Ranging from ancient myths to horror tales, the fantasy genre has produced several television classics. However, not all of them are mainstream hits, coming and going quickly and mostly unseen, but nonetheless developing a small but devoted following. Today, as programming schedules attempt to capitalize on the hype of lucrative hits such as The iron Throne and the witcherthe fantasy genre continues to remain as relevant as ever.
Given that fantasy television is healthier than ever, it’s a good time to consider a revival or attempted reboot of one of the underrated cult classics that could benefit from more mainstream reception the second time around. Improved visuals and camera formats over the years can help lend a more realistic feel to these otherworldly fantasy stories.
Dave the Barbarian (2004)
A silly satire on the feats of strength of hypermasculine fantasy heroes like Conan the Barbarian, dave the barbarian is one of the most underrated Disney animated shows. Each episode dealt with the titular teenage hero’s misadventures in a world filled with supernatural threats, eccentric wizards, and mindless invaders.
Unfortunately, the 2004 cartoon failed to generate much viewership, being canceled after just one season. However, today there are several animated parodies of the fantasy genre such as cross swords and Disenchantment. As they are largely aimed at an informed public, dave the barbarian can be the ideal alternative for children to these recent shows.
The Storyteller (1987)
The narrator is not only a highly underrated fantasy show, but also a memorable anthology. Told by an old storyteller to a dog (which acts as a metaphor for the audience), each episode tells a particular story from European folklore or mythological traditions. The tone of the stories can range from humorous to macabre, making it a perfect choice for viewers of all ages.
The show incorporated both live-action and puppet elements, but still prioritized atmospheric tension over Muppets-style naïveté. Therefore, a Storyteller the revival may be a perfect choice for viewers who want to see a dark and twisted show reminiscent of horror anthology tv shows like Tales from the Crypt.
A cult favorite in the pantheon of adult animated series, Spawn is a faithful adaptation of Todd McFarlane’s horror fantasy comic series. The basic premise deals with an expert assassin who has risen from the dead to do the devil’s work on Earth. However, as he explores his newfound superpowers, he uncovers mysterious secrets behind his human past.
Featuring thrills and Keith David in one of his most iconic voice roles, Spawn garnered loyal fans but faded from popular discussion after just three short seasons. With its hyper-violent superhero action and philosophical themes of life and death, a Spawn the reboot would be the perfect show to complement equally edgy comic book adaptations such as The Boys and Preacher.
The Raven: Stairway to Heaven (1994-1995)
Brandon Lee’s latest movie The crow remains a classic among neo-Gothic horror films. However, its TV adaptation flew under the radar despite an equally thrilling take on the same story. The story of revenge and redemption begins with the murder of a rock musician and his wife, and his rebirth as a supernatural entity.
Despite positive reviews, The Raven: The Stairway to Heaven was canceled after the sale of its Polygram production studio to Universal Studios. Ending on an inconclusive cliffhanger, the series couldn’t end the larger storyline that went beyond the original film. But like The crowThe lore of grew out of a series of supernatural comic books, a modern adaptation would suit the currently diverse nature of comic book adaptations aimed at adults.
Religion and fantasy combine against the backdrop of a traveling circus in Dust Bowl-era America. As the life of a circus troupe is explored, a larger plot hatches involving the end of the world. Besides biblical struggles over good and evil, HBO’s supernatural series Carnival was also rooted in other mythological mysteries such as the Templar order.
Despite its limited two-season run, Carnival builds a highly immersive world that makes it a dark, character-driven fantasy. The show’s pastors, circus freaks, convicts, and many other characters can drive a mystery with style and substance with a modern revival. The success of recent horror films such as american horror story proves that dark fantasy still has an active viewer base.
The Odyssey (1997)
The Greek epic IliadHelen’s story with scenes such as the abduction of Helen and the siege of Troy with a wooden horse is a common and recurring theme in the fantasy genre. However, the aftermath of the Trojan War is perfectly highlighted in The Odysseyanother epic which dealt with the naval adventures of the Greek king Odysseus who spent ten years reaching Greece from Troy.
The decade-long journey forms the premise of The Odyssey Television adaptation of the famous Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky. The grand production design and outdated visual effects may not have aged well, but its swords-and-sandals tale can be relied upon to create an all-new version for history and mythology buffs.
Class of the Titans (2006-2008)
Before Rick Riordan Percy Jackson novels have integrated Greek mythology into pop culture, Titan Class was the first to give ancient Greek figures a modern makeover. The premise involves seven teenagers who are destined to save the world from the titan Cronus who has escaped from a millennial exile. In their quest to defeat Cronos, the protagonists are accompanied by Greek gods and heroes, ranging from Zeus to Hercules.
With a Percy Jackson series currently being developed by Disney+, it is clear that Greek myths still arouse the interest of many fantasy aficionados. In this context, Titan Class can contribute to this continued interest with its reimagining of classic source material as well as a coming-of-age story for its main characters.
I Am Not Okay With This (2020)
Following the success of The end of the fucking world on Netflix, I don’t agree with this served as another morbidly humorous teenage tale adapted from Charles Forman’s graphic novel. With elements of horror and teen drama, I don’t agree with this was anchored by a brilliant performance from Sophia Lillis as she plays a high school girl who deals with personal tragedies and newly discovered supernatural abilities. And yet, a major first season cliffhanger could never be resolved as Netflix ultimately axed the series.
What is interesting is that I don’t agree with this boasted callbacks and influences from 80s movies and culture. This retro nostalgia was successfully recreated in the Netflix hit stranger things but unfortunately, I don’t agree with this never had a second chance to explore these stylistic themes further.
With the Goose bumps series of young adult horror novels, RL Stine is arguably one of the most celebrated authors of all time. Stine’s brand of absurd horror has found its way into episodes of Goose bumpssome of which are quite scary by modern standards.
While the Goose bumps The book franchise still retains its popularity due to two recent action films, the cynical darkness of the source material has been heavily toned down in favor of a more witty storyline. So it’s high time to bring back a horror anthology like Goose bumps. Featuring Nickelodeon’s Nostalgic ’90s Show Are you scared of the dark receive a revival, there is still some hope for more Goose bumps seasons.
Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (2004-2009)
Considered one of Cartoon Network’s best shows, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends is still not as well known as other network classics like Courage the cowardly dog and samurai jack. The animated series dealt with preteen children and their imaginary friends. As children grow, these imaginary creations are thrown into a foster home where they can be adopted by others.
The highly original narrative went beyond the usual deception of anthropomorphic, animal-focused comedies. A continuation of the original series may be an interesting step for Cartoon Network to introduce the fantasy comedy series to a new audience.
NEXT: 10 Best Fantasy TV Shows To Watch Right Now, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes)
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