The Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off ran for five seasons in the early Noughties to much acclaim. The show took and built on many of the slightly more interesting secondary Buffy characters following the third season and relocated them to LA to work under the eponymous vampire and smouldering tortured soul Angel (David Boreanaz). The show built well on the established mythos and portrayed a slightly darker frontier of the Buffyverse, with a focus on the bigger picture battle between the forces of good and evil. It was a show which was actually worth making, and was done well, which are pretty much the two main criteria for making a good spin-off.
Due to its decade long run, it’s often forgotten that Frasier was actually a spin-off of the equally long running and popular Cheers, which followed the lives of the regulars of a bar in Boston. Frasier focused its attention specifically on the life of the effete, intellectual psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), and his life as a talk radio, Dr. Phil-esque pseudo-celebrity in his home city of Seattle. It managed to do something different from Cheers, and stood on its own as a show to such a degree that the fact that it’s now arguably better known than its progenitor is in itself the highest of compliments.
The Cleveland Show
Spin-off of that most infamous of lazy, lowest common denominator, adult animated comedies, which can’t help but somehow consistently raise a titter despite all the evidence which suggests I should hate it (and indeed frequently I do). The Cleveland Show clearly tries to be something that isn’t Family Guy, but it suffers from a genre, premise and team which are far too similar for any differences between the two to be more than token. Which y’know, is actually kind of funny when you think about it.
Which one’s CSI: Miami? I hear you cry. You know the one. It opens to David Caruso, making some ghastly pun and whipping on his sunglasses before a cut to credits and that bizarre, accompanying guttural howl. That’s why it’s on the list, it’s the only real reason. Miami’s sin is to be a spin-off which is different from the original only through its setting and the sheer obnoxiousness of its leading man, whose character is almost entirely based around a solitary gimmick almost unrivalled in its risibility. I sincerely hope whoever writes those openers drowns in a vat of liquid ice cream, so I can stand next to it and say,“I guess you could argue you’ve got your just desserts. You see how that sounds? You appreciate the gravity of your barbarous writing now you fucking hack?”
Snooki and JWoww
Not so much a poorly done show as it is an egregious, cultural abomination, a spin-off of the oddly watchable Jersey Shore featuring by far its two most obnoxious and unremittingly irritating characters – which is really saying something from a show which gave us “Paulie D”, a man whose hair was apparently constructed in a Taiwanese sweat shop. Snooki and JWoww follows two people with equally ridiculous nicknames, one who actually, genuinely looks like an Oompa Loompa, and another who resembles the kind of broad you’d expect to see getting into a physical altercation outside McDonalds in the early hours of the morning. What’s it about? Oh Christ, I actually could not care less.
Joey is a kind of cultural totem pole for the innumerable ranks of TV spin-offs that managed to be both poorly conceived and poorly executed. It followed Friends’ Matt LeBlanc’s gurning buffoon of a character, Joey Tribbiani, as he attempts to prosecute his acting career. Universally panned by critics and viewers alike, the show somehow stumbled into getting renewed for a second season off the back of the truly remarkable success of its parent show. It was finally cancelled in 2006 without its remaining episodes airing, and as of today, precisely nobody is requesting they be shown.