Other than the animated “Ewoks” series, I haven’t encountered a more extreme example of a good show going bad in its sophomore year than “Summerland” Season 2 (2005, WB). Although the series is too scantly documented to know why this happened, one can surmise that there was no leadership in the writers’ room in Season 2; co-creator Stephen Tolkin departed, and there’s only one common scribe (Katie Botel) between the two seasons.
In the category of TV shows that were never made available for purchase after their original airing, it’s hard to find one more popular than “Summerland.” It lasted two seasons of 13 episodes, launched the careers of Jesse McCartney (in conjunction with his teen-heartthrob music persona), Zac Efron (who looks so gawky here that it’s hard to believe the current buff movie star is the same person) and Ryan Kwanten (later of “True Blood”). “Full House’s” Lori Loughlin and the Disney Channel’s Kay Panabaker also brought viewers. Of all the “TV Shows Lost to History” I’ve chronicled on my blog, “Summerland” is the one I feel most confident that people remember.
I noticed that whatever company distributes “Roswell” DVDs recently repackaged them with Katherine Heigl prominently featured on the cover art. Artistically, it’s ridiculous, because Heigl’s Isabel was the fourth-most-important female character on the show, behind Liz, Maria and Tess. But as a marketing move, it’s smart. If it gets “Grey’s Anatomy” fans to discover a great show like “Roswell,” I’m all for it.