Random Pop Culture Question of the Week
Dream TV Spinoff
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week is a bi-weekly journey into the headspace of the Review to Be Named gang, in which a pop-culture question is posed, answers are sought, and discussions are generated about issues and hypotheticals from throughout the realm of pop culture.

Welcome to the inaugural installment of Random Pop Culture Question of the Week, a new feature that will give the contributors here at Review To Be Named the chance to probe each other's minds with our own with pop culture queries and hypotheticals. This week's question comes from our own Chris, who wondered,
If you could helm the spinoff of any character or group from any TV show, spinning it out from any time in that show's history, who would you spinoff and what would be the premise of your show?
With that question in mind, here are the responses from several Review To Be Named Contributors. Comment and let us know what we missed!


My immediate thought when I heard this question was, "Which Joss Whedon show would I most like to spin off?" While I did think of some fun ideas there, it seemed a little bit obvious. Next, I considered the idea of a Twin Peaks spinoff focusing on Gordon Cole and the FBI that Lynch had created. Everything in that organization is a few steps off the beaten path, a little odd, and ultimately endlessly fascinating. Delving into the strange code they communicate with (including the Blue Rose and Lil, the dancer Cole uses to communicate information to his agents), the nightmarish cases they investigate, and the mysterious nature of the world and their place into it would all be fascinating. Plus, we would inevitably get to dive into what happened to Chester Diamond and, more importantly, who the hell Phillip Jeffries is and where he disappeared to. Which would be cool.

Ultimately, however, the spinoff idea that excited me most, the one that made me wish it had really occurred, is the idea of a spinoff of The West Wing focusing on Sam Seaborn as a congressman. Though in the show's continuity he lost (because Rob Lowe stupidly wanted to leave the show, something I have only started to forgive him for now that he is so excellent on Parks and Rec), my spinoff would presuppose that he won, and thus was a freshman congressman on his way to fulfilling President Bartlet's prediction that he would someday sit behind the big chair in the Oval Office. Sam's disappearance from the show hurt The West Wing almost as much as Aaron Sorkin's, and the fact that he was dropped from the show kept the potential of his growth into a formidable politician from ever being realized. If given the chance, I would have changed that.


My wish for a spin-off comes from an obvious place if you know me well (or at all, really). It's Chief Wiggum P.I. from "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" episode from season eight. The Spin-Off Showcase offered three different possible new series based around beloved Simpsons characters. In addition to Wiggum P.I., host Troy McClure offered up The Love-Matic Grampa, a show based around the dead Abe Simpson's soul returning to Earth in the Love-matic machine in Moe's bar. The other show offered up was The Simpsons Smile Time Variety Hour, a take-off of similar projects from the likes of The Brady Bunch where (nearly) the entire cast returned for a variety show that included very 70's guest stars, like Tim Conway. But Wiggum P.I. really took the cake. Like the other two shows it was terrible if it existed as a show outside of The Simpsons universe but it's take on the buddy cop genre could have been a gem. Wiggum is joined by his son Ralph (who could probably hold a show of his own on a more allowing channel like Adult Swim or Comedy Central) and Principal Skinner, who quit his job and is now "Skinny Boy." The duo have been relocated to New Orleans to face stereotypical bayou crime lords while managing life in The Big Easy. Great setting plus great characters could make for a good show. The police procedural cartoon sit-com had only been done once before with Disney's Fillmore (very well done I may add) and The Simpsons writers could make something equally enjoyable for an adult crowd. At the end of the episode, when the evil "Big Daddy" gets away from the law, Wiggum thinks aloud that they will meet again in future episodes "in a more exciting and sexy way." If only.


I thought long and hard about my response to this fantastic question. The consummate overachiever, I wanted to look good. I considered going cult-classic, with a Freaks and Geeks spinoff (clearly it would follow Daniel, because I think his character had a lot of unexplored potential. Also James Franco is stupid-pretty). Sticking to the stupid-pretty reasoning, I thought about a House spinoff following Thirteen on her various escapades after learning about her Huntington's diagnosis (I pine for the days of witty, pre-rehab House banter). Then there's the sheer spectacle of a True Blood spinoff following Pam (definitely the most criminally underused character on the show. Every word out of Kristin Bauer's mouth is pure gold). But I wanted something meaningful. So I settled on Rugrats.

If you were lucky enough to be a 90s baby, Rugrats was a cornerstone of a slew of amazing Nickelodeon cartoons (kids these days are missing out. I-Carly? Hannah Montana? WTF is that shit?). And if you didn't like Rugrats, there was clearly something wrong with you. Talking babies"”awesome. An incredibly baller dog"”every child's dream. But, with the distance of a decade between me and my Rugrats days, I'd want to see a spinoff focusing on the parents. Mostly because the Rugrats: All Growed Up edition was seriously disappointing.

