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    Greatest TV Pilots: Miami Vice, “Brother’s Keeper”

    Miami Vice Season 1, Episode 1: “Brother’s Keeper” (Pilot) Directed by Thomas Carter Written by Anthony Yerkovich Original air date: Sept. 16, 1984 Hey, Tubbs…ever consider a career in Southern law enforcement?” – Crockett   Miami Vice premiered on September 16, 1984 with a two-hour season premiere. The episode titled “Brother’s Keeper” garnered critical acclaim, […] More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Sports Night ‘Pilot’ is Sorkin at his finest

    Sports Night Season 1, Episode 1 ‘Pilot’ Written by Aaron Sorkin Directed by Thomas Schlemme Aired 9/22/1998 on ABC Before The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin wrote a little ABC comedy about a nightly sports show called Sports Night. Like everything Sorkin, it’s long-winded, sappy, critical, and dense as all get out: but it’s also witty, heartwarming – at […] More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Pushing Diasies’ “Pie-lette” is a whimsical, ghoulish delight

    The facts are these: a series about death, loneliness, romance, PIs, and pie shouldn’t work. Especially on network television. And yet for two seasons, it did. Bryan Fuller’s Pushing Daisies premiered in the fall of 2007 as the highest rated new series, with 13 million viewers tuning in for the pilot, “Pie-lette”. It would eventually drop in the ratings, squeaking out a renewal due to uncertainty over the writers strike before being cancelled the next season, but those who tuned in for that first episode were treated to a delightful, whimsical flight of fancy the likes of which are rarely seen on American television. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Lone Star’s fantastic pilot a victim of bad timing

    Before everyone got to know James Wolk as the intriguing Bob Benson of Mad Men, he was the lead of the short-lived FOX series Lone Star. Notoriously short-lived, in fact- the series was cancelled after only two episodes, despite receiving rave reviews from critics. Lone Star was created by the then untested Kyle Killen, whose script for The Beaver was admired around Hollywood but, at that time, had yet to be produced. Along with Wolk, the series starred Adrianne Palicki, Eloise Mumford, David Keith, and Jon Voight, along with a supporting ensemble. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Cheers ‘Give Me A Ring Sometime’ – the definitive sitcom pilot

    Every time I watch the Cheers pilot, I’m always amazed at just how low-key it is. ‘Give Me a Ring Sometime’ doesn’t try to get anybody’s attention with flashy characters or some convoluted premise: as the cold open suggests, this is just another day at a bar in Boston, where an ex-baseball player serves his friends and lends his ear to the working man. It’s suck a quiet, unassuming scene, it’s no surprise that it didn’t draw in a huge audience for the second episode (or the entire first season, really). As Sam prepares the bar for work, a clearly underage kid comes in and tries to order a beer with a military ID. Sam can see the it coming a mile away, and after the kid calls his Vietnam experience “gross”, sends his on his way. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Mad Men’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” a smooth, deceptively dark blend of style and substance

    Mad Men, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” Directed by Alan Taylor Written by Matthew Weiner Original Air Date: July 19th, 2007 Definition displayed before the episode: “MAD MEN. A term coined in the late 1950’s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue. They coined it.” With a stunning title sequence that features a man’s […] More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Friday Night Lights’ pilot spotlights middle America with specificity and grace

    The opening images in a pilot are usually incredibly specific ones. They’ve been chosen as the very first thing viewers will see, what will introduce them to this series and help them decide whether to tune in or flip to something else. In Alias, it’s Sydney Bristow’s face, her head held under water. In Battlestar Galactica, it’s a ticking clock. In Justified it’s a man in a cowboy hat and boots, heading to a duel at high noon. In Friday Night Lights, it’s Texas. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: NBC’s Saturday Night aka Saturday Night Live aka SNL

    Possibly (and very arguably) the most influential television show of all time, Saturday Night Live (SNL for short) is American comedy (albeit with a bit of Canadian help) exemplified: irreverent, absurdist, made for short attention spans, and continually being both panned and lauded by critics. Whether you still lock your door in fear of Land Shark, turned the show off in 1980 and never looked back, or are in need more cowbell, you know the magic that is SNL. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Terriers’ pilot quietly and confidently introduces its world

    Terriers had a quietly unassuming first, and only, season. A PI series closer tonally to The Big Lebowski than The Big Sleep, this was a show far more interested in examining its characters and building its reality than demanding the world’s attention; perhaps it suffered for that- the show garnered terrible ratings and remains one of the more shockingly overlooked series of the past few years, rather than the television successor to Chinatown it deserved to become. More

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