I love pilots – they’re fascinating. A pilot is the first episode of a series — not always in “air” order. In fact, sometimes pilots don’t see the light of day, even when a series is picked up. Getting to make a pilot is one of the long steps toward getting a show in the air. Only a few make it this far, and even fewer make it to air. Sometimes a pilot is a great way to learn more about your script – how maybe casting was a huge mistake, or the format didn’t work like you though it would.
Pilots have to do a whole lot in a very short amount of time; they have to introduce the audience to the main characters, the setting, the general plight of an episode, and the series tone. Most of these elements typically don’t become fully developed until a few episodes, or even a whole season, into their grind. It’s a process. Unfortunately, many networks today don’t allow time for this process to take place, and cut shows before they get a chance.
I’ve studied pilots forever, because I’m trying to write them. I often struggle with the exposition-iness of them, deciding to forgo it all together, though afterward, I realize how necessary it is. So I study – I watch good pilots, bad pilots, pilots to series that started well then sank, and vice versa.
So I’m going to write about them. Some will be new, others new-to-me. I’ll definitely look back at pilots of watched dozens of times, because there’s always something to learn. I’m not sure what will come of this little exercise, but I figure it’s worth writing down.
If you want me to check out any series pilot, let me know in the comments or tweet at me (@sarahtv3)!