Series, Sequels, & SpinOffs
by Anita Mae Draper
I've always loved reading books that came in series the same way I loved watching TV mini-series or movies with sequels and prequels. It's probably the same reason some people watch daytime soaps or evening drama series - the ones that tell the story and are best watched in sequence.
Remember when Dynasty and Dallas led the evening soaps of the 80's?
We were glued to those shows because we loved and wanted the best for the characters, or we disliked them intensely and wanted them to get their comeuppance. (Yes, I'm a Christian, but I don't waste time praying for fictional characters.)
Sure, I enjoy the stand-alone shows where you can miss a week or month and then watch an episode and you haven't missed anything because every show stands on it's own merit and the show doesn't hinge on the characters' personal lives. But the shows that really draw my attention are the ones like Castle, NCIS, Murdoch Mysteries, etc, where I can't wait for the next episode because I care what happens to the characters and I want to be there through the hills and valleys of their lives.
I was devastated at the end of Murdoch Mysteries Season 4 when Dr. Ogden married someone else because Murdoch was too - I hesitate to use the word wimpy - and didn't chase after her until it was too late. Granted, the appeal of the show is learning about 1890 forensics and turn of the century inventions, but it's the relationship between Det. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden that ensures I don't miss a single episode.
What I didn't realize is that unlike most other weekly tv shows, Murdoch Mysteries is based on the Murdoch Mystery novels by Canadian author Maureen Jennings.
This is a perfect example of how a novel need not end on the last page.
Maureen Jennings first wrote A Murdoch Mystery, then turned it into a 7-book series. In 2008, three Murdoch Mysteries made-for-tv movies aired.
The tv series soon followed on the heels of that success and it's now in its 5th season with production to start on Season 6 soon. This is fantastic news not only because there are so few shows out there in the late Victorian period, but because it shows us that as writers, if we have the courage to write about it, there's no telling how far our work can go.
That's where the spinoffs come in... some successful shows give birth to spinoffs - like NCIS Los Angeles, which I didn't watch for the first year because I felt it was trying to usurp the NCIS characters - people whom I cared about. The funny thing is, the writers of the show are so great, that when I finally watched an episode, I realized I really like the new characters. Each of them had dreams and foibles which make them unique and caught my interest. I now watch every episode because I care about them.
Drama shows aren't the only ones with spinoffs, however, as they are created frequently from situation comedies (sitcoms). For instance, do you recognize this sign...
|Central Perk sign from the set of Friends|
I took the photo from the set of Friends when Inky Susie and I were on the Warner Bros studio tour while in California for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference at the end of July.
|Inkies Anita Mae Draper and Suzie Johnson on the sofa of|
the Friends set at Warner Bros Studios, July 2012
And here's the original cast of the show, Friends, which ran for 10 seasons.
|Friends commemorative wallpaper courtesy of fanpop.com|
After the show ended, the producers created the spinoff, Joey, which ran 2 seasons. Some say it died because the producers panicked when the first season showed good returns, but they wanted great returns. It's also rumoured that a second spinoff called, Gunther, was based on the coffee barista at the Central Perk coffeehouse, but never made it to the air.
What does this prove? I think it proves that the spinoff was created in a rush to satisfy what was perceived as public demand, yet even the adoring public didn't stick around for what has been hailed as a badly crafted character since they took the original Joey and changed him into someone to whom the public couldn't relate.
Which leads me back to series books. There is really no telling how far a well crafted series can spread with all the media we have available today.
What is your favourite spinoff either from a book series or a tv show?
Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books and Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at http://www.anitamaedraper.com/