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.