Some spin-offs would have been best left unspun. Remember Friends off-cut Joey? How could anyone possibly forget the sitcom that packed the most loveable but least developed member of the Central Perk crowd off to LA in search of his breakthrough role and saddled him with a stereotypically mouthy Italian-American sister, a nephew and a horny agent?
Easily, as it turned out, and that’s probably the way Matt LeBlanc prefers it. Still, at least Joey registered something on viewers’ radar, even if it was only the briefest and tiniest of blips, and for all the wrong reasons.
But what about all the others that came and went without anyone except TV critics and the poor unfortunates who worked on the shows even being aware of their existence?
How about Beverly Hills Buntz? The pitch: seedy, sleazy comic relief cop Norman Buntz from Hill Street Blues sets up shop as a smalltime private investigator in La-La Land, where his loud shirts blend in perfectly with the scenery.
How about AfterMASH? The pitch: Colonel Potter, Father Mulcahy and Klinger find themselves working together again in a Missouri hospital — thus completely reversing some poignant moments in the MASH finale (Potter saying he was going home to be a semi-retired country GP, Mulcahy losing his hearing and Klinger, who’d spent the entire Korean war acting crazy so he’d be sent home to America, ironically staying in Korea after he’d married a Korean woman).
If AfterMASH proved one thing, it’s that being one of the stars of the most popular TV series in the world is no guarantee of an afterlife (see also Joey).
I’ll see those two and raise you The Tortellis, AKA “The Cheers spin-off that wasn’t Frasier”. The pitch: Carla’s good-for-nothing ex-husband Nick and his blonde bimbo wife Loretta migrate to Las Vegas, where Nick opens a TV repair shop. Repairing broken TVs is one thing; repairing broken TV sitcom ideas is another. And yet, no matter how misjudged these were, at least they were backed up by some kind of logic, in that they all derived from successful, acclaimed, well-loved originals.
LA’s Finest, on the other hand, is an offshoot of the Bad Boys film franchise. Yup, someone thought what we needed was a television spin-off from Michael Bay’s big, brainless, violent, noisy and exhausting buddy movies starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (the owner of the most richly undeserved movie career in Hollywood) as Miami cops.
LA’s Finest is basically Bad Boys with women. The budget might be considerably smaller, the violence a little less graphic, but the formula is exactly the same.
Gabrielle Union is Sydney Burnett, the sister of Lawrence’s character, and Jessica Alba is her partner Nancy McKenna (Syd and Nancy — see what they did there?).
One of them is wild, free and single (and bi, too, because this is woke 2019), while the other has a stable marriage to a straight-arrow assistant DA and a blabbermouth, know-it-all teenager daughter whose squeaky, fingernails-on-a-blackboard voice begins to grate on the nerves before she’s even said anything.
They’re real badasses, these women: super-cool, super-sexy and super-tough. To prove the point, they frequently walk around in slow motion.
They beat up bad guys three times their size without displacing a hair. They burst through doors, scream around corners in cars and, on average, get caught up in a shootout roughly every 10 minutes.
Their guns never run out of bullets and their fast-talking mouths never run out of smartarse quips to trade. It’s like watching the Gilmore Girls play cops and robbers.
In an attempt at depth, one has a dark secret while the other has, um, a different dark secret.
Given its lineage, it would have made more sense to call the series Bad Girls. But that’s okay; no one will ever mistake it for being anything other than bad.
LA’s Finest continues on Fox at 9pm tonight.
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