Someone has finally uploaded the unsold “Dick Tracy” pilot made by Batman producer William Dozier in 1967. (I previously posted the theme song, but the actual pilot was not available at the time.) As you can see, among Dozier shows, the tone of it is somewhere between the purely comic Batman and the basically serious Green Hornet; it’s less silly than the former, sillier than the latter. It’s not surprising that the networks passed on it, since the Batman craze was already over. Unlike the terrific Batman pilot, it doesn’t really do much to establish a distinctive voice — and makes the terrible mistake of waiting almost five minutes to bring in the lead character.
It’s too bad that there has never been a Dick Tracy adaptation that fully worked, since Chester Gould’s strip has a lot of the elements that could make for an effective TV show — most importantly, a big pool of villains to draw on. But Gould’s fable-like approach, where all the characters are deliberately simple, allegorical figures in a stylized morality play, defeats most adaptors. The other great U.S. comic strip that used a similar approach was Little Orphan Annie, and in a strange way I think Dick Tracy might also have a better chance as a musical (maybe someone could get Stephen Sondheim to take his songs from the Warren Beatty film and write a few more).
Anyway, in this pilot you’ll see future soap star Ray MacDonnell as Dick Tracy, and all-purpose TV and movie villain Victor Buono as the bad guy. Oddly, Tess Trueheart is mentioned in the credits but doesn’t appear in the show (neither does Dick’s daughter, who the main title assures us is played by Eve Plumb).
Part 1 (of 3)