The democratization (bad or good) of TV with open pilot seasons at Amazon is fascinating. We used to get to see some pilots on TV and vote by ratings. That approach has evaporated and has been replaced with other selection methods, particularly with the short series approach.
Amazon offers up 5 new shows this round. Only 3 even caught my attention. Two were really quite good. If you haven’t put in your votes yet, do. You only have yourself to blame for what they offer if you don’t vote (kinda like other things in this country). Of course, any selected tend to have their series delivery lag by months (if not longer) since the entire season has to be in the can before it is released. Frustrating when you’ve seen something you enjoy.
In order of decreasing potential:
By far the best of the lot. But that is no surprise given its pedigree. This 1950s/1960s romp through stand-up and Upper West Side life is from the Sherman-Palladino’s (Gilmore Girls). The dialogue and character work is great fun and is just barely getting started. The dynamics will be familiar, but the cultural pieces are pretty new for television. At its center is the dynamic Rachel Brosnahan (Crisis in Six Scenes) who chews up the screen and spits it out in colorful bits of art as homecraft. She already has a nice career, but this could be an amazing break-out given its scope.
Based on Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, this large-scale and philosophical science fiction epic has real potential. It will all depend on where they take it and how it develops. But the pilot is certainly intriguing. Starring Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and with other faces like Mark Addy (Atlantis), Zawe Ashton (Nocturnal Animals), and Haley Joel Osment (Tusk), it also some some good bones holding it all up.
The weakest of the three I sampled. John Hawkes (The Driftless Area) is committed to the role, but watching self-destructive or pathetic behavior just isn’t my sense of humor. Despite some very nice family dynamics and possibilities, I can’t see watching this show, though others may well love it.