The recent announcement from CBS indicating that they will not be going forward with How I Met Your Mother’s spin-off, How I Met Your Dad, brings up up a plethora of feelings about past television spin-offs. Many spin-off shows have gone on to great acclaim, with critics and fans arguing that they surpassed their parent programs long ago.
As with many American shows and films, it’s hard for creators to let go of something that worked so well in the past. Those who are more cynical might think this leads to a lack of creativity for original programming, but you can’t deny there have been quite a few success stories over the years. Let’s take a look at some of the more acclaimed titles.
The Colbert Report (2006-2015)
The satirical news program, The Daily Show would eventually lead to the wildly popular spin-off The Colbert Report in 2005. Featuring ex-Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report showed the comedian satirizing Fox News and other conservative news programs. Playing a parody of Bill O’Reilly, Colbert and his team of writers would continue the tradition of relentlessly mocking political leader and 24-hour news coverage. Just this past September, The Colbert Report nabbed an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Series, an award that The Daily Show received for ten-straight years.
Sadly, Colbert announced earlier this year that he would be leaving the program in 2015 to take over hosting duties from David Letterman on The Late Show. The Colbert Report will be replaced by The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore, another of Stewart’s former correspondents. Only time will tell if Wilmore will be able to achieve the same level of acclaim that Colbert has maintained for his nine year run on the program.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)
Oh, yes. This is a series close to many geek hearts. While the original Star Trek series only received a short three season run, its spin-of/sequel series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, would go on for seven seasons. Taking place nearly 70 years after Captain James T. Kirk and his crew flew the USS Enterprise on her final mission, the crew of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) took over the whole “boldly going where no man has gone before thing” to explore new worlds and alien cultures. Under the command of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), this Enterprise encountered new threats like the Borg, a race of machine assimilating aliens. Stark Trek fans would be introduced to a whole new cast of beloved characters, including Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn), Data (Brent Spiner) and Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton).
While the show has been criticized for its lack-luster first season and feature films, the series created a new generation of Star Trek fans. The age old debate still goes on to this day. Which is better? Star Trek: The Original Series, or Star Trek: The Next Generation?
You can’t help but look at Frasier as a pillar of success when it comes to spin-offs in the 1990s. Dr. Fraiser Crane was originally a recurring character featured on NBC’s Cheers. When Cheers ended in 1993, Fraiser immediately started its own decade long run. After leaving Boston due to a failed marriage, the psychiatrist took up residence in Seattle where he takes care of his ailing father, Martin, and his prissy younger brother, Niles.
Trying to maintain his affluent lifestyle, Fraiser often dealt with his inability to integrate himself into cultural elite of society. The show, much like the title character, had a very dry sense of humor that often alienated younger audiences. It’s a personal favorite of mine. And yes, I think Frasier is better than Cheers.
The Simpsons (1989- present)
No matter what you may feel about this long running series now, there’s no denying that it’s one of the most successful American shows in television history. The Simpsons, the longest running animated series ever, originally premiered as a series of animated shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show, a comedy/variety show in the late 1980s.
The decades long series has spawned 25 seasons containing 552 episodes. The Simpsons, consisting of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and hundreds of other characters in the city of Springfield, entertained audiences for a quarter of a century. Creator Matt Groening has kept the show alive through multiple mediums, including comics, video games and even a feature film. While many would argue that the quality of recent seasons doesn’t match what the show was before, it can’t be denied that it created a legacy that influenced the creation of shows like King of the Hill, Futurama, Venture Bros., Family Guy and Archer. I’ll still tune in every year for Treehouse of Horror. I don’t care what people say. Those episodes are still good.
Settle down Joss Whedon fans, I haven’t forgotten about Angel, the spin-off series to the much loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by Whedon and fellow producer David Greenwalt, Angel premiered in 1999 and went on for five seasons. After leaving Sunnydale, the principal location of Buffy, Angel (David Boreanaz) relocated to Los Angles to work as a private detective and paranormal investigator.
Cursed with the feeling of guilt, the centuries old vampire spent the majority of the show working to “help the hopeless.” The show, like the series that came before it, would revolve around Angel hunting down demons, vampires and other nefarious creatures. He also turned into a muppet one time. Best episode of the series if you ask me. Muppets mixed with demon hunters? There’s your third spin-off series right there. Angel, like Buffy, now exits as an ongoing comic book series produced by Dark Horse Comics.
I can’t say I was a fan of How I Met Your Mother. I’m not saying I didn’t like the show, I just never saw an episode. I legitimately feel sorry for the people who wanted the spin-off of the series. There have been countless spin-off shows that have garnered huge followings and high ratings. I wouldn’t be shocked if How I Met Your Dad was picked up by another network. Hell, Netflix seems to be the place to go for cancelled shows or forgotten pilots. Still, I’m happy to know that fans of long running shows still have interest in the worlds and characters that inhabit these programs. I’m still really excited for Breaking Bad’s spin-off series, Better Call Saul. S’all good man.
Are there any spin-offs that you love or are looking forward to? Feel free to discuss in the comments below!