By the Notorious M.G.
If a TV show is a smash hit, it makes perfect sense to attempt to duplicate that success, right? That’s certainly what utterly unimaginative television execs and writers have always banked on. The formula is simple yet effective: tirelessly crank out spinoff after spinoff of any popular TV show and collect the profit from whatever sticks.
Some television spinoffs have actually been quite successful (Frasier, The King of Queens, The Simpsons) however, many others were doomed from the gate. One such short-lived show was ALF 3000 which aired briefly in our imaginations in 2009 before being canceled in favor of a Jessica Alba meets Beyonce fantasy sequence.
Anyway, we here at WeirdWorm have (at gunpoint) compiled a list of six amazingly obscure TV spinoffs from popular shows which you probably never knew existed.
704 Hauser spun-off from All in the Family
If Gloria (the short-lived Sally Struthers cash-grab) had the racist body of Archie Bunker spinning in his grave then 704 Hauser had him doing the moonwalk. 704 Hauser was a CBS series created in 1994 by Norman Lear, the same guy who created the original Emmy award winning series. Clearly this wasn’t just another case of a soulless network trying to capitalize on a successful old show - it was its out-of-work creator.
The show was built around the concept of an African American family, the Cumberbatches, moving into the former home of Archie Bunker years after he had sold the house. John Amos starred as Ernie Cumberbatch and Lynnie Godfrey played his wife, Rose. The show featured a ham-fisted reversal of the original All in the Family formula. Ernie and Rose were blue collar, working class Democrats but their son Goodie was a strong conservative...whose girlfriend was Jewish! Bet you didn't see that swerve coming American TV audiences!
Clearly all of the ingredients for controversial social and political commentary (and humor!) were predictably crammed firmly into place. Who would have thought that one random house in Queens had the potential to be a generational hot-spot for sensitive issues generally considered inappropriate for boring old network TV?
Sadly the show’s creator could not catch the same edgy/offensive/controversial/original lightning in the bottle twice. Six episodes were filmed, and only five were actually aired. The show now exists only in scattered YouTube memories.
The Brady Brides spun-off from The Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch is among the most popular of all American sitcoms. The mere mention of it has undoubtedly caused its theme song to begin annoyingly streaming through your head as you attempt in vain to read this very article.
If the song isn’t already going through your head allow us to help you out with that!
Not surprisingly, there were actually a number of Brady-ish spin-offs. Kelly’s Kids/Together We Stand, The Brady Kids (an animated atrocity), The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and lastly The Brady Brides. Why pick on the Brides show in particular? Because we here at WeirdWorm drew straws and that show came up short.
The Brady Brides spawned not from the blazing depths of hell but from a NBC TV reunion movie called The Brady Girls Get Married. At the last minute, the special was divided into four half hour segments leading to its fourth week debut of the ill-fated spin-off The Brady Brides. The movie featured most of the original cast and showed what the kids had been up to since the original series ended. (because all of America was wondering) The entire family reunited to see Jan and Marcia both marry in a double wedding, which is a scenario that occurs in real life exactly never.
The actual series featured Marcia-Marcia-Marcia and Jan in regular roles. The entertainment-abomination opened with Marcia, Jan and their new husbands buying a house and living together. A recipe for hilarious disaster if there ever was one! The clashes between Marcia's goofy and careless husband, Wally, and Jan's uptight husband (whose name we don’t care enough to remember) were about as far as it went in the comedy department.
Ten episodes were aired before the sitcom was mercifully cancelled. Alas, we still got two more Brady movies many years later.
The Tortellis spun-off from Cheers
The Tortellis was a NBC mid-season replacement which starred Cheers character Carla’s deadbeat and often hunched ex-husband Nick Tortelli.
It also starred Jean Kasem as his 80’s trophy wife.
Although Nick Tortelli’s sleazy character was well-received in his appearances on Cheers, we suppose 1980’s America simply wasn’t ready for such a daily dose of scum. Both Nick and his wife’s life goals revolved around making fast money, and doing whatever it took to make that wholesome dream a reality. There was also an annoying sister-in-law and some generic sitcom kids in there somewhere. If that doesn’t sound like a fun group to tune in to each week than we don’t know what does.
The only clip we could find on YouTube to prove this show existed was this… (we found it pants crappingly hilarious that the show was ever described as a “new hit comedy”).
Despite its certified “new hit comedy” status, the series crashed in the ratings and NBC canceled it after thirteen episodes. At least they gave Conan six months.