A little while ago I was hired to co-write the pilot episode for a possible new TV show. We were given a lot of instructions so, of course, some are contradictory and I was wondering what people like in a pilot episode.
I’ve been looking at a lot of pilots and I have to admit I’m surprised how much of the future storylines show up in the very first episode. Take The X-Files for example, you get the whole thing about Mulder’s sister being abducted, the cigarette smoking man, Scully agreeing to secretly report back to Mulder’s bosses and the mystery around who exactly those bosses are. And a single case investiation.
In the Hill Street Blues pilot pretty much every character is introduced and it even looks like Hill and Renko are killed (apparently at least Renko was supposed to die but that was changed and the phone call Captain Furillo receives at the end of the pilot was rewritten).
A couple of years ago the pilot episode of Southland introduced what felt like a dozen main characters.
The pilot for Justified stays very close to the short story “Fire in the Hole” and still manages to set up a series of completely (or mostly) new stories.
So, what are some of your favourite pilot episodes and why?