Well, that took forever. It’s finally fall TV season. After a long drought, where we missed our favorite shows like a kid misses their parents at camp, we have all returned home—ready to rest our eyeballs on some new season premieres. But in order to properly appreciate this very special time, we decided to take a look back at some of the finest season kick-offs in recent history.
Season premieres are elegant in their own way because they’re meant to guide you back to your old friends and let you cozy up to them and see how they’re doing. You don’t need to drop major bombs during season premieres (but you certainly can!) you just need to give the audience a way back in to the show. Let me be clear though, we are not discussing series premieres or series finales. Those are both totally different animals. What we’re talking about are those season premieres you’ve been waiting for—the ones that go above and beyond the call of duty.
1. Friends, Season 4 premiere, “The One With the Jellyfish”
In the season 3 finale, Ross was opening a door either to Bonnie (Christine Taylor) or Rachel. WHO WOULD HE PICK? Trust me when I say, this was an important cliffhanger in my life. Now, when we open on season 4, we get right back into the fun of Friends. When Ross opens the door, it’s in fact, both Rachel and Bonnie hanging out because obviously Rachel convinced Bonnie to re-shave her head bald but it got sunburned. Uh oh!
This is a great season premiere because it gets back to Friends being a fun sitcom and not a serious show with a cliffhanger. We get a ton of great jokes including “it was 18 pages! Front AND back!” and the whole set up that Chandler had to pee on Monica’s foot to save her from a jellyfish sting. Damn all the jellyfish, indeed, Mon!
2. House of Cards, Season 2 premiere, “Chapter 14”
In a darker, and more recent turn, the season 2 premiere of House of Cards is everything you want from House of Cards: conniving, shocking, and a little scary, actually.
This is the episode where Frank kills Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara). And he does it in a very Frank Underwood way— callously and without feeling. He shoves her in front of a train after making her delete all communications with him from her phone. This episode completely brings you back into the world of House of Cards and makes you go WHAT THE. . .!!! But my personal favorite part, and why it’s on this list is that from season 1, we knew Frank breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to us, but when you’re watching this episode, you realize he hasn’t done that.
Until the very end of the episode, into a mirror. The reveal is chilling and great and reminds you why you’re excited all the episodes are released at once.
3. Dawson’s Creek, Season 4 premiere, “Coming Home”
We left the kids of the Creek in seasons 3 with Joey running off with Pacey and spending the summer on this boat. First of all, swoon. With the romantic notions of that now a reality, we see how everyone has fared without them. First, Joey has started wearing backless shirts, ooh la la and secondly, Dawson can NOT even look at them.
This episode is a great season premiere because it brings you back to reality after the high of a romantic summer at sea. Further complicating things, Dawson has a crush on Pacey’s older sister and everyone is just kinda like, “did you guys hook up?” the whole time to Pacey and Joey. It gets you right back in the mood and it’s great.
4. Breaking Bad, Season 4 premiere, “The Box Cutter”
There are a lot of season premieres on this list from the series’ fourth season and I think that makes sense. Once a show has reached its fourth season, the writers knows what you’re expecting. So the can either give you what you think you want or give you something totally different.
In the case of Breaking Bad, it’s option B. Wikipedia‘s description of the plot cracked me up, because it even reads like one crazy-pants season opener:
“Walt and Jesse are held in the lab by Victor and Mike, anxiously awaiting Gus’ reaction to the murder of Gale. Skyler fears the worst when she can’t get hold of Walt. Saul is paranoid about bugs, wiretaps, and surveillance, and hires a personal bodyguard. Hank struggles with life at home after his injury, snapping at Marie and becoming more preoccupied with collecting and cataloging minerals. Gus arrives, changes into a lab suit, slits Victor’s throat with a box cutter, then changes back to his work clothes and tells Walt and Jesse to get back to work.”
And that’s basically why it’s so great.
5. The Office, Season 4 premiere, “Fun Run”
This is where we leave Karen (Rashida Jones). In the season 3 finale, Jim runs into the room while Pam is having a confessional interview, asks her on a date and leaves, when she turns back to camera she has tears in her eyes and I’m getting chills thinking about it.
So there was a LOT of anticipation for season 4. “Fun Run” starts with Michael hitting Meredith with his car, she learns she has rabies and the rest is history. Dwight mercy-kills Angela’s cat, Pam and Jim are officially dating, and Michael is eating fettuccine Alfredo to carbo-load for the “”Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For The Cure.” It’s perfect.
6. The Simpsons, Season 6 premiere, “Bart of Darkness”
Not a “Heart of Darkness” parody but rather, a Rear Window parody, “Bart of Darkness” is one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons and a perfect way to say goodbye to summer. It includes the “milpool” joke, St. Swithin’s Day, and Martin being queen of summertime. It’s excellent, so watch it immediately.
7. Bob’s Burgers, Season 2 premiere, “The Belchies”
I loved Bob’s Burgers from the beginning, so the season 2 premiere was really important to me and it did not disappoint. In a reference to The Goonies, the kids go to an abandoned taffy factory in search of buried treasure. Louise even befriends as giant taffy man just like Chunk’s friend, Sloth. The Belchers meet the best movie of the ’80s? Yes, please and thank you.