Jane Espenson, Game of Thrones writer and consulting producer of Once Upon a Time :
1. “Room Service,” season five, Frasier:* A sex-farce episode that turns into a genuine and bittersweet exploration of character. A master class in sitcom writing.
2. “Hush,” season four, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:* Hysterically funny and genuinely creepy with nary a word spoken.
3. Twin Peaks pilot:* Looked and felt like nothing that came before it and instantly established a sense of place and character.
Damon Lindelof, executive producer of Lost :
1. First four episodes of season three, Battlestar Galactica:* Proves great sci-fi can feel like it’s happening now.
2. “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,’” The X-Files; and “Pine Barrens,” The Sopranos:* Most outside-the-box brilliant demonstrations of storytelling.
3. The Wire, season three:* Perfection.
4. “Flip,” The Larry Sanders Show:* Best finale. Emotional, hysterical, nonapologetic.
Graham Yost, executive producer of Justified, suggests:
1. Hill Street Blues:* Begin with episode one, then keep going. Every quality cop show since is in its debt.
2. Lost:* The first two seasons have more jaw-dropping moments than most series have in their entire run.
3. The West Wing:* Shining example of creator as auteur, with the most identifiable “writer’s voice” in TV history. Just as you can tell a Mamet play after reading five lines, every scene is an Aaron Sorkin scene.