The third season of "Better Call Saul" ended June 19 with a simmering finale that tied up several loose ends for Jimmy McGill and his associates before concluding on a somber note.
The show, which scores a cool 97 percent on the aggregate-rating website Rotten Tomatoes, has been praised by various critics for its taut writing and vivid characterization.
But even though "Saul" stands on its own merits, it probably is best known as a spinoff of the acclaimed "Breaking Bad" in which supporting Saul Goodman (the erstwhile Jimmy McGill) is a lawyer for the unlikely self-made meth kingpin, Walter White.
Still, "Saul" is memorable as more than an origin story for a supporting character, and it got ThisWeek staff members thinking: What are our favorite spinoff TV shows?
Some of our responses are below. Which ones did we miss?
• Abby Armbruster, page designer: My favorite spinoff has to be "Family Matters," since the show creators took a little-known character from "Perfect Strangers" and successfully ran the show for nine seasons. And they have the famous example of writing off a character by having one of the daughters run upstairs to her bedroom — never to be seen on the show again.
• Lee Cochran, managing editor: Several come to mind — "Better Call Saul," "Frasier" and "The Simpsons," to name a few — but I really enjoyed "The Jeffersons." George Jefferson and Archie Bunker basically were the same character from opposite points of view.
• Kevin Corvo, news reporter: "Mork & Mindy" was a spinoff and one I appreciate now more than I did then because it was America's first introduction, in my estimation, to the manic and improvisational genius of Robin Williams.
• Alan Froman, news reporter: (Mine) has to be "The Simpsons," which began as a series of animated shorts on "The Tracey Ullman Show." When it was announced "The Simpsons" would become its own series, I thought it might be pretty good, but I never imagined just how good. Unfortunately, the quality dropped years (and years) ago, so it's gone from a show I never missed to one I rarely watch, except for the classics rerun on FXX.
• Thomas Gallick, news reporter: "Daria" is the rare spinoff that's better than the source material. "Beavis and Butt-Head" is fine, but "Daria" is just about the best thing MTV ever did.
• Scott Hummel, assistant managing editor, digital: Although "Enos" wasn't my favorite spinoff, it was spun off my favorite TV show of all time: "The Dukes of Hazzard." It starred Sonny Shroyer, who, because of his role as Enos, never again could be taken seriously. Poor "dipstick."
• Andrew King, news reporter: I'll stretch the spinoff concept a little bit and say the Colbert Report was my favorite. Stephen Colbert's "The Daily Show" character deserved his own screen time, and "The Colbert Report" was pretty consistently good during its run.
• Marla Kuhlman, news reporter: I loved watching “Happy Days” when I was a kid. Robin Williams appeared on that show as a guest and was so fascinating, he ended up getting his own show — "Mork & Mindy." I was also a big fan of that sitcom. "Nanu Nanu."
• Dennis Laycock, community editor: I'm tempted to say "Better Call Saul," since it's pretty much perfection -— maybe even better than "Breaking Bad" — but my answer is "Frasier." It's so smart, so well-cast and well-acted, there are so many great guest stars (among my favorites, renowned Shakespearean actor Derek Jacobi as a terrible Shakespearean actor). And unlike most 1990s sitcoms that feel dated, it's lost nothing — the jokes are still sharp and the cultural references mostly still ring true. Bonus: It broke ground in portraying nonstereotypical gay people on TV.
• Sarah Sole, news reporter: I can't think of one at the moment, but I'm hoping "Game of Thrones" generates a good spinoff. Too bad "Elmo's World" never broke away from “Sesame Street.” What could've been.
• Neil Thompson, assignment editor: At this point, "Better Call Saul" is at the top of my list because it continues the pattern "Breaking Bad" established with excellent storytelling and vivid characterization of characters, such as everyone's favorite curmudgeonly fixer, Mike Ehrmantraut.
But because I don't want to be boring, I'll bring up one of my all-time favorite childhood TV shows, "Saved by the Bell," which technically was a spinoff of the ill-fated "Good Morning, Miss Bliss."
Who in the early '90s didn't want to be Zack Morris, with his snazzy clothing, cutting-edge brick-shaped cellphone and the ability to call "time out" whenever it suited him?
He even fronted his own rock band and saved his best friend from a caffeine-pill addiction.
"Saved by the Bell" even spawned its own spinoffs, with "Saved by the Bell: The College Years," introducing the world to Patrick Fabian, aka the debonair Howard Hamlin from "Better Call Saul." Yes, these two shows have an obscure Patrick Fabian connection.
In a world where both "The College Years" and "Saved by the Bell: The New Class" existed, I'd like to think Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould might have another golden spinoff idea up their sleeves when Jimmy's transformation into Saul Goodman is complete.
My suggestion would be "Mike: A Philadelphia Story."
They probably should work on the title.
• Sandy Wallace, assistant managing editor, news: I like most of the "CSI" spinoffs (CSI Cyber wasn't a favorite, though), but I think the original was the best. I also enjoy the "NCIS" spinoffs — and I watched "Private Practice," which was a spinoff of "Grey's Anatomy." And yes, I am a Trekkie of sorts — no costumes or conventions, though — so I liked "Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
We're still reeling from the finale of @BetterCallSaul. Which made us think: what's your favorite TV show spinoff? https://t.co/4JueBRzlf5— ThisWeekNEWS (@ThisWeekNews) June 23, 2017