There is a subtle art to directing a television show. Unless is a short season, one person can’t handle the duties alone for the entire year (as Frank Darabont learned). Directs usually don’t offer much other than consistence, making the show feel cohesive. Some either set that standard, or take the opportunity to do something unique. Here’s my list of TV directors that did just that.
5. Anthony & Joe Russo
It’s not cheating to slide these two into one spot as they often collaborate on projects, though they’ve done some individual work. Before the amazing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, these two made a name for themselves working on two of the best comedies ever, Arrested Development and Community. They both directed the pilot for each before handling the duties for many of the episodes, setting the tone for both shows. Watch the pilot for Arrested Development and tell me you’re not impressed.
4. J.J. Abrams
Love him or hate him, J.J. Abrams is quickly becoming a household name (cough cough Star Wars). He started directing on shows, helming mainstays like Felicity, Alias, and Lost. While all three have their supporters and detractors, no one can argue the initial quality. Watch the pilot for Lost again. This is why the man was handed the reigns of the largest film franchise, ever.
3. Vince Gilligan
I am a huge Breaking Bad fan. While he’s credited with the shows creations, he was fortunate to work with people doing the work of their career. There were plenty of fantastic episodes he didn’t direct, though many pivotal ones he did, particularly the finale. There’s a shot I still remember, starting off where we could only see Skylar. This angle still reverberates in my mind. Gilligan is a true craftsman.
2. Joss Whedon
Watch Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, in that order. You’re welcome.
1. Cary Joji Fukunaga
Fukunaga directed every episode of the smash HBO hit, True Detective. He gave the show a specific feel, helping to pace the reveals in an interesting way that I couldn’t imagine another accomplishing. From the first time we saw McConaughey’s Rust, the camera eventually pulling back to reveal the interview, to the single shot chase, and the finale in the maze. Fukunaga’s directing, along with Pizzolatto’s writing made the show what it is, a masterpiece.
These are my choices, what are yours? Any egregious omissions? Comment below!
Robin Wright’s House of Cards episode was pretty damn good too.