Ranking the top 5 spin-off television series of all time: Can a spin-off surpass an original?

Is it possible for a spin-off series to surpass the original?  Perhaps not in most cases, but that doesn’t mean that the spin-off can’t branch out into something entertaining and epic on its own.  Creating a spin-off series is always a gamble.  You are relying on the fans from the original series to follow the show and create a fan base with its own separate identity as well.  While many spin-off series have failed to capture this difficult standard, there have been some that are so memorable that you almost forget that there was an original series that started it all.  This really got me thinking about my own favorite spin-off series and why they stand out above the rest.  My top 5 favorite spin-off television series of all time are:

5

The Originals.  This show is a spin-off series of the CW’s successful hit, The Vampire Diaries.  Klaus Mikaelson and his family of original vampires are introduced as dangerous and worthy villains, but their history is so rich and intriguing, not leaving The Vampire Diaries much room to explore it among its own plot.  The Originals is set in New Orleans and fans were pleased to see the Mikaelson family as the center of it all, while introducing new characters as well with just as much complexity.  The Originals does not shy away from its roots and all fans know where it started, however; it takes a darker and more historical approach to vampires, allowing viewers to see the full picture of how everything started.  After years of watching both series, I came to ultimately prefer The Originals because it was fresher and explored darker elements.  Klaus, who was previously shown as a ruthless killer with no remorse, now shows a glimmer of a soul and reveals to us how he became so broken in the midst of family and romantic betrayals.

4

Melrose Place.  This show is a spin-off series of one of my all time favorites, Beverly Hills, 90210.  90210 was such a success and targeted a teenage audience who craved a drama with more depth and complication than your average soap opera.  Some fans don’t remember that the very entertaining Melrose Place was actually a spin-off of 90210.  Jake is introduced as an old friend of Dylan’s and has a fleeting romantic moment with Kelly, only to decide to ride his motorcycle off to a new town to discover a life of his own.  The opening episodes of Melrose Place even feature Kelly coming to find him to see why he had broken their relationship off, strategically hooking in viewers from 90210.  While a lot of the love triangles, betrayals, and outrageous plots seem familiar to 90210, Melrose Place did a good job of capturing an old generation of viewers as well, breaking out of the mold of a high school drama and paving the way for many more shows to come.

3

Angel.   A spin-off of the hit TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon recognized that Buffy and Angel’s story was over…or at least put on pause, leaving fans wondering where Angel would go after Buffy graduated and went off to college.  Lucky for us, Angel was not done with his destiny just yet, traveling to LA with fan-favorite, Cordelia, to help innocents along the way and even start his own business while doing so, taking on one evil lawyer at a time.  In Buffy, Angel’s back story is briefly explored, but his own show allows us to truly see and understand every aspect of his origin.  Also, Angel was not able to shine as much in Buffy since he was obviously not the center of the show.  Angel’s personality and potential were often stifled in Buffy because the focus was on more of the romantic relationship between them, rather than who Angel truly was or meant to be.  This spin-off series did have a strong following and it was lined up right after Buffy on the same night of airings, but Angel did have its own identity and voice, proving that a supporting character could become a principal hero after all.

2

Better Call Saul A spin-off of the hit series, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is a prequel to the beloved series, focusing primarily on our favorite scheming lawyer, Saul Goodman.  This spin-off is one of the most successful ones I have watched and I adore both series.  What’s so great about the show is that it introduces important elements and characters that fans recognize from Breaking Bad, giving us a chance to further dive into how everything started in Breaking Bad.  However, this does not outshine the incredible acting by Bob Odenkirk who does an excellent job at truly embracing his character.  While fans are pleased with his wit and schemes along the way, we begin to fully learn about his past life and what lead him to the decisions he made later in Breaking Bad.  Saul demonstrates his work ethic and how much he wanted to be a lawyer and prove to his brother and girlfriend that he is capable of being a good man.  This becomes difficult to maintain later on, but it is clear that Saul’s character is deeper and more complex than anyone could have imagined on Breaking Bad, creating something unique and separate from the series it came from.

