Auteur TV Episodes Recommendations

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.


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