The people have spoken! Amazon's trial of its TV development slate by democratic vote has come to a close, and this time around, the company that rose to fame for delivering books to your doorstep was a lot kinder with its green lights. Four of the five pilots targeted at non-kids were ordered to series today, according to Variety, and they are... drumroll please...
The sci-fi series from The X-Files' Chris Carter is another one of those big sweeping mystery shows, this time throwing Los Angeles into an end-of-the-world scenario as seen through the eyes of seven strangers. And one of them is Jaime Kennedy. Eek! This was probably the project with the highest profile thanks to Carter's involvement and its premise, but stilted acting and characters that make FlashForward's seem complex by comparison made me give this pilot a thumbs-down.
The critical favorite, from writer Jill Solloway. Set in Los Angeles and following a family comprised of a dad (Jeffrey Tambor) and his three semi-spoiled children, Transparent is the artsiest thing Amazon has done and the show that's most likely to be discussed at your local independent coffee shop. Tambor's character harbors a secret that's revealed toward the end of the pilot, and it's bound to change the outlooks of each of his kids. This was the best pilot of the bunch, but I do wonder how an entire season can be milked from the premise.
This one's based on the popular book series by Michael Connelly. Titus Welliver stars as the lead character, a tough cop in Los Angeles who's hunting the murderer of a 13-year-old boy. There's just one problem! He's standing trial himself for the possible unnecessary murder of a suspected serial killer! Oops! *sad trombone sound* But seriously, this is a serious drama. It's a good-looking cop show, but based on the pilot, I don't know if it was any better than other cop shows out there. However, if you're a fan of the source books, you should be happy.
Mozart in the Jungle
A dramedy about the naughty side of orchestral musicians. Yep! Orchestral musicians. Imagine Nashville with less country music, more hard drinking and drugs, and some nudity. It probably also has the most recognizable cast of the bunch: Gael Garcia Bernal, Saffron Burrows, Lola Kirke, Bernadette Peters, and Malcolm McDowell all star. The pilot was entertaining mostly due to the setting, however, it's another show that makes a good first impression but has a muddy future as a full-blown television series.
This news likely means that The Rebels, the jock-rock comedy starring Natalie Zea as a widow who inherits a pro football team, was sent packing. Amazon's first round of pilot testing was much more discerning; only two of the eight pilots it ordered in 2013 ultimately received series orders, Alpha House and Betas.
There's no timetable on when these shows will be shows (heck, we're still waiting for Amazon to confirm the pickups), but if the company follows a similar schedule to what it did last year, look for more episodes of the new shows in October or November.
Amazon claims that viewer reviews and number of watches have a role in its selection process, but they have yet to release any real data on the matter. However, people who are much better at computering than I am have claimed that the company hacked some answers. (This data is unofficial, so judge it accordingly.) The After and Bosch were well ahead of their peers in terms of views (both were over 10,000), with the best average reviews going to Bosch (8.8) and Mozart in the Jungle (8.4). Transparent was well in last place in both categories, accumulating a quarter of the number of views as The After and the lowest average score (7.3). However, critics have gushed about it online, so that likely weighed heavily into Amazon's decision. In other words, Amazon doesn't have any algorithm about which shows to choose. It's picking the ones that get watched the most and the ones that critics like.
Amazon has yet to make decisions on its new crop of kids' programs.
Will you be watching any of Amazon's new shows?