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SFGate

12 Canceled Shows That Returned to TV

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SFGate

When a beloved TV series is canceled, its fans often protest and campaign for its return to television. Sometimes these pleas fall on deaf ears—but other times, TV executives believe that fresh episodes of a defunct TV series could strengthen their network’s appeal to new viewers. There is no formula that determines why some canceled TV shows return to television, but it’s believed that it has something to do with whether or not their audience is growing, its DVD sales are high, and if their creative teams are available to make new episodes.

As long as TV networks resurrect beloved shows, then there’s always a chance for your favorites to return one day. Keep the faith, Firefly fans! Here are twelve once-canceled shows that eventually returned to TV.

1. Arrested Development (original series run 2003 – 2006; returned 2013)

Despite winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004, Arrested Development had a hard time finding viewers. After three high quality seasons, the series was still struggling in the ratings, and Fox canceled it in 2006.

When Arrested Development was released on DVD, audiences eventually found what made the zany misadventures of the Bluth family so special and demanded more episodes of the series. The online streaming service Netflix resurrected Arrested Development in 2013—the new season was put online on May 26—and is meant to serve as a prequel to a full-length feature film.

2. 24 (original series run 2001 – 2010; returns 2014)

Courtesy of NYPost

Each episode of the drama 24 followed one hour of Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) life in real time as he foiled assassination attempts on the President, disarmed nuclear and chemical weapons, and unmasked corporate and government conspiracies. After eight seasons and a TV movie, 24 was canceled in 2010—but Fox announced at its upfronts this year that the show would return with a 12-episode season, which will premiere in May 2014.

3. Charles In Charge (original series run 1984 – 1985; returned 1987 – 1990)

Courtesy of TIFaux

First airing in 1984 on CBS, Charles In Charge struggled to find viewers and as a result the TV comedy had middling ratings. It was canceled after one season, but returned two years later in syndication. The TV comedy followed Charles (Scott Baio), a college student who worked as a live-in babysitter for a suburban family in exchange for room and board.

When the series returned, Charles’ old family, the Pembrokes, had moved to Seattle, and a new family, the Powells, allowed Charles to live in their home to take care of their children.

4. Baywatch (original series run 1989 – 1990; returned 1991 – 1999)

Courtesy of PropStore

The action drama starring David Hasselhoff as southern California beach lifeguard Mitch Buchannon only aired for one season in 1989 before NBC canceled it after low ratings. But Hasselhoff still felt that Baywatch had potential as a TV series, so he re-tooled it with its creator and executive producer for syndication.

Re-launching in 1991, Baywatch became a pop culture phenomenon around the world and spun off other TV series including Baywatch Nights, Baywatch Hawaii, and Baywatch Down Under.

5. Futurama (original series run 1999 – 2003; returned 2008 – 2013)

Courtesy of The Talking Box

Futurama was an animated science fiction TV series from Simpsons co-creator Matt Groening and TV writer David X. Cohen that aired on Fox from 1999 to 2003. It was initially canceled after four seasons, but was later re-launched after high DVD sales and four best-selling direct-to-video films. After high syndication ratings on the Cartoon Network, Twentieth Century Fox announced Futurama would return to TV with regular episodes on Comedy Central in 2009.

All good things must come to an end, because Futurama was later canceled again in 2013 after low ratings; the finale is due to air September 4. Groening and Cohen are currently exploring options to continue to tell Futurama stories.

6. Family Guy (original series run 1999 – 2002; returned 2005 – present)

Courtesy of Collider

The Seth MacFarlane-created animated series started off as a seven-minute pilot pitch to Fox in 1998. After some development, Family Guy premiered in 1999 and was automatically dubbed a Simpsons knockoff.

Throughout its original series run, Family Guy proved its worth as a pop culture staple, but was later canceled in 2002 after low ratings. Fox considered bringing the animated TV series back after high DVD sales and high syndication ratings on Adult Swim. In 2005, Family Guy returned as the centerpiece for Fox’s Animation Domination Sundays with The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and American Dad.

7. Beavis and Butt-Head (original series run 1993 – 1997; returned 2011)

Courtesy of MTV

One of the most controversial animated TV shows of the 1990s, Beavis and Butt-Head was at the forefront of MTV’s transition from music video outlet to original programming. The series centered on two heavy metal-loving, dim-witted, and socially awkward teenagers who spent most of their time making fun of the music videos showcased on MTV, while getting into strange misadventures during those rare moments when they actually left the house.

The series was canceled in 1997, but was resurrected in 2011 with episodes from its creator Mike Judge.

