Pilot Errors

While poking aimlessly through my bookshelves the other day, I leafed through an unassuming title I've had for many years now, "Unsold Television Pilots: 1955 through 1989" by Lee Goldberg. As the title implies, this is an exhaustive reference book of all those pilot projects that are written, cast, filmed, offered to the networks, and sometimes shown on the air, but that the networks ultimately decided to turn down. How many of you out there are old and/or geeky enough to remember I-Man, the sci-fi special (aired as an installment of The Disney Sunday Movie) from 1986 featuring Scott Bakula as a cab driver turned indestructible secret agent after he's exposed to a strange vapor while rescuing a man from a truck crash (and John Anderson -- Kevin Uxbridge from the Star Trek: TNG episode "The Survivors" and Abraham Lincoln from the Voyagers! episode "The Day The Rebs Took Lincoln" -- as the evil madman whose plans he's tasked with foiling)?

Anyway, I happened upon a very interesting coincidence, just a couple of pages past the I-Man entry. There were two sitcom pilots made for CBS during the 1986-87 season, whose entries appear back-to-back in this book (on page 450 for those of you who just might happen to have this tome yourselves) ... and whose casts have not one, but two Trek connections each:

The Family Martinez (airdate 08/02/86) -- Robert Beltran (Star Trek: Voyager's Chakotay) portrays a former gang member who becomes a lawyer and returns to his East L.A. home to live with his wacky artist mother and his 16-year-old sister. Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar from ST:TNG) also starred as a character named Rachael McCann, though it doesn't say how she was involved in the story. If all that weren't enough, this show was created by Tommy Chong (of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong ... and, of course, Leo from That '70s Show).

Home Improvements (never aired) -- Not to be confused with the similarly-titled classic Tim Allen/Patricia Richardson sitcom, this one starred Tony LoBianco as a widower with three kids who marries a divorcée (Tricia O'Neil, the Enterprise-C's Captain Garrett from the ST:TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise") with one. Also in the cast, as the widower's eldest daughter who's married and lives next door, was ST:TNG's second-season bright-spot, ensign Sonya Gomez herself, Lycia Naff!

Imagine that ... four actors, all of whom would become involved in Trek, working on sitcom pilots in the same year for the same network! Quite a co-inky-dink, eh? One has to wonder -- especially if The Family Martinez had taken off -- who might have ended up playing Tasha Yar...!

1 comment:

Lee Goldberg said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the book...there are lots of trivia connections like that buried amidst the unsold pilots...