A Few of My Favorite Television Show SPIN-OFFS!

This piece was originally published January 2nd, 2013.

J.J. Walker Post Icon jpgThe history and “family trees” of television series spin-offs can be as complicated and intricately detailed as a giant spider’s web in a dark cave.

We are all familiar with a typical spin-off of a popular sitcom or drama series.

For instance, Happy Days giving us Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy or Buffy the Vampire Slayer providing us with Angel, but those are the obvious, things can get more convoluted and far less easy to spot sometimes.

Some shows that we take for granted as always being around, such as The Tonight Show, with all of the many hosts and longevity that show has had, is technically a spin-off of a show called Broadway Open House which ran from 1950 – 1951, and was NBC’s first late night series—with The Tonight Show making its debut in 1954. 

A series may spin-off of itself, as in the case of say Rowan Atkinson’s brilliant Black Adder, which would then give the world Black Adder II and Black Adder The Third, etc.

There are shows, especially of the variety or anthology type, that would spin-off something much greater than the original, with the most famous example of all being The Tracey Ullman Show providing the world with The Simpsons.

To really get detailed, the fun, goofy comedy anthology series Love, American Style (which ran from 1969-1974) is the show that originally spawned Happy Days (which gave us many spin-offs, mostly terrible, aside from Laverne and Shirley), as well as Wait Til Your Father Gets Home (1972-1974), the first prime time animated series to last more than one season since The Flintstones and before The Simpsons.

So in thinking about spin-offs, and the complexities involved in sticking to what constitutes a true spin-off (a re-boot of a series such as with Battlestar Galactica is not a spin-off) here, in no particular order, are a few of my faves.

Unpredictable are some, while others, perhaps not so much. 

I will only be listing television shows that are with live actors, so no animated shows this time around, but I promise that Mystery Box column will come in the near future, and with something to look forward in this column, you would be amazed if you knew just how many spin-offs a few animated series like The Flintstones or The Archie Show spawned!

Lastly, I’m also not going to mention anything from the Star Trek world on this list, as it would take up several columns to discuss these shows. To put it simply, I worship the original classic series, loved Enterprise, really liked Next Generation and found the other two spin-offs to be a chore.
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MAURICE GOSFIELD: From Private Doberman to Benny The Ball

This piece was originally published June 7th, 2011.

Maurice Gosfield TemplateThere are few character actors in the history of television that can equal Maurice Gosfield.

He had a screen presence that is still unmatched and a voice so distinctive as to lend itself to that of a timelessly beloved cartoon character.

Maurice Gosfield, is the 3rd selection for this installment of a regular Mystery Box feature called Great Comedians Of The Past.

Without hesitation, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you:

GREAT COMEDIANS OF THE PAST #3: MAURICE GOSFIELD


With his 5’4″, 200 lb. stature, and devil may care good looks, Maurice Gosfield took over Hollywood and became a man that women swooned over, children called their hero and men dreamed of emulating.
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WHY I MISS A GOOD LAUGH TRACK…

This piece was originally published April 25th, 2011.

Woman Laughing Post IconThe use of laugh tracks for television comedy has been the subject of derision since the early 1950’s.

So believe me folks, if you are not a fan when you run across a sitcom or animated series that has a laugh track, it’s not an original feeling you have there.

I however, not only appreciate a good laugh track and miss its proliferation these days (I’ll explain this later). I also am aware of the origin of it and how its fascinating history of this now considered unhip attribute of television, actually connects to The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” psychedelic music, The Moody Blues and King Crimson—in other words, here’s a history lesson for you young hipsters. Continue reading, please click here…

MY TOP 13 BRADY BUNCH OBSESSIONS

This piece was originally published February 15th, 2010.

Johnny Bravo IconHere at Mystery Box H.Q. we spent a couple of months watching the entire run— all five seasons, 117 episodes— of The Brady Bunch.

As I have mentioned before, there is no other more enjoyable way for me to watch a television series and appreciate all the continuity, or lack of continuity, the scripting, progression of an actor’s character development and seeing just how a show is brought to a final ending, or if it just hangs there forever in limbo without any closure.

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FRANK NELSON: Comedy’s Original Yeeeesssss Man

This piece was originally published October 5th, 2009

Harpo IconWelcome to a new column feature that I will be often revisiting here at The Mystery BoxGreat Comedians Of The Past.

With this feature, I look forward to paying tribute to the many wonderful actors and actresses of comedy who have helped me to laugh throughout my life, with the hopes that you may find a particular one that you may have not known of before and will add to your own list of favorites.

Warning: Obscure and yet, not so obscure, comedic character actor alert!
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SEINFELD: My 13 Favorite Episodes

This piece was originally published August 3rd, 2009 The Secret Word IconThere is nothing like a viewing a great, multi seasoned television series by having it all compiled into one big box set. It becomes my favorite way to view the entire series, chronologically, with an episode or three every night until I make my way through the whole thing. For such an incredible show as Seinfeld, I passed on purchasing the single season sets, knowing that at some point all 180 episodes would be available as one huge boxed collection. Little did I know that a couple of years ago, not only would this box finally come out, but I could purchase an exclusive version that included a fun refrigerator sleeve wrapped around the box, goofy magnets of show related items as “The Fusilli Jerry,” and a beautiful hardbound tribute book. It took awhile to crack the set open, at least a year, knowing the magnitude that getting through nine seasons would involve, but finally, last Fall and into Winter, I watched each and every episode. From the pilot of July 5, 1989 “The Seinfeld Chronicles” all the way to 179/180 May 14, 1998’s “The Finale.” For anyone who is already a Seinfeld fan, has never seen the show, or for anyone that has seen a few episodes out of order and wishes they could enjoy it more than they have, well…this is really the way Seinfeld should be appreciated.

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The Great Horror Family: Yet another wacky tv horror sitcom (!?) and one you may have missed…

This piece was originally published March 23rd, 2009 Onibaba IconThere have been plenty of horror and supernatural television series that have had a great deal of wit and/or a tongue in cheek aspect to them (think The Night Stalker and its offspring, The X-Files) but an all out goofy, slapstick filled, bloody horror / monster sitcom? You can pretty much count the television sitcoms that could be listed under “horror” on one hand. In the sixties, when television genres really started to loosen up and take chances begetting successful shows involving witches, genies, spies and animated cavemen or flying squirrels, you had two of the best loved—and primarily the only ones most people can think of as straight up horror comedies: The Munsters and The Addams Family. Both of these classic shows exemplified the love and obsession with monsters that had viewers flocking to cinemas and drive-ins throughout the ’50s and ’60s and reading magazines such as the ones that help spawn the love, Famous Monsters of Filmland or the omnipresent kid staple, MAD. For awhile it was monsters, monsters and more monsters—at least until the mid sixties James Bond spy craze took over and everyone needed a briefcase that contained a pop out throwing dagger.

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