Friday, August 21, 2020

This Day in TV History: Unsold pilots galore!

 40 years ago today, CBS and NBC used unsold pilots to fill out the primetime schedule! At 8:00. CBS unveiled Joshua's World, which starred Richard Crenna as a liberal doctor in small-town Arkansas in the 1930s.  Crenna had a long and distinguished career, but this one didn't make a mark.  He would return to series TV with Susan Harris' It Takes Two, which at least got a season on ABC.

NBC also dumped some material on the masses this Thursday, August 21, 1980. it burned off 3 straight sitcom pilots starting at 9:30. Going by the descriptions, my favorite is Dribble, which kicked off the parade of filler. Yes, it IS about basketball! According to Lee Goldberg's Unsold Television Pilots, the Columbia-produced show was from Linda Bloodworth. "The misadventures of a misfit team of professional basketball players. In the pilot, they have a hard time adjusting when a star player is added to the roster."  In the case: Dee Wallace, Dan Frazer, and Lewis Arquette.

Next up is The Further Adventures of Wally Brown from Mark Rothman and Lowell Ganz, who were huge at Paramount at the time after working with Garry Marshall's comedies. . Goldberg's book says this show is based on the Coasters' song "Charlie Brown!" The titular character (Clinton Carroll) is a black teenager on the high school track team, and his white best friend is played by Peter Scolari (who showed up in a few months on Bosom Buddies). Intriguing names in the cast: Arlene Golonka, Ron Masak, and Gilbert Gottfried as "Bernstein."

Finally, veteran sitcom writer Bill Persky directed The Single Life with Barrie Youngfellow as a love advice columnist for fictional Manhattanite magazine who falls for a younger man.  Celia Weston vo-stars. This one didn't make it, but Youngfellow would turn up on ABC when the season began after getting the role of Jan in It's a Living.

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