Committing to a TV show is a massive commitment. In the past, you’d happily watch eight or ten episodes even if the series wasn’t lighting your fire. Today, the likes of The Walking Dead and The Goldbergs prove that time is no longer of the essence. If you’re going to Netflix and chill, you shouldn’t underestimate the size of the commitment.

Of course, this raises the question – what if it’s no good? Sure, there are plenty of feel-good examples out there that have revolutionized the small screen, but there are stinkers, too. If you’re going to spend a chunk of your life investing in a TV show, you want to know if the ROI is going to be high. Figuring out whether a series will be enjoyable is by no means an exact science. From Breaking Bad to GoT, there are people who didn’t find the biggest hits of the last century worthwhile. Still, the following are excellent signs that you’re onto a winner.

1. The 2nd Episode Is Better Than The Pilot

Pilots are weird because writers, directors and actors are working together for the first time. As a result, the finished article may not be what all the parties envision in their minds. Okay, viewers can take positives from the initial episode, but it’s only a taster. The real proof is in the second episode. This is your chance to evaluate how the showrunners are going to push the story forward and what techniques they will use.

BoJack Horseman (Netflix 2020)
BoJack Horseman (Netflix 2020)

Some revert to subtle storytelling, whereas others prefer to lean on crashes, bangs and wallops. Your preference for TV will be decided. Yet it’s usually better if you can see a progression, whether it’s via relationships or character traits. For those who aren’t into all that stuff, you should gauge whether the second episode made you feel good.

2. The People Involved Have A Fantastic Resume

Let’s face it – plenty of projects have included the best of the best and still not worked. Unlike the Harlem Globetrotters, production companies can’t throw the top actors and directors together and guarantee a result. However, there’s no doubt that an impressive resume is essential. Rather than focusing on the people on the screen, though, it’s smarter to study what’s happening behind the camera. Quality writers are vital because the men and women on the silver screen won’t have great material, otherwise. The production company is another consideration.

The likes of DMG have a small-yet-impressive list of movies and TV shows on their roster, which is always a good sign. Researching the producers and executives who are in charge is integral if you don’t want to waste your time.

3. Production Went Smoothly

An alternative reason to understand what’s going on behind the camera is due to the politics in show business. There is a lot at stake, and higher-ups and businessmen and women want to ensure the chances of making a profit don’t plummet. The artists, on the other hand, are more interested in developing a great show. Usually, some arguments turn sour.

TV Shows: Breaking Bad (AMC 2018)
Breaking Bad (AMC)

The result – the director or writer is fired and replaced with somebody who will tow the party line. If this is the case with the series you’re watching, you should turn it off now. A last-minute replacement means that the creative people were sacrificed for the sake of money. Viewer enjoyment, then, doesn’t matter. Sadly, politics will always be a part of TV (and film) production. But specific networks are more trustworthy and allow shows to develop rather than stifling them, such as HBO and Netflix.

4. The Premise For The TV Show Isn’t Played Out

Once a series is successful, production companies trip over themselves to try and profit off the back of its popularity. There are too many examples to name, but everybody knows at least a handful. You can spot them from a mile away! Aside from being annoyingly unoriginal, it’s also a recipe for disaster.

After all, you’ve invested months of TV time in a series that has ended and taken you on a journey in the process. You don’t need another one, especially if it is a copycat version that isn’t going to add anything to the story. Anything that involves knights and dragons must go in the garbage right away, and the same goes for upper-class families in Victorian Britain. A potentially great show should center on a unique premise. At the very least, it has to be a clever take on an angle, like Django Unchained.

The Goldbergs, ABC 2020
ABC’s The Goldbergs (2020)

Originality is hard to come by at the moment because production companies are too preoccupied with milking subscribers for every penny. Still, creative geniuses with incredible ideas do exist to this day. If you can find one, you’re bound to enjoy what they put on the screen.