by Elisa Lichtenbaum, Senior Writer, Communications, WNET
Dallas begat Knots Landing. The Mary Tyler Moore Show gave us Rhoda. With Downton Abbey mania at its peak, the time is ripe for a spin-off – or two – inspired by the popular Masterpiece series. To help inspire the TV gods, I’ve come up with some possible spin-off ideas. I’m sure Series Creator Julian Fellowes would agree they’ll translate into TV ratings gold.
1.) The Real Sister Wives of Downton Abbey
When a gentleman caller from Utah arrives at Downton Abbey, Ladies Mary and Edith fight tooth, nail, and corset for his affection. He proposes, they accept. The result? A little bit of Big Love, a whole lotta sibling rivalry, and girl fights so vicious they make Dynasty’s Krystle and Alexis seem like Care Bears.
2.) Fangton Abbey
A series you can sink your teeth into: Downton Abbey with vampires. Michelle Dockery is Bloody Mary, grieving widow and bloodsucker extraordinaire. She conceals her vampire existence, fearing scandal and persecution. But when a handsome American suitor enters her lair, boasting a wealth of virtues including a rare blood type not found in England, can she use his precious Yankee hemoglobin to revive her dearly departed husband Matthew?
3.) Downton Empire
With control of Downton Abbey slipping from his grasp, Lord Grantham seeks a new life and big bucks in Prohibition-era America. Settling in Atlantic City, he reinvents himself as Lucky G, Yorkshire’s most notorious and beloved bootlegger. Gangsters! Showgirls! Bathtub gin! High tea! You’ll find them all on Downton Empire, where the gin is cold, the jazz is hot, and a pistol-packin’ Lord Grantham looks even hotter in a snazzy pinstriped suit.
4.) Mrs. Patmore’s Kitchen Wars
Mrs. Patmore rules her kitchen with an iron fist and a wooden spoon, and her plus-size personality makes her the perfect reality TV star. In Mrs. Patmore’s Kitchen Wars, Daisy and other downstairs denizens prepare Mrs. P’s trickiest recipes while dealing with vexing modern appliances, love triangles, and other complications. It’s a brutal culinary battleground where only the strong survive. As Mrs. Patmore says, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen – and take your bloody electric mixer with you!”
5.) Downton Maggie
Downton Abbey fans can’t get enough of the Dowager Countess and the actress who plays her – the queen of the zingers, Dame Maggie Smith. So, what could be better than a show where Maggie Smith plays all the characters? As uppity Lady Mary, her scowls will scorch. Villainous footman? Watch out, Thomas; you’ve met your match! The pièce de résistance: Dame Maggie as a slinky jazz chanteuse wooing patrons at a racy London nightclub. Emmy committee, take note.
6.) Downton Abby Cadabby: A Sesame Street Special
When Lady Abby’s magic wand suddenly loses its power, her grandmum – the Dowager Countess Miss Piggy – helps her discover her own inner magic. Highlights include “Magic to Do,” from Pippin, featuring special guest Ben Vereen.
7.) Downton Crabby
Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat is a four-legged mega-marketing machine, peddling t-shirts, mugs, magnets, and even Grumppuccino iced coffee, so naturally the next step in the evolution of the Grumpy Cat brand is a British costume drama. In the season premiere, Grumpy Cat challenges the Dowager Countess to a grump-off, torments Lord Grantham’s dog Isis, and sleeps.
8.) The Fancy Footman
We always knew the ambitious and deliciously villainous Thomas had his sights on things far greater than Downton Abbey. In this series, he’s the proprietor of The Fancy Footman, an upscale shoe boutique catering to high society London – and conveniently located next to O’Brien’s bath shop, The Slippery Soap.
New episodes of Downton Abbey Season 4 air Sundays at 9pm through February 23. For full episodes, episode recaps and more, visit Thirteen.org/DowntonAbbey.