With Bill and Ted Face the Music hitting theaters on Friday, there has been a lot of conversation about the origins of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. One recollection that keeps coming up? How Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter saved Bogus Journey from bad studio notes by supporting writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. Originally, it turns out, studio executives wanted a sequel that would have been much more similar to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, sending the pair inside of the books of the Western canon in order to hobnob with fictional characters and pass an English exam.
Matheson and Solomon, who in the Bogus Journey commentary track had discussed frankly some of their frustration with how parts of the movie ultimately came out, instead pitched an idea in which Bill and Ted died, went to Hell, and had to find their way back. If that sounds familiar to you, it's because it's what the movie ultimately turned into.
"There was a time there was a time when they wanted us to do a sequel to Excellent Adventure that was Bill and Ted go into literature for an English test," Solomon told ComicBook.com. "And Chris and I railed against the idea, because it seemed like exactly the same movie done again....And it didn't feel to us like we would be doing something fresh and original, which is why we ended up with what was originally called Bill & Ted Go to Hell. And we would have had to have done the Bill and Ted go into fiction version had it not been for Alex and Keanu backing us and saying, 'We want to do the where-we-die one.'"
Interestingly enough, the idea of Bill and Ted traveling into fiction ultimately did make its way to the screen -- but not in a feature film, but instead in a pair of television series.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures was an animated series, which first ran on CBS in 1990, featuring the voices of Winter, Reeves, and George Carlin, reprising their roles from the first movie. A second season ran on Fox Kids, but lost the original cast in favor of Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy as Bill and Ted. Shortly thereafter, there was another show, also called Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, which was a live-action series that ran for seven episodes on Fox in the summer of 1992.
In both versions, Bill and Ted would eventually travel into fiction; the animated series featured a secondary phone booth, called "Squint," which would allow them to travel into books, TV, and the inner workings of the human body.
On the live-action version, they didn't have a new booth, but used the original, hooking its antenna into a cable box and using it to enter a soap opera to change a plot point that was upsetting Missy.
Ultimately, neither of the two TV shows had the reputation or staying power that the movies did, suggesting that going to Hell was probably the right idea.
Bill and Ted Face the Music will be in theaters and available to purchase digitally on Friday.