So much happens to television shows before we even get to see them. Before a show makes it to air, there are pitches, presentations and pilots that get passed around and often changed before they evolve into our favorite shows. Many pilots become the first episode, but some don’t even make it to series or get changed drastically before they air.
Thanks to the Internet, you can see some for yourself and decide if they worked better with the changes. There are also the unaired versions of pilots of your favorite shows that are drastically different. For example, the original “The Big Bang Theory” pilot had Sheldon (Jim Parsons) as not only sexual, but a big-butt enthusiast. Instead of Penny, there was a female grifter, and the two guys’ only friend was a sarcastic female scientist.
Here are a few must-see pilots from the Interwebs:
“The Elvira Show”
Before Hot Topic made Goth mainstream and Sabrina was a teenage witch, supernatural sexpot Elvira had a sitcom pilot. “The Elvira Show” paired the Mistress of the Dark with America’s favorite grandmother, “Who’s the Boss?” star Katherine Helmond. She played Elvira’s snarky yet sexy Aunt Minerva. They were unskilled witches trying to keep their magic a secret while living in the suburbs. This unaired pilot is full magic in the form of high camp, sexual innuendo and amazing one liners. It would have made an amazing series. Hell, it would make an amazing series today! Granted, it wouldn’t be a universal success, but would have a die-hard fan base. We’re talking “The Comeback”-style attention. Luckily, you can enjoy it online:
“Good Morning, Miss Bliss”
This pilot isn’t so much entertaining as it is totally bizarre. Haley Mills, star of the original “The Parent Trap” was Disney’s Julie Andrews 2.0. Some TV geeks may know that “Saved by the Bell” was originally “Good Morning, Miss Bliss.” Early episodes of the classic show featured a few of the same characters with Miss Bliss as their teacher. The original concept of the show was a the life of a single teacher who inspires her students. She had much younger students that included Jaleel White, Brian Austin Green and Jonathan Brandis before they grew up into teen stars.
Technically, this TV movie aired, but was a backdoor pilot. Before the comic book craze spawned by the “X-Men” movie, Fox tried to adapt this teenage “X-Men” title into a series. There were a couple missteps like casting a white Jubilee and focusing on a human villain. The show was hampered by what it could do with special effects, but it had a great cast. Finola Hughes was a way better White Queen than January Jones. The show wasn’t picked up, but, a few months later, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” premiered as a mid-season replacement and changed the entire climate for TV. It created a market for action dramas targeting teens. Luckily, you can watch it in its entirety here:
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
Speaking of Buffy, there was an unaired pilot for the series that drastically changed the tone of the show. The pilot was sitcom-length and had a bit of a different feel than the original. A lot of the scenes were recycled in what ended up being the two-episode-length “Buffy” premiere. It also featured character actors Stephen Tobolowsky as Principal Flutie and Riff Regan as Willow. Alyson Hannigan was great as Willow and definitely geeked it up, but Regan felt more like an outcast. It would have been great to have a plus-sized actress in a teen show. However, this version of “Buffy” might not have lasted the seven seasons.
“Veronica in the FBI”
Before “Veronica Mars” was canceled, Rob Thomas put together a new version of the show. It flashed forward to an adult Veronica as an FBI agent. It worked logically for the character, but did feel a little “21 Jump Street” to have the pint-sized Kristen Bell as a full-fledged FBI agent. This pilot is worth checking out by die-hard “Veronica Mars” fans and TV fans in general. Young FBI agents would work as a series. Plus, more “Veronica Mars” works … just ask the people who not only saw the movie but helped fund it.
Christian Cintron is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.