No Robot, No Dr. Smith in Un-Aired 1960's B/W Pilot!

Truly shocking! :)

"When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

- Pablo Picasso

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  • 20 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Erco it looks like your posting a Lost in Space video.

    Good to see the Beverly Hillbillies pilot though, they had used most of the content as clips in a regular episode, and toned down the annoyingly loud laughter.
  • No, that's the gag. Everyone here should already know that unaired LIS pilot "No Place to Hide" was villain and robot-free. Somebody sent me this Bev Hillbillies pilot and figured I'd throw everyone a curve for some comic relief.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • So, what you're saying is that Beverly Hillbillies would have been even better with a robot?
  • Possibly, but of course they already had Ellie May to boost ratings. :)
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,146
    edited August 14 Vote Up0Vote Down
    It's not unusual for the original pilot to differ even significantly from the commissioned series. Star Trek was the same, though technically in this case NBC rejected the pilot out-of-hand and requested some heavy revisions for a second pilot. For LIS they were able to at least keep the cast, sets, and much of the basic concept.

    The original That Girl pilot is hardly recognizable. Marlo Thomas stayed as Ann Marie, but Ted Bessell's character was completely different. Whole swaths of the concept were modified. Her original father was Harold Gould, who I first met in the late 70s (he was later cast as Rhoda's dad).

    Sometimes a "spinoff" pilot has to be changed before being commissioned. There were a number of critical story points they altered between the two-parter Six Million Dollar Man episode where they introduced (and killed) Jaime Sommers, and the actual Bionic Woman series they later developed.

    The Beverly Hillbillies pilot contains material not intended for airing. The added segments were really to sell the series to prospective sponsors. Back in the day they tried to get one or two companies to sponsor the series outright. In the case of the Beverly Hillbillies, it was RJ Reynolds.
  • Ha, I saw what you were doing there immediately Erco. Co's I'm sure we did the LIS pilot thing before already.
  • The other nice thing about the Hillbillies pilot is we get to see Bea Benaderet in a couple of very funny scenes. Fans of The Flintstones will know her as Betty Rubble (the first couple of seasons, anyway).
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,146
    edited August 14 Vote Up0Vote Down
    MikeDYur wrote: »
    they had used most of the content as clips in a regular episode, and toned down the annoyingly loud laughter.

    Funnily enough, I'm pretty sure this is not a traditional laugh track. For some shows (not precisely sure if this is one), they recorded a real audience watching a screening, then as necessary sweetened the audience reaction. They wouldn't have done it for all the episodes.

    That said, the work would likely have been done by Charley Douglass, the "father" of the laugh track. By this time he had gotten exceptionally good at making it seem real. That this track sounds a bit overdone makes me think he was either coerced into over-sweetening, or at least some of the audio is from a screening.
  • What? You mean there is an actual individual, Charley Douglass, we can blame for ruining so much American comedy with laugh tracks?

  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    they had used most of the content as clips in a regular episode, and toned down the annoyingly loud laughter.

    Funnily enough, I'm pretty sure this is not a traditional laugh track. For some shows (not precisely sure if this is one), they recorded a real audience watching a screening, then as necessary sweetened the audience reaction. They wouldn't have done it for all the episodes.

    That said, the work would likely have been done by Charley Douglass, the "father" of the laugh track. By this time he had gotten exceptionally good at making it seem real. That this track sounds a bit overdone makes me think he was either coerced into over-sweetening, or at least some of the audio is from a screening.

    Do you remember some of those black and white sit-com's like The Dick VanDyke Show, where there was somebody in the audience who had to be on something. The belly laugh lasted the whole show, I bet they were a little sore later.
  • And somehow, this rambling thread does come back to Lost in Space, for Dave Bowman anyway.

    Gordon, I'm constantly in awe of your amazing breadth of knowledge!



    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • Heater. wrote: »
    What? You mean there is an actual individual, Charley Douglass, we can blame for ruining so much American comedy with laugh tracks?

    Side-by-side the versions with the tracks always performed better in audience tests. So naturally sponsors insisted on them. Sold more soap.

