Nathan Fillion. A good show that was canceled after just one season. We’ve heard it often, but usually this lament concerns Firefly. However, Fillion made a couple of 1 season shows before finally getting a hit with Castle.
In 2001, there was Pasadena. In 2003 came Firefly, which luckily had a movie follow-up in Serenity. Then, in 2007 came a high concept action show called Drive. Drive was equal parts Prison Break and Cannonball Run. While that sounds interesting and fun, the show bombed and is not even a blip in the history of television.
Since the show ran for only 6 episodes, it has been utterly forgotten. Drive was as fun as it sounds like it would be, but not enough people tuned in to watch it. It started as a midseason show in April 2007. At this point, Fillion was beginning to be a known actor, having been in Two Guys and a Girl, Firefly, Serenity, and Slither. However, that wasn’t enough to get the show a following. Fox only aired 4 of the show’s 6 episodes in April. The final two, aired after the cancellation announcement, didn’t come out until months later in July.
Starring Fillion along with Emma Stone, Taryn Manning, and Dylan Baker, Drive followed multiple teams of people entering into an illegal cross-country race. Some were there voluntarily, some less so. Fillion was the main protagonist of the show, and he was definitely not there by choice.
Fillion played Alex Tully, a former driver for all things illegal. Think Jason Statham from The Transporter. When the show begins, his wife goes missing. Some clandestine organization forces him to join the race in order to get her back.
Dylan Baker’s character teams with his daughter, played by Emma Stone. Taryn Manning races with her two friends. Numerous teams get involved, and the show gives the story of each little by little.
There’s more to the race than the contestants know. The organization forcing Tully to compete has some hidden purpose with the whole thing. Unfortunately, viewers never got to find out what that is.
After the success of Lost in 2004, networks started throwing high concept action shows at audiences left and right. Drive, Kidnapped, and Vanished hit TV with missing people. The Invasion and Surface saw alien creatures coming into the world. Terra Nova and Revolution were set in post-apocalyptic settings. Not all of these could be hits, though. For every Lost or Prison Break, there were multiple bombs.
So many of these high concept shows were left with no end. Audiences were left with zero answers. The world was left to die at the hands of alien invaders. Kidnapped people were left missing, never to be found.
This was both a wonderful time in TV and a rough one. Personally, I enjoy ongoing plots in TV shows so much more than episodic criminal of the week shows. Unless the episodic shows have some comedy to them, such as Monk or Psych, there’s just nothing pulling me back to them week after week. Ongoing plot lines, though? You have to keep watching to find out what happens.
Since many of these ongoing plot lines were never resolved, I eventually ended up making a rule for myself. I would only start the high concept shows in their first season if their ratings were through the roof. Otherwise, I’d wait until season 2 to see if the show had a chance of making it. The hopes would be that, if a show was canceled beyond that, they’d give it some sort of closure ending.
Drive, along with every show listed above, came out before I’d made that decision. The good side is that I loved it. The show was a lot of fun as generally anything with Fillion is. The bad side, I never got to find out what the purpose of the race was, where Fillion’s wife went, or who the clandestine organization behind both was.
The show was worth the watch. However, I’d love to have been given some answers.
Drive: A Fun But Short-Lived 1 Seasoner
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 9/109/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 9/109/10
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