Favorite experiment with an unsold pilot: "Stranded in Space" or "Code Name: Diamond Head"?

This is a tough one for me. Both full of recognizable TV actors, both movies drag in places. I think “Stranded in Space” has a slightly more interesting story and would have made a better series. I think the riffing is slightly better in “Code Name: Diamond Head” except for the frequent complaints that they weren’t in Hawaii when they clearly were. What do you think?


There’s lots of secret agent stuff. Stranded in Space is a little more original, though it’s basically 1984 in space in a lot of ways.


The mellowness of Code Name: Diamond Head wins it for me.


The shop with the room above is pretty much directly out of 1984.


Let’s not forget San Francisco International. Which would be my favorite pilot/tv movie episode. However, between the two mentioned, definitely Code Name Diamond head. Good production values (it is Quinn Martin). Plus I actually like Roy Thinnes. He was also good in The Invaders. AND I’ve always been a fan of Ian McShane, who is good in anything.


Code Name: Diamond Head for me. As @Satoris720 notes, it’s a Quinn Martin production which appeals to the '70s child in me. Plus, it’s got Lovejoy, Roy Thinnes, France Nguyen and it just feels more '70s to me than Stranded In Space which is an experiment that is a bit blah to me.


To be fair, the production staff often made poor choices in their location shooting. There were many instances where they looked to be in a generic urban landscape that could have been anywhere.

Except that one went to series, albeit a very short run. The OP explicitly stated that this concerns unsold pilots.


Didn’t San Francisco International go to series but starring… someone other than Purnell?

But I am with you on Code Name Diamond Head. I definitely prefer it to Stranded in Space.


Yes, Lloyd Bridges took over Purnell’s role. If I’m not mistaken, Clu Gulager was the only actor that went to series from the pilot.


I’d have to call it a draw. Stranded had a better premise, but it was done in by a terrible plot and what I assume was a shoe-string budget. Diamond Head did have that interlude with the shirtless villains and some nice scenery, but they really phoned in everything else.


This, I agree with wholeheartedly.

Stranded in Space had a way cool premise (how the hell would such a series be resolved?), but the execution was… ehh. Iffy.

Me, as the pilot was, I’d love to see Code Name: Diamond Head go to series. It had a certain cool/relaxing/mellow feel and atmosphere to it, as @ArtCrow said, and I like that. There was some nifty intrigue throughout, and I dug the characters.

As for the experiments/riffing… I still have to give it to Code Name: Diamond Head. I mean, Stranded in Space is not without its charm, but Code Name: Diamond Head just has more going for it in general.


I definitely don’t find Roy Thinness as punchable in this as he was in the General Hospital segments. But he’s still pretty bland. I would write him out of the series and just focus on the ex-spy at the gambling parlor-restaurant and the musician-tuna store proprieter.


I agree with the OP, Stranded had more story potential for a series. But Diamond Head is funnier (though I read the jokes about Hawaii as the filmmakers not using -for the most part- the beauty of the island to its advantage. You’re in a lot of ugly places, or standard looking places that could have been filmed anywhere. Hawaii Five-O, by contrast, felt distinctly Hawaii)

Neither is a favorite however, I don’t revisit them a lot.


I too am on the fence. I like the set-up of Stranded In Space much better, but the execution of Diamond Head flows more nicely. Of course, Quinn Martin had that down pat, which is both a plus and a minus, as the series could have easily become very samey after a while. I think if Stranded went to series it would only have lasted one season at most, or otherwise gone the way of The Invaders with a significant change between seasons that fails to stave off the end.

I think Stranded just barely edges into the lead for me, but then dies after crossing the finish line because it didn’t bring enough life-saving liquid.


I didn’t see Code Name: Diamond Head until about 2011, and I found it hard to focus as I kept staring in amazement at how Ian McShane looked pretty much the same, just… younger, if that makes sense.

I like Stranded In Space because there’s that one tree that every 70s show had a car chase around (most notably, it can be seen in the closing credit sequence of The Dukes Of Hazzard). I agree it has a fantastic premise; a talented showrunner could do a bang up job with it.


Gotta say, I would be highly invested in the ongoing antics pertaining to the musician’s tuna can store. A pity that Quinn Martin didn’t run his A-game there.


You say you want to hide dozens of re-purloined, disassembled crown jewels someplace safe so the original thieves can’t get them back? Just park each component in an empty, remaindered, resealed Sheba can on a pallet in the storeroom!

Hey, this TV writing thing’s a snap!!


I spent a fair amount of time in Hawaii in the '90s, and I remember seeing those tuna-can stores. Small stores with an open front and a lot of prepared goods, and maybe some souvenirs. It was a real thing.

That’s one of the things I like about Code Name: Diamond Head. Everyone else shows all the beautiful tourist spots. They showed what Oahu actually looked like once you got away from those spots.


Well, how about that? I had no idea. Definitely good to know, adds a bit of authenticity to the Code Name: Diamond Head experience.

Thanks for the info, @FastidiousRobot!


I haven’t been to Hawaii, but I figured what they were showing was the non-tourist Hawaii and that’s where they’d be operating most of the time in reality. I had no issue with it.