TV Pilots That Changed Drastically – Laser Time

Whether it’s recast actors, different characters, or completely changed styles, we’re picking out the pilots that look downright weird when compared to the TV franchises we know and love!

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18 thoughts on “TV Pilots That Changed Drastically – Laser Time

  1. Just a note. The pilot was not leaked. It actually aired on nick years ago and I was so confused when it came out on cartoonnetwork. Even the wiki says it aired on nick in 2007

  2. Having only read [audiobook] the first Wheel of Time story, there was a bunch of attention on it for a week or two when it aired surprisingly one random morning. Apparently it was a right issue, so much like Fantastic Four they had to make it and air it to keep the rights. BILLY Freaking Zane deserved better!

  3. Nice Episode.

    For me, the biggest example of a show being changed isn’t really an example of changing from pilot to series, but instead changes that were made to the show as it was airing. It was the show Up All Night that ran on NBC in 2011 starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudoplh. Boy did it ever undergo a series of unnecessarily convoluted changes throughout it’s run. There’s a comprehensive read here; http://www.tvguide.com/news/up-all-night-demise-1062227/ but the TLDR version is that the show was completely reworked in order to highlight Rudolph from being a supporting character to a 3rd lead after her spot blew up thanks to Bridesmaids. Then this led to a series of further tinkering in order to make the show work. Ultimately, Applegate quit the show and in the most convoluted tinkering of all they were going to make the show a hybrid single-camera/multi-camera show where the narrative reason for this change in format is that the multi-cam version was going to be what the baby of Applegate and Arnett’s characters was witnessing. The weird hybrid was going to be the 3rd season which would be a reboot with a new pilot, but that never happened.

    It sounds truly insane.

  4. The original story behind Capt. Christopher Pike on TOS was that Pike was promoted to Fleet Captain (making the Enterprise available for Kirk). Pike was in command of a Cadet training mission on another ship when a radiation leak occurred. Pike sacrificed himself to save the cadets, but was badly injured in the incident which is why he is confined to the chair.
    Actor Jeffery Hunter shot the first pilot, but declined to return for the second pilot was to be made, citing his film career. When shooting The Menagerie, they used the unaired pilot with Hunter, but a different actor as the wheelchair bound Pike (which is why he looks so badly disfigured).

    1. Wow, if he was retained as Captain Pike, it would’ve been a different Star Trek, even if Hunter would still be alive. I watched the Cage Pilot and the two part “money saving” episode, and wow, that was pretty nuts what Gene Roddenberry did, even if it was the 1960s.

  5. This probably doesn’t count because this was only a pilot script, but the the pilot for Lost was supposed to be considerably different. Michael Keaton was set to play Jack and would die at the end of the pilot. Kate would become the leader in his place. Kate was supposed to have a missing husband who was in the tail section of the plane, but that attribute was eventually given to Rose.

  6. Great episode guys. I don’t think I know of any other pilots that got revamped, other than Twin Peaks originally having an ending in the pilot episode that revealed who Laura Palmer’s killer is, and that the pilot was sold on its own as a VHS in Europe, while those scenes were kept out in America and thus the plot went on as we all know. Obviously, this isn’t the same as a lot of the talk in this episode, since actors and plots remained the same and the episode was shown minus the last 20 minutes – so it’s not like everything was thrown out and they refilmed it, but I figured I’d mention it anyway.

  7. Haven’t listened yet but I hope you mention Scrubs.

    Scrubs episode 1 is a dim, quiet comedy about anxiety. The characters are shy kids, It feels like The Breakfast Club or something. It’s crazy to go from a Season 6 pimp-costume disco dance-off to the pilot.

    1. Community also went from having a pilot episode that feels like the Breakfast Club to episodes where they are astronauts trapped in a KFC space shuttle and there is a claymation special as one character had a mental breakdown.

  8. Nice Episode.
    For me, the biggest example of a show being changed isn’t really an example of changing from pilot to series, but instead changes that were made to the show as it was airing. It was the show Up All Night that ran on NBC in 2011 starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudoplh. Boy did it ever undergo a series of unnecessarily convoluted changes throughout it’s run. There’s a comprehensive read here; http://www.tvguide.com/news/up-all-night-demise-1062227/ but the TLDR version is that the show was completely reworked in order to highlight Rudolph from being a supporting character to a 3rd lead after her spot blew up thanks to Bridesmaids. Then this led to a series of further tinkering in order to make the show work. Ultimately, Applegate quit the show and in the most convoluted tinkering of all they were going to make the show a hybrid single-camera/multi-camera show where the narrative reason for this change in format is that the multi-cam version was going to be what the baby of Applegate and Arnett’s characters was witnessing. The weird hybrid was going to be the 3rd season which would be a reboot with a new pilot, but that never happened.
    It sounds truly insane.

  9. It wouldn’t have worked well in audio, but there’s a pilot episode of Steven Universe online that features the characters’ original designs. Some of them (like Pearl) are very different, but overall the idea of the show is basically the same.

  10. Just a couple clarifications from the Star Trek pilot, while the actress that played Nurse Chapel (Roddenberry’s then mistress, later wife) was the second in command of the ship, she was actually a different character. She was simply called “Number One” and was never given a name. NBC was not comfortable giving a leading role to a completely unknown actor who just happened to be banging the showrunner. This is one of the main reasons cited for why a second pilot was made, something very rare at the time.

  11. Archie Justice is lame, I prefer him as Archie Viscous, duder lived up to his name, damn near killed Arn Anderson ‘Enforcer” my ass PAB had it coming.

  12. Best cartoons being Venture Bros or Adventure Time? I don’t think so. I say Bob’s Burgers or Archer would be a much better fit. To each their own.

  13. Interesting bit of trivia that will probably be of particular interest to Thirty Twenty Ten listeners: the reason Seinfeld’s first season was so short was because the pilot did poorly but they still wanted to make a show. In order to get the money they cancelled one of Bob Hope’s NBC specials and used the money to produce 4 additional 22-minute episodes, or the equivalent of one 90-minute Bob Hope special.

  14. I gotta tell ya, I absolutely CAN’T STAND Jane Krakowski. I find nothing she ever did in Kimmy Schmidtt or 30 rock funny and in fact find her the worst part of every show. Wish almost anyone would have played her characters instead of her in those shows.

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