A new year brings fun opportunities to start new TV series, whether with your partner, kiddos, friends, or going solo. With so much content out in the world, it’s tough to decide whether to experience older franchises for the first time or get completely lost within a brand-new series. Incredible storytelling is a great way for anyone to unwind, relate to experiences, or learn or reinforce valuable lessons from those intertwined within the framework of each show. Or, sometimes, you just want to sit back and laugh your head off.
Let’s dive into this geeky parent’s guide to the best episodes (or introductions) to television shows you must experience! Some are older and some are new(er), but either way, you’ll find plenty of shows you’ll want to keep on your watchlist for years to come.
The “No Surprise Here” Category
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode 1: “Encounter at Farpoint: Part I & II”
Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Travel through space with the best crew in all of Star Trek (in my opinion) and discover who many of these beloved characters are from the very beginning. This series premiered when I was 7-years-old, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say your kids will be equally ready for this series. There are some violent sequences (without blood), but I believe it’s a wonderful place to be introduced to the Star Trek universe, if you haven’t already.
“Encounter at Farpoint” gives viewers a glimpse into the stern, yet reverent, Captain Picard, while displaying some of the playful and humorous qualities branched from the rest of the crew. On top of that, “Q” is an all-mighty entity with limitless power who entraps the Enterprise crew into a court proceeding to determine the fate of all humanity. One misstep and – poof – humanity is but a soon-to-be-distant memory. This double episode is a great introduction into Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), and it makes one curious to see what else they will encounter.
Star Trek: The Next Generation can currently be streamed with a subscription to Paramount+.
Episode 1: “Pilot”
Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes
The one show that makes me question whether or not TNG is my all-time favorite show is Fringe. This is a much more graphic show with regard to violence and the visual effects from monsters to dead bodies. This is one show you might watch ahead, if you’re determining whether to watch this with your kids or other young relatives. There’s gunfire, car chases, translucent bodies, and creepy melting faces, so, if uncertain, I’d stay close to the TV-14 age rating.
The pilot episode of Fringe is dramatic, exciting, and brings great depth to its storyline and cast of characters. This episode feels like a movie-going experience, because you find yourself immersed within a horrifying mystery from the start – and every step along the way amplifies the importance of solving said mystery. If you’re afraid of things that go bump into the night, Fringe brings those horrors to life and presents the only team capable of keeping you safe in those darkest hours.
Totally Fun & Silly
Episode 1: “Welcome to Camp Kikiwaka”
Length: 24 minutes
This spinoff series includes characters from Disney’s Jesse and their adventures to a summer camp in Maine. Bunk’d is the type of show where you’ll hear your kids laughing and then you’ll stand there (or sit down) and end up watching multiple episodes with them. There’s plenty of silly or outrageous antics, while also including positive messages about communication and what it means to be a good friend.
“Welcome to Camp Kikiwaka” will highlight characters from Jesse, but also explore many new faces on the all-ages sitcom. The television show seems like a classic for a variety of ages, while also making parents wonder who their kids might meet if they attend summer camp one day.
Bunk’d and all of its episodes can be watched on Netflix.
Floor Is Lava
Episode 1: “The Basement: Level 1”
Length: 38 minutes
Rating: TV-Y7 (TV-PG rating on Netflix)
If you or you family are looking for something fun and lighthearted, then look no further than Floor Is Lava. Each episode revolves around various teams trying to navigate a difficult obstacle course, without slipping and falling into the pool of lava. Your kids, like mine (ages 8 and 10), will love the silly antics from the contestants and the absurd reactions after a fellow teammate falls to their doom.
This is one show where actually starting from the beginning might not matter, because it’s a fun game show and you’re not following a fictional story; however, starting from the beginning always makes it easier to play one episode right after the other. If you’ve seen someone slip, fall, and bust a hip a thousand times, you’ll surely hear laughter ringing in your ears.
Floor Is Lava has three seasons available on Netflix.
