Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Speaking of Failed Pilots

YouTube has the first part of an unsold pilot (burned off on a Failure-Theatre show called "Vacation Playhouse") that I've always been a little curious about: "Three On an Island," a 1965 sitcom pilot with Pamela Tiffin, Julie Newmar and Monica Moran (Thelma Ritter's daughter). It was produced and directed by the veteran director Vincent Sherman, of all those Warner Brothers movies of the '40s.

With that cast and director, I wondered how it could have failed to sell. Now I know, and it's what you would expect: the script, Hal Kanter, isn't very good. From the section excerpted here, it comes off as a slightly more modern-feeling variation on How To Marry A Millionaire or Tiffin's just-completed The Pleasure Seekers, the only difference being that the three girls appear to have some other interest than just landing a husband. It also seems like if it had been picked up as a series, it would have been the Charlie's Angels of its time. The first few minutes are just Tiffin and Newmar stretching a lot, and it's proof that this is, in fact, not enough to make a show entertaining.

Moran, who I suppose would have been the Kate Jackson of the series, didn't do much after this pilot failed (I think she understudied some parts on Broadway). She comes off as a younger, cuter version of her mother. Tiffin could be a terrific comedienne when given the chance (see One, Two, Three, where she delivers the best and funniest performance in the movie), but she doesn't have much material to work with here and falls back on looking cute and befuddled. And Newmar is, heretically, the weakest link: she can play robots, Catwomen and other cartoon characters, but delivering one-liners was not her thing.

Probably not worth watching all the way through, then, but worth a look if you want to know a) Why this show didn't get picked up, b) What Vincent Sherman was doing by 1965, and c) What Thelma Ritter's daughter looks like.

1 comment:

Marty McKee said...

I stumbled across this a few days ago. Those first few minutes play a little too erotically for 1965 TV, don't they?