In part II of our look at failed TV pilots I’d planned to incorporate an episode of the unsold Screen Gems series Tales of Frankenstein, but alas, it has been removed from the Internet Archive.
We are left with 3 comedies from the early 1960s, the first one being Daddy-O from 1961. This failed pilot starred Don Defore shortly before he hit TV pay dirt playing the beleaguered patriarch `Mr. B’ in Hazel.
Considering the pedigree – this series was created by Max Schulman of Dobie Gillis fame (and yes, that’s Shelia `Zelda’ James, of Dobie Gillis, playing his TV daughter) – it is a little surprising that this show was such a miss.
Still, it’s worth a look back.
Candy Moore was a familiar child actress of the late 1950s and early 1960s, with roles in shows like Leave it to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, and most famously, playing Lucy’s daughter for one year on the revamped Lucy Show in 1962.
She shot a pilot based on the play Time out for Ginger which ran for 248 performances at the Lyceum Theatre in 1952-53. Subsequently, the plot was used in several productions including a movie with Patty Duke called Billie.
You’ll find Roberta `The Virginian’ Shore and Margaret `Wicked Witch of the West’ Hamilton in the cast as well.
While not picked up as a series, this pilot was shown (as were many others) on a summer replacement show for Red Skelton called The Comedy Spot, which aired on CBS.
Failed TV Pilot: 'Time Out for Ginger'
Next we have another `family’ comedy called Little Amy, starring Debbie Megowan – another recognizable child actress of the era. She appeared on TV shows such as Grindl, My Three Sons, Tales of Wells Fargo, and Route 66 along as in movies such as Days of Wine and Roses.
A completely forgettable 30 minutes except for brief appearances by three guest stars; a very young Jack Nicholson along with Jack Albertson, and Doodles Weaver.
If these three failed pilots all seem vaguely similar, it is probably because in the early 1960s there were frequent calls for more `family friendly’ programming on the TV networks.
Prime time TV in the 1950s often relied upon violent police or western format shows, where the bad guys ultimately were apprehended or killed (a morality tale), but not before a certain amount of carnage was depicted.
The rising rate of juvenile delinquency, and anti-social behavior was frequently blamed on the violent content of TV.
Of course, the same charges were levied in the 1930s and 1940s against radio shows as being too graphic, and destroying the morals of society.
Comedies (sit-coms) and variety shows therefore were slotted into the early hours of prime time to placate the critics, and `adult’ oriented programming aired later in the evening.
To fill the void left by the dramas of the 1950s, a lot of comedy clones were created.
Luckily, in an era where Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons, and Ozzie and Harriet defined the ideal TV family, some of these lesser shows were never picked up.