A good trailer can grab us by our goosebumpy necks and render us immobile for the rest of the week, but one that’s poorly thought-out can push us away before we’ve even seen the show its promoting.
In my mind, no television era can claim more effective trailers than the HBO-led early-to-mid 2000s. With the premium content boom came the premium content trailer – an art form in itself that not only entertained, but also set tone for a season, or even a puzzle for fans to solve.
So, without further tease, here are some of the most and a few of the least tantalising television trailers to date.
The best (that's right, we said it)...
The Sopranos (Season 6b)
The first trailer for the Best Drama Series Ever Made (sorry, The Wire) was a poor photocopy of a Scorsese gangster film, but by The Sopranos’ final season David Chase had created the Best Television Trailer Ever Made.
Six Feet Under (Season 5)
True Blood’s Alan Ball is the father of bold trailers. Six Feet Under had already reset the bar for a television show’s opening credits, and while its first artful trailer left much to be desired, the trailer for season 5 teased us with a dramatic montage of foreshadowing images, which only grows eerier when viewed after the show’s conclusion.
Friday Night Lights (Season 4)
For a show that struggled to stay out on the field, their creators sure didn’t scrimp on promotional material. The trailer for season 4 was a stunning resetting of the show’s status quo, ushering in a season of transition and division for - and between - our favourite Dillon residents.
The Simpsons (Early seasons)
Though in no way artful, these early The Simpsons promos are plastic Bartman cups full of warm nostalgia. Each one reminds us of just how far and wide Matt Groening’s unparalleled television empire has come.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 7)
A simple, ingenious concept made the wait for a new Curb season almost unbearable. We like to think Larry came up with the concept on the way to the shoot.
Boardwalk Empire (Season 3)
It took a while for Boardwalk creator and The Sopranos alum Terence Winter to find a feel for his own project. Those expecting a David Chase show grew bored early, but those who managed to stick with it were rewarded with sublime second and third seasons. This trailer plays on Nucky’s battle between legitimacy and full-fledged criminality.
Deadwood (Season 3)
If you’re a fan of HBO’s three-season masterpiece, try not to get chills in the final moments of this (unfortunately) final stretch of episodes before the show ran over-budget. Only eccentric showrunner David Milch could film a montage of Bible passages without coming across as naff.
Weeds (Season 5)
Though the show took a major dive after Nancy Botwin and crew left gated community hell, Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan continued to churn out exciting trailers. When the following teaser was released, viewers held high hopes for season 5. Unfortunately, most were disappointed.
Justified (Season 6)
What is it with these HBO-inspired dramas and fantastic trailers? This simple tease for season six made Raylan and Boyd fans quick-draw at their own TV sets for not delivering the season right away.
Dexter (Season 8)
For two seasons, Michael C Hall lead one of the most exciting shows on television. Then, for six seasons he starred in one of the most disappointing shows on television. But while the decision to keep Dexter treading water only made the show's events more and more ludicrous, this final season teaser gave us a glimmer of hope. That eventually faded. But still.
A few shockers for your pleasure and pain...
Melrose Place (Season 2)
This clip is as fantastic as it is terrible. Not only does it suggest the nymphomaniac nighttime soap is actually a warm and fuzzy dramedy, but it comes replete with the most ill fitting of voice-overs.
McLeod’s Daughters (Season 1)
Being one of Australia’s most successful exports does not excuse the following trailer. It’s cheesy, saccharin, gives away too much, and is an obvious disservice to McLeod’s many fans.
Seinfeld (Season 1)
No wonder nobody watched the first few seasons of Seinfeld. These early trailers, particularly for The Seinfeld Chronicles pilot, do nothing to capture the show’s groundbreaking tone. We blame NBC.
Baywatch (Season 2)
Every Baywatch trailer is a cringe-worthy hoot, but this season 2 pearler sits atop the breast-shaped sandcastle. In 30 seconds, every action-packed moment comes across as underwhelming or even staged, and David Hasselhoff takes to the lens with the authenticity of a The Naked Gun-style hero.
Home and Away (Season who-the-hell-knows)
Most trailers for the aged soap Home and Away look as if they’ve been cut together by the folks at Funny Or Die, and I have a feeling that Channel 7 editors lean gleefully into the ludicrous. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about any frame of the following clip. Enjoy!