The First Episode

There's been a lot of talk about pilots lately — all of it sparked by TV Guide's list of the Ten Best Pilots of All-Time (which was written by someone who apparently thinks TV has only existed for the last decade or so). Now the Elburn Herald has listed some of the worst, many taken from my book UNSOLD TV PILOTS.

For me, some of the best pilots (which led to series) that are not on the TV Guide list are The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All In the Family, Hill Street Blues, The West Wing, The Rockford Files, Law & Order, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Hawaii Five-O, Monk, St. Elsewhere,  Crime Story, Murphy Brown, Married With Children, Boomtown, Thirtysomething and Cheers.

6 thoughts on “The First Episode”

  1. I’d add CSI to that list for two reasons.
    1) It was a show that shouldn’t have worked.
    2) It kills off a main character after we have gotten to know her in the pilot episode.
    It lays groundwork for both the first season and the next episode (solving the murder case of the main character that was killed in the pilot).
    In terms of a pilot — it really is a workhorse.

  2. I have found that many pilots don’t work for me. It’s why I normally give shows two or three weeks before I decide on them.
    But I have to give you Mary Tyler Moore. That pilot is still one of my favorite episodes of the series (and I love the series.) The interview itself is enough to make it a classic.

  3. James: “I’d add CSI to that list for two reasons…”
    That’s interesting to me; I watched the CSI pilot and absolutely hated it. I don’t know why I bothered to watch the second episode, but I thought it was a significant improvement, and became a fan of the show pretty quick. (Though I decided to stop watching it this season.)
    Mr. Goldberg: was the *Boomtown* pilot the actual first episode, with the river speech? If so, yeah, I agree with you. (That may be a stupid question, but I know it isn’t uncommon for episodes to air out-of-order.)

  4. Agreed on “Married with Children,” especially for the scene in the shoe store involving the bratty little boy with the fat mother, who says, “I want a balloon!” and Al replying, “You’ve already got one.”
    Gold, as well as other lines in that episode.


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