The Best & Worst Serialized TV Trailers Of 2011


Promotional trailers often provide the first tangible peek at the upcoming or returning serialized TV shows that we spend our days anticipating (mostly) and dissecting. Some hit the spot and get us excited for more, others confuse the issue, and a few dampen our enthusiasm.

It’s only right, therefore, that we take this time to look back at our Best and Worst Serialized TV Trailers from the past 12 months.

Our list is based on the effectiveness and originality of seriable TV trailers released in the past 12 months. We’re mindful of the fact that the primary goal of a trailer is to get the show’s target audience amped up for the finished product, ensuring their viewership for at least the first episode, and to create that most viral of sensations, buzz. Wearing retrospective goggles, we’ve looked back at every single trailer/spot released for a seriable TV show in 2011, and selected the 5 best and worst trailers at meeting this requirement from a serialized perspective.

So, which trailers got us excited for their respective shows, and which lowered our enthusiasm? Let’s find out..


5. V Season 2

This trailer automatically gets bonus marks simply for featuring Morena Baccarin, but you can’t live on that and expect to make the Seriable Top 5. Instead, this V season 2 trailer is relegated to the worst list because of its lackluster sequencing, contrived voice-over-guy narration, a jumping visitor made more for the trailer than the story, and a soundtrack that just doesn’t do it any favors. Although all of that is nothing compared to the sinful fake-out of Tyler’s early demise. I know it was in the show, but minus points for getting our hopes up!

4. Alphas Season 1

Not a fan of the music on this one as it makes the show feel too airy. Ironically, this is what the show went on to become, so perhaps that was the intention? A more serious, focused tone would have done more to sell the show’s best bits/concepts, which is what a trailer is supposed to do. We’re also taking off points for the utterly contrived cast commentary.

3. The Killing Season 1

The Killing is a bleak show, but that works because the topic matter is not a cotton candy one. But while we appreciate the long-format of this this preview/trailer, it does the show few favors. The final minute or so is actually pretty good, if you haven’t lost interest by then.

2. Once Upon A Time Season 1

Anything that makes such bold use of “FROM. THE. WRITERS. OF. LOST” (along with horrible sound effects) as a means of promoting its series deserves to come in the bottom five. It’s distasteful, unoriginal, a waste of valuable trailer time, and my eardrums still haven’t recovered. By all means put a little insertion in there but don’t go crazy on it. Aside from that, the “Good vs Evil” grab was so 1990s.

1. Falling Skies (German TV Spot)

It’s not technically a trailer but this ‘exploding walls’ TV spot always struck us as being a bizarre way to represent the series. It still makes little sense and gives virtually nothing about the show, story or characters. If this is your first time seeing this and you start suffering from ‘wall’ nightmares, we do apologise.


5. Falling Skies Season 1

Take out the cliched cast quotables and that lamentable slow-mo footage, and we’re left with a really exciting presentation topped and tailed with one of the best trailer soundtracks of 2011. What makes this trailer particularly worthy of its place in the top 5 is that when it landed it shed a light on a project that suddenly seemed as though it had legs — and I don’t mean skitter legs. Well, actually I do, because while it would have been easy to play all cloak and cloverfield by concealing the aliens (nothing necessarily wrong with that), the trailer put them on the stage without taking away the mystery. Ultimately, this is a trailer that introduces the audience to an overarching journey of people vs an unknown force, and, once it gets going, reflects the best of what the show had to offer.

4. The Walking Dead Season 2

Cinematic and intense, while also eliciting grit and isolation — this trailer uses a variety of techniques deliver a truly excellent introduction to the second season. Reminding us of what happened in the first season, while driving forward into a transition mid-way through and (eventually) unleashing one of the most intoxicating soundtracks you’ve ever heard, over tense and fraught scenes from the season 2 opener. Once again we have effective narration, and by the time we’re done watching we realize that the trailer has told a story in itself, and we’re about ready to break open the popcorn. And did I mention the fantastic final image?