8. Jericho (original series run 2006 – 2007; returned 2007 – 2008)

Courtesy of TVWorthWatching

The action science fiction drama Jericho was canceled after one season due to poor ratings. Fans of the series were so outraged with CBS’s decision to cancel Jericho that they sent network executives nearly 40,000 pounds of peanuts to protest. This forced CBS to re-consider renewing Jericho for a second season.

Why peanuts? The season one finale featured a cliffhanger where the fictional town of Jericho, Kansas was under siege from a neighboring community, which led the series’ protagonist Jack Green (Skeet Ulrich) to respond with only one word: “Nuts.”

The fan protest gave the show a stay of execution, but Jericho was canceled again after its second season. Fans of the series can still enjoy Jericho with its seasons three and four adapted into comic book form.

9. Leave It To Beaver (original series run 1957 – 1958; returned 1958 – 1963)

Wikimedia Commons

This iconic prototype for 1950s idealized white suburban life was, surprisingly, a low ratings performer when it premiered in 1957. As a result, CBS canceled the series after one season—but the show re-emerged on ABC the following year. There, Leave It To Beaver enjoyed five solid seasons before actors Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow wanted to focus on their educations: Mathers entered high school, while Dow entered college.

10. Fame (original series run 1982 - 1983; returned 1983 - 1987)

Youtube

Cashing in on the success of the 1980 film, NBC launched a series by the same name but set at a slightly differently-named school due to royalty issues. Fame was axed by NBC after one season, but it lived on—not forever, but for four more years in first-run syndication.

11. My Three Sons (original series run 1960 - 1965; returned 1965 - 1972)

Wikimedia Commons

The heartwarming series featuring Fred MacMurray as a widower raising three boys debuted on ABC in 1960 to solid ratings that only increased during its five year run. But by 1965, ABC had to decide whether to invest the extra bucks necessary to film an aging sitcom in color. Complicating matters was the fact that William Frawley, who played Bub O’Casey, was deemed too ill and uninsurable to continue in his role. ABC’s decision to put MacMurray and his family out to pasture proved to be CBS’s gain: After My Three Sons moved there in 1965, it remained in the Top 20 until it ended in 1972.

12. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (original series run 1988 - 1996; returned 1996 - 1999)

Youtube

The little cow-town puppet show (as described by co-creator Joel Hodgson) started out on Minnesota’s UHF station KTMA in 1988 with Joel and his robot pals sitting in a shadowy “peanut gallery” making snarky comments at cheesy old movies. In 1989 the fledgling Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central) added the show to its sparse line-up of original programming. Comedy Central nixed the show in 1996, but Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and company got a new lease on life when the SciFi Channel (now SyFy) picked up the show for an additional three seasons.

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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Health
200 Health Experts Call for Ban on Two Antibacterial Chemicals
June 21, 2017
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iStock

In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on antibacterial soap and body wash. But a large collective of scientists and medical professionals says the agency should have done more to stop the spread of harmful chemicals into our bodies and environment, most notably the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban. They published their recommendations in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The 2016 report from the FDA concluded that 19 of the most commonly used antimicrobial ingredients are no more effective than ordinary soap and water, and forbade their use in soap and body wash.

"Customers may think added antimicrobials are a way to reduce infections, but in most products there is no evidence that they do," Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, said in a statement.

Studies have shown that these chemicals may actually do more harm than good. They don't keep us from getting sick, but they can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs. Triclosan and triclocarban can also damage our hormones and immune systems.

And while they may no longer be appearing on our bathroom sinks or shower shelves, they're still all around us. They've leached into the environment from years of use. They're also still being added to a staggering array of consumer products, as companies create "antibacterial" clothing, toys, yoga mats, paint, food storage containers, electronics, doorknobs, and countertops.

The authors of the new consensus statement say it's time for that to stop.

"We must develop better alternatives and prevent unneeded exposures to antimicrobial chemicals," Rolf Haden of the University of Arizona said in the statement. Haden researches where mass-produced chemicals wind up in the environment.

The statement notes that many manufacturers have simply replaced the banned chemicals with others. "I was happy that the FDA finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps," said Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. "But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse."

Blum, Haden, Schettler, and their colleagues "urge scientists, governments, chemical and product manufacturers, purchasing organizations, retailers, and consumers" to avoid antimicrobial chemicals outside of medical settings. "Where antimicrobials are necessary," they write, we should "use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems."

They recommend that manufacturers label any products containing antimicrobial chemicals so that consumers can avoid them, and they call for further research into the impacts of these compounds on us and our planet.

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