If you've ever been excited by the announcement of a TV pilot only to then be disappointed when some rich jerkface network execs decided not to order it to series based on the skewed opinions of a few focus groups and you ended with Work It and Whitney instead, have I got some news for you! Amazon—which, like Netflix and MSN and Hulu and probably your grandma's cat Mittens—is trying to break into the original programming game, but unlike those other guys, they're actually giving viewers a say. Through its Amazon Studios division, the retail giant has spent the last several months soliciting and developing a number of original "television" projects, and today it released eight comedy pilots and six children's pilots along with an explicit call for feedback from anyone who's willing to offer it. The idea is to order full series at least partly based on consumer feedback.
Amazon Studios chief Roy Price told TV Guide a bit about how the process will work:
They'll be on the site for at least a month. One month after they're up we'll sift through the data. It will be a quite diverse source of feedback. You have simple metrics like how many people watched it and reviewed it, what their average rating was, and what the reviews said substantively. You also have offline focus groups. We have an online panel recruited from big Amazon movie and TV customers called Amazon Preview, where they'll give more in-depth feedback. There's going to be a lot of data and a fair amount of work.
Now, we have no idea exactly how much weight Amazon will assign to viewer responses, but still, how cool is that? Below, we've compiled loglines and viewing links for all eight of the comedy pilots, and lest you worry that they won't be any good, rest assured that they aren't the work of amateurs: There are some big names attached! We're talkin' John Goodman, Jeffrey Tambor, Price Peterson**, and more. So take a gander, then let us know which ones you're excited about in the comments.
**Yes, THAT Price Peterson. Everybody please let's give a hearty round of congratulations to Price, along with his co-conspirators (and current TV.com writers) Lily Sparks and Ryan Sandoval, for making it this far, and wish them luck in the voting! (And also full disclosure that some people who work here or used to work created one of the following shows.)
Official Amazon synopsis: Alpha House was written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury, Tanner '88) and features John Goodman (Roseanne, Argo, Treme), Clark Johnson (The Wire), Matt Malloy (Six Feet Under, Law & Order), and Mark Consuelos (American Horror Story: Asylum, Guys with Kids). Alpha House follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC. Watch it here.
Official Amazon synopsis: Set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups, Betas, written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, follows four friends as they attempt to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app. Michael Lehmann (True Blood, Dexter) directed and produced the pilot along with Emmy Award winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen (King of the Hill), and Academy Award nominee Michael London (Sideways). Watch it here.
Official Amazon synopsis: Written by 12-time Emmy-winning comedy writer David Javerbaum (The Daily Show) and directed by Don Scardino (30 Rock), Browsers is a musical comedy set in contemporary Manhattan that follows four young people as they start their first jobs at a news website and features actress Bebe Neuwirth. Watch it here.
Official Amazon synopsis: Written by Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, Dark Minions is an animated workplace series about two slackers just trying to make a paycheck, working on an intergalactic warship.. Watch it here.
ONION NEWS EMPIRE
Official Amazon synopsis: Onion News Empire is a smart, fast-paced scripted comedy set behind the scenes of The Onion News Network that shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game. Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Chris Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock) and Aja Naomi King (Damsels in Distress) star in the pilot. Watch it here.
Official Amazon synopsis: Supanatural is an animated comedy series about two outspoken divas who are humanity's last line of defense against the supernatural, when they're not working at the mall. The series was written by [TV.com contributors] Lily Sparks, Price Peterson, and Ryan Sandoval and, the pilot was produced by Jason Micallef (Butter) and Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show). Watch it here.
THOSE WHO CAN'T
Official Amazon synopsis: Written by Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Benjamin Roy (Grawlix), who were discovered through Amazon Studios' online open door process, Those Who Can't is a comedy about three juvenile, misfit teachers who are just as immature, if not more so, than the students they teach. Watch it here.
Official Amazon synopsis: Zombieland is based on the hit Columbia Pictures movie of the same name, and finds four survivors outwitting zombies and searching for a place to call home. The Zombieland pilot comes from the film's original creative team, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Joe Schmo Show), and producer Gavin Polone (Gilmore Girls, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Watch it here.
Which of these projects sound good to you? Let's hear your first impressions—and as you work your way through each episode, your full opinions—in the comments.