Married... With Children (1987-1997)
Top Of The Heap (1991)
Vinnie And Bobby (1992)
Type: Spin Offs
Married... With Children was one of the Fox Network's early big hits. It was the 180 degree opposite of most family shows. The show's family the Bundys didn't love each other other and have minor disagreements that could be resolved in half an hour, they loathed each other and tore into each other at the drop of a hat and by the end of half an hour at least one of them would usually be screwed over.
Al was the long suffering husband who worked as a shoe salesman and dreaded sex with his wife. His wife was Peg and she knew nothing about being a housewife and everything about spending money. Kelly was their daughter and she was a dumb slut. Apologies to the terrific Christina Applegate who played her but that was the character. Bud was their son who started out as the young smart son and became the sexually frustrated girl hound. Buck was their dog. Seven was the child they brought into their home to care for for one season before he just flat out disappeared.
Fox wasn't stupid. If you have a hit show and you need more, you use that hit to try and get another one going. So Fox introduced Top Of The Heap. The show was about Charlie Verducci and his son Vinnie. Charlie was a schemer who was trying to get his handsome idiot son (a male Kelly Bundy) hooked up with a rich wife. Charlie was introduced as Al Bundy's buddy and Kelly Bundy made several appearances on the show. Add in the fact that dumb hunk Vinnie was played by Matt LeBlanc who would go on to super stardom of the sitcom Friends and it seems like the show would be a sure thing. Spin off of a hit, a handsome funny lead... but it just didn't take off but rather just sort of laid there and died.
So Fox administered CPR. They just must have known they had some talent on the show and it should be working. The next season a new version of the show hit the air. Now named Vinnie and Bobby, Vinnie's dad was written out and Vinnie's friend Bobby was written in. Vinnie and Bobby lived in the same apartment Vinnie and his dad had. I guess the idea was two buddies the same age had more appeal than a young dumb guy and his dad. But the bottom line is tinkering with a show to fix it rarely works especially when you rename it. You lose some fans with the name and premise change and usually people who have written a show off aren't going to be drawn back by the changes. Instead they go, "Gee I knew that show sucked. It was so bad they had to patch it up with duct tape and rename it. It can only be worse now."
In addition, the show was also introduced late in the 1991-1992 season, long after Top Of The Heap disappeared. I'm guessing they wanted people to forget it and not associate it with Vinnie And Bobby. Good move! Let it seem like really old reheated leftovers! After a short run, Vinnie And Bobby said bye bye too. Then in 1994 Matt LeBlanc helped make Friends a hit for NBC and I'm sure some program development guy at Fox burst into tears at the unfairness of it all.
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Buy these shows on Amazon.com and support this site at the same time! Check out Married... With Children on DVD! The fifth and sixth seasons feature crossover episodes featuring Matt LeBlanc as Vinnie Verducci!