Top-Secret TV Pilots: Failed but Fabulous

May 30th, 2011 | By | Category: Columns

The dust has settled on the 2011/2012 pilot season! In some cases, beloved shows are gone forever. [Your beloved show here.] In some cases, our long national nightmare is over (Outsourced). And with a fresh new crop of shows about white people problems, we can all look forward to another year of groundbreaking television that strives to examine the human condition.

However, some of the shows produced as pilots every year never make it to your screen. The Defenestration TV coverage team was granted special access to these unaired pilots, thanks to a screening room with a faulty lock and a big shadowy place in one corner just big enough for one person to huddle with a steno pad, and we can now bring you this exclusive coverage of five TV pilots that never stood a chance.


TV is riddled with medical dramas, but none have ever attacked the realities of emergency medicine with the urgency of TRAUMA WARD. Taking us behind the scenes of the emergency room, Trauma Ward’s pilot follows an emergency intake from both sides of the equation.

A family struggles to complete paperwork before their family member can be admitted, as an ambitious nurse watches, trying to gauge how many times the patient will probably vomit on her. A tech shortage reaches crisis levels as the hospital gets increasingly filthy; meanwhile, a drug-seeker is forced to confront how low he has sunk when he’s returned to the waiting room and forced to sit through two hours of The Bachelorette before he can be treated.

Terrible decisions will be made, and lives changed forever, in the TRAUMA WARD. (Pulled from consideration after an insurance-industry screener.)


Gritty police drama THE GRIND bursts onto the scene with its tale of two passionate cops determined to screw perps right into the ground.

Brick Kale and Ward Johnson are two renegades in the Vice department of a gritty metropolitan city that probably looks a lot like Vancouver. These brave officers love nothing better than going undercover, as deep as it takes to ride their case to completion. Looking like a pair of ex-cons and trained in Black Ops techniques, Brick and Ward get tangled up in sweaty, heart-pounding action with every case, whether they’re sweating it out in a sting or pinning a perp to the wall. Not that this pair always get along – at least once an episode, they crowd the frame as they have intense arguments riddled with eye contact and veiled threats about what will happen if this case goes down.

But when they’re in a tight squeeze, these cops always manage to fight their way out, drive their way through, and prove once and for all that they’re the two manliest cops on THE GRIND. (Pulled due to accidentally being incredibly, incredibly gay.)


In this groundbreaking reality show, contestants will have to lay it all on the line for a chance to win big money: but this time, everyone really is there to make friends.

Contestants on CONGENIALITY will be put through a series of grueling challenges (sharing circles, trust falls, karaoke nights), and will be judged not on individual prowess, but instead on their communication with fellow contestants, and the relationships they forge. (A particularly dramatic Group Potluck Night culminates in a tearful confession of romantic infidelity between two of the participants, followed by a brief crying session, and then a civil visit to the on-site counselor to begin evaluating emotional options.) Contestants will be judged each week, and the one shown to be talking the most shit on camera or being the most antisocial during team exercises will be sent home – unless all contestants vote to be Congenial and allow that contestant to stay.

Sure to be an emotional roller-coaster, Congeniality hopes to culminate in everyone deciding to split the monetary prize equally, since that’s the nicest solution. (Pulled due to the lowest ratings in the history of television rating systems.)


Cutting-edge dramedy LADYPERSON follows the life of a single woman in the big city as she tries to balance her life after leaving home – and a long-term relationship – behind.

Ladyperson, who takes an admin job in a corporation to make ends meet as she tries to pursue her dream of working in an arts-sector nonprofit, must contend with subtle workplace discrimination, unwanted flirtation by men she doesn’t know, a general feeling that her love life is a priority and open for public debate, social pressure to dress her slenderest possible shape in a manner men find attractive, and scorn over her chosen leisure activities of going to museums, watching television, and occasionally dropping in on her local dodgeball league. Will Ladyperson ever be able to find happiness? (Pulled from consideration due to proliferation of sensible footwear and a horrible nagging guilt on the part of TV execs.)


Comments are closed.