PitchMen (found Discovery Channel docudrama series; 2009-2011)
PitchMen was a docudrama TV series that aired on the Discovery Channel, produced by Original Productions. The series provided a behind-the-scenes peek at the legendary pitchmen Billy Mays & Anthony "Sully" Sullivan's lives in the competitive direct-response marketing business.
While the episodes' content varied, most of them started with inventors showing off their ideas to the two pitchmen. A random number of products (usually two) would be selected from the pile, re-evaluated and then field-tested for any potential interest. If the field tests on the products were satisfactory, the crew would film an infomercial for them. The infomercial would then air on a test market, and the inventors get later notified whether their product was a success.
In-between the invention pitching, the show would delve deeper into Mays' and Sullivan's personal lives. The couple would go on trade shows, feud with each other (or with rival pitchman Vince Offer), or generally hang out with their families.
The show was officially announced by Discovery on January 9th, 2009, under the name But Wait... There's More (with 13 episodes planned, as opposed to the 12 episodes eventually released). Interestingly, reports of Mays and Sullivan signing a production deal for the show's pilot came around as early as June 2008, with a name more close to the final one, Pitch Men. The first episode, "High Impact Item", aired on April 15th, 2009, and was met with generally positive reviews.
In an unexpected change of events, Billy Mays was found dead in his Tampa home on June 28th, 2009 (3 days before the final episode aired). In response to this, Discovery changed their screen bug to feature Mays, aired a marathon of all the episodes, and released a tribute special named "Pitchman: A Tribute to Billy Mays" (which can be easily found online). Despite Mays' death, a July 2009 press-release from Discovery announced a second season of the show. As a result of the lack of Mays, Sullivan became the sole star of the second season, with an occasional appearance of Mays' son, Billy Mays III.
Despite Sullivan's effort into salvaging the show, the viewership of the second season's premiere was too low, and Discovery pulled the plug after just two episodes. The rest of the episodes were eventually finished by October 2010, and Discovery put the show back on their schedule on January 2011, albeit on a filler slot with barely any promotion (so much so that most people still recall Discovery never airing the last episodes).
Despite being fairly popular back when it aired, for around 10 years, it was difficult to find full episodes of the show. It appears it was at one point available on several streaming services, but has since been taken down from all of them. Four full episodes could be found on YouTube, along with several clips from other episodes. Multiple torrents of the show existed, all since unavailable, too.
A DVD of the first season was created, but no longer sold officially and was not ripped online until November 2nd, 2019, when the Internet Archive user LongLostVideo dumped the disc's content on said site. The second season remained mostly lost, with the exception of a few clips and blooper reels uploaded on Sullivan's own YouTube page in 2017. On June 9th, 2020, YouTube user BessGrocery Plainville uploaded what appears to be master copies of the second sesaon's episodes (albeit in blurry quality due to YouTube's compression).
|1||High Impact Item||April 15th, 2009||Billy and Sully try to turn two inventors' million-dollar dreams into realities. A man from a Texas trailer park has solved a pesky GPS problem, while another man's gel insoles could be big news for sore feet. But will they sell when put to the test?||Found|
|2||Dual Saw Shuffle||April 22nd, 2009||One man travels from Europe for just five minutes with Billy and Sully, hoping to make a fortune on his "Dual Saw" - an idea that was born out of a friend's tragic injury. A woman leaves her career behind to make an infomercial for her cleaning product, "Shuffles."||Found|
|3||From the Jaws of Victory||April 29th, 2009||Billy and Sully take to the road to shoot a hands free cellphone spot that proves to be traffic-stopping. Then, for a real change of venue, they hit the high seas to test an inventor's ingenious shark repellent device.
Products featured: Sharkstopper, Jupiter Jack
|4||Smells Like Gold||May 6th, 2009||A German inventor needs Sully to sell his gadget, but this perfectionist might be too much for Sully the pitchman and his team. Then, a former hockey player creates a stink-eliminating spray that gets put to the test when Billy is sprayed by a skunk on shoot day.||Found|
|5||Spotting Talent||May 13th, 2009||A 17-year-old boy has invented a cleaning product called the "Spot Sucker," but needs Billy and Sully's help to get it off the ground and change his life for the better. A woman with a foot salve and a small fan-base comes to Billy and Sully to take her business to the next level.
Products featured: Spot Sucker, Heel Stick
|6||Tool Guys||May 20th, 2009||Sully is fired up to shoot an infomercial for "The Grabit" - a broken-screw extractor - but it could fall apart when Billy makes a deal without him. Born of necessity, the "Tool Band-it" works great, but still lacks an impressive demo, and Sully's sick on the big day!||Found|
|7||Spinning Green||May 27th, 2009||A successful TV pitchwoman hopes to make herself a household name with her new "Spin Gym," but making her infomercial could damage her friendship with Billy and Sully. Next, Billy gets to have some selling fun as a guest on the Tonight Show.
