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  • Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Spin cycle

    Remember the olden days of television when reality shows didn't dominate the airwaves (and they were actually broadcast over airwaves rather than cable or satellite)? Or when there were only four major networks (and channels)? And when those networks developed half hour sitcoms and hour dramas, the bread and butter of their programming?

    And when the shows got hugely popular -- or were about to die -- they spun off the characters for new shows?

    Ahhh, the spin-off. Who didn't love them?

    Happy Days gave birth to Laverne and Shirley; Mork and Mindy; and Joannie Loves Chachi while another great sitcom, All in the Family, spun off The Jeffersons; Maude; Gloria; and the show reformatted as Archie Bunker's Place (and probably others that I can't remember).

    We just don't have TV or spin-offs like that any more.

    ::heavy nostalgic sigh::

    In fact, I can't think of any recent spin-offs other than Friends leading to Joey -- and we all know how well that went -- unless you count all the Law and Order shows, but they aren't quite the same. Those shows are more of a franchise than a spin-off.

    But I did just discover a new spin-off the other day. A reality TV spin-off!

    I think this is the first reality TV spin-off (educate me if I'm wrong -- I know that Extreme Makeover's sibling Extreme Makeover Home Edition might arguably be a spin-off, but none of the characters carried over, the hallmark of a true spin-off). But now we have one! Project Runway has given birth to Project Jay, a documentary-style show about the former's first season winner. It's more reality TV than it is game show/reality show. There aren't any competitions or anything; it just follows his life and times.

    But it's an interesting concept, for a reality show to spin-off another reality program (not that I'm advocating it or suggesting we need more reality TV).

    What, for example, could Survivor spin off? A Richard Hatch fitness and fashion show a la Project Runway to get the man to cover up, maybe titled The Emperor's New Clothes? Or perhaps a Fear Factor spin-off cooking show a la Iron Chef ... "and today's ingredient will be... termites!" Or what about a The Bachelor spin-off like the Nick and Jessica comedy hour The Newleyweds which could in turn spin off something like Divorce: American Style?

    I think the TV executives are missing a huge opportunity here! Who needs new rip-off clone reality TV shows when we can just have spin-off clone reality TV shows?

    I'm just sayin'...

    (But I'll still tune in to Project Jay -- ya' know, for the sake of blogging integrity and to post a follow-up.)

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