Uploaded to MoviePilot on October 2nd
A short written series I did about cancelled shows, there’s one more after this and I probably won’t bring these back but… who knows?
Welcome to the fifth instalment of “Gone Too Soon” where I talk about cancelled TV series that were cancelled after one or two seasons. I will be exploring what worked, what didn’t work and why it might have failed to get an audience. Last time I talked about the one season wonder long show Pinky, Elmyra And The Brain. This time we’re going to be looking at the one season long show Fear Itself but before we start, THEME MUSIC!
Fear Itself: What Was It?
Fear Itself is basically the third season of Masters of Horror, just on another network. Much like that (far superior) series, Fear Itself get’s a horror director to create an hour-long film based upon a script of their choosing. Each episode had a different director and would jump between various forms of the horror genre. It was aired on NBC during 2008 and ran for a grand total of eight episodes before the Olympics aired and it was pulled from the schedule, leaving five episodes to go unaired.
What Worked For Fear Itself?
While the directors were not at the level of Masters of Horror, they did get some good names like Ronny Yu and Mary Harron. They brought in some more recent directors too like Darren Lynn Bousman, who had only just finished his run as a Saw director. While they didn’t get anyone like John Carpenter, the names they got to direct were pretty good and clearly understood what would and wouldn’t work.
The original design for ‘The Handmaids Tale’ outfits. ‘Fear Itself’ (Source: Lionsgate Television)
They also got an amazing set of people in their casts, people like Elisabeth Moss, Anna Kendrick and the late Cory Monteith all appeared in some of the series better episodes. A quick look through the cast list on IMDB shows a plethora of people who you will undoubtedly know and like, it really was a hotbed of great talent.
What Didn’t Work For Fear Itself?
So here’s the problem with going from Showtime to NBC… you lose your teeth. Showtime let the Masters of Horror guys go nuts, there were no rules except no full frontal male nudity and no violence committed on a child by another child. Other than that, they could do anything. One week could be an almost comic story like Family (About a man having delusions that the skeletons of people he’s murdered are his actual family), the next could be a shocking extreme horror epic like Pro-Life (Which is about a father breaking into an abortion clinic, fully armed, determined to get his daughter out of there even if he has to kill everyone to do it). There was none of that allowed on NBC. Sure the episodes could be extreme but there were some very obvious limitations put on them, thanks to being on a network instead of on cable.
“We totally didn’t make a cardboard facade to set on fire. No sir”. ‘Fear Itself’ (Source: Lionsgate Television)
You also have the massive problem of just not having some of the biggest names available anymore. Yes, Fear Itself did get John Landis and Stuart Gordon to return… that’s it, those are the biggest masters of the genre they got back. You know what name directors Masters of Horror pulled in? Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Takashi Miike, Larry Cohen and Tom Holland. Giants of the genre and none of them turn up for Fear Itself. We got some good directors, but we didn’t get these icons of the genre and that absolutely hurt the show, considering that it’s relying on the cult audience of Horror fans to follow it when it leaps from R to PG-13
Why Was It Cancelled?
Low ratings do not help when you’re a cult show on a major network, dropping below five million viewers by the time the second episode airs really doesn’t do any favours. It got pulled after the eighth episode for the Olympics but never came back, despite the network saying they’d see what they were going to do with the show. It’s one of those series that just kind of faded off into the abyss, nothing special about how it ended.
Should It Have Been Renewed?
No. Masters of Horror should’ve been renewed by Showtime, but this shouldn’t have been renewed by NBC. Fear Itself is a pale imitation of a much better series that was trying to keep that spirit going, it just didn’t have a ghost of a chance.
I know, not the best reasons but… there wasn’t anything remarkable about this, what can I say?Also yes, that’s Brandon Routh post-Superman. ‘Fear Itself’ (Source: Lionsgate Television)
So How Can I Watch It?
At the moment the only way to watch the series is on DVD which you can find on Amazon for about 12 bucks. It’s one of those annoying double-sided DVD sets and the case is cool but weird. It’s the only way I’ve found to see this show, it’s not on the NBC streaming site or on Hulu so right now, this is your only option.
If you’re looking for a horror series that’s not going to be too extreme for you, this is a safe bet. It’s not at the levels of Tales from the Crypt or Masters of Horror, but it’s certainly a good entry level into the genre of horror television and while it’s not going to change the world, it certainly isn’t awful.
What’s Your Favorite Episode Of Fear Itself?