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Unsold TV Pilots: The Greatest Shows You Never Saw

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Initial post: Aug 4, 2009 12:46:42 AM PDT
Lee Goldberg says:
The best-selling 1991 paperback "Unsold TV Pilots: The Greatest Shows You Never Saw, the basis for the hour-long ABC special "The Best TV Shows That Never Were" and the hour-long CBS special "The Greatest Shows You Never Saw," is now available in a special $2.49 Kindle edition.

"The Best Bathroom Reading EVER," - San Francisco Chronicle

"A must-browse for media freaks." -USA Today

"Irresistible and enthralling." -Hartford Courant

"Full of fool's gold and genuine TV treasures." -The New York Post

This lively and entertaining book looks at the three hundred best and worst TV series ideas-known in the industry as "pilots"-that never made it to primetime. From the adventures of a Samurai D.A. to the antics of an invisible alien baby, Lee Goldberg details the greatest shows you never saw.

Here's an excerpt from the People Magazine review of the TV special that was based on this book:

"''The Best TV Shows That Never Were,' based on the book 'Unsold TV Pilots' by co-executive producer Lee Goldberg, is a breezy hour of clips from sample episodes of series that the networks decided against ordering. Not surprisingly, most of them stink-which is why the special is such a good time. You'll slap your head in disbelief-try not to hurt yourself-at the idea of John Denver as a singing FBI agent. You'll wonder whether Joe Penny as a samurai district attorney would have been funnier-unintentionally-that John Belushi's 'Saturday Night Live.' And you'll think Scott Bakula is pretty down to earth in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' after you see him in a busted pilot as a wacky scientist who accidentally merges with a satellite. For tube-historians, this is a must see." -People

(This book is an abridgment of "Unsold Television Pilots, Volume 1: 1955-1976" and Unsold Television Pilots, Volume 2: 1977-1989by Lee Goldberg)

Posted on Aug 4, 2009 4:07:35 AM PDT
Grandma Bev says:
I enjoyed Andy Griffith's pilots where he played a sheriff with a likable staff that combined humor and drama. But can't find where the shows are available on DVD. I think the titles are: "The Girl in the Empty Grave" -- "Winterkill" -- and "Deadly Game." Does anyone know if these are available on DVD?

Posted on Aug 4, 2009 9:47:19 AM PDT
Lee Goldberg says:
Grandma Bev,

Wow, what a memory you have. I know those pilots well...they are also known as "McNeil - The Winter Kill," "Adams of Eagle Lake," and "Abel Marsh."

There were two, 60 minute pilots for "Adams of Eagle Lake," aired in August 1975, and were loosely based on the movie "They Only Kill Their Masters." Andy Griffith starred as Sam Adams, the Sheriff of a ski resort community. As far as I know, these never aired again and were never cobbled together into a TV movie.

"Abel Marsh," aka "The Girl in the Empty Grave," was a two-hour pilot that aired in 1977 and, once again, was based on the movie "They Only Kill Their Masters." Griffith this time was Abel Marsh, the sheriff of a ski resort community.

"Abel Marsh: The Deadly Game" also aired in 1977 and was also two hours. Both movies are show up now and then in syndication but, as far as I know, they are not on DVD.

They tried yet again to launch the concept, this time without Griffith, in two 1978 pilots starring Dale Robinette as the sheriff, renamed Stedman. The two, one-hour pilots ("outward bound" and "Vanishing Kind") were combined into the TV movie "Stedman: The Deadly Triangle."


In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2009 11:03:08 AM PDT
Grandma Bev says:
Thanks for responding, Lee -
I thought they pretty good episodes. Don't know why they were not picked up for a series. But I only know what I like - not some big executive pushing the buttons on yes or no.
Gran Bev

Posted on Aug 22, 2009 8:43:19 AM PDT
Lee Goldberg says:
I just discovered that the manuscript I posted was riddled with errors... I accidentally posted the *uncorrected* scan of the book, not the corrected, final one. I was mortified. I have since repaired that error...but I want to apologize to anyone who endured the error-laded book.


Posted on Jan 9, 2012 6:54:33 PM PST
I borrowed your book from the library some time ago, Lee...I enjoyed it a lot, just like I enjoyed many of the TV scripts you and your partner worked on.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2012 7:24:16 PM PST
Lee Goldberg says:
Thank you so much, Richard. I am glad you enjoyed it. Good luck finding the one-armed man!


