Ohmigosh, on this, my momentous 47th post, I must discuss the vicissitudes of fate. Or something like that.
The first little tidbit? Viewers out there disappoint me but not more than Fox: Drive has been canceled. After 4 episodes. No more Mal. No more Fred. I am officially in mourning.
The second entry? I have been pondering the soon-to-happen and being-set-up-in-this-week's-episode spin-off from Grey's Anatomy starring she of the lovely, jealousy-inducing red hair, Dr. Addison Montgomery (used-to-be-hypen-Shepherd), right now rumored to be called Private Practice (oh yeah, and Addison's real name is Kate Walsh). My assessments of potential success or failure for this show will follow, but the idea of spinning off from a soapy drama got me thinking about the history of spin-offs just a bit.
One cannot consider the legacy of spin-offs without considering the mothers of "a thousand" shows, Happy Days and All in the Family. The Fonz and friends spawned not one, not two, not three, but 6 other series, the success of a few of which (Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy) rivaled the success of the original. All in the Family wins the prize for most spin-offs, including Maude and The Jeffersons and even a successful spin-off of a spin-off, Good Times, which came from Maude. In fact, in the annals of television history, many, many comedies have led to many, many other, often times equally as successful comedic spin-offs.
On the other hand, spinning off in the world of drama and doing so successfully is much less common. But a bit of digging and thinking back to where was I when has helped me find a few success stories that creator Shonda might want to emulate when she sends Addison off to LA.
On the soapy front, while not quite as successful as Dallas, its child Knot's Landing was clearly cut from the same cloth. Perhaps more akin to Grey's in maudlin asethetic, Beverly Hills 90210 viewers eased seamlessly into Melrose Place, though they had had enough when it came to Models, Inc. A more current and also currently successful example is The Practice, which generated Boston Legal, which became a much campier and much more fun look at "the law." A reality show from which I sometimes feel Grey's takes pointers on angst and self-obsessed "heroines," Laguna Beach moved right on into The Hills and took all its viewers along for the ride.
And then there's Angel, the route I hope Rhymes takes. While Buffy was undoubtedly brilliant in sundry ways, Angel was a spin-off with its own unique identity, a darker, more moralistic version of the original that took some of Buffy's own early themes and then pursued them to their logical conclusions long before Buffy and friends got there themselves. Admittedly, this task is slightly easier when the themes are good versus evil or the seductive nature of evil. Grey's current theme is, umm, bringing sex(y) back, and I am not sure what else new and different can be done along these lines for Addison's new venture, except they can wear fewer clothes in LA, I suppose.