With August comes the beginning of this year’s TV pilot season. Networks or enterprises that pass for networks open their doors to writers pitching the next big thing. And every year we scratch our heads when we see some of the notions they sparked to. Every year we say “this is the worst year ever.”
But it’s not. No year is. Because you can pretty much take any pilot season and find your share of bizarre notions.
Author Lee Goldberg has written a wonderful book called UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS: 1955-1989. (Yes, you’ll see some of my failures in there too. Thanks for being so damn thorough, Lee.) It’s the perfect bathroom companion.
So for an experiment I decided to just open the book to a random year and see what pilots were commissioned. I chose 1979-1980.
Here are some of the pilots I found. These are actual pilots. I’m not making these up.
GEORGIA PEACHES – A country-western singer, a mechanic, and a stock car racer team up as secret agents.
LONDON, LONDON, AND LONDON – A brother and sister share a detective agency with the ghost of their dead P.I. father.
AMERICA 2100 – Two nightclub comics are accidentally put into suspended animation and wake up in the year 2100. (I wonder if any of the writers ever saw SLEEPER.)
YOUNG GUY CHRISTIAN – A hero who fights evil with the help of a brilliant scientist, his daughter (Shelley Long no less), and the professor’s bionic creation – a person with a radio in his head and a laser in his finger.
THE CIRCUS IS COMING, THE CIRCUS IS COMING – A divorced clown in a rundown traveling circus and his teenage daughter.
THE DOOLEY BROTHERS – Just as Colonel Sanders franchised chicken, an entrepreneur in the old west franchised “the Dooley Brothers” lawmen.
STARSTRUCK – The misadventures (they ALL have misadventures) of a family operating an orbiting space station restaurant that still makes apple pie.
SGT. T.K. Yu – A Korean LAPD detective who works part-time as a stand-up comic.
GETTING THERE – An anthology about the misadventures of people who rent cars from a bickering married couple.
NOSEY AND THE KID – A talking, singing porpoise befriends a young girl and her family.
And those were just the comedies. Suddenly GALAVANT doesn’t seem so far fetched, does it?