Amazon unleashed 5 pilots (alongside 5 pilots of kids shows) as part of it’s Prime service at the start of the month, promising that we, the viewers, would get to decide what got made into full series. So, what are they like?
I have watched them and have ranked them in order of my preference below, so hopefully you can save yourself a couple of hours…
A great drama-comedy starring Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor, and Girls’ Gaby Hoffman about a family who seem all at once to have no boundaries and be able to miss what is happening right under their noses. Hoffman plays one of three siblings, (joined by Amy Landecker and Jay ‘Ace Writer/Director and brother of Mark’ Duplass) who think they’re being invited to dinner with their father so he can tell them he has cancer. What he does have to tell them is obvious to the audience, but apparently not so for the desperately self-involved trio, and through a comedy of errors doesn’t quite come out over dinner. It’s an interesting take on the dysfunctional family comedy with an ending that just left me wanting to see more. MAKE THIS ONE, AMAZON!
Mozart in the Jungle
Having said that I’d like to see Transparent made, I also really enjoyed Mozart in the Jungle, which also has indie cred to die for. Written by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, and starring Malcolm McDowell and my personal favourite Gael Garcia Bernal, and set among the rarified world of classical musicians, this might as well be called “Quirky comedy for hipsters”. But I really enjoyed it, nonetheless and would love to see more. AMAZON, MAKE THIS TOO!
A detective drama set in LA, based on the books by Michael Connelly about the titular cop Harry Bosch. Atmospheric and laid back to a fault, this was a serviceable take on the cop thriller, but alas I didn’t feel it did enough to really grab me, or indeed make itself stand out from the cartload of other detective TV shows.
The thought of a new show from X-Files creator Chris Carter set my pulse racing, but sadly the end product falls far short of expectations. A French actress finds herself stuck in a lift with 5 strangers, and when they emerge “something” has happened to the world outside. The power is off, people are running around the streets, something seems to be firing from the sky. The problem is, over the course of the episode it feels like the production team haven’t quite decided what is happening either, and that there will be a great deal of making it up as they go along. The characters are all incredibly flimsy; drunk Irish guy, guy dressed like a clown, woman they refer to as “old lady”. It all falls very far short of the hey day of The X Files, and I actually laughed at the ending, which is never a good sign when something is supposed to be a tense thriller.
Beautiful widow inherits an American football team, when she knows nothing about football. I must confess I only watched the first 10 minutes of this and then gave up. It was worse than The After, and I thought that was pretty bad.
So if you’re going to watch any of the pilots, I would recommend Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent, and feel a little sad that they might not both see a full season.