Personally I have always loved WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE and it has been getting better the more I rewatch it, so I don't see the second pilot as a comedown at all ... more importantly, I think it also shows that the combination of an interesting notion and some measure of action was the ticket ... WHERE NO MAN doesn't have much more action than CAGE, but it sure SEEMS like it does.
I have always been monumentally unimpressed with CAGE's casting, outside of John Hoyt and the guy with the ears (even the latter has plenty of room for improvement.) So WHERE NO MAN is a total upgrade for me.
But in terms of westerniifying (nifty word, no sarcasm) ... what were the alternatives GR has to offer up to the network for pilot 2, in additon to Peeple's WHERE NO MAN:
Here Comes the Brides (sorry, that was MUDD'S WOMEN, Stephen Kandel)
The Patriot Act (THE OMEGA GLORY, GR at his worst or awfully close to it.)
Geezus and Double-Geezus! You could have had David Lean shooting after William Goldman rewriting and these turkeys would STILL be turkeys! Those are like westerns, but really bad westerns!
GR and everybody else should have been thanking the gods that the network chose WHERE NO MAN as pilot 2.