As demonstrated by recent successful productions such as House of The Dragon e Better Call Saul, spin-offs are now anything but simple means through which to emphasize certain secondary characters. Although their nature suggests mere television strategies aimed solely at fan service, the spin-offs boast to date of the same (if not greater) complexity than their respective parent series, equaling or exceeding in some cases even their success or quality. In this era of maximum prestige of spin-offs, however, it becomes even easier to run into the mistake of wanting seek success at all costsusing for this purpose the most wrong strategy possible, i.e. that of look too much like the mother series. One of the most striking examples of this is represented by the sitcom How I Met Your Fatherspin-off photocopy of the famous (as incomparable) How I Met Your Mother.
How I Met Your Father however, he is in good company: those mentioned below are in fact 5 spin-offs that have made the mistake of resembling too much the mother series.
1) That ’80s Show
That ’80s Show is the semi-unknown spin-off of the famous sitcom That ’70s Show, which aired on Fox in 2002 for one season only. Set in 1984, That ’80s Show resumes (in addition to the title) the same structure as the mother series, with which it shares writers and producers. Despite the premises, or precisely because of thesethe sitcom never took off, being impossible to match the success of a TV series considered cult like That ’70s Showhowever depriving it of the complexity of development of the main protagonists.
One of the great strengths of That ’70s show it was his representation of the 70s, the perfect contextual background to the story. Its spin-off, in contrast, uses its protagonists as a vehicle to show what is stereotypically 80s. Totally devoid of character developmentthe sitcom therefore only stages a succession of unconvincing (and unfunny) clichés of the years in which it is set, demonstrating that tracing the structure of the mother series is not only not enough, but it is even counterproductive to obtain a successful product.
The opposite discourse is valid for That ’90s Show, which landed on Netflix this January. In fact, the sequel series shows the stories of the children of the characters from the original series, recalling the protagonists who made it iconic That ’70s Showthus exploiting the nostalgic component of all fans of the mother series and hitting the target much better than the spin-off that preceded it.
2) Station 19
Spin-off del medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 follows the story of the firefighters of the Barracks 19 of Seattle, including former general surgery resident Benjamin Warren (Jason Winston George), a link between the two series together with his wife Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson).
Despite the different setting and profession of its protagonists, Station 19 incorporates the typical characteristics of the mother series, as well as its major weaknesses: unrealism of the story, stereotyped characters and an overly fictionalized version of anything but simple professions. Project succeeded much better it had been instead Private Practice, the first spin-off of the series created by Shonda Rhimes. In fact, the latter, through the character of Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), had managed to detach himself more from the mother series by developing interesting narrative strands for each of the new characters in the story.
Station 19 on the contrary, it is anything but original, proposing such an unrealistic approach to life in the barracks as to be anachronistic with respect to the new high standards of television seriality, re-presenting all the errors that have alienated viewers from it Grey’s Anatomy.
3) How I Met Your Father
The main limitation of How I Met Your Father is that it will never be How I Met Your Mother.
The spin-off of the famous sitcom proposes the same structure of the mother serieshowever, re-presenting it from the point of view of its female protagonist Sophie (Hilary Duff), using the story through flashbacks of how she met the (future) father of her child as a narrative device.
How I Met Your Fatheras well as How I Met Your Mother, therefore places the emphasis on the sentimental life of its protagonist and on her attempts to find love, helped by a loyal group of friends. Although she is overall sufficiently pleasant and light, the greatest limit of How I Met Your Father is that it cannot reach the emotional complexity of the mother series, which has left a significant imprint on the history of TV series. The only way not to suffer the weight of the suffocating comparison would therefore have been to propose a spin-off totally different from the original series; a relevant example of this type, remaining in the sitcom category, is The Big Bang Theory with its spin-off Young Sheldonwhose success lies in being a product in itself, totally distant from the mother series.
How I Met Your Father is probably the most glaring example of how it can turn out to be a big mistake to look too much like the starting series, especially when it reaches the success and importance it had from How I Met Your Mother.
4) Fear the Walking Dead
More complex speech is what concerns Fear the Walking Deadspin-off of the TV series The Walking Dead. Unlike the previous point, the main problem in this case is attributable precisely to the mother serieswhose obvious limitations have begun to alienate many fans starting from the week of the season.
Limits that however make its spin-off Fear the Walking Dead in some ways even better than the original series, from which, however, in fact it doesn’t differ much. The plot of the spin-off, while presenting the events that started the zombie apocalypse, in fact, it does not add anything new to the mythology of the series, also tracing the same stereotyped characters and the same collapse due to the death of the main protagonists. The (few) strengths of Fear the Walking Dead are therefore uniquely attributable to the problems of The Walking Deadwithout which it would probably be to all intents and purposes just yet another spin-off too similar to the mother series, which does not sufficiently enrich the narrative as other great spin-offs have done such as, for example, the aforementioned Better Call Saul.
5) Law & Order – The Verdict
Law & Order is probably the TV series with the most spin off ever in the history of television. Some of these have even become more beloved than the parent series (Law & Order – Special Victims Unitto name one) but, although they are all extremely similar to each other in structurethere’s only one spin-off that just couldn’t match the success of the others: Law & Order – The Verdict.
Aired in 2005 and lasted (impossibly) only one season, Law & Order – The Verdict deals with the events of the New York prosecutor’s office, thus dealing only with the procedural part of the crimes. The main problem with the spin-off, immediately panned by the American public, is that while maintaining the classic structure of the mother series, it differs precisely in its strength, that is, omitting the investigative part of the crimes. Dealing only with judicial processes has proved to be a major limitation, as it deprives the narrative of that dynamism typical of the genre and which instead made the difference in all the other spin-offs, which is also fundamental in the progression of the characters. Law & Order – The Verdict therefore shows that we probably don’t really need other spin-offs so similar to the mother series.
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