Some that actually came near to reality, some that are just on our fantasy wish list
Some shows give us the spin-offs we deserve – series that are as good, or even better than, the original programme (think Star Trek: The Next Generation or Angel ). Other shows give us spin-offs that we watch and think, “Did someone really think that was a good idea?” (See: Young Hercules , Galactica 1980 ). Others have been mooted but never materialised, much to our despair.
In honour of all those shows we can’t get enough of, we defy the laws of time, space and logic to take a look at 12 delicious fantasy spin-offs we’d love to have in our lives... Some of them were seriously mooted, others are just ones we daydream about.
By Jayne Nelson and Dave Golder .
Spun off from: Lost
Who’s in it? James Ford and Miles Straume, two ordinary cops with extraordinary secrets...
What’s it about? Ford works for the LAPD alongside his partner Straume, catching crooks, fightin’ crime and nailing the bad guys. But he’s secretly on a mission to find out who killed his parents – and why is it that he sometimes allows criminals to escape (clue: they’re usually pretty)? Meanwhile, Straume is struggling to do his job when he’s constantly hearing voices from beyond the grave. Ghostly connections come in handy when he’s trying to solve a murder, but it plays havoc with his love-life!
Watch these two oddballs as they peel back the layers of their lives to discover that they’re not really who they seem to be... And why the heck are there polar bears in LA, anyway?!
Why do we want it? Lost ’s final season was a divisive one, with the show’s controversial “flash sideways” showing us a brand new side of our beloved heroes, but all for no good purpose, ultimately. Of all the flashes, Sawyer and Miles’s little law-enforcement double-act was the most intriguing – wouldn’t it be cool to see them again? It would be odd hearing Sawyer being called “Ford” all the time, though, and we’d miss him calling Kate “Freckles” (unless he used it on Miles, which would be...er... forget that).
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2 Assignment: Earth
Spun off from: Star Trek
Who’s in it? Gary Seven, a suave James Bond-style time traveller, and his assistant Roberta Lincoln.
What’s it about? Gary Seven is a man with a mission: to keep Earth safe. He’s been plucked from his time and flung far into the future, where he’s been equipped with everything he needs to transport from historical event to historical event to keep the history of our planet ticking along smoothly. On a mission to America in 1968 he encounters Ms Lincoln, a canny secretary who earned his trust, and together they fight time-flaws and save the world!
Only one other person knows Seven’s secret: his cat Isis, whose ability to transform into a beautiful Playboy beauty causes Roberta no end of (maybe jealous) confusion...
Why do we want it? Obviously we’re over 40 years too late to ask for this one, but what the hell. The Star Trek episode “Assignment: Earth” was originally designed to be spun off into its own show, which explains why Seven and Lincoln get so much screentime (and why they’re cast so brilliantly, played by Robert Lansing and Teri Garr respectively).
It’s a fascinating concept; a proto Sapphire & Steel , even, although with far more comedy. And the prospect of a love triangle between Seven, Lincoln and a cat just has to be hilarious...
3 On Her Majesty’s Extraordinary Service
Spun off from: Torchwood
Who’s in it? Captain Jack Harkness, Queen Victoria, Alice Guppy, Emily Holroyd
What’s it about? After having had her eyes opened to the threats to Earth from extra-terrestrial beings by a mysterious and dangerous man known only as the Doctor, Queen Victoria sets up the Torchwood Institute. Its mission is two-fold: to protect the polite society from aliens who don’t know which spoon to use for soup, and to prevent any more of the Doctor’s infernal meddling. Queen Victoria appoints two sturdy women in sensible shoes – Guppy and Holroyd – to run Torchwood, partly to stop them from campaigning for the vote (and ignoring rumours that they’re lesbians, because “women don’t do that sort of thing”). They are soon joined by the immortal Captain Jack, an extra-terrestrial they blackmail into working for them, partly because he has connections to the Doctor. But can he be trusted?
