30 Pilots in 30 Days: The Wire

Had I seen it before: No.

What IMDb says: Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement.

Why I picked it: As someone who lives sorta kinda near Baltimore, I’ve always been like “I should watch that Baltimore-based show that was rather successful.” 30 Pilots in 30 Days offered the perfect kick in the butt to finally try it.

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30 Pilots in 30 Days: Homeland

Had I seen it before: No.

What IMDb says: A bipolar CIA operative becomes convinced a prisoner of war has been turned by al-Qaeda and is planning to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil.

Why I picked it: Homeland is more than just one of the token Showtime pilots on this list though I’m not gonna lie, that’s part of it. It’s also had a fair amount of positive reception from the critics/awards people.

But it also seems like one of those shows that made a huge splash for a year or two and then kind of fizzled out. It’s still on the air, I just don’t really hear people talk about it the way they once did. Is that just because the content is highly dependent on timeliness? Like if it’s not a year where we’re exceptionally scared of terrorists it just loses its relevance? It’ll be interesting to see if the pilot makes it obvious that the show can only work for a season or two or if it’s brilliant and mistakes were made later on.

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30 Pilots in 30 Days: The Sopranos

Had I seen it before: No.

What IMDb says: New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life, which affects his mental state and ends up seeking professional psychiatric counseling.

Why I picked it: The Sopranos has the distinction of being the oldest pilot on my list. While it’s not the first HBO original drama, it’s the first one to be as relevant as it was. It helped usher in a new era for HBO, one where the original content would be as much of a selling point as movies with all the swearing and nudity intact. The Sopranos did for HBO what House of Cards did for Netflix, which means it must’ve pretty damn good.

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30 Pilots in 30 Days: Mr. Robot

Had I seen it before: Nope.

What IMDb says: Follows Elliot, a young programmer working as a cyber-security engineer by day, and a vigilante hacker by night.

Why I picked it: This is one the more recent breakout hits that *gasp* isn’t on AMC. Not only did Rami Malek win an Emmy for this in its first season, Mr. Robot also won the Golden Globe for its debut season as well. It has a whomping 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 92% audience score. It’s definitely made one of the bigger splashes of the last year or two, so I was curious to see how this one would compare to some of the older shows on my list that have already solidified their status as classics.


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30 Pilots in 30 Days: Stranger Things

Had I seen it before: Yes, not just the pilot but the whole series.

What IMDb says: When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.

Why I picked it: I picked it because the rest of ya’all seem to really like it. Like, really really like it.

In addition, Stranger Things is pretty much the only majorly successful Netflix original that isn’t based on a book, another tv show, a movie, etc. It’s an original pilot in the strictest senses of the word. Most people who want to be tv writers want this. We don’t long to adapt someone else’s successful book. We long to bring our own vision to the screen and we long for it to be as well received as Stranger Things.

I also want to mention that this is one of the few shows I’m featuring that I’ve already seen in full. While I understood its charm, it never impressed me quite the same way it seemed to impress other people, in part because I felt confused about the mythology of the Stranger Things universe. So it should be fun to go back to the pilot and see if there was anything I missed. Continue reading “30 Pilots in 30 Days: Stranger Things”

30 Pilots in 30 Days: Breaking Bad

Had I seen it before: Yes! I’ve seen all of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2 but I never quite got to that breaking point where you can’t stop watching. Yes, that pun was intended AF.

What IMDb says: A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.

Why I picked it: I mean. . . have you heard writers talk about Breaking Bad? TV writers don’t shut up about Breaking Bad the way that normal people don’t shut up about Game of Thrones. Their only preferred topic of conversation is that mystical thing called “structure.”

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30 Pilots in 30 Days: Preacher

Had I seen it before: Nope.

What IMDb says: After a supernatural event at his church, a preacher enlists the help of a vampire to find God.

… wait really? That’s what it’s about? Was I supposed to get that from the pilot?

Why I picked it: I hadn’t even heard of this show until I started putting my list together. But when I started Googling things like “best TV pilots” this one came up several times. I also had several friends say that it was a good pilot or that they had heard it was a good pilot.

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30 Pilots in 30 Days: Dexter

Had I seen it before: No. I’m pretty sure I’d seen Dexter’s Laboratory though. That’s sorta similar right?

What IMDb says: By day, mild-mannered Dexter is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police. But at night, he is a serial killer who only targets other murderers.

Why I picked it: It was actually surprisingly difficult to find mega-successful premium cable shows that weren’t HBO, and Dexter certainly fits that bill. It had a nice long run with consistent Emmy nods and might’ve even won some had its run not overlapped with Mad Men. I mean, it might’ve taken me 2-3 years to figure out people weren’t talking about Dexter’s Laboratory but that’s my problem.  

What I liked: So I knew the show was about a serial killer who only killed other serial killers but I don’t think I was fully prepared for what I was getting myself into. I guess I assumed it was about someone who became a serial killer because they were frustrated with a justice system that was letting criminals run free. I didn’t even know I had made this assumption before watching, but I did, probably “nice person becomes evil in a quest for justice” is a relatively common formula.

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30 Pilots in 30 Days: The Walking Dead

Had I seen it before: No, but one of my besties is really into it so I’ve learned just enough to make sure I’m buying good merch for her.

What IMDb says: Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma, to learn the world is in ruins, and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive.

Why I picked it: The Walking Dead is not only one of the shows that helped make AMC a power player in the original series game, but it was also one of the things that jumpstarted the zombie trend and more importantly, phased out the vampire trend.

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