These words from Ian Woolstencroft's American television article bothered me. “Twenty-two episodes is too much time to invest in something that’s never going to reach a proper conclusion,” said he. This might sound stupid, but unfinished television can still be great – with or without a proper ending. Take Nowhere Man for instance.
The short-lived 1995 UPN series told the tale of Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood) who searched for the answer to why his life was erased over a photograph. For the first twelve episodes of the show, Larry Herzog (who was the creator and executive producer) managed to keep the mystery as the springboard to create some excellent stories that could exist even without the overall mission of its main character. UPN however wanted Greenwood’s Veil to get smarter – they were growing frustrated at the series' supposed lack of direction.
At episode thirteen, Thomas Veil managed to obtain a Palm Pilot from someone on the inside containing a go-to list of all the people connected to those that would do him harm. From a network standpoint, this move would have been a solid idea and would boost the show’s ratings enough to warrant the second season. But if people were turned off by the lack of a clear direction in the first twelve episodes, they really got turned off after episode thirteen – myself included. Needless to say, the ratings still didn’t change – in the network’s mind, they got worse.
Shortly after the last episode, Nowhere Man was gone forever.
This past month I’ve watched a few episodes from the DVD set that is now available, and they are as good now as they were then. Sure Nowhere Man is incomplete, but it’s still good television. I’m sure the people who watched Surface and Invasion will still think when they purchase the DVDs. Even the fans of Sliders rewatch the series on DVD — and they got a fucked up ending.
Sometimes the conclusion of a story isn’t as satisfying as the journey it takes to get there – even if it never gets there. If you see it that way, you won’t be put off by most television.