How often does a "Pilot" episode fully satisfy when compared to the rest of the series [if it's lucky enough to be picked up]? It's possibly the roughest episode out of the entire run, where all the actors are trying to 'get' their characters, and the writers are thrown into the tough spot of coming up with a way to introduce their programs mythology and characters in a fun, fashionable way that's assessable to all audiences. So to be faced with today's topic: best "Pilot" episode, a lot of thought and consideration must be put forth.
For folks looking for a bit more diversity in my decision making, my apologies, but credit must be given when its due. Mr. Joss Whedon, the man responsible for a large majority of my TV-lovin', created perhaps the most magnificent pilot with "Serenity', the first episode of his short-lived Firefly series on FOX. [Good news, though: my runner-up was another FOX show, Fringe, but I figure you'd be tired of hearing about that by now]
Why is it such a good Pilot? Because it hits all the right cords and all those things I mentioned in the opening paragraph. "Serenity" immediately introduces these wacky band of characters, and we instantly get them. The actors get them. The writer gets them. The entire hour and a half "Pilot" comes off effortlessly, like this was a stellar plotty episode from its fifth season or something. Everything is comfortable, from the characters dialogue, their interactions, to even the score and editing. It is, in a word, sublime, and by no coincidence one of the episodes I rewatch in the DVD set more often than the others.
Truth be told it's been awhile since I watched "Serenity", so I can't pinpoint a particular detail here or there that I think is truly fabulous, but the reason I love this pilot is essentially so simple: it works. The entire episode is one perfect introduction. If the remainder of the series was never picked up, I would begrudgingly be content-ish with this stellar episode. "Serenity" rocks. So does Nathan Fillion. And Joss Whedon.