Have you ever been recommended a TV show, only for a friend to warn you, “It doesn’t really get good until Season 2”?
The best TV pilots
1. Breaking Bad - 'Pilot'
What The Critics Said: “The series has a slight vein of black humor, but it is very, very dark: Thelma & Louise as seen by Dostoyevsky.” – Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times
2. Lost - ‘Pilot: Part I’
“Lost delivers on every promise it makes to its audience and is simply the best new show on any of the networks this season.” – KJB, IGN
3. Mad Men - ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’
“In the first episode of his remarkable series, [showrunner Matthew] Weiner turns on the gas, lights a match and places his characters on top of a long, slow flame.” - Slant Magazine
4. The Walking Dead - 'Days Gone Bye'
What The Critics Said: “If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead in graphic novel form, the series will be incredible, because it brings to life every image from the comic books. If you’re a zombie fan who doesn’t know the world of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, you’ll find a familiar world with new characters that you’ll instantly be drawn to.” – Ron Hogan, Den of Geek
5. The Sopranos - ‘Pilot’
What The Critics Said: ”The Sopranos’ challenge is to convince its audience that, when the truck hijackings are over and the kneecaps are bandaged, this is just another family with the same kinds of problems to which we can all relate. Without that element of self-recognition, The Sopranos would be little more than The Godfather meets DiResta. Executive producer-creator-writer-director David Chase rises to the challenge though, with incredibly absorbing scripts and the help of a remarkable cast.” – Barry Garron, The Hollywood Reporter
6. The West Wing - 'Pilot'
What The Critics Said: ”[The] West Wing is an original from the outset, blending artful dialogue and sharp performances with Schlamme’s sure directorial hand to construct an hour of sublime soapiness.” – Ray Richmond, Variety
7. House - 'Pilot'
What The Critics Said: “Calling House a miracle would be going too far, but it has some miraculous qualities, one of them being the subtlest and most artful kind of sentimentality imaginable.” – Tom Shales, The Washington Post
8. Game Of Thrones - 'Winter is Coming'
What The Critics Said: “Fans of the books can’t complain. This was an absolutely faithful adaptation. Menacing, brutal and complex, a solid start.” – Sarah Hughes, the Guardian
9. Twin Peaks - 'Pilot'
What The Critics Said: “It’s television at its best — climax, building, and climaxing again, ever drawing the viewer into its intrigue.” – Richard Hack, The Hollywood Reporter
10. Mr Robot - 'eps1.0_hellofriend.mov'
“By grounding the action entirely within the psyche of a bug-eyed, Robin Hood-esque hacker named Elliot Alderson. [creator Sam] Esmail successfully constructs a compelling thriller that examines modern-day urban alienation via the socio-political zeitgeist, with an engaging visual aesthetic to boot.” – Vikram Murthi, Vulture
- The best TV shows on 2021, revealed