With so many television shows from the past and present affecting our daily lives (or maybe just mine), many a series lives and dies on its very first episode. So it’s time to crown once and for all the greatest premiere episode of an hour long television series. Half hour comedy shows are off the table, as they simply cannot be judged in the same vein with hour longs, and also generally take 9 or more episodes to really find their rhythm.
I have compiled a list of 40 television shows which will all be pitted against each other in an ongoing WhatdoUwatch series that will eventually come to a close naming the greatest first episode. But please, if I’ve missed any series that demand attention, let me know and I’ll check them out. Each matchup will be announced and will take about a week as I watch both episodes and make my decision. During which time I would love to hear arguments for both episodes in the match up. While I reserve the right to decide, I love to debate and welcome intelligent persuasion.
However, while the shows are seeded based (loosely) on show popularity, the episodes will be evaluated solely as single episodes. Foreshadowing is great, but “payoffs” that come later in the season or scenes that are flashed back to or gain in importance will be given zero consideration. Each episode is a stand-alone for all intensive purposes, please remember that (I’m talking to you, ‘Lost’-ites).
Some series I have seen, some I have not, but I will attempt to remain unbiased in my evaluation. That said, lets get on to the matchups!
8 Divisions: each with 3 seeded series and the other four in a mini “play in bracket” for the fourth seed.
Cop Dramas: pretty straight forward category, shows that are based on cops and the law system. Very interesting play in match to start things off as Law and Order goes head to head against its own spinoff, Law and Order SVU.
1. NYPD Blue
2. Blue Bloods
Play in: Law & Order vs Law & Order SVU vs 21 Jump Street vs The Shield
Bad Guys: this is a tough division, it’s the NFC North, the Western Conference of the NBA, the UFC Welterweight Division, I honestly have no idea who to expect to come out of this division, even the play in match has potential champions in it.
2. Breaking Bad
Play in: Oz vs The Americans vs Twin Peaks vs Prison Break
Superheroes: a division that could be a tournament all in itself, with Gotham, The Flash, Agents of SHIELD and The Bionic Man all left off the list. You gotta expect Heroes to come out, but who knows.
1. Dr Who
Play in: Daredevil vs Arrow vs Gotham vs Grimm
Wild Cards: Another strong division, mainly because it’s full of shows that simply couldn’t be left off the list. The number 3 seed, Justified, is one of the best first episodes I’ve ever seen, but has an exceptionally hard first match up against Sons of Anarchy. This should be exciting!
1. The Walking Dead
2. Sons of Anarchy
Play in: Orange is the New Black vs The Originals vs Deadwood vs M.A.S.H.
High Intelligence: a bit of a thrown together and arbitrary category, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how else to get the West Wing into the mix. The Good Wife also had a strong start, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the underdog X-Files end up representing this category in the long run.
2. West Wing
3. How To Get Away With Murder
Play in: The Good Wife vs X-Files vs Bones vs Ally McBeal
Juggernauts: these are the big shows, the game changers, for many the only time they actually enjoy spending time with their family. Whoever comes out of this division has got to be a heavy favorite to win it all.
1. Game of Thrones
3. Mad Men
Play in: 24 vs Empire vs The Wire vs Dallas
Chick Stuff: first off, the only show in this category I’ve ever actually seen is Baywatch, and I can’t say I was even paying attention to what anyone was saying. But Sex and the City had to make an appearance if this tournament was going to have any internal credibility, so here you go.
1. Sex and the City
2. Grey’s Anatomy
Play in: The O.C. vs Scandal vs Beverly Hills 90210 vs Hart of Dixie
Sleepers: these are shows that were either cancelled prematurely, have flown mostly under the radar or, in the case of Downton Abbey, have a tendency to actually put you to sleep. Still, there are some fantastic first episodes on here, look for some of these match ups to be the most intriguing of the entire tournament.
2. Downton Abbey
3. The Black Donnelly’s
Play in: Falling Skies vs Reign vs GCB vs The Newsroom
So that’s that, let the Thunderdome commence!