Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.
With Yvonne Craig passing away this past weekend, it is worth taking a look at the 1967 “pilot” for the Batgirl series she was allegedly supposed to star in. There is a short, seven minute film that has made the rounds on the internet in which Batgirl (who is actually Commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara) teams up with Batman and Robin to defeat the Killer Moth. This has been incorrectly referred to on many occasions as a pilot for a stand-alone Batgirl series that would have spun off from Batman. In truth, this was put together as a presentation film to convince ABC executives that this new Batgirl character would be a good addition to the Batman series for its third season. The reason was that the show’s popularity had quickly waned and it was close to its last legs at that point. It first premiered at mid-season for the 1965-66 season and was a huge hit in the ratings while also turning into a cultural phenomenon that spawned multiple imitators (and also led to shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. changing format to emphasize the camp elements). By its third season, ABC was looking to retool the show and series producer William Dozier came up with the idea of introducing the Batgirl character. The plan was to draw in more female viewers with a character that the demographic could better relate to (the show was already very popular with male viewers). ABC approved the cast addition and Batgirl showed up in all of the Season 3 episodes. But despite the fact that Batgirl was loved by most of the Bat-fans (male and female alike), she wasn’t enough to help the show regain its early glory. The ratings continued to sink and ABC decided to cancel it at the end of its third year. NBC considered picking it up for a fourth season, but eventually decided to pass on the show. Whether Batgirl could have spun off into her own series if the ratings had been better in Batman’s third year is something we will never know. Interestingly, William Dozier also toyed around with a Wonder Woman series (which would have been a sitcom titled Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?) and a Dick Tracy series, but the camp superhero fad came and went too quickly on television and the networks were no longer interested. (A special thanks to the wonderful Television Obscurities site as a resource for this piece.)
You can read more about the Batman series and see the Batgirl presentation film at the Television Obscurities site at this link.
You can read more about Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince? and see the pilot at the Television Obscurities site at this link.
You can read more about the 1967 Dick Tracy series at the Television Obscurities site at this link.
Aired: Never Aired
Starring: Yvonne Craig, Adam West, Burt Ward, Tim Herbert
Created By: William Dozier
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