To Spinoff or not to Spinoff?

Angel | Buffy | Shows 1

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At the end of Buffy season 3, the character of Angel moves to LA and ends up running into Cordelia and they start Angel Investigations with the help of a half-demon named Doyle and later with another Buffy alum, Wesley. I must admit that when I heard Angel was leaving for his own show, I really didn’t know how it would work. To me, Angel was really a character with one main purpose; to be Buffy’s love interest. Sure, he’d help her fight vampires and demons, but all of that was because he loved her. I was also sad because his getting a show meant he’d be leaving Buffy behind and I was a Buffy/Angel fan back then.
I almost didn’t give Angel a chance just like I almost didn’t give Buffy one. I had a preconceived notion that the show would fail and he’d roll right back on into Sunnydale, declare his undying love, and we’d go from there. The main reason I tuned in was because I was a Cordelia fan. She always had some of the best lines and later Anya would be a favorite of mine for the same reason. So, I checked out the pilot and I was surprised. There was an actual story there. I continued to tune in weekly and even though it was very monster of the week like Buffy had been during its first season, I enjoyed the constant battle for redemption while Cordelia was trying her hand at acting and Doyle was just trying to get her to notice him.
Throughout the first season, I didn’t know if the show would be picked up for a second so I tried not to get too invested, but as the series went on, I found myself more and more interested. With Doyle’s unfortunate demise, we got Cordelia superpowers, we got Wesley back in our lives and we began to really pick up the pace of the show’s premise. With each new character, the themes were more and more developed. There were love triangles of course because there are always love triangles and there were bad episodes because most shows have a bad episode or two. Buffy had “Doublemeat Palace” for example.
All in all though, through 5 seasons I’d say with only a few stumbles, Angel was not only a successful spinoff, but it was a successful show in its own right. If we wouldn’t have met the Buffy characters in Sunnydale, we could have met them in LA and we would have still tuned in.
The success of this spinoff got others wondering about a possible Giles or Faith spinoff. I would have loved to see more of many of the characters I had grown to love, but I think there’s a limit to the amount of spinoffs one show can yield. For example, Law & Order has spun off so many times I can’t keep track of how many times it’s tried a new one, but SVU and Criminal Intent were really the only successful attempts. There was Conviction, which I actually liked, but it didn’t get through its first season. There was a real life attempt and there was Law & Order: Los Angeles. Neither of those yielded positive results.
So, we got Angel from Buffy and I think that’s enough for the television medium because with the comic books, we can now have Angel & Faith with Giles and we can have Spike and Willow arcs and we can have Buffy doing her thing. If there would have been a Ripper spinoff, I don’t know that it would have been successful. If it would have gone back in time to show us how he became Ripper and dealt with Ethan Rayne and that group, it would have been interesting, but that would have meant different actors in those roles and to me, Anthony Stewart Head is Giles like Alyson Hannigan is Willow and Sarah Michelle Gellar is Buffy. When I watch the unaired version of the Buffy pilot and there’s another actress playing Willow, I cringe because she’s not Willow.
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I think a spinoff about Faith would have been interesting for about a minute before it got old. She was a fugitive after all and would have had to bounce all over the place to evade capture. We wouldn’t have been able to get comfortable with the character and while I liked Dollhouse, that was one of my biggest complaints. I would just get comfortable and begin to like the character Echo had become and then the next episode, she’d change. Premise wise, I loved it, but it’s tough to gather a fan base for a character that constantly changes personalities. In season 2, when we started to get more of Echo/Caroline, that’s when I started to get more on board and then, of course, the show got canceled.
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A new spinoff is coming this fall in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I like Once Upon A Time enough. It’s not great, but it’s fine for Sunday night TV. I’m curious to see how this spinoff works though. Are they just trying to capitalize on the success of its predecessor or is it something they really see being a well-developed landscape for character growth? We’ll just have to see, I guess.


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  1. Stephanie - October 8, 2013

    Sadly I stopped watching Once Upon a Time… it got boring for me for some reason, I am a little interested to see where there Wonderland spinoff goes, but really it isn’t because of Once Upon a Time but because I love Alice in Wonderland… so there is that demographic for this series versus the Once Upon a Time main series.

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