1/4life, 1.1: Pilot (2005 [unaired], Marshall
Herskovitz, Edward Zwick) ****
The best pilot I've seen in years -- the genesis of a generational questioning
-- was denied a series order. Two of the most acclaimed and seasoned figures in
modern television couldn't get ABC (i.e. its green lighters who blatantly ignored
the commercial value of quality) to put their ambitious ensemble piece on the
air. 1/4life -- with its overlapping conversations, fleeting glances
and romantic pyramids -- captures the messy haze of post-collegiate existence
with Reality TV's energy (much of the episode unfolds in a single house), but
none of its glibness or plasticity. As a friend wrote me, watching 1/4life's
pilot today felt like "total exhilaration mixed with crushing sadness,"
the thrill of seeing master showrunners at the height of their craft tempered
by the knowledge their infant was unaccountably slaughtered. This is great art
and an even greater tragedy.