Vincent Terrace’s ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TELEVISION PILOTS: 1937-2012 is one of those works that’s easier to describe than “review.” A huge trade paperback, it alphabetically lists 5,190 pilot programs through the TV medium’s history, whether it made it to series, only aired once or never aired at all.
Terrace vows this is the “most complete record” of pilots ever assembled, and who am I to argue? From ABA OF THE JUNGLE to ZSA ZSA (of the Gabor sisters), the book covers them all in capsule format with minimal plot, cast and crew information. The index allows you to look up the numbered entries by performers, which is incredibly handy.
Note that the book’s contents are not reviews, and rarely do they extend past the cursory look; one notable example is the much buzzed-about, ultimately failed WONDER WOMAN pilot of 2011 for NBC, whose story Terrace details at length.
Aside: Can you believe there was a proposed series titled WITHOUT BREASTS, THERE IS NO PARADISE? No joke, folks, and you’ll find all the info here. It’s fun to flip through and land on such nuggets at random. Godspeed to he who attempt a front-to-back read.
The bad news: At $145 retail, this is likely out-of-reach to most of the boob-tube obsessives who would salivate over such a reference work. A good used copy might be their best hope.
Thematically, this ENCYCLOPEDIA makes a good companion to McFarland & Company’s recent SINGLE SEASON SITCOMS guide by Bob Leszczak. —Rod Lott