In the beginning, there was a popular series. This popular series brought in the ratings, had an established fan base, and had been a success for several years. Now, the executives and/or creators of the original show believe they can find lightening in the bottle again. However, the success in the one series does not mean success with the other series. There are several factors for the failure of the spinoff, the most important one being the concept just wasn’t as good as the original series. Other factors include a bad timeslot and proliferation of previous spinoffs (too much of a good thing). Here are four One-Season spinoffs.
Cheers was a very successful show centered almost completely around a bar. The bar owner, the employees and the bar patrons make up the central characters of the series. Sam Malone and his volatile relationship with Diane Chambers was the central theme for the first five seasons. One of the most consistent supporting characters was a character named Carla Tortelli. She had a sarcastic sense of humor and was a divorced wife and mother. Her ex-husband, Nick with his new trophy wife, Loretta, made several appearances on Cheers before, in Season Six, the Nick and Loretta were given their own show. In the show, The Tortellis, Loretta leaves Nick to go to Las Vegas with her divorced sister Charlotte. Nick (and his two teenage kids) follows Loretta to get back together with her. Loretta and Nick get back together, and Nick tries his hand at TV repair. The show was roundly criticized by critics for its portrayal of stereotypes of Italian Americans. The show premiered to low ratings in January of 1987 and lasted one season and 13 episodes.
Law and Order was a very successful franchise, having 20 seasons from the original series two spin off series lasting 10 or more seasons (Law and Order: Criminal Intent lasted 10 seasons and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is currently in its 17th season). Law and Order had a unique concept of being both a police procedural and legal drama in one show. The first half the police would investigate the story, and the second half the lawyers would prosecute the story. The show was known for its “ripped from the headlines” storylines, which gave it a very realistic feel. In March 2005, in the original show’s 16th season, another spinoff was announced, called Law and Order: Trial by Jury. The show focused on the preparation for a trail, including the defense and the prosecution, as well as jury selection, and all of the legal dealings outside of trials, and using the same “ripped from the headlines” storylines. The show premiered opposite Numb3rs, which was a huge hit at the time. Due to the fact that, with the exception of a crossover episode, Law and Order: Trial by Jury was regularly beaten in the ratings by Numb3rs, it lasted one season and 12 episodes on NBC, with one more episode airing on Court-TV when the cable network re-aired them.
Once Upon a Time was a show about Fairytale Characters living in a small Maine American town named Storybrooke. The show, while not a powerhouse in ratings, regularly won its timeslot and is a fan favorite. Initially, the characters have their own, separate lives in Storybrook, because of a curse which kept them from remembering their Fairytale lives. The show provides its own view on Fairytale characters, some of which twist the story in new and interesting ways. In the series, the Mad Hatter and Wonderland made a few appearances in the series. In 2013, the third season of Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premiered. Alice falls in love with a genie named Cyrus, and loses him to the Red Queen. Alice, then back at her original home, Victorian England, is put in an insane asylum. But the Knave of Hearts, along with the white rabbit, save her and bring her to Wonderland, and Alice begins her quest to get Cyrus back. Meanwhile the Red Queen and Jafar have an uneasy alliance to get the genie and his lamp and gain power from it. The show premiered on Thursdays to low ratings, suffering from being against established series like The Big Bang Theory. The show lasted 1 season and 13 episodes.
The Tortellis had the unfortunate distinction of being released before DVD or instant steaming, and obviously the show was never popular enough to be brought back to one of those formats (though you can find clips on YouTube). Law and Order: Trial by Jury can be found on DVD, while Once Upon a Time in Wonderland can be bought from steaming services like Amazon Instant or ITunes. Check out these one-season spinoffs, if you so desire.