Great sci-fi that ended too soon

John Doe tells his doctor what bubbles are made of (source

When I heard of  the premature end of SyFy’s Caprica I groaned aloud…another wonderful science fiction series led off the cliff before it could fully sprout wings?  It made me think back to other shows which have shown great promise, only to wither on the TV vine.

John Doe, which aired on Fox TV 2002-2003 still lingers in the memory, in part thanks to its star Dominic Purcell going on to greater ratings success with Prison Break.  As we all know by now, in the latter show he shaved his head and grabbed every opportunity to take his shirt off.

The opening credits of John Doe recall the opening scene of the pilot – a naked man wakes up on an island off the coast of Seattle. Dominic Purcell, naked. That was enough to keep me watching every episode, though of course he never followed through by finding anyone else naked on the island.

Still want to know the story? ‘John Doe’ has no memory of  how he got to this forest or who he is,  but can access all of human knowledge. He knows how many dimples are on a golf ball, he knows the population of Morocco. He probably doesn’t know why Colin, way back in my ninth grade  math class would never look at me with anything but a sneer, despite the fact I was subliminally telling him he was the most gorgeous kid alive.

‘John Doe’ had everything a gay sci-fi fan could want:

  • A sexy lead star who never totally settled into dating any particular girl
  • A tendency to linger moodily at his local bar when the going got tough
  • A cool apartment and car, which he seemed never to have to earn any money to pay for
  • A penchant for taking in and helping stray dogs – in his case people in need whom he could help with his gargantuan brain

…and one further thing many gay men would identify with:

The ultimate cop-out to making any sort of relationship commitment: “Sorry; you can ogle me but we would never work as a couple, I’m still searching for myself. Really.”

I mourned John Doe, its never-ending plot possibilities and its spooky theme tune, for quite a while.  But I like to think somewhere in lost-TV-showland, John is still searching for himself,  having just opened up emotionally enough to accept a trusty British sidekick.

You may wonder why my first post is about a show that wasn’t ever filmed in a quarry. The island near Seattle is the metaphor for a quarry in this show. Don’t be so literal.

Which shows have you mourned and what do you think their heroes would be doing now?


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