Year in review: The must-see shows of 2012 that only lasted one season

Yahoo Contributor Network

Not every show that got canceled in 2012 was unwatchably bad. Every year, a number of good or potentially good shows get the ax, and 2012 was no exception. Sadly, these shows withered on the vine, but surprisingly, these single seasons have a miniseries-like feel. Every show on this list has an ending (or planned ending) that worked as a series finale.

These shows failed as weekly "appointment viewing" programs, but when watched in marathon sessions, they fare much better. They may have been canceled, but they deserve your attention.

"Awake"

Date of series finale: May 24, 2012

Total number of episodes: 13

Beloved British actor Jason Isaacs gave the performance of his career in "Awake." Isaacs played Michael Britten, a man who was in a terrible car accident. After the accident, he experienced living in two different realities. In one reality, his wife died in the crash. But when he went to sleep, he would "wake up" in another version of reality where it was his son who died in the crash.

"Awake" was a deft blend of sci-fi and cop drama, and the show deserves to be applauded for always making it easy for viewers to know which version of reality Britten was in. Unfortunately, the same thing that made the show great was also what killed it: The complexity of the story made the show engrossing but hard for new "drop in" viewers who missed earlier episodes. The series finale featured a moment where Dr. Lee and Dr. Evans came together and tried to force Michael to pick one reality over the other: The result was an episode that worked as a great final note for the story.

"The Secret Circle"

Date of series finale: May 11, 2012

Total number of episodes: 22

This CW drama combined supernatural elements with a coming-of-age story to create a memorable tale about the nature of evil. The show revolved around teenager Cassie Blake, who learns she is descended from a race of evil witches after the death of her mother. The CW canceled the series after ratings dropped off during the season's second half (and the expensive special effects didn't help, either).

When it premiered, "The Secret Circle" covered a lot of ground that another CW show, "The Vampire Diaries," had tread upon in the past. But while they covered similar territory, "The Secret Circle" featured writing that was a bit cheesier than its sister show. Combined with a cast of actors that lacked "The Vampire Diaries" team's charisma, and it's easy to see why many people wrote off "The Secret Circle" as a pale imitation of its predecessor.

But despite some stilted moments, the overall story is engrossing. Plus, "The Secret Circle" has a leg up on its sister show when it comes to interesting adult characters. Unlike the clueless grownups of "The Vampire Diaries," the adults in "The Secret Circle" are manipulative, canny, and nuanced: That makes the show entertaining for adults, as well as the 18-24 set.

"NYC 22"

Date of series finale: Aug. 11, 2012

Total number of episodes: 13

You'd definitely be forgiven for missing out on this show. Despite being a mid-season replacement for "CSI: Miami," the show flew under the radar. It's hard to see why, in retrospect. The show was co-created by Robert DeNiro and featured a great ensemble cast. The storylines were thought-provoking, and Adam Goldberg and Leelee Sobieski gave great performances.

But when people can't even pronounce the title of your show, you're in trouble no matter how promising the show might be. (It's pronounced "2-2," not "twenty-two," in case you were wondering.) With a different title and better PR, this show would have been a hit. They should have gone with "Rookies," the show's original title.

"Last Resort"

Date of series finale: TBA

Total number of episodes: 13

Canceled in November and not yet off the air, "Last Resort" is filled with political intrigue, big action, and great characters. The show will run for just 13 episodes, with the date for the finale to be set sometime in early 2013. The creative team had enough notice to tailor the last episode into a proper finale, which will bring back some urgency to this troubled drama series and create a satisfying conclusion to the conspiracy theory at the heart of the story.

"Emily Owens, M.D."

Date of series finale: TBA

Total number of episodes: 13

Also canceled in November, this "Mean Girls"-meets-med-school series will air all 13 episodes that have been filmed. The allure of the show was never in its concept, but in its star: Mamie Gummer. Everyone who tuned in wanted to see if Meryl Streep's daughter had inherited her mother's acting chops (despite the fact that Gummer had previously proved her mettle in projects like "Evening" and "The Good Wife"). If you simply want to watch a promising young actress come into her own, "Emily Owens" delivers a satisfying viewing experience.
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