Why do we want it? The idea spins from the Torchwood episode “Fragment” which had flashbacks of Jack encountering the newly created Torchwood Institute. Immediately, the potential was obvious. A Victorian sci-fi series is just such a delectable proposition, and the BBC does costume drama so impeccably. Victorian set episodes of Doctor Who nearly always become instant classics, and even Primeval ’s attempt showed promise. The mix of smog, cobbles and deerstalkers with aliens, lasers and steampunk technology is near irresistible. And you can’t beat a fish-headed alien in wing collars. Presumably Madame Vastra and Jenny could show up too.
Spun off from: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Who’s in it? Faith Lehane, a Vampire Slayer who went Dark Side. And then some.
What’s it about? One-time bad girl Faith has had a helluva few years, from discovering her vocation as a Vampire Slayer (explaining her wicked-fast reflexes and exceptional strength) to almost being killed by her best friend to battling to save the world. But now she’s free to explore her own destiny and sets out on a hard-hitting road trip to find peace: killing anything with fangs along the way, of course...
Why do we want it? There’s no doubting that Faith was a dynamite character, surely one of Buffy ’s finest creations. And while Eliza Dushku has starred in other shows since ( Tru Calling , Dollhouse ) she hasn’t managed to successfully show us that spark again, so it would be nice to see her finding Faith once more.
There’s one big problem with this concept, however: Faith was only really lava-hot and super-cool when she was bad . This show might need to have her slipping into her old ways quite a bit to keep our interest up, but hey, it never hurt Angel whenever Angelus came out to play, did it?
5 Caprica Law
Spun off from: Battlestar Galactica
Who’s in it? Romo Lampkin, lawyer extraordinaire. With him on your side you’re in safe hands, even if the charge against you is genocide.
What’s it about? Life on Caprica isn’t exactly a thrill-a-minute for Romo Lampkin. He works hard in a public litigation office while struggling to keep his marriage from disintegrating around his ears. After a while he starts to lose his way, developing kleptomania, obsessing over his cases and hiding himself behind a pair of sunglasses (all the better to sneakily “read” people without being seen). The murder of his parents as a child and his hatred of Joseph Adama have affected him deeply – but his troubles have made him a defence attorney to be reckoned with...
Why do we want it? Anybody remember Century City ? It starred Ioan Gruffudd and was a lawyer show set in 2030, where all the cases focused on cloning, virtual reality and genetics. It was clever, complex and intelligent... and, given a twist, a poke, a touch of film noir and a lead character as eminently watchable as Battlestar ’s Romo Lampkin, it could become compulsive viewing for those among us who find ordinary courtroom dramas a little repetitive.
Of course, there’s always a danger of losing something along the way when you reveal too much about an otherwise enigmatic character, but we have faith that Mark Sheppard could make Lampkin the Dr Gregory House of the courtroom – messed up, brilliant and utterly unmissable.
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6 Smoke Me A Kipper
Spun off from: Red Dwarf
Who’s in it? Ace Rimmer
What’s it about? Ace Rimmer needs no introduction: he’s the intergalactic flyboy with the perfect hair who regularly saves planets before he’s even had his first cup of tea. Leading the way and setting the template for heroes everywhere, he flies across the multiverses accompanied by his personal crew of dedicated followers, including trusty flight engineer Spanners and Admiral “Bongo” Tranter. Brave? He’s so brave he makes Braveheart look all heart!
Why do we want it? Sometimes a sitcom’s best characters are the ones who are so OTT they can only appear fleetingly – think Lord Flashheart in Blackadder , an obvious contemporary of Ace Rimmer. But while there’s a chance that over-familiarity could allow their popularity to wane, we can’t help but feel that in the right hands, an Ace spin-off could crack us up.
After all, just look at him. What a guy!
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7 Terminal City
Spun off from: Dark Angel
Who’s in it? A genetically-enhanced former science-experiment named Alec and his freaky friends, including a friendly half-man, half-dog named Joshua.