Stu Pickles, in addition to being an amazing dad, was a super cool inventor. His wife Didi was a schoolteacher (and had two spectacular Jewish parents who I would totally want to make consistent appearances. Maybe coming to live with the Pickles as a foil for Grandpa Lou). Angelica's mom Charlotte was an uber-powerful CEO who, when paired with Betty Deville, the quick witted, Venus-sign sweatshirt wearing jock and Chaz Finster, the sensitive widower single dad, were surprisingly cutting edge for a children's show, pushing the boundaries of typical gender roles. Then there's Dr. and Mr. Carmichael (the Rugrats' Cosbys), she a Harvard-educated doctor and he a successful cartoonist. Around the periphery of the episode, these characters managed to do way more than hem in the hijinks of their precocious little tots. They balanced out plot lines so well, they distracted us from the fact that they seemed to be borderline negligent of their kids. I'd love to see what they were up to while the kids were off getting into trouble.


Before Showtime became a network with somewhat respectable, HBO-esque programming, it was the network with the gay shows. The worst of these was the exploitative, poorly written, and consistently frustrating series The L Word, which ran from 2004-2009. In addition to having what may be the worst theme song in television history, The L Word wasted a lot of talent; capable actresses like Pam Grier, Jennifer Beals, Mia Kirshner, and Marlee Matlin were mired in silly, melodramatic story arcs. But perhaps the most egregious example of unrealized potential can be found in the characters of Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig) and Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey). Best friends, as well as resident voices of reason, Shane and Alice were the only reasons why I watched all six seasons of this godawful show (to be fair, I also wanted to have sex with both of them, possibly at the same time). I would have loved a spinoff that gave the two of them and their assorted exploits (Alice's adorable, and ultimately tragic, relationship with Dana; Shane's failed attempts at monogamy) more screen time. The Alice & Shane Show would certainly lean more towards comedy than drama, and ideally include a more realistic supporting cast so that it looks less like a lesbian soap opera (in which everyone is beautiful, skinny, famous, wealthy, and femme) than its originating series. There's a lot of support for this particular spinoff idea on YouTube; in case you needed a Shane and Alice tribute montage set to the theme from Free Willy to support my argument, it's available.


Battlestar Galactica SPOILER ALERT

Battlestar Galactica is probably my favorite show of all time. However if I had one critique of the series (aside from the standalone episodes that SyFy forced on them) it's that one of the more fascinating elements of the series never received the full attention I felt it deserved, the status quo altering introduction of a second Colonial warship, the Battlestar Pegasus.

Ideally, I would have liked to see a Battlestar Pegasus, spinoff that would have served as a concurrently running companion series to Battlestar Galactica, beginning during the season 2 break of Galactica. The show would probably have a limited shelf life, as it could only exist so long without dramatically altering the events of Galactica.

Battlestar Pegasus would give the creators of Galactica to tell two very fascinating stories that were only touched on in the made-for-tv-movie Razor:

1.) Flashbacks that would reveal the backstory of the Pegasus, from the attack on Scorpion Fleet Shipyard to their discovery of Galactica and her civilian fleet. Rather than running from the Cylons, Admiral Cain decided to engage in all out guerrilla war, hunting them with an obsession to rival Ahab himself, despite massive losses to her crew and ship. Cain personally executed officers who disobeyed her orders, drafted civilians into military service at gunpoint, and left a fleet of civilian ships helpless after stripping them of any useful components Pegasus could use. It's clear that Pegasus was a very dark environment, as evidenced by the atrocities committed by Lt. Thorn and the fact that Pegasus quickly became the focal point of the Fleet's black market after Cain's death. However nothing in the world of Galactica was ever as black and white as it seemed as there were still many good people serving on Pegasus (Lt. Hoshi), and many more who were haunted by the guilt of their actions (Major Kendra Shaw). Throw in the spineless and corrupt Col. Fisk, and the civilian Deck Chief Laird, who was forced into service when Admiral Cain threatened to kill his family, and you have a really solid cast.

2.) The second storyline would focus on the present. Following the death of Admiral Cain, Lee Adama takes over as Commander of the Pegasus and finds a ship in disarray, where fear, mistrust, and brutality were the environment cultivated by his successors. This would allow for some great story lines as Lee struggles to get his command in order, facing numerous power struggles with crew members that worshipped Cain, and tries to shut down the black market that had been running through Pegasus during Fisk's brief time in charge. The series could also heavily focus on Lee making the difficult transition from a soldier to a general, ordering men into battle rather than leading them personally. Finally, having seen Lee clash with his father numerous times throughout the series, making Lee responsible for the lives of an entire crew would only escalate the tension between him and his father if Admiral Adama made military decisions that Lee didn't agree with.

Alas this will never come to be, for like I said, Razor already touched on many of these elements, albeit lightly, and any Battlestar spinoff will most likely be a prequel, but I can't help but take a longing look back at what might have been.

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