THURSDAYS; ABC, CTV
WILL LIGHTNING STRIKE AGAIN?
ABC needs a cure for its programming woes.
A Grey's Anatomy spinoff might be
just the right medicine.
By Eric Kohanik
When TV networks have a big hit series on their hands, they often try to see if they can get lightning to strike twice.
And, often, that means spinning that hit off into a new series.
Sometimes, networks get the idea as the original show comes to an end. That’s how Cheers was spun off into Frasier.
Unfortunately, that’s also how Friends gave birth to Joey.
More and more, however, networks are taking existing TV hits that still have lots of mileage left in them and turning them into “franchises” that lead to new shows. That’s how NBC took Law & Order and came up with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. It’s also how CBS took CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and spun it off into CSI: Miami, which then spawned CSI: NY.
ABC is desperate to find that sort of franchise, too. The network toyed with one idea last season, in an episode of Boston Legal, a show that is itself a spinoff from a previous ABC legal drama called The Practice. The episode, which featured guest star Robert Wagner, was set in the Los Angeles offices of the fictional law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt. But it didn’t really go anywhere.
The need seems even more pressing for ABC this season. Such established shows as Desperate Housewives and Lost have clearly lost much of their heat this season. And many of the network’s new series – Help Me Help You, Big Day, Day Break, The Knights of Prosperity, In Case of Emergency, Justice, The Nine, Six Degrees and October Road – have more or less fizzled. So, ABC really needs something big.
Enter Grey’s Anatomy.
Clearly one of the most compelling ensemble dramas on TV today, Grey’s Anatomy gets better with each passing week. ABC is even rerunning episodes of the Thursday drama on Friday nights, with moderate success. It seems to be a natural breeding ground for a credible spinoff.
So, pay attention to this week’s episode of the show. It is meant to set the stage for exactly that to happen.
The star-studded two-hour instalment weaves much of its storyline around Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), the dishy ex-wife of the show’s resident “Dr. McDreamy,” Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). A relative latecomer to the medical team that populates Seattle Grace Hospital, Montgomery is now facing a decision about leaving their ranks, thanks to a tempting job offer that comes her way in Los Angeles.
Of course, whether or not she accepts the offer and moves away will depend on whether or not network executives will want to go for a Grey’s Anatomy spinoff.
Given ABC’s lousy track record this season, it’s a pretty safe bet they will.