    Except now, where laugh tracks are sparingly used on 1-camera comedies. Obviously, shows performed in front of a live audience still have a laughter track, and sometimes, it's weetened when a joke falls flat. Some things won't change.
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,146
    edited August 15 Vote Up0Vote Down
    MikeDYur wrote: »
    Do you remember some of those black and white sit-com's like The Dick VanDyke Show, where there was somebody in the audience who had to be on something. The belly laugh lasted the whole show, I bet they were a little sore later.

    Carl Reiner's laugh was fairly distinctive, and you can hear him from time to time. Probably the most obvious was Desi Arnaz's guffaws during the I Love Lucy shows.

    On these live audience comedy shows they'd always use a warm up person, quite frequently a producer, writer, or one of the performers. They'd often set up the scene before shooting began. On Rhoda, a show from the 70s, they might use Lorenzo Music, who also doubled as the unseen Carlton the Doorman. So when he did his line, the audience would titter because of the familiar anticipation, but also because they've been entertained by the "real" Carlton for the last couple of hours.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 19,814
    edited August 15 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I'm quite sure that is true Gordon. Like a lot of advertising/marketing tricks it works but it's really annoying.

    Over the decades I have seen so many viewers in Blighty cringe at the laugh track and change channel. Perhaps the show was not funny, or the Brits didn't understand the American humor, or the fake laughter was really annoying.

    A live show with real laughs from a real audience is quite another thing.

    How do advertisers sleep at night? A lot of the time what they are doing is lying.

  • Heater. wrote: »
    <snip>
    How do advertisers sleep at night? A lot of the time what they are doing is lying.

    Tell me you are not just now realizing that fact.....
  • Ha, no. It's been on my mind since I realized advertisers were immoral, deceptive, liars. Round about 1966.

    They know it too. That's why they try to make their kind look good. Remember the husband in the TV series Bewitched? He was in advertising. Such a nice man.


  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,146
    edited August 15 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Heater. wrote: »
    Over the decades I have seen so many viewers in Blighty cringe at the laugh track and change channel. Perhaps the show was not funny, or the Brits didn't understand the American humor, or the fake laughter was really annoying.

    These days, laugh tracks are not used as much on either side of the pond, but it's true the technique was heavily plundered in the 60s through the 70s. An unlikely hit such as Hogan's Heros would have been lost on (at least) American audiences without cued laughter, and it wasn't a show that lent itself to multi-camera live audience. A comedy set in a WWII German POW camp? People wouldn't know when to laugh, or even if they should.

    The BBC was always more fond of multi-camera staged productions, where in the US, the preference at the time was for single-camera filmed shoots. A studio audience is much more natural in staged productions, so it was easier to bring in a studio audience.

    By the mid-1970s there was a decided trend back toward multi-camera staged productions in front of a live audience, where it's now the standard practice. CBS -- the network that previously jammed the airwaves with canned tracks -- led the way with Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and many others. Some (like MTM, Newhart, Rhoda) were shot on 35mm film, and some (WKRP, All in the Family, ABC's Taxi, etc.) were shot on video. It could be argued that Michael J. Fox honed his comedic timing because he was able to do Family Ties before a live audience.

    None of this means they still don't sweeten the laughter with pre-recorded giggles, either to punch up a gag or to fill in for pickups, where they redo a scene after the audience has gone home.

    Few producers, and even fewer performers, liked canned laughs, and the decision to use it was largely between the network and the show's sponsors. The first season of The Odd Couple was shot single-camera without an audience. Both principle actors HATED it, as did producer Gerry Marshall. They guys were heavy hitters with a lot of influence, and this show is an example of successfully changing its format to live audience. You'll see a marked difference from the second season onward. Happy Days (also from Gerry Marshall) followed the same pattern.
  • Heater. wrote: »
    How do advertisers sleep at night? A lot of the time what they are doing is lying.

    I don't know if canned laugh tracks is outright "lying" -- audience shills have been used for as long as there have been staged performances. I'd be surprised if Shakespeare didn't use them from time to time.

  • erco wrote: »

    Gordon, I'm constantly in awe of your amazing breadth of knowledge!

    +1.

    I still manage to catch two episodes of HH every weekday evening, just an old standby. I'd rather watch those reruns than MASH, which both seem to be on some channel or another all the time.

    Makes me wish we had some British reruns on broadcast tv. The wife isn't fond of Benny Hill though, I don't know why. :cool:

    BTW: What ever happened to the comedy variety show?

    Maybe they just don't make host's the way they used too.
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