Tag Archives: Best

20 Best TV Spin-Offs Ever – Pt.2: Top 10.

Yesterday Dom Kureen shared the first half of his TV spin-off top-20 with the world, today it’s time to find out which shows made the top ten.

*Years of broadcast and original series in parenthesis.

10. Saved By The Bell (1989-93, Good Morning Miss Bliss)

This is one case where the spin-off was far superior to the original. Wise cracking Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) leads up a cast of pretty young things and uber dorks, whose antics usually come with a life lesson attached. In hindsight it looks a little cheesy, but was must see TV for any kids in the early 90’s.

9. Knowing Me, Knowing You (1994-95, On The Hour/The Day Today)

Having begun life as a character featured on BBC Radio 4’s “On The Hour”, and transferred to television with “The Day Today”, the Alan Partridge character was given his own series in  1994, with this spoof chat show. Steve Coogan masterfully portrays the hapless presenter, whose desperate attempts to curry favour with his guests inevitably backfire.

8. Happy Days (1974-84, Love, American Style)

Based in the 1950’s and 60’s, no show has spawned as many spin-offs as Happy Days, which was a spin-off itself. More than 10 years on air ended when the diminishing value of the classic sitcom struck a nadir – “The Fonz” jumping over a shark on water skis, thus coining the term ‘jumping the shark’, used in modern vernacular to describe a TV programme in decline.

7. Absolutely Fabulous (1992-2012, French and Saunders)

A sitcom brilliant in its uncensored bad behaviour and satirical humour, “Ab Fab”  featured Edina and Patsy, two hard-drinking, drug-taking, selfish middle-aged women. Their cruel humour zoning in on the hypocrisy of modern day society, much to the chagrin of Edina’s more moral and conservative daughter, Saffron.

6. CSI Miami (2002-12, CSI)

A Florida team of forensics investigators use cutting-edge scientific methods and old-fashioned police work to solve crimes. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) leads the way with understated brilliance, and as tough an act to follow as CSI was, its Miami successor was retrospectively the superior series.

5. A Different World (1987-93 The Cosby Show)

A Different World followed the student life of Denise Huxtable,  played by the gorgeous, talented Lisa Bonet, as she ditched the comfort of the Cosby bosom to attend Hillman College. Bonet lasted one season before getting knocked up by Lenny Kravitz. Her departure (and that of a young Marisa Tomei) didn’t harm the show, with four superior seasons preceding a flat finale.

4. Sesame Street (1969-present, Sam and Friends)

A long-time favourite of children and adults, Sesame Street bridges many cultural and educational gaps and has to date aired 4,378 episodes over the course of almost half a century. Big Bird leads a cast of characters teaching children numbers, colours and the alphabet. Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch and Grover are just a few of the other creatures involved in this show, set on a city street full of valuable learning opportunities.

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94, Star Trek)

Featuring a bigger and better USS Enterprise than its parent series, “TNG” is set 78 years after the original, in the 24th century. Instead of Captain James Kirk, a less volatile and more mature Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by ultra smooth thesp’ Patrick Stewart) heads the crew of various humans and alien creatures in their adventures in space, aka: the final frontier.

2. Frasier (1993-2004, Cheers)

While many of Cheers’ spin-offs were tacky cash ins, Frasier had the staying power and depth of cast to last for 11 years and wave adieu on its own terms. Kelsey Grammar plays radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane, whose charm and sophistication beautifully dovetail with the rest of the ensemble, most notably brother Niles, who often steals the show courtesy of the excellent David Hyde Pierce.

1. The Simpsons (1989-present, The Tracey Ullman Show)

Beginning life as a series of short sketches produced by Matt Groening based on his own family, “The Simpsons” soon extended into a 25 minute weekly cartoon of its own. Purists will argue that it peaked during seasons 4-8, and that everything after season 20 (now on no.26) has been an abomination. Forget that for a minute though, The Simpsons revolutionised the cartoon comedy genre, and richly deserves its place atop the pile.

