.