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2012 7:47:36 PM PST
Warner Archive offers both Winterkill and Deadly Game on DVD.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2012 8:38:03 PM PST
Lee Goldberg says:
I know -- I have'em both. I also bought KONA COAST and GENESIS II, two other busted pilots, as well as the pilots for HARRY O, MEDICAL CENTER and SEARCH.


Posted on Jan 10, 2012 8:00:07 PM PST
A series did arise from those Griffith movies, Adams of Eagle Lake, but it only lasted two episodes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2012 9:01:04 PM PST
Lee Goldberg says:
It wasn't considered a series...they were two, one-hour pilots (as I mentioned in my Aug 2009 post above). No additional episodes were shot or ordered.


Posted on Jan 12, 2012 11:41:25 PM PST
I was at one of those TV preview surveys where they show a pilot episode from a prospective new TV show. This was about 12 years ago.

The sitcom, named Blind Men, starred Patrick Warburton, and was a comedy about competing window blind salesmen. It was pretty funny, along the lines of King Of Queens. Too bad no one picked it up. It was promising.

Posted on Jan 13, 2012 7:43:42 PM PST
No one picked it up, but Warburton survived pretty nicely, I would say...

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 8:23:09 PM PST
I actually saw that Scott Bakula pilots. I think during the 80's writer's strike they aired it and some other similar unsold stuff to fill time. If I remember right CBS had some show where they showed a diffrent one every week (including one called "Sporting Chance", don't remember the star but he was a washed up or discredited ex-jock who solved sports related crimes or something). I think the showcase show was hosted by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2012 11:44:39 PM PST
Lee Goldberg says:
Bruce Boxleitner starred in SPORTING CHANCE, with a script by Remington Steele creator Michael Gleason.

Posted on Feb 2, 2012 7:05:05 AM PST
J. Dean says:
I remember a scifi one called "Steel Collar Man." If I recall correctly, the character was supposed to be a robot.

Another one was a double feature from ABC: "Northstar" with Greg "BJ and the Bear" Evigan, and "Condor" which was about a cop with a female android partner.

But the one I saw once that seems to be impossible to find was a scifi half hour comedy called "Earthlings" (At least, that's what I THINK the title was). In the show, they had a transporter a la Star Trek, but they kept complaining about aching elbows every time they used it.

Yes, I watched too much TV as a kid.

Posted on Feb 3, 2012 1:03:58 AM PST
I remember Northstar...Mason Adams from Lou Grant played the villain.

Posted on Feb 3, 2012 1:21:10 PM PST
I bought a collection of over 300 Pilots that never made it to a full-fledged series from ioffer a few years ago. Mostly from the 1950s to 1970s. Fun to watch, and I can't help but wonder what would TV be like today IF these had became Series? I guess we'll never know.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2012 1:48:48 PM PST
Lee Goldberg says:
I know those pilots well! In fact, I used clips from them in my CBS special "Greatest Shows You Never Saw" and my ABC special "Best TV Shows That Never Were" (you can see clips from those specials on YouTube). Charlie Rocket starred in D5B-Steel Collar Man. It was awful.

Posted on Feb 3, 2012 4:09:23 PM PST
William, have you watched any of those?

Posted on Feb 4, 2012 3:48:26 AM PST
I've watched a number of them. Among my favorates were two Science-Fiction Pilots based on the George Pal Movies Conquest of Space and War of the Worlds (The latted did become a series 30 years later) along with an Aviation-Oriented Pilot called Test Pilot. Too bad they didn't become series, they had Potential.

Posted on Feb 9, 2012 7:21:41 AM PST
This book sounds right up my alley - does it mention one "Alfred of the Amazon"? I remember seeing this around 1967 as a summer anthology of (I assume) failed pilots. A parody of 'Jungle Jim' adventure shows starring, if I recall correctly, Wally Cox? No mention at all on a Google search...

Posted on Mar 22, 2012 5:19:27 AM PDT
Pulpman says:
Ron Ely did a pilot many years ago. I believe it was called The Seal. I liked the show but nothing ever came of it. I always felt that Ely was an under rated actor who should have done better.

Posted on Mar 22, 2012 6:47:00 PM PDT
Just going a little off-topic here...Lee, I see via the back cover of the latest Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine that you're receiving the Poirot Award at Malice Domestic 24 during the last weekend of April...Congratulations!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2012 12:03:29 AM PDT
Lee Goldberg says:

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Discussion in:  Classic TV forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  28
Initial post:  Aug 4, 2009
Latest post:  Mar 28, 2012

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