|Friends and Joey|
Type: Spin Off
Okay. Quick quiz. You have the funniest sitcom ever on your network and it is coming to an end. But you want to find some way to continue the show's success in some way. What do you do?
Well, if you're NBC you take one character from the show and give him his own show in which he moves to the west coast, reunites with his family and hilarity ensues.
Now here's question 2: now that the show Frasier is cancelled what do you do?
Oh come on. Like Friends was the "funniest sitcom ever". Please. Friends is pretty honking funny but it ain't Cheers.
Seriously though, in 2004 NBC found itself in a kinda deja vu times two situation. Almost a decade earlier they had had to deal with losing their hit sitcom Cheers and had made the best of things by spinning off Frasier Crane into the sitcom Frasier. Then in 2004 NBC found itself losing not just Frasier but also its top sitcom of the moment, Friends. For a network known for hit sitcoms that left a big hole to fill.
What to do? Well duh. The same thing they did with Cheers: look over Friends for characters with spin off potential. And given the plot of Friends there were plenty of likely characters to choose from. Friends was about six friends (obviously) living in New York. You had Ross and Monica Geller, brother and sister. Ross was the slightly geeky shy paleontologist (SP?). Monica was a fat kid who had skinnied up as she grew up and had become a chef. She was also a compulsive neat freak. Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani were the guys who lived across the hall in Monica's apartment building. Chandler was Ross's college buddy and the insecure wise cracker. Joey was his slightly dumb but hunky actor roommate. Rachel Green was Monica's former high school friend who showed up in the first episode having run out on her own wedding. At the start Rachel was the naive girl who having never lived on her own now found herself having to figure out how to do just that. Eventually she wised up and became more independent and successful than most of the characters on the show. The final friend was Phoebe Buffay. Phoebe was... uh... well... a little different. She was sort of a hippy dippy chick with something more. Despite being flakey and odd in some ways in other ways she was very sharp. Likewise even though she seemed rather sweet and defenseless, any talk of her past indicated she could clearly take care of herself. And her family... geesh. An evil twin. Then she has a mom who is and then not so dead (long story). And then she gave birth to her younger brother's babies because his wife was too old to conceive... Phoebe was sort of like all of Melrose Place rapped up inside of Lucy Ricardo or something.
There were plenty of spin off options. Hell, if they wanted to go crazy there were even loads of minor characters who could have been used for a spin off (I myself am still appalled they didn't go for "The Gunther Show"). In the end they went with Joey. He was maybe the easiest friend to separate from the rest of the group and from New York. Joey's an actor! Sending him to Hollywood was a no brainer! And Joey and "no brainers"? A match made in heaven.
So just like Frasier headed to Seattle to reconnect with his dad and his brother, Joey headed to La La Land and reconnected with his sister and his nephew. Gina was Joey's sister... well, one of them. She was as popular with the guys as Joey was with the ladies. She was also about as smart as Joey. Gina's son Michael was the oddball in the Tribbiani family. He was unsure of himself with the opposite sex and very very smart. He also strangely seemed to be not that much younger than his mom (He was younger than he looked, she was older than she looked. Ya buying that?). Michael moved in with Joey hoping to learn a thing or two from his uncle. Joey and Michael's relationship was similar to the one Joey had had with Chandler. The difference is that with Chandler Joey was on equal footing. With Michael lacking confidence Joey had a bit more of an advantage over his nephew.
Joey also had a neighbor who lived across the way from him. She was a beautiful married woman named Alex. The hype was that Alex would be Joey's love interest. Since she was married that raised some eyebrows. So far no hot monkey love going on though. And I actually hope it stays that way for awhile. Alex is a nice character. I have a feeling if they were to actually hook her and Joey up, once that plot was played out she might get the boot. I mean the show is called Joey not Joey And His Hot Neighbor. She could easily get ditched. So I'd like to see them not hook up not for any deep moral reason but simply for the sake of not messing up the show.
At the end of its first season, Joey just wasn't the huge hit everyone expected it to be. The press got the knives out. Rough times. The people behind the scenes apparently panicked! For the second season they decided an overhaul was needed. Personally I thought the show just need to left alone to grow and figure itself out. But no, there was big pressure on the show to be a hit instantly and so they overhauled the hell out of the show. Intead of a struggling actor Joey became famous! And answering criticism that Friends had lacked minorities, Joey got a new black friend: an aspiring actor who was always working all the angles to make connections behind the scenes. The character was painfully unfunny. The whole show became painfully unfunny. It smelled of desperation. Worst of all, there was no need for the show to suck. I know a real person very much like Joey's friend only his life actually is interesting and he can actually charm your socks off instead of making you cringe out of them. So that character could work. And the idea of a New York actor trying to make it in Hollywood could be a great premise for a sitcom. Actually it already is. Check out HBO's Entourage. It can be done. The biggest shame is if NBC hadn't fixed Joey to death, it could have become an okay show. Maybe not another Friends but still a solid show.Other Friends Crossover Links
Friends and Caroline In The City
Friends and Hope And Gloria
Friends and Mad About You
Friends and The Single Guy
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