Season premieres are some of the hardest TV episodes to write. They have to resolve cliffhangers, begin new storylines and raise the stakes so that viewers have a reason to keep watching. And, unlike endings, there is no formula for making a really good premiere. Here are the five that started out the strongest.
5. ‘Twin Peaks’ Season 2 – May The Giant Be With You
There was a cliffhanger moment for every single character at the end of this surreal mystery drama’s first season. But, in typically perverse fashion, creator David Lynch decided not to resolve them all immediately, but rather begin Season 2 with a leisurely piece of slapstick involving a room-service waiter. Quirky genius.
4. ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 – No Sanctuary
As if to reassure those who criticized Season 4 beginning with Rick planting seeds, Season 5 came back with an episode that is one long action sequence — zombies, cannibals, sub-machine guns and explosions aplenty. It silenced those fans who were worried that AMC’s horror series was becoming too pensive.
3. ‘House Of Cards’ Season 2 – Chapter 14
The Netflix political thriller series took a moment that belonged in a season finale and shifted it to the first episode of Season 2 for maximum shock value. You don’t expect a season to begin with the death of a main character and, after that, nothing is ever sacred again.
2. ‘The Sopranos’ Season 6 – Members Only
Just when we thought Tony was invulnerable to assassination, he is shot while cooking pasta by his dementia-suffering relative Uncle Junior, who thinks Tony is his old enemy, Pussy Malanga. The opener to the final series of HBO’s gangster drama really knew how to turn the tables… after laying them for dinner.
‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 5 – Golden Days For Boys And Girls
The ‘30s were a terrible time for America, but great material for the writers of this HBO historical drama. They spun the madness and violence of the depression-era into TV gold with this electric opener to the final season. Unlike the country, the show just got richer and richer.