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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Big Love" and the Nature of Pilot Episodes

Pilot episodes are always the toughest episodes of any TV series to make. The writers need to establish all the main characters, and give a hint of what is to come not just in future episodes, but also over the arc of the entire series.

No matter how great or "it's not TV, it's HBO" a series is, a pilot episode needs to hit all those points.

The only pilot episode I've ever seen that managed to intelligently and artistically evade that basic pattern was "Lost." The official name of its pilot episode, as is the case with most TV series, was "Pilot," but it used that generic name AND made it fit the actual plot of the pilot episode. The main characters' goal in that episode was to find the pilot of Oceanic Flight 815. And they did. He provided some scary but necessary exposition. And then he got killed by the "monster." (Is it really a "monster"? Recent episodes imply that it is not.)

"Lost" in my opinion is the best series currently airing on television.

I believe "The Sopranos" is a close second.

"Big Love" could reach the level of "Lost" and "The Sopranos." But we need to see how Harry Dean Stanton's character develops before we can say for certain whether it could reach those heights. Otherwise, it'll just be "Desperate Housewives," except all the housewives are married to the same guy.

I'm cautiously optimistic about "Big Love." The pilot was well acted, and the writing showed enough spark to prove that it could be a very good series.

We shall see what happens.


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