Today, we look at how the series finale of Undeclared showed the series from a different perspective for a possible backdoor pilot.
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 Copy Shop Crew – Eric (Jason Segel) and his copy shop buddies (David Krumholtz and Kyle Gass) have misadventures
SERIES IT AIRED ON Undeclared
After his hour long dramady series, Freaks and Geeks, was critically acclaimed but a commercial failure, Judd Apatow tried again on a different network with the half hour sitcom, Undeclared, about a group of college freshmen.
The main romance on the show was between gawky Steven (Jay Baruchel) and the cute Lizzie (Carla Gallo), who technically had an older boyfriend, Eric (Jason Segel), who was out of college. When we see Eric, he’s a total tool, and eventually Lizzie and Eric break up, and Lizzie begins to date Steven.
The show wasn’t doing well, so Apatow knew that their 17th episode would be their last, so he cleverly both found a way to give the series a nice ending while also turning the final episode into a possible backdoor pilot for Eric, flipping things around so that we can see the situation from Eric’s perspective (the episode is titled “Eric’s POV”), where he obviously has a lot going on in his life, including his former drug addict former step dad who he still hangs out with despite his mother dumping the guy (Ben Stiller is excellent in the role).
Eric’s friends at the copy shop convince him that he could possibly win Lizzie back.
Meanwhile, Lizzie has a hair emergency, and Steven is missing out on spending time with his buddies, so he sort of blows her off, and she freaks out. Eric, meanwhile, seems like he is about to swoop in on the vulnerable Lizzie, but Steven eventually gets his head out of his ass, and apologizes to Lizzie, and they make out….just as the elevator opens to Eric, about to make a dramatic scene to get Lizzie back. He is devastated, and his friends luckily close the elevator doors before either Lizzie or Steven see them.
However, by the end of the episode, Eric is trying to look on the bright side (unlike the TV series, there was no bright side there, as that was the last episode).
DID THE PILOT GO TO SERIES? It did not.
SHOULD IT HAVE? I mean, Segel is great, and so was Apatow and Paul Feig, so the show would have probably been pretty good, so, I guess so? We’d have a great 13 episodes before it was canceled, as well.
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 email@example.com (don’t suggest in the comments, as this way, it’ll be a surprise!).