11 Unsuccessful Animated Versions of Hit TV Shows

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There was a time when it seemed like a good idea to create animated spin-offs for hit live-action TV shows. That time has passed. Here are 11 reasons why.

1. Gilligan's Planet

Following the moderate success of the animated New Adventures of Gilligan in 1974, Filmation and MGM decided to give the castaways a radical new makeover in 1982. In Gilligan's Planet, the Professor somehow manages to rig up a functioning spaceship before he can build a radio, fashion a boat, or successfully rattle off an SOS. Gilligan and gang are rocketed into space, where they crash land on an unknown planet inhabited by humans. The series lasted 13 episodes.

2. The Brady Kids

Filmation teamed up with Paramount in 1972 to ride the wave of The Brady Bunch's popularity with an animated series featuring only the six Brady children, their new friends, a magical mynah bird, and a dog named Mop Top. (Sorry, Tiger.) Most of the animation was recycled from The Archies and Fat Albert, but the TV show's cast did voice their own characters in the first 17-episode season. However, five more episodes were needed to put the show in syndication, but the kids (and their agent) were reluctant. The last five were cobbled together using old animation and new voice actors, and everyone promptly pretended none of this ever happened.

3. Lassie's Rescue Rangers

What's better than a dog who saves the day? A dog and eight furry woodland friends who save the day, obviously. Through 15 episodes, Lassie and her Rescue Rangers help the Forest Force protect Thunder Mountain National Park. The series ended after one season in 1973.

4. Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley with the Fonz

Why make one live-action show into a cartoon when you can combine three seemingly disparate programs into one weird hour of animation? Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears and Paramount put this together for one season in 1982, thanks largely to semi-successful Laverne & Shirley in the Army from the year before.

5. The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley

Martin Short's character Ed Grimley was originally featured in 1982 on Second City TV and later on Saturday Night Live. In 1988, Grimley got his own animated half-hour show produced by Hanna-Barbera, a first (and so far, only) for an SNL or SCTV character. The series ran for 13 very weird episodes, which were later rerun on Cartoon Network.

6. Partridge Family 2200 A.D.

Imagine the Partridges are neighbors to the Jetsons. Remove the Jetsons. Now do that for 30 minutes ... and repeat 16 times. You now have the entire half-season of what would later be retitled The Partridge Family in Outer Space, a show so excellent that Shirley Jones didn't even remember it existed when asked about it in 2008. (Her character was renamed "Connie" for the cartoon, and voiced by Joan Gerber.) There is no explanation in the intro or any episode about why the family now lives in the future and/or space.

7. Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series

In most ways, Fraggle Rock and its spin-off animated series were very similar, with only minor changes in format made for the cartoon (including a Muppet Babies-like treatment of Doc, who is only shown from the waist down, just like Nanny). But even retaining most of the things that made Jim Henson's original puppet-filled vision great failed to make this version a success. It ran for one season, but was canceled after those 13 episodes.

8. The Addams Family

Inspired by a 1972 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, wherein Scooby and gang meet the Addamses, Hanna-Barbera gave Morticia, Gomez, Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, and Lurch an RV and 30 minutes on Saturday mornings in 1973. (For fun, they threw in a pair of talking animals, too.) The experiment lasted 16 episodes. A more successful effort ran for two seasons in 1992.

9. The Dukes

The Dukes premiered in February 1983, when Bo and Luke were temporarily replaced by Coy and Vance in the live-action original. Thus, season one of The Dukes features Coy and Vance, who are on a race around the world (in no particular geographical order, if the episode chronology is to be trusted) with Boss Hogg, who wants to keep the Dukes from winning because then they could afford to keep their land, which he wants to buy. (How they afford gas for this race is not addressed.) By season two, Bo and Luke had returned to the original series, so the intro was revamped and the show never mentions Coy and Vance again. The race continues, of course, but the show did not. The final episode aired in October 1983.

10. My Favorite Martians

The ever-resourceful folks at Filmation adapted the 1960s hit My Favorite Martian in the only way they knew how: the animated series featured a new Martian nephew named Andy (short for Andromeda), a faithful pet (Okey, a giant furry dog-alien), and Katy, the token human girl. All 16 episodes aired in 1973.

11. Jeannie

In an effort to appeal to a younger audience, the animated spin-off of I Dream of Jeannie places a younger Jeannie under the command of a high school student named Corey Anders, presumably before she went blonde and met and married Tony Nelson. The show had a couple things going for it: the voice actors for Corey and his pal Henry were none other than Mark Hamill and Bob Hastings, who would both later voice characters for various Batman series/games, as well. But that's where the magic ended, which is unfortunate for a show about magic. The full 16-episode season ran in 1973.

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September 11, 2013 - 12:11am
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