So, there you have it – tomorrow we’ll take a look at the worst spin-offs of all time, make sure you return and feel free to leave a comment in the section below. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Why Roman is best for business

At 6 foot 3 inches tall and with aesthetic appeal, Joe Anoa’i, aka Roman Reigns, has long seemed a shoo-in for super stardom at the top of the wrestling industry, but fans have been reluctant to accept the 30 year-old as the new face of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Shield Triple H

Family Ties

As part of the infamous Samoan Anoa’i tribe, a bloodline that counts wrestling royalty such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Rodney ‘Yokozuna’ Anoa’i among its extended branches, Reigns was always destined for a career in the squared circle, and having worked his way through developmental he debuted as part of the main WWE roster in November 2012, flanked by his Shield colleagues Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

Immediately catching on with the fans, the Shield faction captivated for the subsequent 19 months, with Reigns allowed to shine individually in the 2014 Royal Rumble with a record breaking 12 eliminations, before the group’s dissolution courtesy of Rollins’ betrayal and alignment with lead heel faction The Authority.

Roman Reigns

Reigns’ solo career progressed serenely enough, propelled by that Rumble booking and swelling popularity among the fans, although his lacklustre delivery of dialogue coupled with some seriously lousy scripts meant that the big man’s impetus was stifled as he headed into the 2015 Royal Rumble.

 

Poor Booking = Fans Booing

WWE’s ill-judged decision to have the incredibly popular fan-favourite Daniel Bryan eliminated midway through the match meant that fans lost interest in the main event early on. Worse was to follow; as the numbers dwindled it was clear that Reigns was the chosen one, as a result he was vehemently booed out of the building.

Even his ‘blood brother’, The Rock, a wrestling icon beloved by fans around the world, couldn’t salvage the situation – heckled as he raised the winner’s hand, much to the obvious chagrin of the movie star, who had also assisted his young brethren during the match.

From there a struggle ensued between WWE’s creative team and fans in arenas around the globe. Roman was being rejected, and the company couldn’t get him over with audiences despite his consistently entertaining matches and gradually improving mic skills.

 

Main event of ‘mania

The Wrestlemania 31 main event pitting Reigns against Brock Lesnar was a glorious example of the former’s toughness and ability to stand toe-to-toe with a legitimate fighter (Lesnar had won the UFC heavyweight title in his fourth MMA bout.)

That ended when former ally Rollins cashed in his ‘money in the bank’ contract to make the match a triple-threat, to ultimately taste victory after Lesnar had delivered an F-5 to Reigns, only to be curb-stomped out of the ring as Seth made the cover on the fallen Roman.

While Rollins experienced a mixed 7-month run with the championship, Reigns had to settle for a short-term role as bridesmaid, all the while producing thoroughbred displays between the ropes, and inconsistent ones with microphone in hand.

 

Second bite of the cherry

With Rollins shelved through a serious knee injury in early November, the main strap was vacated, with a tournament created to name a new champion.

Reigns went on to win the belt at WWE Survivor Series, only for his ticker-tape parade to be halted in full swing by perpetual mid-card patsy Sheamus, who became the second wrestler to use a money in the bank cash-in to arrest Reigns’ momentum; defeating him only 5 minutes and 15 seconds after he’d secured his first World Title.

This all seemed to make little sense, with Sheamus having been mocked earlier in the show and portrayed as glorified comic relief. The overwhelming feeling was that the bumbling behemoth would see his cash-in thwarted as he became sacrificial fodder to the company’s next hand-picked headline attraction.

 

Finally getting over with the live audience

The turning point occurred three weeks later for Reigns, who had lost again to Sheamus, courtesy of a ludicrous amount of interference during the main event of the throwaway Tables, Ladders, Chairs (TLC) Pay-Per-View (begging the question of why Roman’s own allies, namely Ambrose and the Uso twins didn’t swing by to aid their pal… but hey, logic.)

Snapping at this latest injustice, Reigns first speared two members of Sheamus’ League of Nations collective as they paraded the champ on their shoulders, and then laid siege to the fallen victor with numerous chair shots to his back.

As ‘big red’ lay prone, Triple H walked down the ramp in an effort to stop the attack, this he achieved temporarily, only for Reigns to Superman Punch the Chief Operating Officer of the company, but he wasn’t done there.

