I just rewatched a particular series premiere for the first time in years, and I since I’ve only seen it I believe twice to begin with, I was pretty blown away all over again by what a strong pilot it is. Even the best shows don’t always have the best pilots, or first seasons for that matter, because they are still finding their footing. But a stellar series premiere can go a long way. So I made a list of what I think are some of the strongest pilots of the shows that I love!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest
Season One was a weaker one compared to other seasons, according to most fans that I’ve talked to/read. But it was still awesome television; I personally love Season One, and the opening two-parter is extremely good. Despite many “Buffy” fans’ greater preference for future seasons, the pilot makes it to many a fan’s list of favorite episodes overall. It opens with a vampire murder, and does a great job of covering a lot of exposition and character introduction very nicely. It set itself apart as something different than other shows about kids, when it has another vampire kill someone you think may be one of the main characters of the show, and in turn Buffy has to kill her new friend since he’s a vampire now, when all she wanted to do is fit in like a normal girl. But Sunnydale High is no fresh start, for in every generation…
Oh and this pilot gets extra props for fixing itself after a pretty dismal first attempt. Wait, that’s not fair. It still had a lot of awesomeness. But while I feel bad for Original!Willow, I love Alyson Hannigan too much to fully apologize.
Six Feet Under
Another show that opens with a death, in this case, Nathaniel Fisher, owner of Fisher & Sons Funeral Home, and patriarch of the Fisher family. He gets hit by a bus while driving his hearse. The episode in general is, as the Wiki recap says, “emotional chaos.” We meet the whole Fisher family, plus/including Brenda and Keith. Oh oh oh! And maybe I just like pilots starring Eric Balfour, because he’s there getting Claire to smoke crack!
Rewatching the following clips (Youtube is a strange, unpredictable mistress), I’m struck even more by the artistry of this show. I’ve already gone on about it, and can’t go on without spoiling, so I will just leave you with some awesome SFU pilot scenes:
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Mother and Child Reunion
While this pilot does not star Eric Balfour, it does star JOEY JEREMIAH, so need I say more? Well, I’ll say more anyway. I’m going to write in greater detail about this show soon, but for now, just know how astonished I was to tune in for the original “Degrassi (Junior) High” cast members, now adults, only to get drawn in by the show overall, including the new Degrassi students. I think it’s an extremely cool premise to begin with. Spike got pregnant at 13 in “Degrassi Junior High,” so they rebooted the series when her baby, Emma, reached junior high age herself. Emma is the main focus of the pilot, as she is carrying on what we find out to be a dangerous relationship with a man on the Internet, who is lying about his identity, claiming to be a kid himself. More on this later, but right from the jump, this show lets us know it’s still “Degrassi,” no kid-safe zones here, as Emma gets attacked. I thought it was great for kids and parents alike to have a show where they can talk about things like why the Internet needs to be treated with great caution, especially for kids. The reboot of the show was much different from the original, but it kept that spirit, of presenting realistic issues of what adolescents go through, even when it’s uncomfortable for parents to hear about.
And of course, it was awesome to see some of the original cast members, who get their own storylines, along with blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em reappearances of many other original cast members, as they are all in town for a school reunion.
The New Adventures of Old Christine
I have NO idea why I haven’t written more yet, about this show that awesomely, even with my love of television and pre-existing shows, came out of the woodwork to become one of my favorite-favorites of all time. Maybe because I usually get it out on Facebook: “Julia-Louis Dreyfus is a goddess.” “Clark Gregg is the MAN.” “Why isn’t Hamish Linklater more famous?” I’ll write more about it another day, but in the time being, “Old Christine” is on my list as a great pilot. I lol every time I (re-)watch it, and it also does a pretty stellar job setting up Old Christine and Richard’s relationship. The first few minutes feel just like any other (plus well-written and -acted) sitcom about a family. Things are good; we’ve worked it out; the ball is rolling — yay to life! Then Richie goes to private school, and Christine finds out about Richard’s new girlfriend the hard way — from the meanie moms. There’s so much going on in this show, and I WILL write more about it soon, out of principle if nothing else. For now, let’s just say that it’s a solid pilot to an awesome show. According to Wiki, it’s the most second-most watched ep of the entire series!
Also Pilot! Come on, guys.
Upon being stood up for a date back in 2005, I decided that It Was Time. “LOST” had come out while I was in a whole other failed relationship, also known as marriage. We didn’t have cable (hence, divorce), so I missed out on a lot of things in real time. “Gilmore Girls” Season 4, “Miss Match” — no woman should have to endure such trials.
Especially since “LOST” was on, and I was missing it. Too hard to get into a show like that mid-first-season. So after I got stood up for the date, I was like, oh well, who cares, what’s good at Blockbuster? Has Jennifer Aniston made a new “Picture Perfect?” This was before TV on DVD was really a thing, but Blockbuster totally had the first few “LOST” Season One DVDs (tapes???), so I grabbed ’em. The guy at the register cheered my choice; I got home and popped one in, and the rest was history. Immediate addiction. The pilot of “LOST” is truly epic, and feels like a movie unto itself.
Truth Be Told
And speaking of shows that feel like movies unto themselves, remember the pilot I mentioned in the first paragraph? That’s what inspired the whole blog! Because, oh man. The first episode of “Alias” is pure…is there a synonym for KICKASSERY? Because that’s the only word coming to mind.
Jennifer Garner (convincingly) cries seventeen times, and looks great with no makeup. But she also gets glam, dyes her hair pink, and speaks in different accents AND languages! AND gets her teeth ripped out via torture, but not before putting Black Widow’s chair scene to shame, or at least giving it a run for its money in the coolest hot-chicks-beat-up-mean-dudes-whilst-attached-to-chairs contest that I’ve ever witnessed.