The Great Tradition of Pilot Burnoffs

I’m glad that Canadian networks are obligated to air pilots that they order and then don’t turn into series, as the CBC is doing tomorrow night at 9 Eastern with “Throwing Stones,” a half-hour comedy pilot about curling, with Patty Duke (only one of her, not her identical cousin).

Jill Golick has more, and also here’s an excerpt from a piece in The Curling News about the making of that pilot.

Watching unsold pilots, back when the networks used to burn them off as “Summer Playhouse Theatre” or some other euphemism for “shows we don’t want,” used to be one of the joys of summer; you’d hardly ever see a pilot that really deserved to be a series (there were some, but not too many), but it often provided an interesting window into what the networks thought was popular: the shows that didn’t get picked up were often the most blatant attempts to cash in on trends. I remember one pilot which was about a family obviously ripped off from The Cosby Show, except they were all witches (except the woman who married into the family and had to deal with her new supernatural family), two ’80s trends clumsily rolled into one.

Also, if a pilot isn’t terrible, and Throwing Stones isn’t, it’s interesting to watch it and wonder what separated it from other flawed pilots that did make the cut: maybe it was the subject matter, maybe it was just that it didn’t fit in with the rest of the network’s schedule, maybe it was the budget, maybe it was a mix of all those things and more.