Nine shows that dramatically changed from the first to second seasons
In the life of a television show there are always changes. It could be the departure or addition of a cast member, a new set or shooting location, or just the aging of characters. But, those are subtle changes that many viewers just shrug off as the natural progression of a program.
Then there are those changes that are so drastic that they take viewers by surprise, making them wonder if this is the same show they watched the previous season. When these changes take place between the freshman and sophomore seasons of a show this really takes a toll on the fan base. Throughout the history of television there have been a number of shows that have seen such changes between the end of season one and the beginning of season two. After the jump you'll read about nine such examples.
The Odd Couple -- The first season of this comedy was a one-camera deal with a laugh track. The apartment was similar in setup to the one seen in the 1968 film of the same name. When the second season premiered viewers were met with a live studio audience sitcom. In addition, the apartment configuration was changed to be more open and suitable for a three-camera environment.
Facts of Life -- In the first season of this Diff'rent Strokes spin-off, Mrs. Garrett was housemother to seven girls at Eastland Academy, and most of the action took place in the common room of their dormitory. By the second season only Blair, Natalie and Tootie remained out of the seven and were joined by juvenile delinquent Jo. Because of Jo the girls were removed from their cushy dormitory digs and placed as permanent staff for the school's cafeteria and lounge, which was now under leadership of Mrs. Garrett.
A Different World -- The freshman season of this Cosby Show spin-off focused on Denise Huxtable's (Lisa Bonet) time at Hillman College. Bonet dropped out of the show after the first season due to a pregnancy, and so the second season saw Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert promoted to central players. Other changes were the addition of Cree Summer and Charnele Brown to the cast and the promotion of Sinbad and Darryl M. Bell to the primary cast.
Star Trek: The Next Generation -- Wesley Crusher got a new "Ensign" uniform; Geordi became head of Engineering; Troi let her hair down; Dr. Pulaski replaced Beverly Crusher as Chief Medical Officer; Worf became head of Security; Ten-Forward and Guinan were introduced, and they got rid of those damn reclining chairs on the bridge. Oh, and Riker grew a beard. That, of course, was the most important change between seasons one and two.
Lost -- During the first season of this always-frustrating drama, the focus was on the survival of the remaining passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 and what the mysteries of their "deserted" tropical island held. By the second season people were opening hatch doors to find an underground bunker-like setup and discovering the existence of the DHARMA Initiative, which was funded by the Hanso Foundation. What was a personal drama in the first season became some type of weird espionage drama in the second.
Saved by the Bell -- Yes, yes, I can't really call this a drastic change from one season to another because the first season of Saved by the Bell was, in reality, another show named Good Morning, Miss Bliss. However, the series eventually was retconned into the Bell universe, so it's here now. Anyhoo, the first season of the show focused on the life of Miss Bliss (Hayley Mills) and her interactions with students like Zach, Screech and Lisa, as well as Principal Belding. By the "second" season Miss Bliss was gone and three new students (Slater, Kelly and Jessie) joined Zach, Screech and Lisa.
Charles in Charge -- Again, there is a bit of a technicality with this show, as the first season was network-based (CBS) while the second was in syndication. However, there was a dramatic change since the entire Pembroke family Charles was taking care of in the first season up and left the house to be replaced by the brand-new Powell family in the second season.
SeaQuest -- When all else fails, get young, sexy, and totally unrealistic. While the first season of SeaQuest featured shows with fairly scientific realism, the second season moved into Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea territory with episodes about aliens and other science fiction subjects. The second season also features a much younger cast than the first as well as a smaller version of the SeaQuest.
Valerie -- I'm guessing that the off-screen death of a show's namesake is a pretty dramatic change from one season to another. Such is the case with Valerie, which starred Valerie Harper as the matriarch of the Hogan Family. Between season one and season two Harper had a falling out with the show's producers and left. In came Sandy Duncan as Aunt Sandy and the show was renamed Valerie's Family. Eventually, Harper's name was taken out of the title all together and the show was renamed The Hogan Family.