I first wrote about ABC’s proposed pilot “Men Against Evil” back in November 2010, when I discussed briefly how it turned into The Felony Squad, which ran for 73 episodes from 1966 to 1969. At the time, I didn’t have a lot of details about the pilot. An actor who had a role in the pilot was kind enough to leave a few comments and Stephen Bowie was able to chime in with some details from The Felony Squad executive producer Walter Grauman. I remained interested in learning more and over the past year dug up a bit more background information
For this month’s Spotlight I decided to revisit the pilot, which personally I consider completely separate from The Felony Squad given the many changes made before the series hit the air. So rather than call it an unaired pilot, I’m classifying it as an unsold pilot. UCLA’s Film & Television Archive has a copy of “Men Against Evil” in its collection but all I’ve seen are the last five minutes, in which actor Dennis Cole presents “just a few scenes from future episodes,” a tantalizing look at the twice-weekly serial that never was.
The pilot was announced in November 1965 and the original plan was for its to air twice a week just like Peyton Place, with the focus on the family lives of police officers but the serial aspect was soon dropped. At ABC’s March 26th, 1966 affiliates meeting in Chicago the day before the opening of that year’s NAB convention, the network presented a preview of its 1966-1967 schedule (hosted by Batman and Robin) that didn’t include any footage from Men Against Evil. The concept was revamped and retitled a number of times before The Felony Squad eventually hit the air in September.
Read the full Spotlight here.