The Disney+ Zone
Episode 1: “Generation Why”
Length: 47 minutes
Listed under categories of “Most Visually Impressive Fictional Story” and “best representation of #StoriesMatter” from Fanbase Press for 2022, Ms. Marvel is an outstanding series. The series has an incredible cast, and despite its TV-14 rating, it might be worth considering for a younger audience, although, I would recommend watching ahead to determine if violent scenes of characters being stabbed with sharp blades are too intense for your kid. There is also gunfire and a sequence with characters being immediately turned to bones after touching a great energy source.
Beyond the aforementioned caveat with the TV rating, Ms. Marvel is the type of show you won’t be able to “wait to watch the next episode” – it’s that good! From navigating new super powers, high school, and learning about how one’s family and culture can have a lasting impact on one’s life, Kamala Kahn and her friends are characters that viewers will want to see on their TV (and movie) screens over and over again.
Ms. Marvel’s “Generation Why,” along with the entire first season, is available to watch on Disney+.
Episode 1: “Anne or Beast/Best Fronds”
Length: 22 minutes
Amphibia was a new show my daughter Adelaide found last year and asked me to watch with her. I sat down and it’s such an enjoyable experience. This animated series brings together quirky characters living in Amphibia, with Anne quickly established as the unique being present in a world full of wildlife. “I’m a human being, and I come from…another world. Either that, or this is a dream.”
Amphibia is a series I wanted to continue watching, but there’s come a point when Adelaide (and my son Marshall) have started to enjoy their TV shows and movies on their own. Despite this realization of my kiddos gaining more and more independence, Amphibia is clearly a show I would like to go back to and see what else happens (since they BREEZED through it). This is another show where strange or silly things happen, but there are positive messages of protecting those who need help and being there for one another.
Many episodes come in two parts, which provides miniature stories worth your time to explore. Amphibia is available to watch on Disney+.
Dark and Stormy
Episode 1: “Wednesday’s Child Is Full of Woe”
Length: 57 minutes
On the opposite end of the Ms. Marvel spectrum, free of bright colors and joyful expressions, comes Wednesday Addams. “Wednesday’s Child Is Full of Woe” is a great introduction to a character where viewers know instantly where this show will take them. Along with monsters and gruesome deaths (or near misses), the show’s overall macabre nature might make parents lean towards the show’s TV-14 rating.
Don’t mistake these notes as a reason to avoid the show. Please, I insist, watch Wednesday! It’s a dark, murder mystery filled with clever quips and an endless supply of skills presented by the main character. The glimpse into the show’s first season presents Wednesday’s adaptation to a new school, including a joyful new roommate, proving she’s perfectly capable at everything, and realizing there’s a path of death and destruction awaiting her, if she stays. Wednesday screams for a second season, so watch – it’s fantastic!
Wednesday is available to watch on Netflix.
Episode 1 & 2: Miniseries
Length: 3 hours, 3 minutes
Before the 4-season run of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica (2004), there was a 2-part miniseries where viewers were introduced to the nonstop Cylon pursuit of wiping humans from the face of the universe. Battlestar Galactica does present mature sequences and plenty of explosive space fighting scenes, so the age rating is probably accurate.
The miniseries presents a very “grown up” feel, and that’s probably because the stakes are so high: Humans are fighting for survival. On top of that, the viewer’s realization that Cylons (a.k.a. robots) can look like humans is one advantage the characters on the show don’t have immediately. It’s a phenomenal rabbit hole to traverse as secrets slowly begin to reveal themselves as the show continues. If you want to watch the reboot and its four seasons, the Battlestar Galactica miniseries is a must-watch beforehand!
The miniseries is currently available with a subscription to Peacock Premium.
Something all of these shows have in common are great characters. Whether it be a father and son tandem who bicker over where to sleep (a la Fringe), or many of the pre-teen or teen characters trying to survive the elements of their own story, all of these first episodes or introductions into series are worth your time.
What are some of your favorite firsts in the TV world? Would you like to see more TV lists like this on the Geeky Parent Guide? Share all of your thoughts in the comments or tell us over on Facebook or Twitter. Plus, if you like this article, please like and share with all of your geeky friends.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to the New Year, and, as always, until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.