3. Touch Season 1

This trailer is great because it uses effective narration and involves the audience by asking the questions that the show itself will seek to explore. It doesn’t shy away from what you might call the ‘mystical/science’ aspects, instead highlighting the universal patterns and connections as mysteries, while giving enough attention to the family/relationship drama without overselling it. You want to go on this journey with Kiefer Sutherland and his kid, primarily because the material looks good, but also because the trailer packages it in a way that stimulates both the mind and the heart. The score is fantastic and — along with subtle sound-effects — helps sell the emotional beats, driving the trailer into an exhilarating final third.

2. Doctor Who Series 6

This trailer has just about everything: action, adventure, humor, romance, typical Doctor Who quirkiness, and a cliffhanger. The material is superbly pieced together and comes charging out of the gate with River Song’s narration and great sequences. The trailer does a fantastic job at teasing a story-arc-filled journey while underscoring key moments and themes of the upcoming chapter. Inclusion of the following line is the icing on the custard: “Fear me, I’ve killed all of them.”

1. Awake Season 1

From the first moment to the last, this Awake trailer draws you in and just doesn’t let you go. Set to a mesmerising soundtrack, the trailer skillfully blends organic narration and well-chosen scenes from the pilot to tell a story about a story — in-keeping with the show’s dual reality premise. The strength of the material is leveraged through great transitions and prominent focus on some fantastic lines from the pilot, lines like: “while your brain should be resting, you’re using it to hold up a detailed alternate reality,” and “..I have no desire to ever make progress.” This trailer is over 4 minutes long but what a four minutes. If there’s been a better trailer for a seriable TV show in 2011, you really have to let us know.

What do you think, do you agree or disagree with our choices?

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  1. Red Balloon says

    This is the first time I’ve seen this trailers and knew nothing about the series (Falling Skies, Touch and Awake), and I didn’t bather to see The Walking Dead or Dr. Who because are far from my taste in series.

    For me, the only one that kept me interesting from the beginning to the end, and now I wanna see the series, is TOUCH. I find great value about the theme and the actors there.

    FALLING SKIES was awful, the interruptions with the actors, and the lines they included in the trailer itself, were too much. Maybe I would be more excited if they only kept the motion, with one line at the end. It doesn’t help that I don’t like the actors and it feels like a War of the Worlds extended to a series (boring theme if that’s the case)

    AWAKE well, the trailer was great, as it gave me all the information I needed to resist from watching. I don’t wanna see a series, where I know the main character doesn’t have a purpose in life other than to keep dreaming with his death son and wife. I love that actor, but it’s a non start for me, and I think it’s gonna get boring.

    Too negative here, but the trailers are supposed to give you an insight, to tempt you, not to disengage you from watching.

    Like: Thumb up 2

  2. Red Balloon says

    I forgot to mention that I completely agree with the worst in this page, though I don’t see a lot of your Seriable….this 5 worst are really bad.

    V and The Killing are the ones that I know, and they did a terrible job within a few minutes of showing. The Killing is a good series, and all they had to do was to point that question WHO KILLED ROSIE LARSEN?. The music is just fine, but I think there’s another one from the series that is more intense.

    ONCE UPON A TIME really MEH for a premiere. It doesn’t interest me at all.
    ALPHAS looks kind of fun to watch, but the trailer is too poor to get my attention.

    Great job at this selection, if I remember another one that stand out I’ll let you know :)

    Like: Thumb up 1

  3. Sher says

    I’ve been allergic to television for a long, long time. Hated it. I think the last series I made a point of watching was Star Trek: Voyager. Then early this fall I turned on the TV out of boredom and saw the trailer for Once Upon A Time. I’d “heard” buzz about Lost on the internet but never watched it, so the booming “from the creators of” didn’t mean a lot to me.. Decided to give OUAT pilot a try because I’ve always liked new takes on old stories, and now I’m well and truly hooked. I found your site here in a search for conversation about it.

    So now I just watched all these trailers and the 2 that really grabbed my interest, making me want to see more, are “Touch” and “Awake.” (Don’t give me no zombies! lol) I think I may have to give these 2 a chance. FWIW, coming from someone who doesn’t watch much TV, you did a great job of rating the trailers.

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