We have arrived at the end of our spin-off sojourn with the final entry: sitcoms. A practice mostly prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s, many popular live-action comedies had animated versions. I will admit that many of these shows were before my time, and I’ve only recently watched many. Having earned my Ph.D. in Saturday Morning Cartoons from the Two-Headed Nerd, I need to keep my qualifications current by branching out of my typical late ’80s and ’90s comfort zone. Doing some research turned up all manner of oddities. I give to you my picks that are totally scientific and not at all random (paper airplanes are scientific: they use gravity).
Let’s work chronologically. The Brady Bunch received the cartoon treatment for 22 episodes in ’72. Here’s a bit of trivia: This show spun out Mission: Magic!, which was about Rick Springfield of all people. Nick-at-Nite staple I Dream of Jeannie begot Jeannie. Mark Hamill voiced the main character Corey, with Bob Hastings (Commissioner Gordon) voicing his friend. Getting into some stranger things, Gilligan’s Island had not one, but two spin-offs. The first added the moniker “The New Adventures of” and featured the fare that you’d typically expect. Here’s where it gets good: The second was called Gilligan’s Planet, with the Professor building a spaceship to get them off the island, only to crash land on a new planet. Everyone minus Tina Louise (Ginger) returned to voice their animated counterparts.
Rounding out the ’70s we have Partridge Family 2200 A.D.: Hanna-Barbera developed an updated version of the Jetsons that was rejected. Instead of wasting the resources they created, they slapped the Partridge Family on it and called it a day. I won’t even begin to list the changes that were made, but I’m sure you could imagine. While Gilligan’s Planet was inspired, creatively extending the license in a wacky way, this is the complete opposite. I would say this soiled the license, but Danny Bonaduce managed that on his own.
Onward to the ’80s! Let’s knock a few birds out with one stone. Mork & Mindy / Laverne & Shirley / Fonz Hour. Yep. Mork and Mindy had their own segment while Fonz palled around with Laverne and Shirley. Moving into more familiar territory for me, ALF was also animated (something I did watch). Detailing his life on Melmac before coming to Earth, the show lasted 26 episodes. How could his species figure out spaceships and t-shirts but not pants? Muppet Babies was an awesome show that I’m sure everyone who watched it loved, and deserves more than a footnote here. What does bear mentioning is Jim Henson’s Little Muppet Monsters. With the success of Babies, a live-action second half hour was created to accompany. The concept was never really fleshed out. Only 3 episodes aired before Henson himself pulled the show.
Finally, the ’90s. Due to the popularity of the movie, The Addams Family received a second animated series in ’91, producing only 21 episodes across 2 seasons. Original (as in from the ’60s show) Gomez, John Astin, reprised his roll. To my young mind it seemed like it was trying too hard to be like Beetlejuice (it was), so I just watched Beetlejuice. And capping off our list is the animated Sabrina the Teenage Witch, directly coming from the live-action Melissa Joan Hart version (I <3 her). Due to its initial popularity, it received the no-longer-typical 65 episode syndication order. I know Sabrina was an Archie comic but this is my list. I do what I want!
With that, our spin-off adventure has come to a close. I hope no one’s too dizzy! … All right, I’m done.
Honorable Mentions: The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Laverne & Shirley in the Army, The Dukes, It’s Punky Brewster, Teen Wolf, Mr. Bean.
What did you think of this article series? Ideas for topics? Want me to stop (I won’t)? Give your comments to me!
Anyone want to watch Gilligan’s Planet with me?
In the month of July, Tony’s Power Ranger article has been read over 500 times. Mostly by people in India. He’s written much more better stuff, all at thecredhulk.com. All those readers and not a single Facebook like or Twitter follower. Hook a brother up.