AMC’s Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul debuts Sunday night. I’ve seen the first three episodes and my review is as follows: it’s really good and you should watch it. We’ll obviously have more to say about it next week, but until then, the whole thing got us thinking about spin-offs in general, and it led to this week’s discussion topic: Which television character would you like to see get a spin-off?
Don’t feel constrained by time or plausibility either. Want a spin-off about a character played by a long-dead actor or actress? Fine. Your world. We’re making dreams come true today.
As for me, I’m going with a Roger Sterling Mad Men prequel, about him running amok in Manhattan after returning from war. It won’t work at all because you’d either have to age John Slattery down like 20 years or replace him with another actor and neither of those options are particularly feasible, but still! It’d be fun in our dream world! We can call it Rog on the Town! Or something!
Here are a few from the staff. Feel free to add yours below.
Dr. Leo Spaceman. Chris Parnell should be a star. That dude was like the Scottie Pippen of Will Ferrell’s SNL era, and there were times that he was the funniest guy on that show. The same goes for Nazi “Doctor” Leo Spaceman on 30 Rock, which is an incredible statement considering that was a series packed with awesome characters. But let’s focus on the final season of 30 Rock and Dr. Spaceman’s “series wrap” as he was led away by police to be taken to Washington DC, as the president had named him the new Surgeon General. Give me a new series based on Leo Spaceman solving all of America’s and ultimately the world’s health problems. It would be the greatest show of all-time.
My gut reaction would be to say Phoebe Buffay from Friends or Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous or Jean-Ralphio from Parks And Recreation, but I finally had to settle on Detective Ice-T as depicted by actual Ice-T in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. And I want it to be a crossover with Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where Fieri is eating food off screen and Ice-T has to explain what Guy Fieri is doing now. Just a show of Ice-T giving examples…
My gut response is Lionel Hutz, but a) his spinoff would basically be Better Call Saul, only with more references to smoking monkeys, and b) now I’m sad about Phil Hartman all over again. So let’s go with the Monarch and Dr. Mrs. the Monarch — maybe if there’s another Venture Bros. show we won’t have to wait nine years between seasons — or a version of pre-time jump Boardwalk Empire that focuses on the 1929 Atlantic City conference and Arnold Rothstein’s death.
Dan Fielding from Night Court, only in a Lou Grant-style “drama spun off from a comedy” type situation.
I want to say Fun Bobby from Friends, but I worry that would just be Entourage.
Lincoln from Broad City. I’d like to see what our favorite dentist jokester is up to the rest of the time when he’s not hanging out with Ilana. Just like, chillin’ at Whole Foods or whatever, you know?
Lorne Malvo from Fargo. I want more of that murderous, cold-blooded chameleon. Give me a prequel, FX!
The Many Loves of Probie: I think the original Probie on Rescue Me, Mike Silletti was probably one of the most sexually liberated characters on television. He had relationships with older women, plus-size women, at least one man (Wikipedia says he came out as bisexual on the show, so that must have happened — I missed that, but, hey, cool!), and there is no telling what happened off-screen. That’s what I’d like to see. He was probably one of the most sweetly dumb character ever, but he was such a successful lover of so many kinds of people. So much material for a Louis-like show for that guy. But I’m biased because I’ve met Mike Lombardi before and he gives the best hugs. If they could bottle the essence of that guy’s hugs, he’d be a millionaire.
Phil Hartman was the absolute soul of Newsradio and a God to me, but I also love Dave Foley‘s constantly abused and barely-holding -back-a-scream-beneath-his-Midwestern-politeness station manager. And I would have been ecstatic to see Paul Simms pursue a spin-off after the show got cancelled. Perhaps one that sort of echoed Frasier and saw Dave leave New York and return home to Milwaukee and a new station, with a fresh batch of characters and also Jimmy James. Because Stephen Root makes everything better.
During the first season of The X-Files, Mulder often calls a Bureau friend named “Danny” for favors — tracing phone numbers, identifying partial plates in blurry photographs, and so on. As the show progressed, Danny’s phone calls occurred with less frequency. In the spirit of the probable X-Files event series, why not do a spin-off about Danny? Who is he, what precisely does he do for the FBI, and how well does he actually know “Spooky” Mulder? What’s it like for him on the other end of the phone while everyone’s favorite sexually-charged detectives fight aliens and men in black?