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szdaily -> Weekend
Can 'Big Bang Theory' learn from past TV spin-offs?
    2017-March-17  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    TV’S most socially awkward sitcom character, Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory,” is getting his own spin-off series.

    The eccentric Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, has been at the center of America’s most popular comedy show since it started in 2007.

    Earlier this week, CBS confirmed that the show’s new spin-off, “Young Sheldon,” will be a prequel focusing on the character’s early years.

    But will it work? Some spin-off shows have been hugely successful, but there have also been quite a few flops.

    Here’s a round-up of some of the best and worst:

    ‘Cheers’ and ‘Frasier’

    It lasted for 11 seasons and notched up 264 episodes — just behind its predecessor “Cheers,” which managed 270.

    The Kelsey Grammer sitcom continued the story of radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane. Digital Spy’s TV editor Morgan Jeffery thinks the change in tone contributed to its success.

    “‘Frasier’ had a different style and sense of humor to ‘Cheers,’” he says. “A spin-off needs to look and feel different. A lot of bad spin-offs are just watered down versions of the original.”

    The change certainly worked wonders for “Frasier” — the sitcom broke an Emmy Awards record, winning 37 over the course of its run (although the record was later beaten by the pesky “Game of Thrones)”.

    ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul’

    While “Breaking Bad” centered on characters played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk) developed something of a cult following. “Better Call Saul,” which began in 2015, was created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, the brains behind “Breaking Bad.”

    The Times’ TV critic Andrew Billen thinks focusing on a less prominent character can often make a spin-off more likely to succeed.

    “Most shows are not Marvel Comic universes, they’re built around one or two heroes,” he says. “But if you take a minor character, there’s more chance of succeeding. Then you’re into something much nearer to a Hollywood franchise.”

    Jeffery agrees: “Angel is a good example of a character who maybe wasn’t getting the screen time when he was on ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer,’ so he was given a show where there was more space to explore that character.”

    ‘Happy Days’ and its seven spin-offs

    “Happy Days” certainly knows a thing or two about spin-offs — it had seven.

    The most successful were “Mork & Mindy,” which starred Robin Williams; and “Laverne & Shirley,” which was fronted by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams.

    The latter, which first aired in 1976, focused on two single roommates (who had been friends of Fonzie’s in the main show) who work as bottlecappers in a Milwaukee brewery.

    It ran side-by-side with “Happy Days,” and by its third season had become the most popular TV show in the United States.

    The show was cancelled in 1983, but it still managed an impressive eight seasons.

    ‘Friends’ and ‘Joey’

    As one of the most successful sitcoms in television history, “Friends” was ripe for spin-off when it ended in 2004.

    Only Matt LeBlanc stuck with the character that made him famous, and “Joey” was launched that September.

    But it didn’t go down well with fans, and viewing figures were low. It was canceled after two seasons, with the final eight episodes not even making it to air.

    “Matt LeBlanc was fantastic in [‘Friends’] but he was playing a caricature,” Billen says. “I’m not sure there was enough complexity to ‘Joey’ as a character, he was more of a clown, and it’s difficult to build a show around that premise.”

    Jeffery adds: “I don’t feel there was a clear creative vision behind ‘Joey,’ they just wanted to keep the ‘Friends’ train going for a few more years.”

    The world of CSI

    “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” began in September 2002 and was hugely popular with audiences.

    So popular, in fact, that it sparked “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY” and the more recent (and less successful) “CSI: Cyber.”

    Jeffery says the CSIs “work on a business level because you’re giving people more of what they enjoyed before.”

    “CSI: Skegness” surely is only a matter of time. (SD-Agencies)

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