Why Are First Episodes Always The Best?

Why Are First Episodes Always The Best?

I've really been enjoying the new BBC sketch show Ellie and Natasia. It's inventive, witty and extremely silly. there are lots of bits I've enjoyed but one memorable sketch really stands out. It's the surreal Saturday Kitchen spoof when Ellie cooks some simple salmon and vegetables and everyone - including guests Harry Hill and Simon Bird – gets far more excited about the dish than a salmon and vegetables should ever make you. Imagine the best of Python. Imagine Vic and Bob at their most inventive. It's surrealism at it's purest, taking something familar and making it odd. And it sets out Ellie and Natasia's stall perfectly.

I've watched the whole series and there is to be honest, lots of laughs, but nothing that is quite as brilliant. I've noticed this about other shows that have become hits. The first episode often features something that stands out and makes you remember the series long after it has finished. I could be wrong and apologies if I am but I think the following are from first episodes:

1. David Brent in The Office finding a driving job for someone and revealing his cringemaking lack of social skills in a nutshell and throwing in an already knackered TV reference for good measure: "Sammy, you old slag. It's the Brentmeister general. Have you advertised the forklift driver's job? No, good, don't bother, I've got the man here. He's perfik."

2. David Mitchell and Robert Webb as German officers suddenly wondering why there are pictures of skulls on their caps. "Are we the baddies?" It made a splash at the time and has become weirdly relevant again in recent years as things have taken a turn for the right...

3. Mitchell and Webb again, this time in Peep Show. It's that moment when Mark (Mitchell) is on a bus and gets bullied by a bunch of schoolkids for being so smartly dressed, dubbing him "Clean shirt".

I guess first episodes are a bit like first albums. You've had your whole life to think about them and hone and polish your ideas so your best ideas are likely to be at the front of your creative queue. But wouldn't you get better as you learnt the ropes? Shouldn't your best bits be in the last episode?

The challenge is to be able to keep delivering. And get better.

I'm sure there are plenty of other examples of scenes in first episodes being the stand-out moments. Feel free to suggest more.

Watch Mitchell and Webb below

Picture: BBC



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