Most people would probably call Tinseltown one of the most creative places in the world, however when it comes to ideas for television and movies they may fall pretty far from the in terms of originality. Over the last few years; TV and movie studios have been churning out remakes, sequels and spin-offs. Too many of them if you ask me. TV networks have been in a long struggle to reel in the highest ratings week after week. The competition has never been so fierce; with so many channels and mediums to choose and all of them trying to lure your eyes to their content, its no wonder why networks are resorting to using your loyalty to established franchises to keep you tuned in to their programming.
During the latter half of the 2013-2014 TV season, CBS launched “Intelligence” which starred Josh Holloway and Marg Helgenberger. The series followed agents with the agency responsible for the Unites States’ cyber security who investigated and responded to threats to national security. The series was cancelled and only 13 episodes aired. Fast forward a little more than a year later, CBS is giving the concept a second look. This time, the premise is a grounded more to reality and is able to capitalize on the uptick of real life cyber-crimes. Patricia Arquette will lead a cast in the network’s latest “CSI” spin-off, “CSI: Cyber” schedule to premiere on March 4 at 10 pm.
If you recall the network at one point had a total of three shows from the “CSI” franchise on the air at the same time. In fact, “CSI: Miami” along with the main show received titles of being the World’s Most Watched series. The mothership of the franchise just wrapped up its shortened 15th season. The police procedural that introduced everyday people to the often gruesome yet technologically advancing field of forensic science is the still going even after two of its spin-offs failed. CBS is rolling out a new spin-off even as the fate of the original series is in question. The network has treated the series like the mistreated stepchild. “CSI” was banished to Sunday nights where it was often preempted because of the network’s coverage of the NFL and it seemed to not want to upset affiliates by cutting into their local news slots. The ratings haven’t been as high as they once were especially in key demographics and ZAP2it.com predicts that the series is done.
If “CSI” is indeed over, at least viewers had a chance to say goodbye… well sort of. The finale that aired last week saw the last original main character; Nick Stokes played by George Eads leave the Las Vegas lab for San Diego as that city’s new crime lab director. It was a touching ending to the character’s run and if Zap2it is right, it’ll have to serve as a ending to the series. So the question is; could CBS have launched “CSI: Cyber” as a standalone series and not directly tied to a franchise that is teetering on collapse? The answer is probably yes, but it would have been more difficult. “CSI” has that household name recognition, it’s far easier to sell a spin-off to an established series, especially this particular series. It also allowed the network to test the waters with a backdoor pilot and crossover stories before the launch of “Cyber”.
CBS is not the only network that has been taking advantage of spin-offs lately. NBC’s very successful drama “Chicago Fire” was spun-off to produce the equally successful police drama “Chicago P.D.,” both of which has frequent crossover of characters. The Dick Wolf franchise even did a crossover with another NBC series, “Law & Order: SVU” which was a spin-off of Wolf’s long running series “Law & Order”.
ABC hasn’t done well with them lately, its fantasy drama “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” was canceled after its first season. “Grey’s Anatomy” is still going strong on a night ABC has dedicated to Shonda Rhimes, hashtag T.G.I.T.; the series outlived its spin-off “Private Practice”. The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” gave us “The Originals” and “Arrow” opened the door for “The Flash”. Spin-offs definitely have their place, however we have been bombarded with too many at one time. I’d be willing to watch a well written drama with no ties to another series and see where it goes.