Amazon Studios released a fresh batch of pilots for us to vote on. These five shows are much stronger overall than the pilots released earlier this year. I would like to have all of these get the green light to produce full seasons. If nothing else a few more episodes to see where they go with the characters and stories. As mentioned in the individual reviews below [spoiler free], some of the shows have flaws that are forgiven due to being a pilot, but could prompt many viewers to lose interest.
But this post is just my two cents. Fire up your Amazon Instant apps or click to banners to watch the pilot for free. Then come back to the comments to discuss!
Hand of God ★★★★☆
“A psychological drama about a morally-corrupt judge who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice.”
Ron Perlman. Like you need another reason to like this pilot. Actually it has many good actors playing some interesting characters. Reminded me of Carnivàle‘s religious themes and the battle of good and evil. While the marketing is pushing “Power. Money. Politics. Sex. Religion.” it was more about justice versus revenge. At least the theme of the pilot episode. The main story arc is obvious and a few shorter threads were setup to give a sense what the creators have in mind. Also enjoyed seeing Garret Dillahunt play a badass!
Adding to the theme, the opening credits music (An Honest Man by Fantastic Negrito)had me thinking of the recent video game Bioshock Infinite which discussed similar topics. That song accounts for at least a half ★ of the rating I gave this show.
The Cosmopolitans ★★★★☆
“A dramatic comedy about a group of young American expats in Paris searching for love and friendship and an ocean of distance from their past.”
Quirk. Wit. Charm. These few words summarize what I felt while watching The Cosmopolitans. I will not be able to ramble on like I have about the other pilots. Mainly because I am not sure what to make of this pilot. It felt as though we jumped in the middle of a longer story. You are not completely lost, but you cannot quite settle into the story. And this feeling worked so well. I want more episodes now!
“A funny, honest, behind-the-curtain look at the psychological and emotional complexities of marriage and the charged dynamics of a tight-knit group of friends grasping on to what’s left of their youth.”
Think Parenthood but less about the kids. Less sitcom, more comedic drama. And since Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers) is the show’s creator, there is plenty of pot smoking and blowjobs. The ensemble is made up of three couples and a token single guy. A real The Big Chill vibe. So to me it felt more like the first third of a film. Not sure where the show would go beyond the first plot twist.
“An investigative thriller about a haunted young doctor who is summoned back to her hometown to investigate an epidemic that may be linked to social media – and her own tragic past.”
Suspenseful. Good mystery. A twist at the end has you looking for another episode. Commentary on how we make connections digitally. At first I was not sure where the show would go. Then as things fell into place I got sucked in wondering what was next.
[Spoiler-ish] As I typed this summary I started to rethink how using digital communications as a conduit for spreading an illness feels a little on the nose. How many articles, studies and news reports have we heard about the effects social media on people’s mental and emotional health? Not sure we need a drama to scare parents into trusting their connected teens even less. I know it is fiction but, are they trying to scare us into disconnecting?
Red Oaks ★★☆☆☆
“A coming-of-age comedy set in the “go-go” 80s about a college student enjoying a last hurrah before summer comes to an end–and the future begins.”
Another show revisiting the wonder years of the 80s – Surviving Jack, The Goldbergs, etc but this time within the world of Caddyshack. Started off predictable. A high school senior enjoying his last summer before starting college. Cue the coming-of-age story. However, by the end I stared to pull for the lead character. Red Oaks feels like a film. It may lose its charm after a handful of episodes if they get comfortable with a tv comedy formula by sticking to sex and drugs jokes. We will see if they can build out the characters.
So which pilots did you watch? Your picks? Your thoughts?