Spinoffs can be popular hits on their own ("The Simpsons" spun off from "The Tracy Ullman Show"), or just horrible ("Joanie Loves Chachi," "AfterMASH"). They can seek a completely different tone than the original show ("Melrose Place" was much more nighttime soapy than earnest "Beverly Hills, 90210"), or just reassemble some familiar faces and hope to coast ("Joey" should have stayed in New York with his "Friends"). What will happen with the new, as-yet-unnamed, Kate Walsh-starring "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff, which I'm dubbing "Addison's Anatomy"?
According to Scoop columnist Jeannette Walls, some of Walsh's fellow castmembers aren't too thrilled about the new show. And many "Grey's" fans I've talked to are leery about the spinoff. They generally hate the idea of losing Addison, who's been a rich addition to the show, and they wonder which characters, if any, will go with her. (Most rumors say the rest of the cast is staying put, at least for now.) What will happen to her budding relationship with Alex Karev, or her conflict-filled past with McSteamy, not to mention the new role she's taken in ex-husband Derek's life?
It's unclear, too, if Addison's spinoff will keep her in Seattle -- where Seattle Grace staffers could presumably drop in from time to time -- or if she'll return to New York, where the character comes from. A New York-based show would mean a whole new cast (unless McSteamy also returned home?), but would those characters click with viewers in the same way that George, Bailey, the Chief, and the others have done?
Although I've mentioned before that "Grey's Anatomy" is less about the patients than it is about the doctors' relationships, I wonder, too, if the show will only focus on Addison's medical specialty -- neonatal surgery. Is that varied enough for an entire show? Week after week of sad pregnant women and tiny little rubber babies, some surviving, some not? Yes, pregnancy shows like "A Baby Story" draw in the female viewing audience, but will this work for an hour-long drama?
We do know that the new show will begin with a two-hour "Grey's" in May that will set everything up for the spinoff. And we know that Hunky Taye Diggs (or "Taye Diggs, Show-Killer," as a co-worker calls the actor, who didn't last long with either "Kevin Hill" or "Day Break") and Hector Elizondo are signed for the new show. We know that"Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes will run the show. She's done such an ace job with "Grey's," but I can't help think of an interview I once read with "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" showrunner Joss Whedon. When asked about a scene in which sun-shunning vampire Angel appeared in a top-down convertible, Whedon admitted that moment was when he realized "I can't do two shows." Can Rhimes?