Products featured: Spin Gym, Kaboom
|8||Digging for Dollars||June 3rd, 2009||Billy re-vamps the ad for one of his most successful products - the "Awesome Auger" - whose inventor lost his legs in a harrowing plane crash. Then, the first-ever infomercial for affordable health insurance: Billy and his family pitch "iCan."||Found|
|9||Grater Education||June 10th, 2009||A former pitchmen and cancer survivor gets a leg up from Billy and Sully, who both cut a spot for his handmade product. Then, Billy engages in the deadliest pitch of his career, and the pitch pros are invited to lecture at Princeton University.||Found|
|10||A Tale of Three Billys||June 17th, 2009||Billy and Sully pitch a lawn fertilizer, Billy's father pitches them a new luxury product, and Billy and Sully help Billy's son direct his first commercial.
Products featured: Green Now, "Turn, Don't Burn," Ragazzi's Italian Restaurant
|11||Crunch Time||June 24th, 2009||Billy and Sully take on a revolutionary new windshield wiper and produce an explosive shoot, featuring something called the "Bug Bazooka." Then the guys get behind a new way to eat breakfast cereal, "The EZ Crunch Bowl."
Products featured: Gator Blades, EZ Crunch Bowl
|12||Revenge of the Pitchmen||July 1st, 2009||After banding together to take on a new pitchman on the block, tensions between Billy and Sully come to a head in Philadelphia, as both are determined to win a pitch-off that will decide once and for all who is the best pitchman in the business.||Found|
|1||Passing the Torch||Aug 19th, 2010||A former marine with a bright idea thinks he can revolutionize the flashlight, Sully attempts to film a new stunt for the "Mighty Sponge," and Sully puts his life on the line for an inventor carrying on his father's lifesaving legacy.||Found|
|2||Heart Wrench||Aug 26th, 2010||It's a rocky road for a 16-year-old boy, and survivor of 5 heart surgeries, who invents a cool tool. Successful inventor brothers roll the dice on a new invention, and a victim of identity theft invents a way to combat electronic pickpockets.||Found|
|3||Bear Market||Jan 18th, 2011||Inventors gamble everything on a revolutionary razor, a man creates a snack food safe that puts Sully on a closed set with a hungry grizzly, and celebrity DJ Kennedy pitches her friend Dr. Drew Pinsky an invention designed to keep prescription drugs safe.||Found|
|4||From the Jaws of Victory||Feb 1st, 2011||A robotic whisk has design flaws, and a food-wrapping invention is pitched, along with gravity-defying workout boots.
Products featured: RoboStir, Wraptor Teeth, Power Jumpers
|5||The Cutting Edge||Feb 8th, 2011||A young inventor hooks Sully with a collapsing trashcan, but a manufacturing short cut may destroy the product's future. Two friends think a simple piece of plastic can keep you safe from intruders, and a legendary knife man gets a chance at one last pitch.
Products featured: Collapsican, KeyPout, The Amazing Knife
|6||The New Gun In Town||Jan 25th, 2011||Sully and assistant Kennedy head to a Chicago home and houseware convention to hear some sometimes crazy pitches for the "next big thing," including an easy stringer and a tater tornado. Then, Sully heads to the circus to test a revolutionary new needle.||Found|
|7||Wave of Success||Feb 15th, 2011||An inventor risks everything to get his Stadium Back chair - and his face - on the air. A mother of four puts it all on the line with her simple alternative to the chip clip. Then, Sully and Kennedy try out an electric skateboard.
Products featured: Stadium Back, Ba'Noodle, E-Glide
|8||Fighting Shape||Feb 22nd, 2011||Sully puts out a call for fitness products; a female fitness star comes back to the spotlight with her "Chest Magic" machine. Also, BMXers test two new concepts: one, a "bicycle meets elliptical trainer," and the other, a "bicycle meets rowing machine."
Products featured: Chest Magic, StreetStrider, RowBike
|9||Fishing for Gold||March 1st, 2011||Sully mixes business and pleasure testing a Frisbee flying fishing tool. An inventor also hooks Sully's heart with a fitness tool a man invents to save his best friend's life. Sully and Kennedy field test a patent pro's new suction device.
Products featured: Cool Caster, Lightning Rod, Tie Pods
|10||On a Wing and a Prayer||March 8th, 2011||Sully shares his tricks of the trade with 3 junior pitchmen and endures some of the adults' less successful pitches. A fighter pilot pitches his new fitness tool, and a friend comes out of his own pitchman retirement with "Flippin Sticks."
Products featured: Shower Pal, FT101 Fitness Trainer, Flippin Stick
- The first season's DVD, ripped on the Internet Archive. Retrieved 05 Nov '19
- Wikipedia page on PitchMen (contains inaccurate/outdated information). Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- The entire "Pitchman: A Tribute to Billy Mays" special on YouTube. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- Discovery's announcement of the show. Archived 04 Feb '19
- St. Petersburg Times article on the production deal. Archived 06 Jun '08
- Telegraph article on Mays' death. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- The Futon Critic's article on the second season's announcement. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- The Futon Critic article about the second season getting pulled. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- A /r/Lost_Films post about lost Billy Mays infomercials, that erroneously states that the last PitchMen episodes never aired. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- The first season's Amazon Prime Video page. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- Broken DirecTV page on one of the first season's episodes. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- Google Play TV's page on the first season. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- Followshows page on the first season. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- TV Guide page on the second season. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- TV.com page on the second season. Retrieved 08 Sept '19
- EpisodeWorld page on the second season. Retrieved 08 Sept '19