Unsold Pilots on DVD

There aren’t that many unsold television pilots available on DVD, unfortunately. Perhaps thirty that I’m aware of. Some are included as extras alongside feature films or television shows. For example, the State Fair (60th Anniversary Edition) DVD offers an unsold pilot from 1976 with Vera Miles, Mitch Vogel, Tim O’Connor and others. Likewise, the Blazing Saddles (30th Anniversary Special Edition) DVD has a 1975 sitcom pilot starring Louis Gossett Jr. The Time Tunnel – Volume Two includes both The Time Travelers, a 1976 telefilm that served as a pilot for a potential series, and the 2002 pilot for an updated version of The Time Tunnel that was never picked up. Finally, The Greatest American Hero – Season One includes the 1986 pilot for The Greatest American Heroine, a potential spin-off.

Several unsold pilots are also available on public domain DVD releases. Only a few days ago Timeless Media Group released a six-DVD set called The Classic TV Western Collection. Found on the sixth disc are several unsold pilots: “Johnny Moccasin” with Jody McCrea as a young man raised by Indians following the Civil War, “Night Rider,” which may or may not be a half-hour pilot for a proposed series starring Johnny Cash, “The Adventures of Rick O’Shay,” which looks to be a television version of the Stan Lynde comic strip, and something called “Story of the Star.”

Alpha Video (through Oldies.com) has released about twenty unsold pilots over the years. Included in Lost Crime Shows, Volume 1 (released March 25, 2008) are “The Shadow,” “Unsolved,” “Chicago 2-1-2” and “The Bogus Green.” Lost Crime Shows, Volume 2 includes episodes of Boston Blackie and Front Page Detective, plus three unsold pilots: “Alarm,” “Mandrake the Magician” and “Counterpoint.” Lost TV Comedy includes an episode of The Dennis Day Show alongside three unsold pilots: “Dadddy-O,” “Little Amy” and “Time Out for Ginger.” Lost TV Comedy of the 50s has four sitcom pilots: “Meet the O’Briens,” “The Joe E. Brown Show,” “Let’s Join Joanie,” and “Operation E.S.P.” And Here Comes Tobor And Other Lost Action Shows Of The 1950’s has four pilots: “Here Comes Tobor,” “Captain Fathom,” “Sea Divers” and “Counterspy.” Tales of Frankenstein includes a pilot of the same name and a bonus feature, Roger Corman’s The Terror.

If anyone knows of other unsold pilots commercially available on DVD, let me know.

18 Replies to “Unsold Pilots on DVD”

  1. The Warner Home Video DVD release of Meet Me In St. Louis have the unsold 1966 pilot of the series of the same name as an extra.

  2. I also forgot to mention that Passport Video’s The Golden Age of TV Drama may or may not have a pilot titled “For the Defense” with Edward G. Robinson. For some reason Amazon.com doesn’t list it but does include an episode of Federal Men that is not present on the copy I have.

    Either Amazon.com has a early list of titles included or “For the Defense” was replaced by the episode of Federal Men at some point. I am not sure.

  3. I forgot one more!

    The Fargo Special Edition DVD have the pilot of the series version with Edie Falco as a bonus as well.

  4. “Chicago 212” was originally “burned off” as an episode of “DuPONT THEATER” in the spring of 1957, just before star Frank Lovejoy and his agent sold NBC and Procter & Gamble a crime series starring himself, entitled “MEET McGRAW” {aka “ADVENTURES OF McGRAW”}. “Time Out For Ginger” was a special presentation of Chrysler’s monthly “SHOWER OF STARS” specials in October 1955 (starring Jack Benny) that aired LIVE, and doubled as a pilot for a potential series.
    “MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN”, however, WAS sold as a syndicated series, seen fleetingly during the 1954-’55 season {it’s SO obscure, people come across the one episode that’s “floating around” and assume it’s an “unsold pilot”! }. “HERE COMES TOBOR” was a 1956 pilot [spun off from the 1954 “B-movie”, “Tobor the Great”] which Guild Films hoped to syndicate as a series. “LET’S JOIN JOANIE” was an “audition pilot” CBS produced on kinescope in 1950, based on Joan Davis’ CBS radio series, “Leave It To Joan”; they had hoped she’d become one of their major TV stars as well, but there were no takers- and she ended up producing her own filmed comedy series for NBC in 1952, “I MARRIED JOAN”.

  5. Revenge Of The Nerds – Panty Raid Edition includes a pilot & there is a DVD called Dane Cook – The Lost Pilots with two unsold pilots starring Dane Cook!

  6. Re Classic TV Western Collection (Timeless Media): The Wichita Town episode on Disc 6 (The Frontiersman) was a pilot for a series of the same name starring Gene Evans – he made a pitch for the series at end of episode; Story of a Star was a condensed version of feature The Badge of Marshal Brennan starring Jim Davis; Diamond Jim was a pilot for unsold series starring Dale Robertson as Diamond Jim Brady; Tumbleweed was also an unsold pilot about a troubleshooter named Tumbleweed Jones.

  7. On the Bob Hopes Present Chryler Theater, there was 3 episodes of a very good series starring Jack Kelly. The series was name PAY THE PIPER. And Jack Kelly starred as a P.I. named Piper.

  8. The S2 set of “That Girl” has an unsold pilot Marlo Thomas did in 1965 called “Two’s Company.”

    And this may or may not count, but a S1 “Love American Style” burned off a failed pilot of “Barefoot In The Park” from 1969. The same plot used for this pilot would be recycled when “Barefoot In The Park” made it as a short-lived series several years later but with an all-black cast.

  9. ‘The Mothers-in-Law’ DVD has two unsold pilots for ‘The Carol Channing SHow’ and ‘Land’s End’.

    There was a DVD release of ‘The Mama Cass Television Program’, which aired as a one-off variety special that was a pilot for a series starring Miss Cass.

    There is a 25-disc DVD set titled ‘Hollywood Classics’ that contains a large number of backdoor pilots that were sold and unsold, mostly ABC ‘Movie of the Week’ presentations. A few of the unsolds are: THE GUN AND THE PULPIT, MOON OF THE WOLF and SHELL GAME.

  10. I was going to mention the Mothers-In-Law pilots brought up by DuMont, but another one that hasn’t been brought up is the “L.A. Confidential” TV show pilot from about 1999 starring Kiefer Sutherland which is included on the Special Edition DVD of that film.

    The first season DVD of Three’s Company included the first pilot with John Ritter and two different actresses playing Janet and Chrissy.

    1. The 2nd Season THREE’S COMPANY DVD set includes the 2nd pilot, which had Susan Lanier playing Chrissy alongside John Ritter & Joyce DeWitt. This pilot used the plot from the 2nd episode of the series, where Chrissy’s mom visited.

  11. The Complete Series DVD set of “Barney Miller” features the burned off pilot “The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller” which features Hal Linden and Abe Vigoda, along with unknowns including a Pre “Hill Street Blues” Charles Reid in the role that would become Wojo.

  12. Earle Hodgins and Don Kay Little Brown Jug did a pilot for a Western TV Medicine show series Don wears a medallion that enables him to hear people thoughts. Does anyone know anything about this pilot? Thanks

  13. Worked on TV crew for an excellent 1990s pilot called Desert Breeze with Jon Favreau being the adventures of proto-Sopranos characters going legit and buying a ‘Vegas casino. Director of photography was Michael Gershman who would later be the DP on Buffy…This could have been the Sopranos years before. Don’t know if it was ever broadcast. Know it was never picked up for production. Available on DVD? Never saw it. Thanks!

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