10 Experimental TV Episodes You NEED To See

From Twin Peaks to Breaking Bad, these episodes represent TV at its most fascinatingly creative.

Community Paradigms Of Human Memory
Sony Pictures Television

The fast-paced nature of TV production makes it difficult for even the most creative and ambitious of storytellers to deviate much from the established format, and so it's incredibly rare for shows to take a sharp left-turn from a template that works.

Yet every so often, showrunners make a bold leap and decide to do something totally different with their hit series, rolling the dice on an experimental one-off episode to test the bounds of the show's narrative and, perhaps, the very limits of TV as a medium.

And so we come to these 10 envelope-pushing episodes which, one way or another, immediately cemented themselves as must-see television.

Perhaps they delivered some of the most unconventional storytelling ever broadcast, marvelously mocked moldy TV tropes, executed a brilliant idea with mind-boggling panache, or fully embraced a perilous gimmick, like airing the entire episode live.

Whatever their method, and regardless of your own feelings about these shows as a whole, these episodes represent TV at its most fearlessly creative, proving what can be done when a skilled cast and crew commit themselves to doing something truly out-there...

10. Part 8 - Twin Peaks: The Return

Community Paradigms Of Human Memory

David Lynch is nothing if not an inherently experimental artist, but the eighth episode of his belated third season of Twin Peaks? It's like nothing else the medium of TV has ever seen before.

Even for Twin Peaks' singular standards, "Part 8" is an extremely challenging but mesmerising hour, detailing the origins of the series' villain BOB in the fallout of 1945's Trinity atomic bomb test - realised here through stunningly gorgeous CGI.

The dialogue-sparse episode is vague even for Lynch, yet nevertheless serves as ground zero for the series' entire central conflict, all while delivering a mini-horror movie involving terrifying, ghoul-like woodsmen and a "frog-moth" creature which finds a home inside a young girl's mouth. Yup.

That Showtime willingly gave Lynch money to produce what's perhaps the single most abstract episode of anything ever aired on linear television is truly something to celebrate, and it remains one of the finest things he's ever produced.

Even if you've never seen an episode of Twin Peaks before, Part 8 is worth watching simply for its intoxicating mood and beautiful visuals.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.