Not content with laying out ‘Trips’, the outraged grappler slammed his boss through the announcer’s table in a spectacular spot that had fans in the arena buzzing. As medical staff assisted the fallen ‘King of Kings’ (yes, everyone has about 13 monikers in wrestling), Reigns decided to charge back down the ramp and land one final, definitive, supercharged spear. Fans were on their feet cheering, finally Roman had turned the tide.

 

Repercussions and Future Endeavours

The following evening on Monday Night Raw, Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon landed eight lusty slaps onto Reigns’ face, with his cheek immediately inflaming as the blood rushed to the surface.

Papa bear Vince McMahon was next to offer his five pennies worth, agreeing to grant Reigns’ request for a WWE World Heavyweight title shot, but only on condition that if he failed to succeed this time he would immediately be fired. He then kicked Reigns in the balls for good measure.

In the main event that night Roman Reigns overcame the odds to finally vanquish Sheamus and begin his second run as the company’s top man. Fans cheered in the same building where they’d booed him at the Royal Rumble earlier that year.

WWE had finally achieved their goal, to rehabilitate a wrestler who has shown a willingness to improve, and seems well placed to succeed John Cena as the face of the company.

And why not? Reigns has the look certainly, his in-ring skills are at least on a par or close to all of the active full-time wrestlers on the main roster bar the brilliant Rollins, under-utilised Cesaro and ultra-authentic Kevin Owens, the first two of those sidelined with long-term injuries.

A lengthy run with the belt would also slide open new doors, with a Brock Lesnar rematch touted for ‘mania on the first Sunday in April, and possible Shield triple-threat or unification match later in the year (Ambrose having recently won the second-tier Intercontinental title).

First Roman must win a second consecutive Royal Rumble later this month, with WWE announcing an intriguing twist, with this year’s victor taking the World Title, the big Samoan effectively defending it against 29 other men in the main event, something not permitted since Ric Flair secured the gold in 1992.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

50 Greatest British sports stars of all-time: 20-11

In this penultimate instalment of the series, Kureen gracefully glides towards the upper echelon of the British sporting elite.

To view the first three parts click on the links below;
50-4140-3130-21

20: Sir Walter HammondWalter Hammond

A world-class batsman, inspirational captain, brilliant fielder and tidy, albeit reluctant, medium paced bowler, Hammond appeared in 85 Test matches, compiling an at the time Test record individual score of 336 not out, despite losing years of his career to the second World War.

In addition to his cricketing prowess, Hammond made a handful of appearance as right winger for Bristol Rovers, but in spite of his obvious footballing talent only had eyes for cricket. A glittering 20 year international career finally ended at the age of 43, although a rivalry with the legendary Sir Donald Bradman bred a life-long inferiority complex.

19: Tony McCoy

The 2010 BBC sports personality of the year has won 19 consecutive Champion Jockey titles, and more than 4,300 races all told.

Particularly adept at riding poor horses to unlikely victories, McCoy continues to excel into his 40’s, showing no sign of retiring from the saddle any time soon.  At 5’10” he also stands considerably taller than most jockeys, making his success all the more improbable.

18: Johnny Wilkinson

Kicking the winning drop goal for England at the 2003 Rugby World Cup made Surrey born Wilkinson an instant national icon at the tender age of 23.

Injuries blighted his career throughout, but he still managed to play 91 Tests and score a record 1,169 points for his country. He represented Newcastle Falcons with distinction for 12 years, before a 5-year spell in France with Toulon culminated with Wilkinson leading his team to two cup final wins in his final brace of competitive appearances.

17: Jim LakerJim Laker

Laker’s long-standing first-class bowling record analysis of 19 for 90, achieved against Australia in 1956, is unlikely to be bettered, and amazingly came just weeks after the spin bowler had taken all ten wickets in an innings against the touring Australians in a  warm up match against his county side Surrey.

A Yorkshireman, Laker never actually represented his native county due to settling in London following World War II, instead forming a deadly spin-combo with Tony Lock for both club and country. His record of 193 Test scalps at 21.57 apiece places him firmly among the great tweakers.

16: Dame Kelly Holmes

Inspired by Steve Ovett, Holmes began her competitive athletics career at the age of just 12, winning the British girl’s 1500m the following year. By 1988 she had turned her back on the sport to join the army, only returning to the track four years later.

