The new fall TV season is gearing up. While a lot of new shows are getting a lot of buzz, the following shows aren’t—because they only filmed a single “pilot” episode and were rejected by the major broadcast networks.
They’re a team of attractive women…and they’re also undercover secret agents. No, it’s not Charlie’s Angels, but NBC sure wanted viewers to think it was with this obvious knockoff it ordered a pilot episode of in 1977. Jayne Kennedy and Cornelia Sharpe played top fashion models…who were also secretly spies. In the pilot episode, future Miami Vice star Don Johnson plays a rock star and former James Bond George Lazenby is the villain.
During a lull between writing for Saturday Night Live and The SImpsons in 1991, Conan O’Brien co-wrote this pilot about a washed-up star of a 1970s detective show. Ty Lookwell (played by TV’s Batman, Adam West) thinks he learned so many crime-solving skills by starring in the forgotten drama Bannigan that he tries to help Los Angeles police solve crimes (even though they don’t want him to).
By 1972, the career of Hollywood legend Bette Davis was winding down to the point where she agreed to star in a cheesy show. The premise: Davis is the titular Madame Sin, a mysterious supervillain who lives in a castle in Scotland. In the pilot episode, she brainwashes a spy into hijacking a nuclear submarine for her.
In 1971, tan man and B-movie actor George Hamilton starred in a biographical movie about ‘70s celebrity motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. Knievel only got more famous as the ‘70s went on, as he attempted to do things like jump the Grand Canyon or Snake River Canyon on his often rocket-powered bike. In 1974, the makers of the Hamilton-starring movie adapted it into a comic TV series starring Western mainstay Sam Elliott. Like so many of Knievel’s stunts, the TV series crashed and burned.