Entertainment Magazine

A Note On Pilot Reviews

Posted on the 23 September 2014 by Sirmac2 @macthemovieguy

I’ve been reviewing a lot of TV pilots recently, and I think it’s important to note that when you’re reviewing a TV pilot instead of a movie, it isn’t uncommon for me to give higher grades (on average) to TV pilots. In a way, you can look at it objectively and say “does this work as a pilot”, “how likely am I to watch one more episode, versus the entire season?” The overall quality of a show can often only be fairly determined by the whole season, because a lot of these shows have arcs, making them like a really long movie. It would be unfair to see a serialized show like True Detective, and make a graded decision on the entire show based only on the first half of episodes. So when thinking about a pilot, I often try not to think about where it stands in the pantheon of TV programming, but rather “would I watch another episode?” which breaks down into a series of conditionals. “How likely am I to watch another episode?” “Would I watch this live? Would I DVR this while watching something else? Would I DVR this and watch it the next day? A week later?” I try and plot my desire to see the next episode, and use that to help distinguish how good the pilot was. Shows that usually get A’s or A-‘s from me is like me saying “I would watch the next episode right now”. If I score it in the B range, it’s like me saying “when the next episode is available, I’ll be watching”. A C range is like saying “If there’s nothing on, I might watch another episode”. A D range is equal to “I’m unlikely to watch another episode, but I won’t completely rule it out.” And if I give a show an F, then I’m saying “in no way will I ever watch another episode. Ever.” I feel like I give a lot of A’s, B’s, and D’s because of this, but it’s because I’m often grading only the pilot. The quality of the program I’m watching is often different, and I feel can only be determined after watching a larger chunk of episodes. I’ve seen great shows turn to shit, and I’ve seen shows with awful pilots get much better.

That being said, Madam Secretary is currently the best pilot I’ve seen of the new shows, and The Mysteries Of Laura is the worst. Still.

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