Better Call Saul, a prequel to AMC’s Breaking Bad, debuted this week. And while it’s rare that a spinoff switches genre—from dark drama to comedy in this instance—the idea of a prequel series is nothing new.
Have you ever wondered exactly how Norman Bates became the titular psycho of Psycho? This A&E series depicts Norman’s teen years…including those spent with the still living mother he’d become much more obsessed with in death. (Vera Farmiga, as Mrs. Bates, was Emmy nominated for her role.)
Bonanza ran for 14 seasons and 430 episodes, so one would think there wouldn’t be too many more stories to tell about the Cartwrights’ Nevada ranch. But in 2001, the Pax Network commissioned this show about when the Cartwrights first moved to the ranch—Adam was a teenager and Little Joe was even littler. 9It ran for just 20 episodes.)
The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising are a dark trilogy of movies, based on Thomas Harris’s books and focused on cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter. NBC’s critically-acclaimed TV series, about to enter its third season, is even darker, but a cinematic, pensive take on Hannibal when he was a psychiatrist, but before he was in prison (but still killing and eating lots of people.
The Carrie Diaries
The idea of a prequel to Sex and the City, aimed at teens, focused on teens, seems like a hard sell. But this ran on The CW for two seasons, focusing on the pre-sex crazed world of Carrie Bradshaw of the iconic HBO series.
Fox’s Gotham offers all the excitement, fun, and atmosphere of a Batman movie…without Batman. Instead, it’s about the early police detective career of the man who will eventually be Commissioner Gordon fighting criminals who will eventually be come the Penguin, the Joker, etc. Despite the lack of Batman, the show is one of the biggest new hits of the TV season.