5 Sitcom Spin-offs Worse Than ‘Uncle Fester’ Will Be

The sitcom sequels far worse than anything Netflix’ ‘Wendesday’ follow-up could muster
5 Sitcom Spin-offs Worse Than ‘Uncle Fester’ Will Be

On Monday morning, Netflix announced that they will be spinning off their franchise super-hit Wednesday with Uncle Fester, a series devoted to Fred Armisen’s performance as the avuncular Addams Family character. If making an Uncle Fester TV show with the guy who isn’t Christopher Lloyd sounds like the worst idea imaginable to you, just remember that, at one point, a boardroom full of TV executives decided to make a new Friends without five of the six Friends.

The sitcom spin-off is one of those mercurial TV show premises that can only really go one of two ways — either you use already beloved characters to create something novel and end up with a new, unique hit like Frasier, or you butcher an established dynamic with a derivative mess and make one of the M*A*S*H spin-offs that wasn’t Trapper John, MD. It’s a high-risk, high-reward play that rarely lands anywhere in the middle between greatness and garbage. Judging by Netflix’ track record with, well, everything, the fact that Wednesday was a hit almost makes it feel more likely that Uncle Fester will flop since they used up all their luck on the original.

Nevertheless, with the talent behind Uncle Fester, it’s unlikely that the show will land itself near the top of the highly competitive list of worst sitcom spin-offs of all time. For my money, the Mount Rushmore of miserable spin-offs is…

The Tortellis (1987-1987)

On the opposite side of the coin from Frasier is The Tortellis, a one-season Cheers spin-off all about Rhea Perlman’s obnoxiously Italian ex-husband Nick Tortelli and his new ex-wife, the airheaded Carla, who leaves Nick at the beginning of the show to move to Las Vegas. Featuring every single stereotype about Marinara-Americans that the writers could slip by the censors, The Tortellis was about as charming as watching your drunk brother-in-law do his Al Pacino impression on Columbus Day.

Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983)

As the worst of seven Happy Days spin-offs, the Erin Moran and Scott Baio-led bomb couldn’t even outlive the original series. The spin-off ends with Joanie and Chachi realizing that their love must be consummated in marriage — a ceremony that, of course, happens a year after the cancelation of Joanie Loves Chachi when the couple return to their gigs as Happy Days side-characters with their tails between their legs.

Joey (2004-2006)

On paper, “Joey Tribbiani moves to Hollywood” isn’t the worst idea for a Friends sequel, but the desperate attempts to recapture the charm of the original series made this one a slog that chased off the remaining Friends audience within two seasons on the way to cancellation. Even supporting performances from Sopranos star Drea de Matteo and the incomparable Jennifer Coolidge failed to elevate the uninspiring Joey.

AfterMASH (1983-1985)

The original M*A*S*H famously went on longer than the actual Korean War that served as its setting, but AfterMASH deserved an unceremonious ending à la the Bay of Pigs. Colonel Sherman T. Potter, Father John Mulcahy and Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger failed in their mission to recreate the chemistry of the origins series or seamlessly weave drama and comedy as effortlessly as M*A*S*H, meeting a merciful end after two seasons.

The Brady Brides (1981-1981)

The only redeeming quality of this god-awful Brady Bunch sequel series is that it only lasted two months and 10 episodes before NBC filed for divorce. What was supposed to be a made-for-TV movie about Marcia and Jan Brady getting married (to two men, not to each other) turned into a single-season experiment in discomfort as the sisters and their respective husbands inexplicably decide to all shack up together, leading to crazy shenanigans and crickets from the live studio audience.

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