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Pilot Error: A Potpourri of Television Failure

Back to more random pilots, and man, are they all over the place.

With behind the scenes talent including Sam Raimi, Shane Black, Fred Dekker, Michael Lehmann, and Chris Thompson you’d think all three of these pilots would make it to television and find an audience.

You’d be wrong.

Let’s check out where they went wrong.

Darkman

Prior to the 1995 sequel Darkman II: The Return of Durant, FOX wanted a TV series based on the character so in 1992 this “pilot” was cobbled together.

Liam Neeson would not be returning to the role and Arnold Vosloo would take up the mantle in the 2 sequels later on so here we have British actor Christopher Bowen as the Darkman. Larry Drake returns as Durant and Kathleen York pops in as our police character. We also get a precocious ten year old black homeless girl as a sidekick, but she has no credit so I am unsure who played her.

The plot is there is really no plot as this is not a real pilot, but rather “Pitch Pilot” meant to show the network what a real Darkman TV series would look like if it actually had a budget (this is shot very on the cheap… so on the cheap that any and all action scenes are simply recycled from the movie). The glaring use of movie footage jumps right out at you as the filmstock is so vastly different from the video in the new segments. Also they used footage from BLADE RUNNER (!!!) at 3 points. I have no idea how this was all legal as Universal owns Darkman, Warner Brothers owns Blade Runner and this was being made for FOX.

This pilot is a mixture of clips from the movie and new footage used to tell an updated origin of the characters. They have retconned some things from the movie so this is a reboot rather than a continuation.

More of a proof of concept pilot than anything meant to air for audiences but an interesting curiosity nonetheless. A friend of mine made the mask for this and he never even knew this was actually shot, when the left KNB he was told they scrapped the idea of it. Guess he was wrong.

With Bowen being English all of a sudden the Darkman has a British accent that is never explained nor matches the footage used from the first movie. The tone is also all over the place as some of the new footage feels like it takes place in Burton’s Gotham and other parts feel like a comedy on fake sets. Needless to say none of this allows the movie footage to integrate properly. All in all this feels disjointed and unsure of what direction it wants to move in.

Sam Raimi is listed as a producer on this so I have to assume he signed off on this mess.

https://dai.ly/x5y3lsm

 

Trash

This 2003 FOX pilot is by the people that bought us the amazing Action in 1999 and stars Mike Erwin, Richard Burgi and Lisa Blount (with a cameo by the great Charles Napier).

Mike Erwin lives in a trailer park with some of the oddest residents in the world (and his Mom of course). He makes digital videos (so 2003) of these odd people all the while trying to keep his mom from losing the trailer and going insane. His best friend is Gypsy, a punk rock girl that clearly is in love with him but to whom he is completely clueless. He also accidentally got her brother sent to juvie so he must avoid taking a beating from him now that he is out. Mike also has a new job as the lawn boy for the Blu family; a rich, snotty family “on the hill”.

There is some history there… bad history. Turns out his mom used to be in love with Bud Blu and there is a lot of bad, bad blood (and tons of poop) between these families. Mike also is in love with the daughter of Bud Blu, Luna who is clueless… to everything… she is dumb as a stump.

This being a pilot it’s mostly establishing characters and the plot but it was also hilarious. It had good production values and witty smart dialog that was pretty irreverent. This could have been something had it gone to series.

https://dai.ly/x5zspm7

 

Edge

An Amazon pilot from 2015 which failed to go to series, Edge comes to us from Fred Dekker and Shane Black (who also directs). Fantastic cast the likes of Max Martini, Yvonne Strahovski and the never disappointing William Sadler just can’t save this thing. I love Black and Dekker (ha) but this thing is a slog of half realized ideas and an unsure tone.

Edge is Josiah Hedges, part Mexican outlaw looking for revenge in the death of his brother at the hands of corrupt Union Army. Merritt Harknett is the “sheriff” of a town where Hedges ends up and all are after a special box that will lead them all to… THE EDGE!!!

Yeah, this was not that impressive. With talent such as Black and Dekker I expected this to be more well written and well made. As it is the pilot is all over the place and the tone keeps shifting from jovial western to hard edged horror tinged shock with hints of the supernatural here and there. Edge does not commit to any of these as it wants to be everything all in one. As a pilot it fails as it does not engage at all and I did not want to see more of these characters or of this plot. Based on a book series which I have never read I am unsure to how true this pilot is.

Sadler is always a welcome sight and never disappoints and Max Martini needs to be more well known but I can see why Edge was not picked up by Amazon to go to full series.

 

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