What’s it about? Since Max and her army of mutants fought for the rights of all genetic freaks and finally won them, Terminal City has become the new, legal home of all transgenics. And yet while freaks aren’t automatically criminals any more, they still face persecution from the public and people who don’t abide by the law.
After Max moves on, her fellow Manticore escapee Alec picks up where she left off, using his genetically manipulated skills to protect his kind and do the right thing – which usually involves him landing himself in a ton of trouble and having to fight his way out of it. Then again, he’s good at that.
Why do we want it? Jensen Ackles is, of course, one half of the Winchester brothers on Supernatural right now. But in a world without Supernatural we would have loved to see this show, taking one of Dark Angel ’s cheekiest and well-liked characters and using his roguish charms to propel a series about the aftermath of injustice. There would have been plenty of room for other alumni, too – alongside Joshua (Alec’s trusty sidekick) we can imagine Original Cindy and Normal popping up to provide some sass and complain a lot.
The Dark Angel universe deserved a longer run than its two seasons, so this would’ve been the perfect way of honouring all the work that went into it. Plus if James Cameron had stuck around to oversee things, this could have been a truly epic show... We can dream.
8 Justice League
Spun off from: Smallville
Who’s in it? A group of super-powered individuals ranging from a brilliant archer to a man totally at home under the water.
What’s it about? Who’s going to save lives when Superman’s too busy? The Justice League, that’s who! Made up of a team of young, talented heroes who each have special abilities – Bart Allen can run like the wind, for example, and Dinah Lance (aka Black Canary) can create ultrasonic sound waves – these guys are the ultimate back-up for when Supes can’t quite make it!
Why do we want it? Smallville spent several seasons building and adapting its Justice League characters, many of them introduced long before they all teamed up in season six’s “Justice”. Justin Hartley’s charismatic Green Arrow made a natural leader (ironically, Hartley first turned up in a failed Smallville spin-off of his own, Aquaman, before that role eventually fell to Alan Ritchson in Smallville ) and there was a lot of promise in the rest of the likeable gang.
With Clark Kent now flown off to Metropolis to fight crime in a cape, wouldn’t it be nice to see these guys finally get the limelight they deserve? The odd guest appearance from Tom Welling wouldn’t go amiss, either...
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9 Heavenly Bodies
Spun off from: Supernatural
Who’s in it? The archangel Gabriel and the angel Castiel
What’s it about? Think of it as “good cop, bad cop”, except that they’re not cops, they’re angels, and “good” is only a relative term when you’re so powerful you can rewrite history, create alternate realities and travel to parallel worlds. But despite their powers, this is the story of two angels trying to find their place outside of Heaven.
Gabriel is a troublemaker with a soft spot for humanity, but he still loves to torment them. Castiel is his long-suffering brother, nowhere near as powerful but determined to prevent there being too much fallout from Gabriel’s plans and schemes. In amongst all their bickering they also have to deal with the fact that their Dad (aka, God) has run out on them, there are monsters all over the place just begging to be killed (although Gabriel doesn’t always agree) and the rest of their siblings are getting a little antsy up in Heaven...
Why do we want it? Since Gabriel carked it on Supernatural , his fans – and there are many – have been vociferous in their desire to see Richard Speight Jr back on the show... and it’s understandable, given how hilarious Gabriel can be (“hilarious” with a dark undercurrent, too – he’s not just about punking people but making them suffer on the way). Pair him with the undisputed delight that is Misha Collins’s Castiel, an angel with a sense of humour failure, an awkwardness fitting into human society and two demon-hunting pals who disapprove of everything Gabriel does, and this would be a guaranteed hit.
Also, given that Mark Sheppard revealed this week at Comic-Con that he’d like to star in a spin-off named Oh, Crowley , imagine the crossover potential between the two angelic/demonic shows! ’Scuse us a moment, we’re drooling...
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10 My Name Is Early
Spun off from: Firefly
Who’s in it? Jubal Early, a Boba Fett-style mercenary who made each hunt a game... but that’s about to change.
