Shows that were great from the first episode... and those that weren't

On the other hand, the cold open of the first episode might just be near-perfect. Jimmy McNulty sitting with a witness just getting him to talk, to find out about another Baltimore street murder, and how they interact, encapsulates almost all the themes of the entire show.

Pointless violence, random uncaring events determining people lives, reluctance to help each other, and yet, a simple belief in America.

I quite liked Dead Like Me, but I agree that the first three episodes are difficult. The series premise is intriguing, but it takes a while to explain, and to watch it in action. In addition, there is a large number of characters, all of whom need to be given a place in the ensemble, and some personality. As I recall, doing all that took the first three episodes. Once past that, though, the series evens out and continues pretty well.

On the flip side, we have Pushing Daisies, which IMO and IIRC, did just fine, right from the pilot (or Pie-lette).

30 Rock, IMO, is a good example of a show that was good right from S1E1, but got considerably better a few episodes in when they made some tweaks. They paired up Jack and Liz and the show went from Liz vs Jack to Liz and Jack vs the world. I assume everyone noticed how much chemistry there was between Tina and Alec and decided it was worth the risk of changing up the dynamic of the show to have those two working with each other instead of against each other.

…Leverage was indeed great from day one.

(And if you haven’t seen it the Leverage Redemption Trailer has just dropped.


I haven’t rewatched it because I’m afraid if I do, I’ll find out the first season wasn’t as good as I remembered it and I can therefore no longer use it as the perfect example in “What TV shows started great then sucked?” threads.

I remember watching the first episode of Twin Peaks alone in my apartment late one night in October or November 1992, after they started showing it in Russia. I could barely sleep afterward, I was so creeped out.

Pushing Daisies was one of the first shows I watched when I started coming to Canada in 2006. It was so wonderfully refreshing, I was very disappointed when it wasn’t renewed.

I’m watching 'ER, it’s on a cable channel from 6 a.m. till 1 p.m. Great time killer this winter, stuck in the house. (But by the time John Stamos came on and the gorgeous Goran Visnjic left, the last two seasons were dreck. (except the finale). …After ‘ER’, ‘House’ comes on for six hours! I adore every episode of ‘House’…But my all-time favorite show, ‘Northern Exposure’, was excellent from beginning to end.

Thanks. I happened to have just seen it yesterday. But I am going to watch the trailer again :slight_smile:

I can’t wait until the series starts again. I will miss Nate (Timothy Hutton); bu the new guy (from “The Librarian” movies and TV series should do a good job.

One of each:

Breaking Bad
I put off watching this series for years, as a series about a drug dealer (AIUI) didn’t appeal to me. But as soon as I watched the first episode, I knew I’d be binge watching the whole thing.

Black Mirror
I’d watched a number of eps and really liked the series, without ever having seen S01 E01. Then, when I recommended it to my parents, they called back to ask what the hell was I thinking.
I know that many people like that episode, but for me the bestiality thing was wholly unnecessary and in a way it’s surprising the show didn’t get cancelled.

It was an excellent start, but clearly not for everyone.

It was shown on Channel 4, somewhere which used to be known for radical comedy. Brooker himself was known for such things: Tv go home. However, it was also a coincidence (so he says) that there were allegations about the PM of the time with a Pigs head some years later: Piggate. However, such exclusive university clubs of the elite had weird traditions rumoured about them for years, so it wasn’t far off the speculated mark.

Someone mentioned Lost upthread and it was really compelling from the opening (which was of course the plane crash). The show fizzled out in later seasons but it was a lot of fun for a long time. I remember long threads here dissecting each episode after it aired.

And Game of Thrones too really caught the viewer, even people like me who had not read the source material. (Again, not everyone liked how it ended but it too was a lot of fun.)

Like Parks and Rec, Cougar Town took most of the first season to find its happy place.

The Dukes of Hazzard is one of those shows that got more cartoonish over time. But the first 5 episodes where shot in Georgia and were fairly gritty.