Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My List of the Top 10 Spin-Offs

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

First, an apology to those who got this post early. I upgraded some things last night and wasn't used to some new shortcuts when I began this post this morning. 

This is an area where I have a lot of interest. I'm not really sure where it started, but I've always been curious about spin-offs. The idea that certain characters from a main show become popular enough that they get their own storylines without a crutch is just cool. And, over the years, there have been tons and tons of spin-offs. And, as per my usual, I'm pretty sure that some of my selections will shock readers. I tend to like things that are a bit off, and tend to loathe things that others adore (you will notice that Animaniacs did not make my list, for instance).

10. A Different World, from The Cosby Show. I actually like this show quite a bit, and it did great. But it was created to be a vehicle for Denise Huxtable, who only lasted a single season on the show, which is why I gave it the #10 spot. In case you've never seen it, it's about college kids at (mostly black) fictional school Hillman, and the troubles they deal with.

9. The Simpsons, from The Tracy Ullman Show. This one fell low on the list because a lot of people don't know that The Simpsons is a spin-off. And, I must add that I've never seen The Tracy Ullman Show, aside from the clips of the original Simpsons family that have come up over the past twenty years. Still, the show about an overweight guy and his somewhat average family is certainly a household name! 

8. Quack Pack, from DuckTales. As a child who was in her early elementary years during the height of The Disney Afternoon, I loved DuckTales as much as anyone. And, while I was partial to Webby storylines, Huey, Dewey, and Louie were great characters. So, when I found Quack Pack in middle school, I was delighted to see the threesome appear as teenagers. Only 39 episodes exist, but I think that the essence of the characters continued from childhood into adolescence, making for a very believable show.    

7. Melrose Place, from Beverly Hills, 90210. I didn't know that Melrose Place was a spin-off when I began watching in 1996. It was one of the only shows that my mom ever watched in original run, so that was my draw to it. In fact, I didn't know it was a spin-off until I was in graduate school and working my way through 90210 for the first time. The connection took place in the second season, as Kelly was interested in a guy named Jake, who lived in the eponymous apartment complex. On the whole, Melrose Place was way too mature for a young teenager, but I watched the final few seasons anyway... though it didn't entice me enough to ever go back and catch up on the entire series!    

6. Joey, from Friends. Yes, it failed miserably. People couldn't stand it, and nobody understood why Joey didn't talk about his friends... plus, no guest appearances in 46 episodes! Now, if you're a long-time reader, you may remember that I had a love-hate relationship with Friends until I was almost done with college. I ended up seeing the entire series and enjoying it, and worked my way through Joey in less than a week. I found the show to be amusing, though it was full of issues as the writers struggled to find an audience.

5. All Grown Up, from Rugrats. Rugrats was such a captivating show, as I believe that I have mentioned a few times. It's one show that I can say both of my siblings and I enjoyed together (which was a problem when we got the Playstation game - it was only 1 player!). All Grown Up ran for 55 episodes, and featured the kids aged ten years from the original show. This is another case where I think that the characters were very believable - the traits and personalities really matched what you might think the kids would grow up into. The show didn't really end with any closure, but was a good addition to the Rugrats franchise.

4. The Jeffersons, from All in the Family. A true classic spun from another well-loved show. The Jeffersons is downright hilarious, and my brother and I have many great memories of watching it together on Nick at Nite. Although George wasn't on All in the Family until it had been on a while (Sherman Hemsley was on Broadway at the time), his family was an interesting dynamic on the show, which took place in working-class Queens. The family later moved to a luxury high-rise in Manhattan, during one of the greatest lead-ins in television history - one week you move from the characters on one show, the next you move into a new place on a new show!

3. Daria, from Beavis & Butthead. I LOVED Daria. I thought that it was such a good, funny, clever show. Daria was a recurring character on Beavis & Butthead, a show which I am proud to say I've never seen. But, for a recurring character to go on to have a five-season success and two tv-movies says something. Daria's witty and pessimistic outlook on life amused me to no end, and I just thought that Quinn was the cutest thing ever. I've been waiting for the complete series to go on sale again, because I really must have it!

2. Family Matters, from Perfect Strangers. I loved Perfect Strangers when it ran originally.  I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of night-time television, but I vaguely remember catching it my grandparents' house or something a few times. I can't say that I remembered Harriet Winslow from that show, and therefore wasn't aware that Family Matters was a spin-off when it began (which I did watch by the third season or so). One might argue that Family Matters was far more popular (and much longer-running) than Perfect Strangers, though they were both very different shows. Harriet's character was clearly the same as it was in Perfect Strangers, and Family Matters became a memorable sitcom across the country.

1. Frasier, from Cheers. One of my favorite shows since I began watching it, Frasier is a very long-running show spun from a long-running show. I've seen several dozen episodes of Cheers, and the overall feel of the show is vastly different from that of Frasier. And, although some people gripe about how different Frasier's character is between the two shows, I think that it was addressed throughout Frasier, and the Cheers characters still got along with Frasier for the most part. The storylines in Frasier were also very different (and many ran much longer) from those in Cheers, but both shows' successes certainly define the greatness that Kelsey Grammer embodied.

To end this post, I though I might point out to one of the craziest chains of spin-offs that I've ever come across... Sabrina's Secret Life was a spin-off of Sabrina, the Animated Series, which was a spin-off of the 1996 version of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch which was a spin-off of Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies which was a spin-off of The Archie Comedy Hour which was a sequel to The Archie Show. ...yeah.
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This

No comments: