Jake's Journey (partially found CBS pilot; 1988)

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JJ2.jpg

Peter Cook as King Arthur and Jake.

Status: Partially Found

Jake's Journey is a 1988 TV pilot that was filmed for CBS. The story follows the Finley family as they make the move from America to merry old England. Their son, Jake, has a problem fitting in or adapting to the new environment. Somehow, he finds himself in another time period, the Middle Ages. He meets a knight called George and together they embark on a quest.

Creation

The genesis of the pilot came from a phone call in which Chapman was offered the chance to write a pilot based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Chapman, however, felt that it had a limited appeal as a TV series and would easily have become repetitive and boring. Therefore, he incorporated a time travel element to the storyline so as to ensure that there are further possibilities than just to make use of a Middle Ages setting. One of the earliest cutscenes includes Jake's trip to 1939 Europe. The network wanted Jake to make use of a time machine, however, Chapman wanted it to be more mysterious.

Chapman seemed excited about the series and the future prospects of what it could be. He talked about filming all over the world and revealed that the story would conclude in a twist as George in different incarnations and at different times in history would attract Jake for a reason which he left unrevealed.

Cancellation

Both OJRIL, a collection of scripts by Graham Chapman that was published in 1999, and Lee Goldberg in "The Best TV shows that never were" state that CBS passed because they thought the audience wouldn't understand the humor. Other potential reasons are: the 1988 writer's strike (although a Starlog article about the pilot was confident that that wouldn't be a problem), director Hal Ashby's death, and Graham Chapman's own battle with cancer, which he would loose one year later. According to the Starlog article, the head of comedy started laughing at it when he got the unfinished script. Chapman and partner David Sherlock had written the script hastily finishing about 8 or 9 minutes before presenting it to the head of comedy. It should be noted, though, that this article was published before cancellation.

Cast

  • Chris Young as Jake Finley
  • Graham Chapman as Sir George/The Queen
  • Nancy Lenehan as Jean Finley
  • Lane Smith as Mike Finley
  • Fay Masterson as Sarah Finley
  • Peter Cook as King Arthur
  • Written by Graham Chapman, David Sherlock, and Andy Schatzberg
  • Directed by Hal Ashby

Gallery

Some footage from another TV show The Best TV Shows that Never Were
Some more pilot footage from the show.

Resources