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  • Cast of Taxi, season 1
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    Greatest TV Pilots: Taxi’s “Like Father, Like Daughter” blends comedy and heart in smart, efficient ep

    Comedy pilots are hard. Even the best sitcoms often take a while to find their voice, hitting their strides halfway through season one or even in season two. The cast needs to gel, the writers and actors need to find the right levels for each character, and the series as a whole needs to establish its tone. Given a talented and motivated showrunner, writing staff, director, and cast, each of these will come, with time, but it is extremely rare for all three to come together immediately, in the pilot. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: The O.C.

    It’s 2003 and the first week of August. In one month, it’s back-to-school time. But before that, newbie showrunner Josh Schwartz is coming to get you. He’s coming to claim your soul – to sink his hooks into you and drag you into the deepest recesses of his soapy teen drama. Little do you know how much this 90210 knock-off will surprise you with its stubbornness, subversiveness, intelligence and, most of all, heart. Welcome to the dark side. Or, if you prefer…*punches reader in the face*…welcome to The O.C., bitch. More

  • Chuck TV Pilot
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    Greatest TV Pilots: ‘Chuck’

    Pilots are always a tricky business. Some make a spectacle of themselves with an extended runtime or are churned by adverts months in advances; some have the unenviable task of juggling world building, establishing character relations, and stringing out multiple storyline threads for the entirety of the series. Television pilots require a unique blend of instant gratification as well as playing the long game. More

  • roseanne
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    Greatest TV Pilots: Roseanne, “Life and Stuff”

    Roseanne is not a sitcom with cardboard cut-out characters; absolutely not about filling out TV stereotypes. There’s no wacky neighbor, there’s no contrived plots. As much as I love Seinfeld, too many shows since rely on having stories generated by its characters’ selfishness. Further, it’s not even until a much later season that Roseanne trots out a “boys and girls compete” episode, a well that even really great sitcoms go to multiple times in any given year. More

  • Serenity movie image
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    Greatest TV Pilots: Firefly/Serenity

    Determining which episode of Joss Whedon’s Firefly is the actual pilot may be a sticking point for many. The two-hour pilot “Serenity” was intended as the pilot, but Fox executives rejected it and used the series’ second episode “The Train Job” as the network pilot. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: Friends ‘The Pilot’ wasn’t perfect, but had a ton of charm

    Need I introduce Friends? I’d be hard pressed to find a person over the age of eight who hasn’t passed along an episode of the show at some point in their lives – especially considering it’s still in heavy syndication on networks like TBS and Nickelodeon. But I’ve always found Friends a fascinating case of a show that managed to stay on TV for over 200 episodes, while never really being a great show (save for a handful of episodes) – and in fact, being surprisingly mediocre for most of it. More

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    Greatest TV Pilots: “The Black Donnellys” is a frenetically-paced pilot brimming with series potential

    The Black Donnellys “Pilot” Directed by Paul Haggis Written by Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Original air date: February 26, 2007 “So where are the bodies?” And so The Black Donnellys pilot opens, with an imprisoned Joey Ice Cream being questioned by the police over bodies that have presumably gone missing at the hands of […] More

  • milfay-Carnivale
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    Greatest TV Pilots: Carnivále

    From the first few remarks of a cryptic prologue, Carnivále’s pilot, “Milfay,” ushers in a different sort of drama, a form of storytelling comfortable with its own weirdness and undaunted by grandiose ideas. Just as one might expect from the acts of a traveling circus, there’s much more to Carnivále than meets the eye, and its ambitious first episode deals with themes of magic and a conflict of biblical proportions.
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  • Buffy Pilot
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    Greatest TV Pilots – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    When it comes to a modern evolution of vampires in popular culture, it all started with a blond girl arriving in a seemingly boring town, destined to fight the forces of evil while surviving the troubles of high school.
    Buffy: The Vampire Slayer began as an usurpation of the classic tale of monsters chasing young blonde women – only this time, she chased them. However, the show’s success was never certain; the original 1992 film starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry was met with mixed reviews (but has since gained a cult following) and five years later, its scriptwriter Joss Whedon reviewed and revived Ms Summers back into the world of the undead. More

  • Rome pilot
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    Greatest TV Pilots: Rome, “The Stolen Eagle” – The Original Game of Thrones

    We have Band of Brothers to thank for Rome. The success of that collaboration between the BBC and HBO cemented the partnership which made the show possible. It helped that the HBO bosses at the time were fans of I Claudius – the BBC produced series based on Robert Graves’ books, which established the crowd-pleasing potential of the period by leavening the dull history bits with the spectacle of John Hurt as Caligula exercising his god-fantasies by getting his sister pregnant and snacking on her unborn child. More

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