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New Amazon Pilots

Amazon kicked off pilot season this week. Five new pilots (three comedies and two dramas) are available to stream and to rate. Amazon decides which pilots to send to series based, among other factors, on the public’s feedback. How are they? Well...

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.

This is a dark show, literally and figuratively. Shot in tones of grey, it quickly becomes clear that this is a story and these are characters who inhabit a very grey world. I found it compelling, with a twist at the end that was expected but well played out. The acting is superb with Ron Perlman and Dana Delaney both delivering performances that are impeccable. Although finally too depressing for me, I do recommend trying it for yourself.

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.

Yes, you've seen it before -- often. But, there's something charming about this pilot. Maybe it's that the producers (Stephen Soderbergh among them) were able to convince such 80s stars as Jennifer Grey and Richard Kind to participate. Or, maybe it's just that the lead is so sweet and the supporting actors are fun. There is the mandatory kegger where the girls take their tops off, but by the time we got to that scene, I was in a forgiving mood. Not the best of this sort I've ever seen; far from the worst.

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.

This is neither dramatic nor a comedy. It is a group of thirty-somethings navel gazing, trying to get laid, and generally perpetuating every European and American stereotype there is. The shots of Paris are simply stunning, but beautiful bridges lit up at night were not enough to hold my interest in these horribly boring people.

Hysteria: 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.

What if viral videos could cause illness. Get it? Viral = virus. It's a ridiculous premise that is not made any more believable by this pilot that throws in just about every trope you can imagine to garner the label "edgy." There is the underage drinking, the teen stalking an older man, a near rape, the violent death of a child. Truly awful all the way around.

Really: 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.

What this show wants to be is an updated Thirtysomething. It is not. It tries to show the struggles that married couples with young children go through, but it ends up being rather pathetic and sad. Not one of these people did I want to sit down and have dinner with. A shame, as a dinner party takes up most of the pilot. There are glimmers that this show could be so much more, but I won't stick around to find out what they might be.

Overall, this was a pretty poor pilot season for Amazon. Not one of the shows would I watch if it went to series. The two dramas are overblown and depressing. The comedies just aren't funny. The reviews are overwhelming positive for all five, so we shall have to wait and see which gets picked up.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


  1. Haven't seen any of these and I don't really plan to but I have to say I adore the way Amazon is doing things. I hope the networks are taking notice. Obviously they can't give air time to every pilot they produce, but they could put them online. Totally free focus groups. Who loses here?

  2. No sci-fi? Oh, well. Thanks for the run-down Chris.

  3. ...beautiful bridges lit up at night were not enough to hold my interest in these horribly boring people.

    That is a hilarious line, Chris.

  4. Hand of God was pretty good. Not sure if I'd want a whole series. Nice to see Andre Royo from The Wire though.
    The rest of the shows sound pretty dire. But fun reviews.


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