Veronica Mars: If your best friends (the industry's best and brightest) told you that there was this amazing girl (Veronica Mars) and that you would enjoy her company, that she is perfect for you, then you would give her a call, wouldn't you? Well if you were UPN/CW and the American Public in general, you never even picked up the phone. Veronica Mars was one of those shows that did absolutely everything right, but never drew the audience it needed to stick around. The show stars Kristen Bell as teenager Veronica Mars. She lives in a California coast town, Neptune, that is deeply divided between the haves and have-nots. She lives with her father, the former town sheriff who was forced out of office when he was unable to solve the mysterious death of Lily Kane, Veronica's best friend, sister to her true love (at the time) Duncan, and daughter to some very rich and powerful people. Keith, Veronica's father, opens up a detective agency, and young Veronica quickly shows her knack for solving mysteries, both for her father's agency, and for her class mates at school. The show uses Lily's murder as it's main plot point for the first season (another tradegy fills that role for seasons 2 and 3) with each weekly episode showing a little more of the truth, while Veronica and father solve other crimes, while also keeping normal social lives and going to high school.
Despite doing everything right, Veronica Mars never made it out of the bottom of the ratings bucket... of failure...? On average, Veronica Mars reached about 2 million viewers, a solid number, but for it's Tuesday night slot, not nearly enough. The fact that it was on the unpopular UPN/CW did not help Veronica's case. It steadily gained new viewers each year, despite a difficult transition to a college setting for the final season. Veronica never got the ending it deserved either, as it was never really cancelled, but put on hiatus in the winter (replaced with the Pussycat Dolls reality show), after which 5 more episodes were produced to make it a complete season, and then just not renewed. Creator Rob Thomas (Dawson's Creek, not the singer) made a great preview for season 4 where Veronica became a rookie FBI agent, several years after the 3rd season concluded. Sometimes a show can do everything right, from the theme song ("We Use to be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols) to the amazing cast (Bell and Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars) to critical acclaim (Joss Whedon calls it the "Best. Show. Ever.") and never find the audience it deserves. So the next time that you get told to call the girl, pick up the phone.
Angel: Fox hates (hated?) Joss Whedon, and Angel is the last nail in the coffin of proof. To keep it simple, Angel remade itself from 2 years of serial storytelling into a weekly series and turned the character's world upside down. Now in charge of the evil lawfirm (ya read that right) Wolfram and Hart, Angel and co. now had the power to make a true difference in the world. Angel had a great run, and truly became it's own show, seperating itself from Buffy quite well, but the timing and nature of the cancellation is what hurts. Whedon was given JUST enough time to make a good finale (I want to fight the dragon) and the series found new life in comic book form (don't bother reading past issue 5 unless you are a big fan, in which case, you are already reading). Despite gaining it's highest ratings since it's premier, Angel was cancelled during the celebration of the 100th episode. No reason was provided at all. Costs were down, ratings up, it was the only Whedon show on the air, fans loved the new premise, dogs and cats were working together... everything was lined up for a 6th season to continue the magic, but Jordan Levin (WB's Head of Entertainment) cancelled the show without ever providing a valid reason. Ouch.