10 Worst TV Spin-Offs – Rolling Stone
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10 Worst TV Spin-Offs

From ‘Beverly Hill Buntz’ to ‘Brady Brides,’ here are the creme de la crud of TV series sequels

'Joanie Loves Chachi,' 'Joey' and 'Brady Brides'

Everett (2); NBC

There have been many attempts to take characters from popular shows — your housemaids, your second bananas, your vampire boyfriends, your visiting aliens from the planet Ork — and base entire new series around them, in the hope extending a brand or keeping that fan-based excitement alive and kicking. Often, these shows can turn into unexpected hits; once or twice, they’ve even managed to become superior to the originals. Occasionally, however, these spin-offs manage to spin off of a cliff and into the abyss: For every Mash, there is a potential AfterMASH, waiting in the wings to soil a show’s good name forever.

We imagine that the makers of Better Call Saul, the highly anticipated prequel to Breaking Bad that’s debuting this weekend, are praying for a best-case scenario here. We also hope that they’ve looked at the following 10 case studies of broken, bad TV spin-offs and have learned valuable lessons from these failures. Not even Saul Goodman could have gotten these TV-series Hindenburgs out of a jam.


‘Beverly Hills Buntz’

If Joey and this spin-off from Hill Street Blues have taught us nothing, it's that you shouldn't take a fan-favorite character from a show and relocate them to L.A. Dennis Franz's volatile, loudmouth Norman Buntz can be seen decking a superior and turning in police badge in the opening credits; quicker than you can say, "Go west, fish-out-of-water cop," we see Buntz and his buddy "The Snitch" driving through the palm-lined streets of Beverly Hills, where they'll try their hands at being private eyes. Unlike Blues, there would be no shelf full of Emmys and critical praise — in fact, there wouldn't even be a broadcast of the BHB's final four episodes. Franz would go on to play more on-the-edge police detectives, while this misbegotten series would have a long shelf life as the answer to a trivia question that would stump generations of bar patrons.



Now that the Korean War had ended, the various members of the 4077th MASH unit could finally go home to the friends and loved ones. That didn't necessarily mean that their postwar lives would make for compelling TV, however, as this two-season experiment proved. Colonel Potter, Father Mulcahy and Mash's resident cross-dresser/comic relief Klinger find themselves working together again at a Missouri hospital. Weak-tea versions of their old shenanigans are present and accounted for, along with life-lesson platitudes; yes, there will be a Radar cameo. None of these guys were Trapper John M.D. material, to say the least, and while "suicide is painless," as the long-running original dramedy's theme suggested, this spin-off was anything but.


‘The Brady Brides’

"It's a new life/for two girls named Brady…". That's right, in an attempt to mine the Brady Bunch love garnered by endless syndicated reruns of the show, producer Sherwood Schwartz and his son, Lloyd, decided to marry off the now-grown Marcia and Jan, stick the two couples into a house together and watch the sparks fly. And, for a whopping six episodes, we got to watch years of good will quickly evaporate and pray that it was all just a bad, disco-themed dream. It was proof that not all iconic characters age gracefully, and that Ann B. Davis was willing to ride that "I'm Alice!" express train to the very end of the line.


‘Joanie Loves Chachi’

Garry Marshall's Happy Days has given the world some of the very best TV spin-offs; it's also given us this, the absolute nadir of taking people from shows you loved and putting them in shows you loathed. The show tried to sell us on Erin Moran and teen heartthrob Scott Baio relocating to Chicago in the mid-Sixties and trying to make it a singer-songwriter duo — a concept that allowed for all the Moran-Baio singing duets you never, ever wanted to hear. (We're 99 percent sure that the show's theme song has been used in enhanced interrogations.) The inclusion of Al from Happy Days and the occasional Fonz guest appearance only served to remind us of how much we missed the original, and how much better these two teenagers-in-love characters worked as part of an ensemble. Joanie may have loved Chachi, but nobody loved this musical disaster, and within 19 episodes, it had gone to that great Brill Building in the sky.