Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.
This quirky and unique horror series showed up on CBS’ schedule in the Fall of 1995 but unfortunately did not survive past a single season. It takes place in the small town of Trinity South Carolina where the sinister Sheriff Lucas Buck has a power over the people he polices and wants to bring the young, mysteriously wise Caleb Temple (recently orphaned due to his father’s suicide) under his control. The versatile Gary Cole (whose rolls have ranged from Brady dad in the Brady Bunch revival movies, starship captain in Babylon 5 spin-off series Crusade, and middle-management trolling boss in Office Space) delivered a standout performance as the show’s antagonist. While Lucas Black avoided the cute kid trope and provided an excellent co-lead as the young Caleb Temple. And Paige Turco stood her ground with both of these actors in one of her earlier television roles. The show delivered creepy, engaging tales held together by a loose story arc, and there was almost nothing else like it on television except maybe The X-Files which was just hitting its stride at that point. American Gothic came from the Hercules/Xena crew of Sam Raimi and Robert G. Tapert as well as creator Shaun Cassidy, but it struggled to find an audience during its initial run as it diverged considerably from the standard fare on Prime Time television at the time (further frustrated by the network airing its episodes out of order). CBS cancelled it after one season, as that network is want to do, though it would go on to develop a strong cult following and there were plans to reboot the property on the big screen around 2004. Gary Cole would have returned as Sheriff Lucas Buck, and several other series regulars were set to reprise their roles with Sam Raimi returning as producer. A new actor would have played Caleb, though, as Lucas Black had grown too old to play the character. However, the movie plans stalled over various concerns and were eventually shelved altogether in 2005. The full series is available on DVD and apparently the producers had enough notice of the cancellation that they were able to give some resolution to the main storylines by the final episodes. It is definitely worth seeking out for those who have never seen the show and also deserving of a revisit for those who have not seen it in years. You can read more about the series at this link.
Aired: CBS, 1995-96, 1 Season Totaling 22 Episodes
Created By: Shaun Cassidy
Starring: Gary Cole, Lucas Black, Paige Turco, Jake Weber
Buy American Gothic on DVD from Amazon.com: