NOTE: THIS IS SOMETHING I WROTE CIRCA JANUARY 2005 BUT NEVER POSTED FOR WHATEVER REASON. SO PLEASE TO EXCUSE IF IT SOUNDS DATED.
Ah, the spin-off. If ever there was a better way to impress upon American pop-culture the recycled ideas of clearly intoxicated television executives, then I have yet to witness it. Several of our favorite shows have been spin-offs of more popular franchises: A Different World from The Cosby Show, Laverne and Shirley from Happy Days, Frasier from Cheers. But, much like the sequel, the spin-off allows for the distillation of fresh ideas by otherwise creative minds and the remanufacturing of already tiresome notions by the bloated powers that be in the merry town of Televisionville. Believe it or not, some spin-off ideas are actually rejected. Listed below are some of the lesser-known spin-offs that were pulled from the proverbial womb in mere infancy, so to speak.*
The Cosby Show:
The Rudy’s Friend, Bud, Show
Rudy Huxtable’s mini male-chauvinist friend Bud expounds his ne’er-seen brother’s comical worldly sexual political genius on hot 80s topics ranging from the role of the female in the workforce, to Reaganomics, and abortion.
Pilot Episode: “Really Now, What Kind of a Name for a Girl is ‘Rudy?’ ”
Lisa Bonet in An Even Different-er World
In this ill-fated pilot, Denise (Lisa Bonet) leaves a promising acting career to marry Larry Horowitz, a fledging rock-star wannabe played by Terence Trent D’Arby. Scrapped because it seemed too far-fetched.
Pilot Episode: “So, I See You Got Your Dreadlocks On”
Vanessa and Theo’s Middle Child Syndrome Variety Show
The mere fact that Malcolm-Jamal Warner was constantly being upstaged by his Medusa-esque dreadlocks, coupled with Tempest Bledsoe’s lack of a third name is an indication that this truly was a spectacle to be witnessed and subsequently ignored.
Pilot Episode: “The Newly-Reformed Flying Burrito Brothers Perform While Channeling The Spirit Of Gram Parsons. Also, Stand Up By Emo Phillips”
The happy-go-lucky Happy Days gang amidst the backdrop of racial tension, radical sexual experimentation, and the rise of the drug culture of the tumultuous war-torn late sixties.
Pilot Episode: “Fonzie Nearly Becomes a Mansonite With Hilarious, Yet Murderous Results”
This spin-off was intended to showcase the lives of the black people represented in the cast of Happy Days, but was quickly shelved when the producers realized that there were, in fact, no black people in the cast of Happy Days, possibly because of the incorrect notion that black people didn’t exist in the fifties. And, surprisingly, NOT because of the inherently racist under- and overtones.
Pilot Episode: “When In Doubt, Just Go With The ‘fro.”
Chachi Does Joanie
Self-explanatory scenario that, due to its titillating one-dimensionality, was later re-thought and sadly, re-titled.
Pilot Episode: “Cherry-Poppin’ Chachi”
The Adventures of Woody’s Girlfriend Kelly
Cancelled after the creators realized the only good thing they had going for them was the theme song: “Kelly-Kelly-Kelly-Kelly-Kelly…, etc.” and that the inclusion of the character of Kelly wasn’t really crucial to the show and, in fact, may have actually been detrimental.
Pilot Episode: “Kelly Hangs Out With Woody and Somehow Pisses Off Her Father In The Process, Even Though She’s Like, Thirty, or Something”
Norm and Cliff in Pukin’ Is For Pussies
Originally slated as a one-off made-for-TV movie, but was stalled in development after one of the stars (I’ll leave it up to you to guess who) was offended by just how fat the other was getting. Curiously enough, both were of relatively the same life-span-shortening size and shape at this point. Also, the attempt to include elements of Sci-Fi wasn’t well received.
Pilot Episode: “Cliff and Normie Versus Eerily Familiar Life-Sized Copyright-Infringing Robots”
That Fat Guy With Glasses That Sits at the End of the Bar Who was Nearly a Regular Cast Member But is only Useful Enough to Mutter One Inconsequential Line Every Few Episodes as a Device to Set-up a Sarcastic Chastening Remark from Carla Show
Never got beyond a brainstorming session.
Diane’s A Pompous, Frigid Bitch!!!
Re-imagined as Frasier Is a Pompous, Insufferable Dork, which eventually just became Frasier.
*In case you haven’t figured it out already, all spin-offs listed above never existed and were entirely made up by me.