1

Xena:  Warrior Princess.  Who could forget the fabulous and beautiful Xena, played by the brilliant and gorgeous, Lucy Lawless?  While fans remember that it is a spin-off of Hercules, this series surpasses it in my opinion.  Xena paved the way for strong female leads such as Buffy, proving that a female warrior can be just as dangerous as any man.  Xena fights warriors and gods along the way, refusing to back down.  Her iconic battle cry is still memorable along with her heart-warming and controversial friendship with her side-kick, Gabrielle.  While Xena did air directly after Hercules in the lineup, fans became more excited and hooked by Xena.  I did watch both shows and have to admit that once Xena came on, all bets were off.  While the show was darker and more violent than Hercules, it was the character of Xena that drew me in.  She wasn’t just a hero; she was jaded, and searching for forgiveness.  She masked her vulnerability and weakness behind her sword, but the humanity in her provided viewers with a true connection to her character.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your thoughts and comments below along with some of your favorite spin-off television series of all time.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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Ranking the top 5 television series with numbers in the title: What’s your favorite zip code?

Happy Wednesday TV Fans!  As I am counting the days until the weekend and I am sure you are too, it got me thinking about numbers in particular on television.  I started to create a list of television series with numbers in the title and couldn’t believe how many there were over the years.  If you are bored at all throughout the day, I challenge you to create a list of as many number TV shows as you can without using the internet of course. 🙂  It’s actually really fun and you can post how many you were able to come up with in the comments.  Naturally, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to rank my top TV shows that fit into this category.  My top 5 TV shows containing numbers in the title are:

5) One Tree HillOne Tree Hill has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.  I used to watch Soapnet all day when I worked from home and this show came on quite a bit.  I was actually really disappointed that they took the show off of Netflix streaming because it is really addicting to watch.  While it may seem like your typical teenage soap centered on high school drama, the show does a good job of involving real issues as well.  There is a strong emphasis on family in the show and the narrator and main character, Lucas Scott, has a romantic view of the world, which elevates the show for me and ties in epic works of literature along with a lot of important thoughts that may have crossed our minds in different points in our lives.

4) 24.  While I have to admit, I have not gotten a chance to watch through this show recently, it is my mother’s absolute favorite and I thought very deserving of a spot in the top 5 even though it is not necessarily my top choice.  When this show aired on television, it had a quality that hooked the audience to watch the show live similar to The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones now.  You didn’t want to merely record 24 because you could miss something crucial or you didn’t want someone around you to spoil what happened.  The number 24 is significant in the series and not just merely in the title, as each season contained 24 episodes covering the 24 hours in Jack Bauer’s life.  All of the events happen in real time, which keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat seeing everything from Agent Bauer’s point of view.

3) 13 Reasons Why.  When this series streamed on Netflix earlier in the year, it was considered to be very controversial because of the subject matter and targeted audience.  As a result, it got mixed reviews.  After watching the first episode for myself, I found myself binge-watching the season all in one day.  While I am sure many of you have done the same, the show did an excellent job of drawing the viewer in wanting to unlock the real reasons why Hannah Baker decided to end her life and how her friend, Clay Jensen is involved.  Rather than leave a suicide note, Hannah records everything on 13 audio cassette tapes and has them delivered to the different people responsible so that they can hear the whole story.  While the show makes you want to dive deeper into truth, there is something very raw and painful about the emotions that are revealed along the way from each character who wronged Hannah and how they are dealing with the aftermath of her death along with issues in their own lives that they are facing.

2) The 100.  I have to admit that this is one of my favorite shows on television right now and I am counting the days until new episodes are aired.  The 100 reminds me of a futuristic version of Lost, revealing mystery after mystery where you truly can’t guess what is coming next.  The series starts off after earth has been destroyed by the nuclear war and the remaining survivors are living in a space station called the Ark.  However, air and supplies are running low and the leaders of the Ark make the decision to send 100 juvenile prisoners down to earth.  While it seemed initially that they were sending them off to die to sacrifice the few to save the many, earth is in fact livable again.  The prisoners are all trying to exist in a world without adults and laws, but find out that earth has many dangers, including other people who were already living there, “Grounders,” who are not looking forward to sharing their land with these invaders.  While each threat is dealt with, a new one emerges, forcing the Sky survivors to deal with betrayal, love, death, and war.

