Let’s face it. Spin-offs are a way of life. A network’s way of extending the life span of popular series. Some make sense, some best be left to never see the light of day. Long time television watchers will remember numerous attempts over the years that did just that. The Jeffersons was born out of All in the Family. Gomer Pyle came out of The Andy Griffith Show. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we can only do our best to forget that Joanie Loves Chachi was a spin-off of Happy Days. More present day television has brought us not only endless spin-offs of the likes of NCIS, Law & Order and CSI but the very welcome Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul.
While much of the Downton Abbey-Nation is still wrestling with the reality that their beloved series is coming to a close after the upcoming 6th series, there have been endless confabs to try and keep the exploits of the Crawley family alive through various spin-offs. The nice thing with Downton Abbey is that those close to the show on both sides of the camera believe its time to end the series. With one last go round to end the series, while leaving some things open, it’s time to tie up loose ends. “We’ve taken it as far as we can take it in this incarnation,” series star, Elizabeth McGovern told the Telegraph, before adding that she’d “…love to see what happens with the grandkids or the descendants, where they go and where they end up today – that would be really interesting for me.”
Since it appears that Downton Abbey creator/writer, Julian Fellowes, will be tied up with his new American version, The Gilded Age, for NBC, it’s good that Radio Times has flushed out the idea and it sounds like a pretty good one.
In the Radio Times series…
- Fast-forward to 1939 to find Britain on the cusp of the Second World War. The three Crawley cousins would be ripe and ready for their own series. George – heir to Robert’s title and the Crawley estate and fortune – would be about to come of age, while Sybbie would be 19 and Marigold 16. Between the Abbey and the Crawleys’ London residence, there could be conscription, rationing, evacuees and the Blitz to contend with, not forgetting flings with handsome American pilots, moral and political turmoil and victory rolls.
We’ve all heard a number of other potential options for spin-offs, some make sense, some not. Of all the spin-off ideas coming from the Radio Times mind palace, personally, I like this concept the best.
The Bates Hotel
- After seasons of upset, distress and time spent behind bars (accused of murders that they definitely didn’t commit) Anna and Bates deserve some true happiness. They need to get away from Downton, find a place of their own and start a business, a modest hotel, for instance. Should the occasional guest disappear, well that’s just bad luck. And if Bates decides to turn over the earth in his vegetable plot during a full moon, that’s his own affair and really just a sensible way to make the most of the light. Anna and Bates would finally have the idyllic life they’ve always craved, with no police snooping around making trouble – well, not for long anyway.
Whatever comes next for those above and below the stairs at Downton Abbey, one can only hope the spin-off leans more towards Better Call Saul than Joanie Loves Chachi.