I decided to split this into two articles because there was just too much to cover in a single article. It would have been far too long and nobody would want to read it. So, in Unsold Pilots on Television, 1956-1966 I’ve only discussed unsold pilots on television between 1956 and 1966, as the title suggests. A later article will cover 1968 to 1989 (tentatively). I wish I had some videos to include in this article but I only have access to a handful of unsold pilots and none of them were ever broadcast.
Television pilots are produced by the dozens every year. These test episodes are used to sell potential programs to advertisers and networks but a large percentage of them aren’t picked up and never become an actual television series. What happens to an unsold pilot? Most are never heard of again. But the costs of making a pilot are high and starting in the mid-1950s it was commonplace for the networks to run summer replacement series made up entirely of unsold pilots. Read about eleven such programs, including Sneak Preview, Vacation Playhouse, Summer Fun, Westinghouse Preview Theatre and new Comedy Showcase, aired between 1956 and 1966.
I do plan to make status guides for most of these programs. It seems to me that unsold pilots could easily slip through the cracks and disappear. So who knows how many of these are still around. Hopefully all of them. A few unsold pilots have made their way to DVD and at some point I’d like to cover those. So stay tuned.