1) Beverly Hills, 90210.  It should be no surprise that my top choice takes place in our favorite zip code.  The show lasted for 10 years and even had a revival series done years later.  Many of us have grown up watching our favorite twins, Brandon and Brenda Walsh move from Minnesota to the very different and superficial Beverly Hills, California.  The soap-drama is a guilty pleasure of many and I recently watched through the entire series again over the summer.  Through all of the drama, this group of friends sticks together and grows up fast in a materialistic world only to realize that things don’t come as easily as they did in high school and that you can’t always buy your way out of everything.  While many of the plots are outrageous and over the top, there is a lesson in all of them, and we find ourselves rooting for each character who we have come to know well from years of watching them.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your comments below about any of these shows or some of your own favorites.  If you do complete the challenge, feel free to post how many shows you were able to come up with that do have a number in the title.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Ranking the top 5 television series based on movies: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”

So I’ve noticed that more and more remakes and adaptations from film are making their way to the smaller screen, which got me thinking about some of my favorites and how they compare to the originals.  While some television series go in a completely different direction, others attempt to be closer to the original but sometimes fail to capture the same allure, leaving fans disappointed or searching for more.  To me, what makes a television series truly stand out is if it takes on its own life and branches out into a new world of characters and stories.  Whether it is considered a prequel or another chapter, the series has to capture the interest of the viewer who tuned in and keep it.  Sounds like a difficult task especially when you add in an original film that the series is based on.  Some of the shows below do an excellent job of staying true to the original and respecting where the series comes from in terms of history and context.  At the same time, they are able to continue on with the story or shift into a new one without skipping a beat, keeping the original fans happy and bringing in new ones at the same time.  My top 5 television series based on movies are:

5) Teen Wolf.  Based upon the 1985 film of the same name starring Michael J. Fox, the series was created in 2011 on MTV.  Already this was a risky move, as the audience MTV was targeting might not have necessarily seen the original movie, although I hope so.  While the movie has a cheesy humor-like quality, the series follows the same premise of a teenage-boy realizing that he is transforming into a werewolf, only it embraces more of a horror genre approach.  Both characters are named Scott, only with different last names and have to deal with the consequences of being bitten by a werewolf while dealing with everyday teenage drama.  While the series is based on the movie, it really becomes something completely new and different, advancing the plot into something darker with touches of romance and terror, delving much deeper into the story.

4) Hannibal.  Based upon the films, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon, the series is a psychological thriller that dives into the relationship between FBI agent, Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lecter who will later become his nemesis.  While the television series had a lot to live up to from the books and films it was based upon, it proves to be a contender with excellent performances and a detailed plot, which keeps the viewer active and involved.  As a result, the audience becomes hooked and drawn to every horrible reveal.  While the films attempt to stay true to the books and showcase a simpler approach, the series is not afraid to break into new developments and jump head first into the darkness and insanity that is at the core of these characters.

3) Ash vs Evil Dead.  Based upon the franchise films, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness, the series once again stars the very funny and brilliant Bruce Campbell as Ash or “Ashy Slashy” as fans know him by.  What is so great about this series is it is a true continuation of the films.  Bruce Campbell is once again the star bringing fans back to the originals.  Bruce Campbell has a true talent for bringing the campy horror-like genre a life of its own and I would have been disappointed if anyone had been casted in his place.  Once again, Bruce and his chainsaw arm need to fight the forces of evil and he recruits some new and fun characters to help along the way.  Lucy Lawless also joins the cast who did work with Bruce previously on Xena and fits in perfectly.  The series stays true to the campy-horror genre while keeping the comedy going strong.

2) Bates Motel.  Based upon the classic film, Psycho, the prequel follows the life of Norman Bates as a teenager and also introduces his mother, Norma Bates.  The acting in the series is so real and powerful, as each actor reveals to the audience vulnerability blended with insanity, hypnotizing us into wanting to watch more and more.  What’s truly impressive about the series is that the viewer becomes attached and fully invested into both Norman and Norma.  As Norman is losing control, you do feel bad for him and see that there are moments of goodness that do truly exist in him.  His unusual attachment to his mother seems harmless at first, but grows into something more and more dangerous, however.  The series does an excellent job of allowing viewers to see the man behind the monster and to understand that although darkness wins in the end, there is a grey area that exists, making it not so easy to merely write Norman off as a killer without a conscience.

1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Based upon the film of the same name, this television series is at the top of my list because it takes a superficial campy premise and turns it into something epic and memorable.  In the film, Buffy is very superficial and materialistic which creates some laughs and fun along the way, but there is nothing substantial about her character that makes her stand out.  When Joss Whedon decided to turn his movie into a television series, Buffy had now become a character that teenage girls could truly look up to.  She is a strong female who makes some bad decisions along the way, but this shows that she is human and she has to sacrifice a lot in order to save the world, growing up fast as a result.  The humor remains but is more subtle and witty in the series, embracing more of a romantic and darker idea about the world of vampires and truly recognizing that this is a lot of pressure to put on one teenage girl to fight them all and repeatedly save the world.  The series has the perfect blend of drama, action, comedy, and horror with terrific acting and entertaining villains along the way.  It has truly surpassed the film, but it’s fun to take a look back at the movie from time to time.

