History doesn’t look favorably on spin-offs. In fact, they often leave us wondering why the producers even bothered. There are some, however, that actually made the grade, so networks tend to like the idea of a spin-off. The hope of gaining the viewers from the original show equals great big dollar signs in their eyes. Here are some spin-offs that failed, despite the huge success of their parent series.
Every now and then television history defies even the worst odds and creates a spin-off that simply shouldn’t have been made. A perfect example of one such failure is Joey. On the heels of the immensely successful and critically acclaimed Friends, Joey starred Matt LeBlanc as his Friends character, Joey Tribbiani, but it never came close to the popularity that Friends maintained for 10 years. In fact, it bombed after two seasons.
NBC had celebrated great success with shows derived from other highly successful sitcoms in the past, and they no doubt planned on doing the same with Joey. When Cheers came to an end, Frasier picked up. Frasier Crane, one of the long established bar patrons, moved to Seattle to reconnect with his dad and his brother Niles. A psychologist with a radio show, some fun supporting actors and a stylish West Coast apartment all presented themselves well to viewers. Kelsey Grammer was a strong enough actor to carry his own series for eleven years.
It looks like NBC tried the same template with Joey. After the friends in Friends parted ways, Joey Tribbiani reconnected with his sister in Hollywood. He became roommates with his 20-year-old super intelligent nephew. Michael was smart with absolutely nothing in the way of people skills. Joey was suave, but dumb as a brick. It was mildly funny on a good night, but absolutely nothing when compared to Friends. Hollywood.com said it best: “Friends spin-off sitcom Joey has been permanently cancelled by NBC after being labeled a catastrophic ratings failure.”
Basketball Wives: LA
Basketball Wives: LA, a spin-off from Basketball Wives, no doubt failed due to an overwhelming exhaustion on behalf of viewers for stupid reality TV. Just how many shows can people watch that involve the dramatics of failed relationships and female power plays for love, money, and fame?
The show’s first season averaged two million viewers per episode. By season two, those ratings dropped drastically, to about 1.2 million viewers per show, and some fans claimed the show bored them when compared to other similar options, like Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. Fans even felt that the wives weren’t doing anything worth watching, and spent a lot of time simply going out for coffee and talking about one another. Viewers get a taste of that in their real lives!
Law & Order LA
Fans no doubt tuned in to Law & Order LA out of unabashed love for Terrence Howard, but unfortunately his charm couldn’t keep this spin-off afloat. Not long after Law & Order LA launched, ratings for the original Law & Order were tanking. Shortly thereafter, the spin-off’s views dropped significantly, too. NBC tried to save LA by concentrating even more on both Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard, and bringing on Skeet Ulrich and Law & Order alum Alana De La Garza.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough. No matter how much fans loved looking at Terrence Howard, the show’s ratings dropped even lower than they were during its unimpressive launch.
So What’s New?
Not all spin-offs draw that boring sigh. This fall’s season lineup includes a couple of new shows that fans are excited for. With the success and fan base of Vampire Diaries and Once Upon A Time, how could they go wrong?
This fall, a new spin-off from The Vampire Diaries launches. The Vampire Diaries hasn’t ended, however. It has enjoyed four very successful seasons thus far. The Originals takes some of the original vampires in The Vampire Diaries and moves them to New Orleans. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) will leave Mystic Falls. Rebekah (Claire Holt) is signed to the spin-off, but there’s some mystery as to how and when she’ll make the move.
Holt dropped a hint about switching shows during a recent interview. “[Rebekah's] always been loyal to Klaus and she values family above all else, and I think it’s a really hard one for her because she has been betrayed by him, she is disappointed in him and is hurting still. The journey in this pilot will revolve around her decision to follow him, help him and remain loyal to the family or leave them behind.”
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland
The first few minutes of the premiere of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the Once Upon a Time spin-off, was reviewed by fans at Comic Con. The panel at Comic Con also revealed a character named Jafar, played by Lost’s Naveen Andrews, and showed footage of actor Sophie Lowe’s Alice traveling from an asylum in London with the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha).
Co-creator Edward Kitsis won’t divulge Jafar’s role in the new series. “We’re going to find out why Jafar is in Wonderland and how the genie got in the bottle,” he teased.
He also explained that Once Upon a Time in Wonderland will differ from Once Upon a Time, which is also returning for a new season, because the first season will be a self-contained story and Alice won’t necessarily be traveling between the real world and Wonderland.
What’s your take on The Originals? Will a Vampire Diaries spin-off earn the respect of fans a la Frasier or might it go the way of Joey instead? Is there room for two NBC vampire shows? And how about Once Upon a Time in Wonderland?
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