Mighty viewer, don’t scorn the spin-off! Without it we would've never delighted in the Seattle exploits of Dr. Fraiser Crane on Frasier, or the bi-sexual woofiness of Captain Jack Harkness on Torchwood, or eleven seasons of ground-breaking silliness on The Jeffersons. And so, dear readers, here are a few I offer to you, in fantasy development…
Tired of fast-forwarding to the “good parts” of Mad Men? And when I say good parts, I mean Joan, of course: Joan is a reason to live, to breathe, to suffer through the Zou-bee-Zou of it all. Just Joan zaps our heroine fifteen-ish years into the future. It’s 1983, disco is officially dead, and a new wave is rocking the nation, and Joan (now a hot hot hot 40-something), cashes in her SCDP nest egg and moves, along with her three kids, to Los Angeles, where she takes a job in the music industry. See our Joan rub shoulders with the likes of Bowie, Benetar, and The Boss as she navigates a new and exciting but equally grabby-grabby world. Her saving grace comes in the form of Billy, her Love Boat-addicted, too fabulous, gay neighbor. They get downright Tales of the City chummy as they stay up late nights making friendship bracelets and experimenting with illicit drugs. Joan also learns a hyphenate that will come to describe her, “fag-hag.”
Don’t you hate it when a show introduces a really compelling character in the pilot and never brings him or her back? If CBS truly wants to be part of a zeitgeist, the network should skip Two and a Half Men Season 10 and replace it next season with its female counterpoint. The spin is that one of the main characters is a zombie living with her two former non-zombie sorority sisters in a small apartment after the apocalypse. And in a real stroke of genius, producers have gotten Robert Kirkman’s blessing to use the creepy-crawly Half Woman from The Walking Dead pilot! Plus, to put a fetid cherry on top, Amy Sedaris is in talks to play the Half Woman! Although a leaked early draft of the pilot script disappointingly dwells on jokes about how the Half Woman can’t reach stuff, the disgusting slime trail she leaves behind on the newly looted carpets, and how she doesn’t have to worry about having her period anymore, I am confident that with some tweaking and punching up, a full-season pick-up could find this show topping the ratings very soon.
Donna Meagle, our favorite strike-you-dead-with-a-look citizen of Parks and Recreation’s Pawnee, gives up her small-town life to pursue her dreams of living in the big city. That’s right Indianapolis! But things get complicated when she arrives in the state capital to find a young orphan named Brewster living in her apartment. What’s a woman to do? She adopts the eight-year-old white boy and they somehow form a family. But on Brewster’s first day of school he gets bullied for having an adoptive African-American mother. Hell hath no fury like a Meagle scorned, and Donna hunts down the bullies and gives them a firm talking to, complete with pursed lips and very loud eye-rolls.
Mike Delfino (James Denton), who was mentally abused for eight long years by Teri Hatcher’s plastic surgery on Desperate Housewives, strikes out on his own in this light and lively USA Network dramedy. “But Mike died!" you say. Not. Just. Yet. In a real twister-oo worthy of a soapy DH alum, the creators of Flush Life posit that Mike’s death was faked so he could turn state’s evidence against the mob connected with the goons who were after him. In exchange, he was placed in the witness protection program and moved to Malibu; now he goes by the name of Jake Sweetwater, friendly neighborhood plumber. Always handy with his tools, Mike, er... I mean, Jake, hits pay-dirt on his first job, unclogging the hair-filled sink of aging actress Monica Da Minica (a luminous Sharon Stone). Upon first laying eyes on Jake, Monica cranks the heat in the bathroom, forcing him to take off his shirt to plumb the depths of her shower. Jake is surprised when his phone starts blowing up mere minutes after leaving Monica’s house; appreciative of his talents, she has spread the word... now he just has to keep up the good work. Soon, Jake becomes “plumber to the stars,” and Susan Hayward is a distant, bird-like memory. A hard lesson learned: There are no secrets amongst the Hollywood elite, especially if you have nice abs.
Gordon Ramsay follows around the cast of Cougar Town, screaming at them about their wine selection, home décor, and the dangers of too much Botox. Watch Gordon mistake Courteney Cox's Jules for a woman in her 50s, oops! Experience Gordon loudly debating Grayson over the existence of metrosexuals! Partake in the viewer-voted makeover of Laurie Keller! Cringe as Gordon berates Ellie and Andy over their parenting skills of the baby introduced in Season 1 and never seen again! And finally, witness Gordon kick Bobby’s ass in Penny Can!
Okay, your turn: What spin-offs would you like to see? Let's see how creative you can be!