What’s it about? Early lived a life of wickedness, skullduggery and villainy, travelling the ’verse to hunt down targets not only because he was paid to do it, but because he enjoyed it. But after an encounter with the crew of an aptly-named ship named Serenity, Early found serenity of his own.
Left floating in space with no hope of rescue, he had an epiphany: do good unto others, and you will be saved. He resolved to change his ways and, as a karmic reward, he was rescued by a passing ship piloted by a young woman named Saffron. Perhaps she wasn’t the best person to set him on his new path – having a rather troubled past herself, to say the least – but with her occasional support as he makes his way across the ’verse, Early sets out to do some fixin’. One day he might even run across the Serenity again, and he’ll have some grovelling to do...
Why do we want it? He may have been left as an “Object In Space” in the final episode of Firefly , but all is not lost for Early. “Oh, I know he survived,” Joss Whedon told MoviesOnline (opens in new tab) a few years back, and all we can say is: “Yay!” Because Richard Brooks made Early magnetic to watch, philosophising like a crazy priest one minute and ruthlessly violent the next; a true renaissance man.
He couldn’t be a hero unless he had an epiphany, of course (just ask Angel and Spike), and we can’t think of anything better than him reassessing himself while lost in space. Think of him as a reverse Gully Foyle from The Stars My Destination .
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11 In Cold Blood
Spun off from: Doctor Who
Who’s in it? Madame Vastra, Jenny, Sergeant Sceptical Of The Yard, Monitoriarty
What’s it about? A Silurian with a thing for samurai swords and a lesbian lover-cum-valet prowls Victorian London dishing out her own form of cold, hard justice to serial killers, malcontents and undesirables. She’s managing to put aside her natural disgust at humanity, the race that usurped her own as the rulers of Earth, and has trained herself to act like as a Lady Of Means, but if her own hibernating brothers and sisters were to awake again, whose side would she be on?
Why do we want it? It’s not just us – everybody wants it! “A Good Man Goes To War” has barely finished airing before the internet was awash with petitions for Vastra and Jenny to get their own series. And you ever know – it could happen (opens in new tab) .
Interestingly, another potential spin-off from Who (one that actually given serious consideration) was, hey, another Victorian London-based show (watching films and TV you sometimes come away with the idea that the Victorian era was something that only ever affected London, parts of Africa and a couple of ships). A pair of characters from the 1977 Tom Baker story “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang” called Jago and Litefoot – a larger-than-life theatre impresario and a straight-laced pathologist – proved so popular with the production team that there were serious discussions about them being granted their own series. It never happened on screen but years later the actors did reprise their roles in a Big Finish series of audio adventures, kicking off in 2009.
You can't help wondering if Jago, Litefoot, Madame Vastra, Jenny and the Victorian Torchwood team kept bumping into each other?
A non-Victorian spin-off that many Who fans would love to see would be a UNIT series, and Russell T Davies was planning a Rose Tyler: Defender Of The Earth series before realising that he had too much on his plate and that four concurrent Who niverse series was probably a bit too much.
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Spun off from: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Who’s in it? A bookish, mild-mannered librarian by the name of Rupert Giles who has led a secret life as a Watcher for an ancient society dedicated to fighting evil.
What’s it about? Recently returned from helping a former cheerleader save the world in a small town in California, Giles finds himself back home in Blighty, staring out at the countryside and wondering what to do with himself while cleaning his glasses repeatedly. Supernatural forces are at work even in our green and verdant land, however, and soon Giles – nicknamed “Ripper” – finds himself drawn into solving unexplained cases and protecting the innocent. Who knew Somerset could be a hub for such spooky adventures?
Why do we want it? Because Joss Whedon and Anthony Head kept talking about it, cruelly whetting our appetites; there were actual conversations with the BBC about producing it; we love Tony and want to see him as Giles again (his work on Merlin notwithstanding); and because librarians need something to do now that the government’s closed all their workplaces.