'How I Met Your Dad' Take Note: The Best and Worst TV Spin Offs
Take note 'How I Met Your Mother' creators, making a spin-off sucessful isn't as easy as it looks.
With the news that television’s latest spin off ‘How I Met Your Dad’ has cast Greta Gerwig in the lead, the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ spin off might have a chance at being a successful example of the genre. However the writers and producers may want to look to a few other examples to see how to do the tricky spin off, right and wrong.
Frasier remains one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
One of the greatest spin offs of all time and one which is actually better than the show it spawned from is ‘Frasier’. Kelsey Grammar’s neurotic radio psychiatrist Doctor Frasier Crane got his start propping up the bar on 80s sitcom ‘Cheers’. However after his marriage to the wonderfully stern Lilith failed, Frasier headed back to Seattle to reunite with his grouchy father Martin and OCD brother Niles. ‘Frasier’ lasted 11 seasons and won multiple Emmy awards for the cast and writers. Occasionally the show would feature guest appearances from Frasier’s old Boston drinking buddies, with Cliff, Norm, Sam and even Woody making appearances. Kelsey Grammer, though clearly one of the best TV actors in recent memory, has struggled to find the same level of acclaim.
Once Upon a Time: In Wonderland
The jury's still out on this most recent addition to the spin off chronicals. Only in its first season, the spin off to ‘Once Upon a Time’ is set in Wonderland and gives a different take on the traditional ‘Alice in Wonderland’ tale. The series is notable for featuring some fantastic guest voice actors including Whoopie Goldberg and Iggy Pop. So far the series has received favourable reviews and is set to occasionally cross over with the main ‘Once Upon a Time’.
Joey Was A Giant Misfire for Matt Le Blanc
A much less successful example of moving a character out of its original city is ‘Joey’.’Friends’ fans would probably rather forget ‘Joey’ the 2001 spin off for Matt LeBlanc’s dim witted character. Amazingly when ‘Friends’ ended the producers seemed to forget the fact that the show had been so successful due to the combination of all six characters bouncing off each other, (as ‘friends) and decided to take one character and move him to a different city on his own. Whilst ‘Friends’ may have defined TV in the 1990’s, ‘Joey’ made viewers switch off and he sadly became, ‘the one who’s just annoying now’ with the series ending after only two seasons. Lets hope Joey has since moved back to New York, where Chandler can take care of him.
Fans Were Incensed At The Decision to Cancel 'Angel'
Moving to L.A, however isn’t always a bad idea as David Boreanaz’s ‘Angel’ learnt. After three seasons of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, Buffy’s ensouled vampire boyfriend, Angel, finally had enough of the complications and moved to L.A. where he used his special crime fighting skills to ‘help the helpless’, and also took Buffy characters Cordelia and Wesley along with him. ‘Angel’ ran for five seasons, going off air the year after ‘Buffy’ finished. By the time of its cancellation, ‘Angel’ had become a fan favourite and viewers were outraged over its cancellation. The character, much like Buffy, would eventually get a second life through a comic book series continuing the vampire’s story.
That 80s Show
Taking a formula that worked and switching decade does not always ensure success as ‘That 80’s Show’ proved. Using the same writers and production staff as ‘That 70s Show’, ‘That 80s Show’ was an attempt to create the same nostalgic laughs a decade later. Much like ‘How I Met Your Dad’, the show was an entirely new cast and it never crossed over with its predecessor. The show only lasted one series and failed to make any real impact - its main star Glen Howerton would go on to develop and star in the much more successful ‘It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia’
The Jury's Still Out On 'The Carrie Diaries'
The Carrie Diaries
A look back at the 80s doesn't always have to be a complete failure as ‘The Carrie Diaries’ is showing. Not so much a spin-off as a prequel, ‘The Carrie Diaries’, tells the story of a young Carrie Bradshaw going to school in Connecticut whilst moonlighting as an intern in New York at Interview magazine. The first series received mixed reviews, however the show was renewed for a second in 2013, with the character of Samantha Jones being introduced. The show’s somewhat cliched 1980s nostalgia eventually won it favour with viewers, however there’s no real telling how much longevity the show can after, especially when Carrie leaves high school.
It seems most characters on TV still want to move to L.A., despite what happened to Joey, and so we have 'Private Practice'. Kate Walsh’s character Addison Montgomery started off life as Dr McDreamy’s ex on 'Grey’s Anatomy'. After guest starring in season two of ‘Grey's’ Walsh’s character moved from Seattle to Los Angeles where she joins Oceanside Wellness Group, a co-op private practice. Walsh would occasionally come back to ‘Grey's Anatomy’ usually if a main character’s pregnancy was in peril. ‘Private Practice’ ran for six seasons before being cancelled in 2012, ‘Grey's Anatomy’, however is still going, now well into its tenth season.
Saved By the Bell: The College Years and The New Class
What you may not have realised is ‘Saved by the Bell’ itself was a spin off, stemming from the earlier Disney series, ‘Good Morning, Miss Bliss’. However after the students of Bayside High had graduated the network simply couldn't let the series die peacefully and instead two spin offs were born. ‘The College Years’ followed Zach, Kelly, Slater and Screech as they started college. The show was cancelled after only one season, but fans were treated to a TV movie, ‘Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas’, which provided closure for everyones favourite high school sweethearts Zach and Kelly. Debuting three days earlier on NBC was ‘Saved by the Bell: the New Class’, where we got to stay at Bayside High and watch a new group of students annoy Mr Belding. The series also featured Dustin Diamond reprising the role of Screech, who now inexplicably is Mr Belding’s assistant. Amazingly, despite at least three cast changes per season this lasted seven seasons, more than even the original ‘Saved by the Bell’.