Today, we look at how the series finale of Quincy, M.E. ignored all of the regular cast members just to try to spin off the recurring character of Quincy’s second wife instead.
This is Back Door Blues, a feature about “backdoor pilots.” Backdoor pilots are episodes of regular TV series that are intended to also work as pilots for a new series. Sometimes these pilots get picked up, but a lot of times they did not get picked up. I’ll spotlight examples of both successful and failed backdoor pilots.
December is a month of Back Door Blues! Following our look at how The Facts of Life‘s series finale tried to set up a new series, we’ll look at a week’s worth of series finales serving as backdoor pilots!
CONCEPT: The Cutting Edge – A brilliant surgeon, Dr. Gabriel McCracken (Barry Newman) and his specialty unit, Project Hope, try to make miraculous things happen
SERIES IT AIRED ON Quincy, M.E.
Okay, here’s the tricky thing for me and backdoor pilots in series finales. One, I think that it doesn’t count for MY perception of backdoor pilots to do stuff like The Closer transitioning into Major Crimes, as the first episode of Major Crimes literally continued from the last episode of The Closer (they aired back-to-back). So that’s a whole other thing (and yes, I’ve already done a few backdoor pilots like that. I’ll just stop doing that going FORWARD).
Two, I think for the purpose of THIS SPECIFIC WEEK, shows that have backdoor pilots in their series finale only count if the show KNOWS that it was its series finale, as that’s the only reason these specific episodes are interesting, because shows chose to use their final episode to try to spin off a new show. THAT’S interesting. A show just happening to do a backdoor pilot in an episode that TURNED OUT to their final episode is a whole other thing. So for THIS SPECIFIC WEEK, I’m not counting the Green Acres dual-backdoor pilots or the Barnaby Jones backdoor pilot in what turned out to be the final episode of the series. Nether show knew it was getting canceled. I’ll feature them in other future Back Door Blues installments, though!
Quincy, M.E., on the other hand, knew it was on the way out when it released the final episode of its eighth season, and it was used to spinoff a series only tangentially related to Quincy. As noted, Newman (who only VERY recently passed away) plays a brilliant surgeon who actually reattaches a guy’s arm in the episode. Quincy only appears in a few scenes spread out throughout the episode.
One of the doctors working with McCracken was Dr. Emily Hanover (Anita Gillette), who was Quincy’s second wife. She was introduced in this final season, they got married, and she became a recurring character. Gillette was to continue on in the new series if it got picked up (that is why I believe that this was a planned series finale). I assume this means that Quincy would have made occasional guest appearances on the new series, as well.
DID THE PILOT GO TO SERIES? It did not.
SHOULD IT HAVE? The episode was fine, so sure, it would have been a decent enough show. The episode was annoying for not being about Quincy and his cast (only Quincy and Hanover appear in the episode, and she wasn’t even an official cast member).
Okay, that’s it for this installment of Back Door Blues! I KNOW the rest of you have suggestions for other interesting backdoor pilots, so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (don’t suggest in the comments, as this way, it’ll be a surprise!).