For every Mary Tyler Moore, there’s a Rhoda.
For every Cheers, there’s a Frasier.
For every Beverly Hills, 90210, there’s a Melrose Place.
It’s called a “spin-off,” in which a popular supporting character on one TV show gets a show of their own – essentially “spinning off” into their own TV legacy.
Spin-offs can become very successful in their own right. The Bionic Woman was a spin-off, and so was Laverne and Shirley.
Um… that doesn’t mean, however, that every sitcom or drama can produce a classic TV show in their own right.
Allow me to demonstrate.
| DYNASTY II: THE COLBYS
For some unknown reason, ABC decided to expand on their wildly popular soap opera Dynasty by creating an entirely new family – including Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, and a bunch of other people that I barely remember. Somehow this show lasted for two seasons, after which the show was mercifully canceled and never mentioned again.
Dan Hedaya appeared on Cheers in a couple of episodes as Carla’s ex-husband. This just proves that a peripheral one-note character should NEVER get their own series. NEVER!!!
|JUST THE TEN OF US
This Growing Pains spinoff was just painful to watch. Just typical Friday night TGIF garbage, and about as funny as passing gas in church.
I guess CBS couldn’t let the gang from the 4077th fly off into the sunset; for two seasons several of the characters, including Father Mulcahy, Col. Potter and Sgt. Klinger, worked at a stateside VA hospital. You know how M*A*S*H lost a lot of its humor in its final years? This show lost ALL the humor.
Not content with spinning off Maude, The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker’s Place and Gloria, the producers of All in the Family tried one last attempt to milk the series – they spun off the show’s address to a brand new family. And look who moved in! It’s James Evans from Good Times! Er… maybe…
|THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA STEWART
I guess NBC wanted to add another ego-driven megalomaniac television personality, and since they already had Donald Trump under contract, why not get Martha Stewart on the boat? This show was notable for two things – one of the contestants was former WRGB reporter Shawn Killinger; and one of the other contestants became reality TV star Bethenny Frankel.
|THE LONE GUNMEN
Take the comic relief characters from The X-Files and give them their own TV show. Okay, so it didn’t work, but the pilot episode did have a plotline about the government commandeering a plane and flying it into the World Trade Center – and aired six months before the 9/11 tragedy. Predicted? The truth is out there…
Of all the people from The Dukes of Hazzard to give their own TV series, how in the world did the assistant to Roscoe P. Coltrane get his own hour-long program? This show was painful to watch. Painful like spears in the eyes. And while we’re at it…
|THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO
Okay, the show BJ and the Bear was mildly successful in its time – I guess – so giving BJ’s Buford T. Justice-like antagonist his own program was most likely an act of desperation. This show lasted two seasons on NBC, which at that time had test-pattern ratings – thanks to decisions to broadcast shows like this.
Remember that NBC spinoff show about a radio talk show host on the West Coast? No, not Fraiser. This OTHER one. Ah, the legendary spinoff from Diff’rent Strokes. The show with McLean Stevenson, a show whose laughs were not generated because it was a sitcom; they were generated because it was a TERRIBLE SHOW!!!