Spin-offs are curious creatures. For every Fraser there’s a Joey. And for every Torchwood there’s a Joanie Loves Chachi. You might have heard of those side acts, but what about these?
One more thing… Years before playing Captain Janeway on Star Trek, Kate Mulgrew had a less popular stint as the crime-solving wife of crumpled copper Columbo. The show was renamed Kate Loves a Mystery and connections to Columbo were dropped. It didn’t help.
We’re big fans of Bewitched – a series that ran from 1964 to 1972. But its spin-off Tabitha? Not so much. And neither was anyone else, seeing as it couldn’t even manage a whole year! It focused on the adventures of Samantha’s daughter, but this magic-themed sitcom went down about as well as a Paul Daniels tribute act.
How not to make a spin-off: take a beloved character from a beloved sitcom, plonk him in an entirely new context and make him suicidal. Which is exactly what silly TV execs tried with this ill-fated follow-up to M*A*S*H.
The least-bad series on this list, The Lone Gunmen was a light-hearted companion to the X-Files, featuring the three conspiracy nuts that helped Mulder and Scully. Will the X-Files have another spin-off in the future? Probably not. But hey, stranger things have happened, right?
Nowadays, anything Doctor Who-related is a goldmine. But in 1981, this attempt at a spin-off featuring the Time Lord’s robot pooch proved a right dog’s dinner. Luckily for K9 fans, another Doctor Who spin-off had him in a starring role – The Sarah Jane Adventures. And that one was pretty good!
Remember Enos Strate, the lovable deputy from Dukes of Hazzard? Neither do we, and we’re telly nerds. Following Enos as he joined the LAPD, this spin-off was flimsily linked to its parent show via a series of letters to Daisy Duke.
Cheers gave us Frasier, possibly the greatest and most popular spin-off sitcom of all time. It also gave us The Tortellis, which was not. The story of a sleazy and minor Cheers character, it was slammed for its stereotyped take on Italian-Americans.
A spin-off from Coronation Street? Sounds unlikely, but it did happen. Telling of a shopkeeper from the Street who becomes a department store manager, the show was as exciting as an evening with Norris Cole. Just think, they could remake it today with Dev. Now that’s a spin-off just waiting to happen.
Nosediving ratings didn’t help this spin-off from cult spy series The Man from UNCLE. Trivia note: the main character’s name, April Dancer, was suggested by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Too bad that name was the best thing about the show. Maybe Bond should have made a cameo.
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