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