Let's just dub the fall TV season the rise of the spinoff, shall we?
While networks are handing out spinoff orders faster than Oprah during one of her Favorite Things holiday specials (and let's be honest, she just might include them this year!), three series got a headstart in the offshoot game, all of which debuted in October to mixed results.
The CW launched The Originals, centering on three of The Vampire Diaries' beloved characters, ABC Family expanded the Pretty Little Liars family with the creepy drama Ravenswood, which shipped fan favorite Caleb away from Rosewood (and an adored relationship) and ABC attempted to conjure up some more magic in the form of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, an off-shoot of its highly successful family drama Once Upon a Time.
Of course, all these ideas sounded good when they were announced, but now that they've debuted, we've learned lightning doesn't always strike twice.
The Originals (The CW)
Status: Premiered on Oct. 3 to 2.5 million viewers and 1.4 rating in the demo. It has since been picked up for a full season.
Prognosis: Things are looking good for mastermind Julie Plec's new baby—creatively and in the ratings game. The series, starring Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies and Claire Holt, has managed to completely set its self apart tonally from TVD, going for a more adult and gothic feel. (These vampires actually like being vampires, how refreshing!) Plus, it's one of the network's best performers in the all-important adults 18-49 demo.
Crossover Potential: The show will welcome its first TVD star Michael Trevino in tonight's episode. We've got exclusive scoop straight from the stars on Tyler breaking bad to exact revenge on Klaus (Morgan).
Ravenswood (ABC Family)
Status: Premiered Oct. 22 to 2.1 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the demo.
Prognosis: Marlene King is good for business! After launching ABC Family's most-successful show PLL, Ravenswood's debut was the cable's biggest in three years and took the title of the highest-rated series premiere in the network's key demo. Plus, the series has quickly set itself apart from Pretty Little Liars, going for a campier and more gothic tone, adding in supernatural elements (Hello, ghost Miranda!) to the story of a cursed town and five teenagers, including Caleb (Tyler Blackburn), trying to break said curse. Its midseason finale is right around the corner (Nov. 19), but Ravenswood will return Jan. 7 with all-new episodes and scares.
Crossover Potential: ABC Family was smart to launch the series as a two-parter along with Pretty Little Liars' annual (and very popular) Halloween special. And given that Ravenswood and Rosewood are pretty close, we're assuming there will be plenty of crossovers in the future. In fact. Caleb's lady love Hanna (Ashley Benson) will be making her Ravenswood debut in next weel's midseason finale! Long distance is no match for Haleb! (Or it might be as Benson teases some trouble ahead for the couple.)
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)
Status: Premiered on Oct. 10 to 5.7 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the demo.
Prognosis: Wonderland isn't quite creating the same ratings magic as its mothershow Once Upon a Time. Holding down the tough 8 p.m. timeslot on Thursday night, Wonderland is down from Last Resort the previous year, which was eventually canceled. Since its tame debut, dropped to a 0.9 and is averaging around 4 million viewers per ep.
So what went wrong? Well, airing the show on a completely different night than its predecessor probably wasn't a wise choice. And we think ABC wold have been better served slotting Wonderland during OUAT's midseason break, as it originally intended to do. (ABC will probably take the "it was a miniseries all along!" route and run out the 13-episode order.) Plus, the less-than-stellar CGI is harder to swallow on Wonderland than it is on OUAT and the stories just aren't as compelling (though some of the performances have been deliciously campy).
Crossover Potential: While Wonderland kicked things off in Storybrooke, we've yet to see any major OUAT players take a trip down the rabbit hole. (Only minor characters such as Robin Hood and Malificent have made appearances.) But could a crossover cameo from Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin or Colin Donoghue even help at this point? We don't think so.