I recently saw an episode of CHiPs, the 80s cop show about the California Highway Patrol. (Fun fact: not the first show about that particular branch of law enforcement in CA.) There was an episode called “Force Seven”, about an elite team of police officers who use martial arts instead of the usual police tactics. Ninjas were just getting popular. It felt like a backdoor pilot, although frankly it wasn’t that interesting as a series. It might have worked as a TV movie but it feels like scenes were missing that should have been there.
What’s a “backdoor pilot” you ask? Well, it’s an episode made with the intention of producing a new show. If they can’t sell the pilot, turn it into an episode of a currently popular show and hope it plays well with the public. Me-TV, the retro television network I saw the aforementioned episode on, has a list of 11 backdoor pilots that never got a series (or in one case did but with a different cast), including that one and one more familiar to BW readers. (The one up above if you’re new here.)