The 5 Most Baffling Spin-Offs in Television History
A TV spin-off is almost bad by definition: it's whatever is left when an executive draws a big circle around the characters people actually care about and says, "let's write a pilot without these people."
But the truly terrible TV spin-offs are awful on a whole different level. They take these characters and wedge them into some pointless or ill-fitting premise that makes us care about them even less. Here are five spin-offs that truly make us wonder what the fuck they were thinking.
Spun Off From: Baywatch
Bored in his position as resident police officer of Baywatch, Sergeant Garner Ellerbee forms a detective agency with Baywatch lifeguard and former Navy Seal Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) with the intention of solving the apparently countless paranormal mysteries that plague the beaches of Los Angeles.
Given that 90% of American males envision their retirement from the corporate grind as some variation of an episode of Baywatch, it's hard to imagine that a man whose job responsibilities include "watching breasts bounce" and "confiscating recreational drugs from surfers" would endeavor to transition into a more demanding, more dangerous line of work.
Picture unrelated to article.
But beyond the Baywatch gang's incomprehensible motivation to change careers, the storylines of some of Baywatch Night's episodes are downright ridiculous. For example, take Episode 24: The Creature, wherein the detectives come face-to-face with an amphibious, serial-killing woman hell-bent on procreating. Or Episode 38: Zargtha, in which a man-wolf torments teenaged runaways living in an earthquake-prone abandoned building.
As you've probably deduced by now, the show was a cheap attempt to cash in on the X-Files craze. But there's a reason Mulder didn't wear zinc on his nose and Skully wielded a gun instead of a whistle: otherworldly encounters just don't occur on the beach.
Not pictured: A realistic setting for a show about monsters.
Spun Off From: The Golden Girls
Rejuvenated by seven years of living in a house together and discussing their unfathomably active sex lives, three of the four Golden Girls (minus Bea Arthur) open an upscale hotel in Miami. Because running a hotel slightly more work than these spunky 70-year-olds can handle, they hire Chuy Castillos (Cheech Marin) to run the kitchen and Roland Wilson (Don Cheadle) to manage the front desk.
While some projects, like putting together a bookshelf, only require elbow grease and a can-do attitude, we're pretty sure that opening an upscale hotel in one of the most expensive cities in the world takes millions of dollars and years of industry experience.
But that's not to say that these lively gals don't have one thing going for them: the second any of them mentioned sex in front of a guest, they wouldn't have to worry about paying the kitchen staff overtime that day.
"Picture us fucking!"
The show was canceled after one season, and producers resisted the temptation to generate another spinoff where the girls buy and run their own island nation.
Women of the House
Spun Off From: Designing Women
After Suzanne Sugarbaker's (Delta Burke) fifth husband dies, the former Atlanta beauty queen assumes his congressional office and, along with her mentally-handicapped brother, her spry, vivacious daughter, and her sassy administrative assistant, enters the bureaucratic power-labyrinth of Washington D.C.
We can buy Delta Burke's marriage to a parliamentarian (although in the deep South we think they're called Grand Wizards). But even before the first poorly-scripted one-liner about Congress being full of more nuts than momma's pecan pie can signal to the audio tech that it's time to light up the "APPLAUSE" sign, the show asks us to accept that not a single person would object to a dead senator's elected position being taken over by his sassy wife.
The show lasted just nine episodes, when CBS abruptly pulled it off the air when they saw that episode 10 featured a "montage of women being brutally abused." CBS demanded the scene be cut (whatever for?) and then just decided to kill the show completely.
To be clear, the scene was not of actual women being abused on, like, a hidden camera or something. It was a montage of movies and TV shows, and was supposed to be making some kind of point about the way women are treated in popular culture. Way to stand up for feminism, Show About Wacky Lady Who Marries Her Way Into Congress.
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
Spun Off From: The Apprentice
In the same vein as Donald Trump's The Apprentice, Martha Stewart vets an assortment of type-A go-getters in an attempt to find an apprentice to run one of her businesses. The contestants compete in business challenges and are dismissed from the competition if they fail to accurately mimic Stewart's emotionless zeal for homemaking and improvised craft design.
It's a small wonder that NBC executives were capable of casting multiple seasons of the original Apprentice --a series that rewarded its winners with jobs under a man that has declared bankruptcy as many times as he's been divorced.
One should never underestimate the enthusiasm of newly-minted MBAs for putting their death-grip on someone else's coattails. But Martha Stewart's claim to "business tycoon" status during the show's taping was pretty suspect since she was under house arrest after having been convicted of perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice for her part in the ImClone stock trading scandal.
It's tough to imagine that the contestants being told "Goodbye" each week--Stewart's take on Trump's "You're Fired"--weren't silently thanking their lucky stars for not being tapped as Stewart's shower-room wingman. Job training doesn't usually include learning to file a shank out of an old mop handle.
Knight Rider: 2010
Spun Off From: Knight Rider
Knight Rider 2010 was a made-for-TV movie that takes place in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a little more than a year from now. The story followed Jake MacQueen, a futuristic smuggler whose lover, Hannah, is killed. However, before death she stored her personality in a crystal computer memory storage, which winds up implanted in a beat-up Ford Mustang.
You may think it's unfair that we mock the show for failing to accurately predict the world of 2010, but that future was only 16 years away at the time the show was made (1994). That means the writers still thought that society was less than two decades away from: 1) developing personality-storing crystals and 2) devolving into a wasteland of human slavery.
But all of that aside, this has to be the most tangential connection to an original show any spinoff has ever had. It's a complete rebooting that takes place in an entirely different, and far stupider, universe. The "KITT" in this show doesn't even show up until half way through, and when it does, Instead of a cool-ass talking car that fights crime we wind up with a shitty car possessed by the hero's dead girlfriend.
"We never just talk anymore."
The concept didn't survive beyond the one movie, which is too bad because we were sort of hoping it would at least last long enough for the inevitable scene where the hero makes passionate love to the car.
You can read more of Eric's stuff at his satirical dating advice column, Ask Jimmy Suede.
For shows that failed to spin-off even a second episode, check out 6 Shows (Thankfully) Canceled After One Episode. Or read about a fictional character who spun off real-world acts of super-human resourcefulness in The 5 Most Amazing Real Life MacGyver Moments.