Spinoff City

I’ve always been a big fan of episodic storytelling, specifically in the form of television programming. While at times movie trilogies do a great job with character development, there is nothing in comparison to a long drawn out series of peaks and valleys and triumphs and stumbles that are afforded over a multi-season television sitcom or drama series. With the real estate of time available, it allows the writers to do a full on deep dive into a character’s life, including all of their insecurities and values, which allows for the viewer to fully embrace a particular fictional universe.

First things first. I have never been involved in creating a sitcom, but I would venture to say that building a successful sitcom or drama series that runs for eight or nine seasons and generates a consistent level of positive ratings is as difficult as hitting a hole in one on a golf course. Many of the classic shows, such as Seinfeld, Friends, I Love Lucy and The Big Bang Theory have found the formula for success. These shows were able to connect with an audience, get them to buy in and keep them coming back for more. What is even more impressive is when somehow lightning strikes twice with a successful spinoff.

The concept of a spinoff has been attempted numerous amounts of times since the inception of television. Writers will go back to the drawing board and attempt to take a successful show’s characters and expand on them in a different direction. To me personally, spinoffs are fun for nostalgic purposes, but at first, all you can think about is when other familiar cast members are going to make a cameo appearance. To me it seems logical and a safe assumption that a new show with established characters would instantly generate some level of success based on the history of the prior show. This is certainly not the case.

Friends was wildly successful for ten seasons. The spinoff, “Joey”, which picks up where Friends left off with Joey Tribbiani moving to California, surrounded by a new supporting cast, lasted two seasons before getting cancelled. After The Brady Bunch had a successful run from the late 1960s into the 1970s, an attempt at a spinoff called “The Brady Brides” was made featuring Marcia and Jan getting married and sharing a home together in the early 1980s. The show did not resonate with a mass audience and was subsequently cancelled after a handful of episodes. A third attempt at reviving the familiar Brady brand in 1990 was made with “The Brady's”, a more serious-toned dramatic look at a grown up Brady family. This rendition was also cancelled after only few episodes.

On the other hand, there are a few cases where spinoffs have found equal or even more success than their predecessor. Frasier, which is a spinoff of Cheers, follows Dr. Frasier Crane to Seattle with a very strong cast of new supporting characters for eleven seasons, which mirrors the run that Cheers had from 1982 through 1993. Happy Days led to a number of spinoffs, some of which were successful and others were not. Joanie loves Chachi had a short run while Laverne and Shirley enjoyed eight successful seasons.

With this topic as relevant as ever with several new show revivals currently on air, like Fuller House, Will & Grace and The X-Files or scheduled to debut in the near future, as Roseanne is in March, I thought I would have some fun and conceptualize some new spinoffs based on hit shows from yesteryear.

Here we go!

“George Costanza” - This half hour sitcom begins a few years after the main characters from Seinfeld are released from prison. George settles down and gets married in the suburbs of Long Island with a new job as a traveling salesman for a construction supply company.

“Gladstone” - This single camera dramedy series follows Joey Gladstone, from Full House fame, who is living in Las Vegas with a comedy residence at a casino. The show features many of the highs and lows of Joey trying to stay on top of the comedy business.

“Monica and Chandler” - This sitcom follows Monica and Chandler Bing from Friends as they adjust to life in the suburbs raising children.

“Johnny Boy” - This concept is a prequel to The Sopranos and follow’s Tony’s father, Johnny, as he rises to power in his New Jersey crime family in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Urkel” - This half hour sitcom features Steve Urkel and Laura Winslow, from Family Matters fame, now married with children. Steve is working as an Astronaut and gets into all kinds of hilarious situations along the way.

“Peyton’s Place” - This show follows, Peyton and Lucas Scott, arguably the most popular characters from One Tree Hill, as a married couple in a new city. Lucas is a successful writer and Peyton runs a successful music venue and coffee house called “Peyton’s Place”. Their daughter Sawyer Scott is now a teenager and experiencing similar situations as her parents had in One Tree Hill.

“It’s Al” - This half hour sitcom follows Al Borland, from Home Improvement fame, as he gets promoted to an executive role at Binford Tools and deals with new silly situations as he adjusts to the corporate life.

“Ally McBeal” - Same title as the original show. Ally returns to open her own law practice in New York. She has a college-aged daughter from a prior marriage who is interesting in following in her mother’s footsteps as a lawyer. She deals with similar dating situations as her mother did in the original show.

“Meadow” - This hour long drama is a sequel to The Sopranos, with Meadow Soprano as the lead character now as a lawyer in New York attempting to pick up the pieces of her life after her father, Tony’s death. As a legal professional seeking justice, she tries to separate herself from her family’s history of crime but falls back into difficult situations involving her extended “family”. The question throughout the show is whether or not she is really going to stay the course as a lawyer for the good or if she is indeed the heiress to her father’s throne.

“WKRP” - This is a spinoff of WKRP in Cincinnati with a shortened title. This half hour sitcom takes place at the same fictional radio station made famous in the original 1970s sitcom, but in modern times with a new cast facing hilarious situations in radio’s drastically different environment than its predecessor.

Hope you enjoyed. Enjoy the day!

- C


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