May 24, 2013 by rachelcmann
The first sentence of a great novel. The opening credits of a movie. The pilot of a television show. There’s a lot to be communicated in a short period of time. TV pilots in particular are a nightmare of first impressions. You have to introduce a bunch of characters, make the audience care about them. Introduce the show, what it’s about and what it’s going to be about going forward. And you have to have a hook. How do you get people on board with your vision in 48 show minutes or less?
With fall pilot season rapidly approaching, I wanted to talk about the inevitability of the swift death of some potentially good shows. I try to give shows a couple of episodes before I give up on them. Sometimes a whole season. I recognize that there is a lot of information to relate in a pilot, and if you’ve ever been in a training seminar you know that there’s only so much your leader can do to keep it lively. Take Orphan Black for example, a show riding Doctor Who coattails on Saturday nights. I watched the pilot and I wasn’t hooked. Then a
few weeks ago someone with similar tastes suggested I give it another couple of episodes. Orphan Black is a high concept show, and as much as it intrigued me, I wasn’t sure it was worth my time. However, now I’m going to check out a few more episodes to see if it draws me in (no promises).
So I ask that you give shows more than just the first episode. Give a show a couple of hours to earn your viewing time. First impressions are important but they aren’t everything. It’s okay to be wrong and to change your mind. If you just hate it on the first pass, that’s okay it happens, but if it was interesting enough to you to invest in the pilot, it should be enough to stay on for episode 2 and 3. Assuming of course it doesn’t get cancelled.
- The 50 Best Television Pilots of All Time (complex.com)
- ‘Zombieland’ TV Pilot Dropped By Amazon; Creator Cites Fan Hate (slashfilm.com)
- On the impossibility of enjoying TV episodes (macleans.ca)