The Renegade Cinema Staff Picks: Best TV Pilots

Breaking_Bad_logo.svgCaliber WinfieldBreaking Bad. If I wrote TV, and saw this pilot, I’d be devastated because I don’t know if I could ever write anything better. It’s absolutely fantastic, and if it were a film it’d be spoken amongst some of the greatest of all time.

Jesse BlumeBreaking BadLike almost every other episode in the series, the pilot for Breaking Bad is better than most modern movies. It does everything that a pilot episode should do and then some. The script is nothing short of excellent. It establishes character, motivation, tone, and the potential for what is to come. Not to mention the great direction and the sublime performance of Bryan Cranston, as well as the excellent supporting cast.

Derick “D-Rock” DotsonBreaking Bad. Not just an incredibly well scripted pilot but sets up the entire stakes for the character in one hour.

250px-Lost_main_title.svgRick TymLost. While the show’s ending divided fans and non-fans alike, the pilot remains one of the best — if not THE best — establishing episodes in TV history. Intense action gave way to incredible hints of the character building to come, and the final line — “Guys, where are we?” still elicits chills. One still can’t believe the popularity that followed. Nor can one believe the tremendous cost associated with the pilot, costing a reported $10-$14 million dollars. (Too bad hindsight is 20-20 as heads rolled for approving that expenditure.) The Lost pilot was everything disillusioned TV fans and a faltering ABC network needed in 2004 to begin proving that true episodic dramatic television still had a place on a major network. Many other major network endeavors have tried and unfortunately failed to emulate Lost’s success, which all began with the opening of a eye.

Shawn S. LealosLost. There hasn’t been another TV pilot that just smacked me in the face and made me want to return week after week like Lost did. We start with the amazing plane crash wreckage and then we see the style of show that LOST was with the flashbacks. The stars were great, the mysteries were set up from the start, and the best part is that we were just thrown right into the action and never given a chance to really take a breath. This was the PERFECT pilot.

Derek CiapalaLost[Derek didn’t give a reason, which says Lost is so great, you needn’t be given a reason]

walkingdeadlogoSandy Cilla StachowiakThe Walking Dead. For me it has to be The Walking Dead. Finally, zombies made it to TV and the show has been making history ever since.





Brandon GroppiDollhouse. Right away in this series that was canceled by Fox you get the lore of the show Dollhouse. Pay the right price for your very own pre-programed person. They can be whoever you want them to be. Truly an awesome show for showing off actress Eliza Dushku’s actual acting talent (seriously I thought all she was in was that movie BRING IT ON). But sadly the show only lasted 2 seasons. One of Joss Whedon’s best shows canceled because it was on a network where people have the attention span of a weasel on crack.

Tony BeaulieuIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had a brilliant pilot. It was essentially a short film shot for under a hundred bucks. While It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia naturally evolved into a different show as it progressed (as all series do) I still feel that that very first episode is on a plateau all its on. And I haven’t seen the original, I’ve just seen the remade version they did when the show got picked up by FX.