Generally speaking, said pilots are produced, shown to TV buyers, and the ones that are picked up are then aired on the networks.
Occasionally, though, TV shows will pull a Cousin Larry trick, and make a pilot for a new program, but sneak it into an existing program.
I call these shows "secret" pilots (the more common term, as noted below, is backdoor pilots), and for me, they are one of the funnest little things to find when you're watching old TV programs. In fact, I bring the topic up because I saw one just the other night, while watching an old episode of Simon & Simon. It was a clear backdoor pilot for a new show about a secret agent named Brian Harms. You just KNOW the name of the show was going to be called "In Harms Way." You just KNOW it.
A lot of times, these backdoor pilots go nowhere, but sometimes they do end up in a show making it. Two notable examples:
Facts of Life on Diff'rent Strokes.
Mork & Mindy on Happy Days.
But just as notable are all the ones that failed to be picked up (the majority of them, I'm afraid), like, for instance:
The white kid/black kid/Puerto Rican kid who all get adopted by the Brady's neighbors on the Brady Bunch.
Gary Seven on Star Trek.
That angel guy on Happy Days.
And my personal "favorite," when the Facts of Life spent its LAST FREAKING EPISODE on setting up a pilot for a spin-off that didn't get picked up!!! I always thought that was ridiculous.
So, please, name some other examples of these backdoor pilots! I'm always interested in hearing about ones that I've missed!
Edited by Brian C, Feb 1, 2005 @ 10:08 PM.