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April 24, 2014

TV Guide picks the best pilots (and gets it wrong)

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 5th 2008 2:03PM
Lost
I'm sorry, but while I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion about "best this" and "best that" (not to be confused with "favorite this" and "favorite that"), sometimes such a list has some entries that just make you scratch your head so much that you have to throw the whole list away and start over. Case in point, this list of the 10 Best TV Pilots from the new issue of TV Guide.

While I'm not going to sit here and argue about shows on the list like Lost, The Sopranos, and Alias, I am going to take issue with the inclusion of Desperate Housewives, The Shield, and Football Wives. Honestly, are these true representatives of the best first episodes of TV shows? Forget about what the shows became (great shows can often have so-so early episodes), just the first episodes themselves. Was there truly anything special about Desperate Housewives that would place it ahead of...oh, I don't know, 400 other shows in the history of television?

And speaking of that, this list seems awfully...current? The oldest show on the list is Saturday Night Live, and even that one is still on the air. They choose 30 Rock, and while it's one of my favorite comedies of all-time, it's not one where I think "hey, that show had one of the best first episodes I've ever seen!" This is one of those lists that's notable for what it doesn't include more than what it does include. For current shows, how about Mad Men? For past shows, how about Friends, The West Wing, The Twilight Zone, or (as James Poniewozik says at Time) Arrested Development? That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure you can name more in the comments below.

Way too often magazines like TV Guide try to be not only "balanced" (which makes the list off-balanced) or they try to find this shaky mixture of the hip and the current and the classic, not because of quality but to be well-rounded and (because they have to stay current) tie it into something that's happening now. Which is probably why a show like The Shield is on the list, because it starts its final season soon.

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Phish

HELLO? what about battlestar galactica??
the mini-series alone was awesome, but lets say that they cant count that, what about the 1st episode "33" ??
thats one of the best episodes of all time in television! let alone a pilot!

September 08 2008 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

I'm in agreement on Mad Men the pilot really stands out as the best episode of the series.

September 07 2008 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ColdBrew

I don't understand the shield comment. It should be number 1. I had to pick myself up off the floor after that pilot episode aired. The shield has had up and down episodes since then but the pilot will always be great!

September 06 2008 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cody

The first episode of the Shield is far and away some of the best television ever shown. When the pedophile won't reveal the location of the child, so they bring in Vic to get him to talk, and Vic hits him with a telephone book, the show instantly became one of my all-time favorites. Saying The Shield doesn't belong on a list of best first episodes is like saying the stars don't shine and the rain don't fall. It just doesn't make sense.

September 06 2008 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
StillBash

Encounter at Farpoint.

I know that's not a show. Fans know what I mean.

September 06 2008 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Danny Smith

My top 10 pilots (prime time; no particular order):

The Prisoner
Time Tunnel
Arrested Development
Futurama
Green Acres
Moonlighting
Cheers
Hogan's Heroes
Battlestar Galactica (remake)
Kolchak: The Night Stalker ('70)

September 06 2008 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Albert

The Desperate Housewives pilot has always been praised for how good it is. It really sets the tone for the entire series, with a perfect balance of pathos and humor.

September 06 2008 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C C

The two that should absolutely NOT be on the list are Football Wives and 30 Rock. Football Wives, despite its reported high quaility, should have been automatically disqualified because it didn't get picked up. The 30 Rock pilot was not that good. Remember when the critics previewed the new shows which debuted in the fall of 2006? They gave better reviews to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

September 06 2008 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe

"I can feel it coming in the air tonight". 'Nuff said. Any list of top tv pilots that does not include Miami Vice has no credibility whatsoever. Revolutionary show and maybe the best episode of its entire run.

September 06 2008 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jessie

Veronica Mars is one of the best pilots ever.

September 06 2008 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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