There are a lot of great television shows, but there aren't many that are immediately addictive. Most shows take a few episodes before they find their characters or their most interesting story. Every once in a while, though, there's that show which grabs you right away - and that's what we're celebrating this week.
Here's our short list of nine shows that turned us into fans before the end credits rolled on their first installment. See if you recognize any of them, and leave your own picks at the end of the article.
24: We were sold on 24 before we ever saw the pilot. Created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran - the pair behind USA's dark and stylish spy thriller La Femme Nikita - and featuring a real-time concept? It sounded like must-see TV to us, and we were not disappointed. The concept was executed well, pilot director Stephen Hopkins gave the show its style, and Kiefer Sutherland was instantly vaulted into TV infamy with his intense portrayal of then-CTU boss Jack Bauer. Let's not forget Dennis Haysbert portraying an African-American presidential candidate before the election of Obama, and Sarah Clarke stealing all her scenes as Jack's right-hand woman Nina Myers. It all added up to something that kept us obsessed for eight seasons, one TV-movie, and a limited series that just ended this week.
Breaking Bad: Given the tremendous amount of praise this show got over the years, we thought there was no way it could live up to the hype. Not when awards were being thrown at it left and right. But when we finally got a chance to watch it, we discovered that we were so wrong. Vince Gilligan - one of our favorite writers from his days on The X-Files - created a show probably as close to perfect as one can get. Re-teaming him with Bryan Cranston (remember that X-Files episode "Drive"?) was a perfect match, and Aaron Paul is nothing short of genius. From Walt and Jesse's first conversation, we were hooked. When smart writing meets pure talent, it's no wonder that the end result is a series with more hardware than a Home Depot.
Law & Order: These days, it's common to hold NBC's long-running series up as the example of a stock procedural. But back in the 90's when it first debuted, it was pretty groundbreaking. Its now infamous "ripped from the headlines" approach had us talking about issues that were actually happening in the real world, and getting to see a story carried through from initial investigation to final verdict was a nice touch. Michael Moriarty knew how to give a compelling speech as Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone, while a pre-Sex and the City Chris Noth won over audiences as Detective Mike Logan, and the guest stars were top-notch. Even Mike Post's theme music was catchy. Twenty years and a half-dozen spinoffs later, we still catch ourselves watching the seemingly endless reruns.