As Better Call Saul wraps up its first season, it is already being acknowledged as one of the better TV spin-offs of all time. The comical Bob Odenkirk plays Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) as a swindler turned lawyer set 6 years prior to the events occurring in the wildly popular parent series, Breaking Bad. A second season is already set to air in early 2016.
Even with the same producers and often same writers as the root show, TV spin-offs frequently fail miserably. There are plenty of exceptions however, such as Frasier, The Jeffersons and The Colbert Report to name a few. I did some research and took note below of some of the best, worst and most surprising TV spin-offs of all time.
- Anything spun off of ALF.
- While it miraculously lasted 2 seasons, the most common butt of spin-off jokes goes to Joey, the over budgeted byproduct of Friends.
- Quite possibly the stupidest spin-off idea in history was a failed pilot episode titled The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. That would be atrocious for a single episode on the original Gilligan’s Island; they wanted to make a whole series?!
- Anything remotely having to do with the Brady Bunch children as adults. The most surprising failure about this was that they tried multiple times.
- Let’s just say W*A*L*T*E*R* was not as lucrative as M*A*S*H*.
- The once prevalent Queer Eye for the Straight Guy attempted Queer Eye for the Straight Girl. Didn’t catch on... probably because straight girls know how to dress.
- Keeping Up with the Kardashians made more subsequent garbage not worth mentioning.
- Jon & Kate Plus 8 killed off Jon in the scandalous Kate Plus 8.
- Double Dare interestingly procreated Super Sloppy Double Dare, among several other awful shows with ‘Double Dare’ concealed in the title.
- Needless to say Angelica and Susie’s Pre-School Daze didn’t hook the hearts of viewers quite like Rugrats did. Maybe it was the awkward show title.
- What is the next phase of a pregnant 16-year-old girl’s life? Being a 17-year-old mom! Thanks, 16 and Pregnant, for Teen Mom.
- Dallas was an eventual spin-off of… Dallas. Interesting stuff here, you guys.
- We wouldn’t have the unerotic miserable cartoon character Daria if not for Beavis & Butthead.
- 15 different mediocre Nickelodeon television programs were eventual spin offs based off of sketches and actors from the Nickelodeon version of SNL, All That. More popular ones include Kenan & Kel, The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, KaBlam!, iCarly and Zoey 101.
- Some of the guys from Jackass tried their luck outside the hit MTV stunt program and did… satisfactory. More notably, Viva La Bam and Wildboyz.
- Two of the catchiest opening theme songs of the 80’s were actually linked, as The Facts of Life was a direct spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes.
- Not nearly the success of its parent series The Simpsons, Futurama still made the producers a nice dependable profit over the years.
- One of the more recent and well-known spin-offs is The Cleveland Show, from his character on Family Guy.
- Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons were all successful spin-offs of the renowned All in the Family.
- The brilliant comedy sitcom Cheers had two spin-offs. The first attempt was a forgotten train wreck, The Tortellis, while the second attempt turned out to be one of the most prominent and popular spin-offs in TV history, Fraiser.
- The two most beloved satire news programs known today are allied, as The Colbert Report came from none other than The Daily Show and is another large spin-off success.
- Grey’s Anatomy gave us Private Practice. Nothing funny about that. Both quality shows.
- Key & Peele has become a Comedy Central favorite, originally spawning from MADtv.
- Oprah Winfrey gave birth to Dr. Phil, figuratively, of course. I place Dr. Phil in ‘The Best’ category strictly based upon ratings and his finely-groomed mustache, not based upon my opinion of the show’s content.
- Good Morning, Miss Bliss was a teen sitcom originally aired on Disney. It was cancelled after 13 horrific episodes and NBC picked up the rights and made it awesome, changing the name to Saved by the Bell.
To wrap up my findings, if there is anything to be learned from TV spin-off experiments, it is that fancy basketball players on an island is not good television. Also, cute kids are not cute adults, except for Neil Patrick Harris of course.