What is the spin-off?

What is the spin-off?

The production methods of what is the great cinematographic and serial machine, in particular the American one, always seeks ways of entertainment for its spectators, especially by expanding the fictional universes dictated by a film or a TV series. It happens when the executive producers decide to give more space and importance to the events related to a single character of a serial product, for example, usually a supporting actor or in any case someone whose notions on the history of his past have not been deepened in the main product went into. wave or to the cinema (when you could still go there). The easiest way to explore events and characters in a world that becomes more and more complex, or simply variegated, is to give life to one or more spin-offs, one of the methods increasingly used in cinema, and not only. Let's find out the origins of this terminology and some examples to better understand what we are talking about.


A spin-off, a term that in Italian can be translated as "derivative" or " derivazione ", is a project developed starting from a main work, typically an audiovisual product born from a television series, a film, a comic or a video game, which usually maintains the setting of the original work, but tells parallel stories focusing the attention to different characters, often secondary in the reference work. Do you think this is a fairly recent marketing gimmick? You are wrong: One of the first spin-offs of the modern media era, if not the first, happened in 1941 when support character Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve from the radio show Fibber McGee and Molly became the star of his show The Great Gildersleeve ( 1941-1957).

Some spin-offs are "designed" to introduce a new character in the original television series, precisely so that that character can create a bridge between the two titles. For example, the character of Avery Ryan appeared in two episodes of the Las Vegas series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation before his appearance in CSI: Cyber. Through this type of production, it is usually intended to indicate a substantial change in the narrative point of view and in the activity from the previous storyline, based on the activities of the main protagonists of the series or film in question. Thus, it is a shift towards an overall narrative strand of some other protagonist, which now becomes the central or main thread of the new sub-series.

The new protagonist generally appears first as a minor, or supporting, character. in the main narrative line within a given scope, and it is also very common for the protagonist of the original title to have a cameo, at least as a mention, in the new story. Spin-offs sometimes generate additional spin-offs, making the link between these new and original products increasingly looser. The derived series, also called "rib series", may not be exactly in line with events or elements present in the original series and may differ even for small details following their own continuity.

The "false friends "

But pay attention to some terminological and semantic distinctions, as there are subtle distinctions between the spin-off and the sequels, that is the continuation of the main narrative (sequel), the background, the narration of the events preceding the main work (prequel) and the remakes, which are the reissue of the main work (remake). In some cases the "derivatives", the spin-offs, obtain a greater success than the original works from which they are drawn.

A further distinction derives from the use of the term sidequel, a word composed of side and sequel , when its chronological time span is simultaneous with its predecessor. Attention also to revivals, i.e. the subsequent remake of a pre-existing show, which is therefore not a spin-off, and neither is a reboot series, a term recently invented for the world of cinema, which can also occur on television (for example example, the 2003 Battlestar Galactica series is a reboot, not a spin-off of the 1978 version).

The latter type of production differs from a revival in that there is little or no attempt at maintain continuity, or casting, with the original. A recent example is the 1987 series Beauty and the Beast, rebooted with the 2012 CW television series Beauty & the Beast, which retains only a few traits, such as the main premise featuring a female police officer aided by a man-beast, l setting in New York City and the names of the two main characters.

Examples of spin-offs in the world of entertainment

After these first quotes, we now come to some of the most famous examples of spin-off in the world of cinema and entertainment in a more generic sense, starting from TV series like I Jefferson, based on All in the family, Young Sheldon, the spin-off that tells the story of a young Sheldon, protagonist of the award-winning series The Big Bang Theory, or Better Call Saul from Breaking Bad, Cobra Kai, deriving from the film The Karate Kid - To win tomorrow and the case of a double spin-off: Melrose Place from the milestone of seriality, Beverly Hills 90210 , and Models Inc. from Melrose Place itself.

Not only TV series of course, but also cinema, where we find clear examples thanks to titles such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directly from the Star Wars saga and Solo: A Star Wars Story, to embrace the world of superheroes with Elektra, taken from Daredevil, or Supergirl - The girl of steel from Superman, through animation with a roundup of titles such as the successful Minions franchise, from Despicable Me, Finding Dory from Finding Nemo Kronk's follies from The Emperor's New Groove and LEGO Batman - The Movie and LEGO Ninjago - The Movie from The LEGO Movie

Finally, we recall that the spin-off is a purely transversal phenomenon in the world of entertainment, and as we have anticipated it is a format that can be replicated on different sectors of the production of content that can be used in different areas of this increasingly world. broad. This is why we cannot fail to remember that there are formats of this type also in purely television production, with particular attention to reality shows, such as the "Vip" editions with Big Brother VIP, from the program born in 2000, Big Brother, Temptation Island VIP from Temptation Island or even talent shows such as Amici Celebrities, taken from the successful program of Maria de Filippi, Amici, or the different versions of the original Bake Off Italia - Sweets in the oven with Junior Bake Off Italia, Bake Off Italia - All Stars Battle, Bake Off Italy - Sweets under a roof and Celebrity Bake Off.

A final hint to the world of video games comes with the examples provided by World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy Tactics from the ever-expanding saga of Final Fantasy or Fallout: New Vegas from Fallout and Far Cry New Dawn from Far Cry. How important is the creation of these products then? We would dare to say quite a lot, as not only do they allow to expand universes of contents, whatever their type, trying to keep the attention of the public and users high with constant news always arriving, but also because they try to increase more and more the longevity of those franchises considered "chickens that lay the golden eggs", from a purely economic point of view.

A phenomenon to keep an eye on, not so easy to recognize and distinguish perhaps, in the mare magnum of productions of the entertainment world, but able to offer fans of certain worlds always new opportunities to increase the knowledge of series and characters dear to the public.

We also explain other items in our glossary, such as:

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