A succession of debilitating injuries appeared to have denied Holmes gold medals at the major games, until in 2004, at the grand age of 34, she produced nerveless, perfectly paced runs to take gold in both the 800 and 1500 metre races. Holmes later admitted that she had contemplated suicide during the darker days, citing meditation as a practice that transformed her life.

15: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean

Few sports people have ever come close to emulating the popularity of Torvill and Dean, who came to national prominence when they scored 12 perfect 6’s on their way to Olympic figure skating gold in Sarajevo in 1984.

Turning professional later that year (rules prohibited them from earning any money from skating if they wanted to perform at the Olympics), the duo choreographed a series of successful musical shows on ice, before returning to the pro arena a decade later to take bronze in Lillehammer.

14: Sir Christopher Hoy

The most decorated cyclist of all-time is an 11-time World champion, six-time Olympic champion, and Britain’s most successful Olympian, leading team GB out for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

A legendary sprint cyclist, Hoy’s individual success carried over into team cycling, where he represented various teams, most notably ‘Team Sky’ in 2008. Never one to rest on his laurels, the Edinburgh born 39 year-old turned his attention to motor sport in 2014, belatedly announcing his intention to compete for Nissan at 24 hours of Le Mans in 2016.

13: Sir Bobby Charlton

The creative catalyst for England’s 1966 World Cup glory remains one of the world’s most beloved sporting figures almost half a century after his career zenith.

The 1958 Munich air disaster deprived Manchester United of a slew of their exciting ‘Busby Babes’ squad, with Charlton himself considering retiring from the game due to the trauma. Thankfully for United and England he didn’t, going on to become one of the finest number tens the world has ever seen, with the Ballon d’Or awarded to him at the end of the same year that he held the Jules Rimet trophy aloft.

12: Daley Thompson

At a time when the original A-Team was in its prime Britain boasted its own action man in Daley Thompson, a muscle-bound decathlon competitor who struck gold at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympic games, breaking the world record for the event on four separate occasions.

That his feats often go overlooked in the nation’s sporting annals is possibly testament to a lack of perceived conformity, most notably when Thompson whistled his way through the national anthem whilst stood atop the podium in Los Angeles in ’84.  

11: Sir Ben Ainslie

The most successful Olympic sailor of all-time, Ainslie won silver at his first games in 1996, aged just 19, this would be his last time tasting defeat on the grandest stage, with gold following at the next five Olympics to go alongside his 11 World titles.

Sir Ben Ainslie

More recently Ainslie was hailed as the mastermind behind Oracle Team USA’s stunning comeback to win the 2013 America’s Cup 9-8, the Brit providing an unlikely remedy to the team’s warring crew and hefty fines as they turned around a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 deficit.

Tomorrow we delve into the top 10. Who made it? Who missed out? Why the need for so many questions in the closing paragraph? All will be revealed tomorrow.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

50 Greatest British sports stars of all-time: 30-21

In the third part of the series, Kureen counts down the best of British sport from 30th to 21st place. To view the first two editions simply click on the links below;

Part one: 50-41
Part two: 40-31

30: Sebastian Coe

Seb Coe

His post-athletics foray into politics has make it easy for detractors to overlook a sensational spell during the late 1970’s to mid-1980’s when Seb Coe not only broke three world records in the space of 41 days, but also became the undisputed king of 1500m running.

This was much to the chagrin of British team-mate and arch nemesis Steve Ovett, who pre-1980 had been undefeated at the distance for three years, only for Coe to win consecutive Olympic titles in 1980 and ’84 to go alongside a brace of 800m silvers.

29: Mo Farah

 At 5 foot 6, and carrying a little over 55kg on a slim frame, Mo Farah isn’t your archetypal sporting hero. Born in Somalia in 1983, he joined his father in Britain at the age of eight, barely able to utter a word of English.

He soon found his purpose, becoming a top junior middle and long distance runner, culminating with a clutch of national records and, more notably, double gold at 10,000m and 5000m in both the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 Worlds – Farah rewarded with a CBE and lucrative endorsement deal with vegetarian food behemoth Quorn.

28: Steven Hendry

‘The golden boy’ was the fresh, acne afflicted face of snooker throughout the 1990’s, winning seven world and five UK titles over the course of the decade, remaining world number one for an unprecedented eight consecutive seasons between 1990 and 1998.

