While watching Starsky and Hutch with the sound off on a gym treadmill this week, I saw the following promo for the next episode of one of my current favorite shows, Breaking Bad:
This clip gives next to nothing away about this Sunday’s episode, but it does do an excellent job of capturing the close-up angsty expressions of every single major character on the show. Everyone in the clip looks like they just finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows while sitting in the lobby of an animal shelter for adorable kittens with chronic illnesses. And I guess that makes sense, considering what a dark show we’re talking about.
Anyway, thinking about the darkness of Breaking Bad reminded me of an article I read about a month ago talking about how series creator Vince Gilligan wants to make a prequel spin-off for Saul Goodman, the sketchy lawyer who is the main source of comic relief in the show. To that idea I say: Good work, Mr. Gilligan. In my opinion, there aren’t enough gritty cable dramas with light-hearted spin-offs. With that in mind, I’ve come up with several of my own proposals for spin-offs of some of my favorite shows.
Mad Men: The Sally Diaries
Sally, the often sullen and rebellious daughter of Don Draper, became a pretty prominent character in the last season of Mad Men and had her fair share of heavy drama. And you know what she didn’t have enough of? Relatable yet wacky teenage girl hijinks. In The Sally Diaries, Sally Draper is the new girl Miss Porter’s school, just trying to fit in and make a go of it in a mixed-up world of tumultuous hormones and late ’60s plaid. In the pilot episode, Sally gets glasses and worries that the other girls will laugh her out of the school. In a stand-out episode later in the season, Sally considers leaving school to become the newest member of the Shangri-Las. Can she have the best of both worlds: being a normal girl and a pop sensation? (Trust me, the Disney Channel would eat this up.)
Game of Thrones: The Adventures of Young Tyrion
Before all that fighting-over-the-Iron-Throne nonsense began, Tyrion Lannister was just a young noble scamp, gallivanting around King’s Landing and cracking wise. In one episode, Tyrion and the Hound cruise the countryside for babes and get into hot water when Tyrion schedules two dates…in the same night! Hilarity and a disguise based on Groucho glasses ensue. Nothing depressing ever happens in the show. Repeat: there are no episodes that will brutally yank out the hearts of viewers and inspire reaction compilations on Youtube.
Boardwalk Empire: Atlantic City’s Best Dance Crew
There may be beef between the 1920s gangsters of New York, Atlantic City, and Chicago, but all these issues can be resolved through the universal language of dance. Tune in every week as each city’s best dance crew battles it out by doing the Lindy Hop and Charleston to the sweet tunes of Al Jolson and Louis Armstrong. Steve Buscemi presides as the dry and hypercritical contest judge.
This is an animated spin-off following the adventures of beloved prison dog Little Boo as he helps the inmates of Litchfield solve inoffensive mysteries, like who stole the cafeteria meat loaf and what’s the weird green light coming from the guard tower. All mysteries are inevitably resolved when Little Boo catches one of the inmates dressed up in a monster costume that they’ve fashioned from prison laundry and easily accessible toiletries. For the sake of making this a family-friendly show, Paws Are the New Feet will completely steer away from the violence, language, emotional back stories, and lesbian sex that have all been trademarks of Orange is the New Black. The emphasis is much more on chase scenes, Little Boo eating giant sandwiches, and weekly lessons about being true to yourself.