Looking for an idea of what to watch this week? Amazon is following in Netflix’s footsteps and gearing up to launch their own original content, but they’ve crowd-sourced their choices. They have twelve original pilots, from kid-friendly to decidedly adult. You can offer Amazon feedback on what you liked best, which they will use in their determinations of which gets greenlit. We watched two tonight — Alpha Dogs and Onion News Network, and I have to say that we were impressed with the quality of both shows!
Alpha Dogs was the better show by far. The concept was a bit goofy (four Republican senators sharing a house), but it picked up steam quickly without feeling too exposition-heavy. Bill Murray had a very amusing cameo, but the MVP of the episode is definitely John Goodman as a North Carolina senator. Mark Consuelos (aka Mr Kelly Rippa) is also quite good. What struck me was that the show had a satirical edge, but there’s enough material making fun of Congress to easily expand beyond “hehe, imagine if Senators were like college kids” roommate gag. It has a great deal of potential, and I would love to see Amazon commission more episodes!
Sarah and I were split on Onion News Network; I thought it was hysterical, while she tuned out about halfway through because it wasn’t holding her interest. If you’ve watched “The Newsroom”, then you have a pretty good idea of what they are spoofing, right down to Aaron Sorkin’s “Walk ‘n Talk” style of exposition. Admittedly, I laughed from start to finish, but I do wonder if it has staying power, or if it will just get increasingly ridiculous if spun out to a full season, like the diminishing returns of satire films like “Scary Movie”.
Now, I don’t do zombies, but luckily our own Perry Brauner does, and here’s his take on the highly anticipated “Zombieland” pilot:
I had high hopes for the Zombieland TV pilot, having thoroughly enjoyed the original movie. The spin-off TV pilot’s plot followed basically the same idea as the movie: four travelers who’ve named themselves after the cities they lived in, trying to find a safe place to settle down after the zombie apocalypse has struck. The TV pilot follows the same characters who graced the silver screen: Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock; though this might be the part that bothered me the most. I’ve always had a hard time maintaining my suspension of disbelief when established characters are replaced with new actors, whether it’s in movie sequels or TV shows. In this pilot, all four characters return, but have been replaced with new actors. I found myself missing Woody Harrelson’s loony vibe as Tallahassee and Jesse Eisenberg’s dry, almost sheepish wit in the role of Columbus. I kept comparing the new, far less talented actors to the original actors, and it kept me outside of the story, rather than immersed, and that was disappointing. However, I feel as though the show could have a chance if it introduces a new group of unlucky post-apocalyptic travelers with different back stories that the viewers could get involved in. The special effects left a little something to be desired, however I can forgive that since it’s just a pilot. I did think the graphic design and on-screen text were well done. If the show gets picked up, I would definitely give it some time to evolve and watch a few episodes, but if the same recycled characters stay without some original ideas, I don’t have a whole lot of hope for the series.
I plan to try to plow through most of the pilots, and hopefully, some of these will come to Amazon as full seasons soon. Have you watched any of Amazon’s new offerings? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!