An attacking, fiercely competitive player, Edinburgh born Hendry revolutionised the game with offensive shot selections that put fear into opponents, most notably Jimmy White who was traumatised irreparably by a series of major final defeats at the hands of the Scot. 

27: Lester Piggott

Nine Epsom Derby wins and 11 British flat racing championships in a high-calibre era of horse racing made Piggott the Queen’s favourite jockey.

That cosy propinquity rapidly fell into decline in 1987 however, with Piggott jailed for more than a year as a result of tax fraud, her maj’ swiftly withdrew his OBE, and although a return to the saddle provided a few career twilight highlights, his reputation amongst racing fans was in tatters. 

26: Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan burst onto the snooker scene in 1993, beating the great Steven Hendry 10-6 in the final of the UK Championships at the tender age of 17; the crowd wooed by his attacking style and dismissive attitude towards the game’s hierarchy, an ardent support that endures to this day.

That early hype seemed to weigh heavily on the shoulders of ‘The Rocket’, with severe depression and patchy form undermining his remarkable talent. A new training regime, lightened schedule and adjusted mindset allowed O’Sullivan to find consistency, his five world titles placing him third on the all-time list.

25: Martin Johnson

A World Cup winning captain, British Lions staple, and world class player, 6 foot 7 inch, 260 pound lock Martin Johnson was the proud, fearless chief who stood at the front of England’s 2003 main stage success.

If that World Cup glory was inevitably the pinnacle of a glittering career, it was for the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa that Johnson arguably reserved his finest form, the Spring Boks unable to snuff out his threat at the line-out on the way to a 2-1 series victory for the British team.

24: Fred Trueman

A stoic Yorkshireman, ‘fiery’ Fred Trueman is etched in the annuls as England’s all-time premier fast bowler, with his 307 Test match wickets (at the time a world record) coming at just 21.57 a piece, a miserly average befitting a man never ashamed of his thrifty habits on or off the field.

That superlative international record would have undoubtedly been even more impressive had Trueman not been in conflict with the MCC so often, leading to him being omitted from a number of England’s matches. Surprisingly, considering the velocity of his bowling, Fred stood at only 5 foot 10 inches tall in his spikes.

23: Jonathan Edwards

Edwards’ talent was obvious from a young age, but the embryonic stages of his athletics career were affected by devout Christian beliefs which prohibited the triple-jumper from competing or practising on Sundays. Relenting, he eventually decided to work around his religious convictions, his career almost immediately prospering as a result.

Early in the 1995 season he broke the world record by a centimetre, and later that year added another 31cm to the mark as he took World Championship gold with a humongous leap of 18.29m. Olympic glory took longer, eventually arriving in Sydney in 2000, with Edwards bowing out of the sport a year later, having secured a second world title. As an interesting aside; in 2007 Edwards announced that he was no longer a Christian.

22: Andy Murray

2012 was a career defining year for Andy Murray. The Scottish tennis player became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon singles final since Bunny Austin in 1938, losing to Roger Federer. The tears he shed in his post-match interview saw him accepted by reticent sections of fans still lamenting the retirement of the milder mannered Tim Henman.

Andy Murray

Later that summer Murray won the Olympic singles title. He started 2013 by gaining his first Grand Slam at the US Open, and, having qualified for a second successive Wimbledon final, secured the trophy in front of a fervent, partisan crowd, defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets. All that remains on the career bucket list is to win the French and Australian slams, and become world number one before the inevitable knighthood… Watch this space.

21: George Best

The most talented footballer that Britain has ever produced was also one of the most troubled. Discovered at 15 playing in Belfast, Manchester United manager Matt Busby received a telegram from one of his scouts which read “I think I’ve found you a genius.”

That genius was never more obvious than during the 1967-68 season, when a 22 year-old Best struck 32 goals, helping United to secure the European Cup and becoming the youngest player ever to receive the FWA player of the year award. By 26 alcohol addiction and a nocturnal lifestyle ensured that Best’s peak years were behind him; a flurry of different clubs brought fleeting highlights, before he received a liver transplant, drinking the newly fitted organ into submission within three years, and passing away in 2005.

Tomorrow we’ll reveal the first half of the top-20, who could be better than Best? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.