 

I hope you enjoyed the list.  Feel free to post your comments below on your favorite television series based on films.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Ranking the top 5 Binge-Watching worthy shows for the end of 2017: Filling the void of holiday reruns and specials

Happy Tuesday TV Fans!  As we approach the holidays, you may be preoccupied with your never-ending to do list, shopping, cooking, and spending some quality time at home with your family.  There is also that troublesome fear setting in that your favorite shows will be taking a break from new episodes and you will be left with a void of reruns and holiday specials.  So what’s a TV viewer to do?  Fear not, for there are plenty of binge-watching worthy shows to choose from when you may need a break from all of the holiday chaos surrounding you.  My top 5 binge-watching worthy shows to choose from for the end of 2017 are:

5) Fox’s The Mick.  I have been watching The Mick for two seasons now mostly because it stars the wonderfully funny Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Since the show is on Fox, the humor is not as crude and extreme, but it is just as funny.  Olson pretty much plays a similar version of Dee from It’s Always Sunny, which is hilarious enough, but supporting characters like Alba and Jimmy steal the show.  They are laugh out loud funny.  There are a lot of sitcom-like shows that don’t make me laugh out loud and I find this is hard to come by now.  Here and there I’ll chuckle, but it’s not the same as with Friends and Seinfeld from years ago.  The Mick has the perfect balance of value, or maybe lack of family values is more accurate similar to Shameless, with over-the-top hilarious moments.  I absolutely recommend that you binge-watch this show and check out the Halloween episode from a few weeks ago which is one of my personal favorites.

4) Netflix’s Slasher.  So one of my favorite series of scary movies of all time is Scream and I was somewhat disappointed in MTV’s version of the show they produced.  Don’t get me wrong, I did watch and see it through, but there was something lacking for me.  The characters weren’t believable and there wasn’t that underlying fear gnawing at me.  Netflix got it right with two seasons of Slasher.  Each season is different, very similar to American Horror Story with familiar actors but a different premise, plot, and murderer.  There were moments I had to close my eyes because I was so scared in the first season and the main character is someone you desperately want to root for.  Having characters present that you actually want to see make it out alive does carry weight.  The second season has more of an Agatha Christie like vibe mixed with the movie, Heathers which I found to be very addicting once I got past the first few episodes filled with back story and flashbacks.  No one is safe and it provides some edge of your seat moments as a result.

3) Netflix’s The Punisher.  I am a big fan of Marvel in general and The Punisher is one of my favorite heroes or maybe anti-heroes of all time.  Usually when I say this, fans question this and say why not Wolverine or Captain America?  The Punisher is so powerful to me because he has no super powers and his quest for revenge is sympathetic and tragic.  When Netflix’s Daredevil season 2 came out, the best part of it was the introduction of The Punisher.  I was ecstatic when I heard that the character would be getting his own series.  I am happy to say that I successfully binge-watched this show over the weekend and it is everything I could have hoped for.  Jon Bernthal is so believable as Frank Castle that you would think the comic series was based off of him.  He is someone to root for and although the violence may be extreme, the enemies get what is coming to them.  I also found myself investing time and energy into the supporting cast as well which is rare for me.  The villains are also so intense and heart-breaking, as Frank Castle finds himself being betrayed left and right while he is trying to make amends and bring those who deserve it to justice.

2) Showtime’s SMILF.  There are only a few episodes that have come out so far so you have plenty of time to catch up and binge-watch this hilarious new show starring and created by the brilliant and lovable Frankie Shaw.  The show has you laughing, crying, and cheering for single mother, Bridgette who is trying to find her way and pursue her dreams while maintaining a strong bond with her son.  Bridgette is far from the perfect mother for sure, but she truly loves her son and is doing the best she can.  You find yourself truly invested in Bridgette and root for her through every moment no matter how ridiculous some of them are.

1) Netflix’s Stranger Things season 2.  This show and season is absolutely worth a binge-watch and perhaps a second or third time through.  That’s how good it is.  The music alone sparked new life into this season, the characters and friendships were bonded further, and the quest to find out where one comes from and what “home” truly means is touching and beautiful.  Once again, this season blended the perfect amount of comedy with sci-fi mystery.  New friends and characters are introduced and the adventures don’t stop.  I don’t want to give away too much in case you haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet, but remember “friends don’t lie.”  So please watch and enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your thoughts and comments below.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl