Amazon Studios are bringing the classic Canadian comedians back to the small screen. The Kids in the Hall will mark Amazon’s first Canadian original series!
Amazon has released the first official trailer for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Los Angeles-based crime thriller series, Too Old to Die Young. The series is set to premiere in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video later this June.
Amazon Studios has released the first trailer for the highly anticipated Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot starring Joaquin Phoenix and written and directed by Gus Van Sant. The film is set to premiere later this month at the Sundance Film Festival.
Ahead of its release later this Spring, Film4 has released a UK trailer for Lynne Ramsay’s thriller You Were Never Really Here.
Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying is a spiritual sequel (adaptations of novels by Darryl Ponicsan) to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail, starring Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne. The film will have its premiere at the New York Film Festival where it will open both on Amazon Video and theaters this November. We have the first trailer below
For new groundbreaking shows on subjects you never expected to see on your TV, laptop or tablet screens, it seems that streaming services are the way to go.
Netflix has been super hot in this department recently. The return of shows like Arrested Development, Wet Hot American Summer and Pee Wee Herman helps to bring in the old fans of popular culture shows. Then new and exclusive shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Unbreakable Kimmy Schimt and the superb Stranger Things attract everyone else.
Hey, Wonder Woman fans, remember last year? 2015 was scarce in news of the Amazing Amazon’s first feature-length movie. We covered here at Grizzly Bomb the available info at the time: Chris Pine of Star Trek fame is Wondy’s love interest Steve Trevor; actors Sean Bean and Eva Green were rumored as possible villains; and Lord of the Rings‘ Cate Blanchett was auditioning for…something.
Flash forward a couple of months, and into early 2016. Talk about a night and day difference. The amount of teaser information is almost as overwhelming as the Amazon herself.
First Gal Gadot, who plays the warrior princess of Paradise Island / Themyscira, shared one of the first images from the movie.
Superheroes are raking in ticket sales at the box office and ruling the small screen. So it comes as no surprise that Amazon, a rising powerhouse in the original programming game, has latched onto a superhero to add to their already impressive list of shows available via their streaming service. That superhero is none other than everyone’s favorite arachnid crime-fighter – no, it’s not that spider guy – it’s The Tick!
Amazon has recently taken big swipes in the entertainment industry. They’ve gone pretty wholehog into this Fire thing, and to be honest, I really dig it. I like their approach to digital media distribution and the way they handle their cloud. They’re also great at creating original content, which is something they’re really starting to get a handle on. In the past few years they’ve even gone and made a “Pilot season” for their original programming. The Amazon pilot season is now in it’s third iteration, and while I’m not familiar with the previous two “winners” (all the pilots are in a contest to be chosen which will continue by viewer demand), the current lineup has two clear front-runners out of the pack that includes:
Hand Of God
This is a pretty typical “ambiguous religious duty” kind of show. You know the type, where the character is maybe getting some secret message, or maybe they’re just crazy, man. It’s not written terribly well, but it’s not boring or laugh out loud stupid either. If anything, it’s pretty clear that the whole thing is a vehicle for Ron Perlman to strut his stuff and show off his acting chops, of which he has plenty. Perlman is the draw here, because his performance elevates an otherwise pretty dreary and dull script. The show is captivating because of him and him alone, but that in and of itself is enough to keep me watching. The issue with this is that when your whole show rides on one actor, it tends to create a pretty huge vacuum if, for some strange reason, he decided not to act in it anymore. I’m not saying Ron Perlman is gonna die, but if he does, then this show will suck.
- Look: 75
- Sound: 70
- Players: 90
- Script: 30
This was the most pleasant surprise of the selection for me. I never thought a story about a tennis coach could be so interesting, but Steven Soderbergh has managed to produce a show about tennis that’s magically not stupid as hell. Granted, it’s accomplished by being set in the ’80s, which is the cultural equivalent of that neon colored frosting on store bought cupcakes. Bright and beautiful, but mostly just filler and lots of saturated fat. And cocaine. Did you know that all store cupcakes have cocaine in them? Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Anyway, the pilot centers on a kid who teaches rich folk at a tennis club how to tennis better, or whatever. He eventually gets tied up in some hijinks and ’80s genre leitmotifs. I loved it, not only because I’m a sucker for ’80s music, but because everyone in this acted like real people who were trying to do things. When you’re making a dramedy, the characters HAVE to feel real, or else you’re just an unfocused director or writer trying to console their own feelings on camera while calling it an “exploration of the human condition”, or something really dumb like that. Red Oaks isn’t that, it’s just an interesting show that’s well-acted, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
- Look: 80
- Sound: 95
- Players: 75
- Script: 75
This kind of show has been done. It’s basically This is 40, the TV show. Another dramedy about a group of middle aged 30-somethings trying to understand their own burgeoning maturity and mourning the loss of their youth. It’s a common story in these kinds of shows. The one aspect this brings to it is thankfully all the characters are likeable, which is a fresh breath of air compared to most of the other relationship dramas of this kind. It makes it stand out a bit more from the rest of these pilots, but not enough to warrant a continued series. Likeable characters in your show are the difference between an objectively bad show being fun and a mediocre to good show being unwatchable trash, like Mad Men. Yes, Mad Men is boring trash. Fight me. (<— Editors Note: Mad Men is great – I will fight you.)
- Look: 70
- Sound: 65
- Players: 75
- Script: 77
This is one of those shows that is destined to fail. You know the ones, like 666 Park Avenue or Happytown. Does anyone remember Happytown? This show is like Happytown. An incomprehensible mess. There’s the old TV trope of the one scientist or doctor who discovers a new virus that’s somehow spread by social media. Not to mention the dismal pacing, acting, plot and terrible editing. It’s the kind of idea that some really naive but peppy exec would pitch to appease some Suit, or a Suit’s idea of what’s hip and new in the drama scene. I can imagine the scene right now:
“Viral stuff is in! Let’s make it a virus story! VIRAL! THE INTERNET! MY GOD JIMMY, I’VE DONE IT AGAIN!”
And then we’re left watching Mena Suvari’s weird forehead bumble around in the dark and warn us of weird internet diseases. I’ve got a disease for you, and it’s called Dumb-Conceptivitis. Guess what the cure is? Not watching this piece of crap.
- Look: 70
- Sound: 50
- Players: 30
- Script: 10 (I like the kernel of the idea, but it’s a short story at best, not a full TV show)
Overall the standouts were Hand of God and Red Oaks, mainly because they were good, and the rest were either boring or really dumb. That’s kind of the case with every pilot season, though. If you had to pick and choose through dozens of pilots for each season of TV, you would end up hating a lot of crap too. Watching all of these was fun in a way, because it made me feel like a weird TV exec with some level of power over the content I watch. In a way, this is really the future of television. We’re the ones who will choose the shows that we want, and the stupid middleman system they currently have with the studios will slowly become antiquated and weird. Amazon is doing something interesting here, and I’m honestly looking forward to next pilot season.
*Since this was submitted, Amazon has renewed both Hand of God and Red Oaks for series continuation. Awesome.
Actually Amazon has jumped into the deep end and are hoping one of their 14 pilots is able to learn how to swim, quickly. Amazon released the six children’s pilots and eight comedy pilots to all Prime customers. I’ve said it before, it’s hard not to be excited knowing that we are able to watch this potential shift in how the country and world consumes scripted media. Through venues not even conceived of in our parent’s time, we are able to connect with a content producer and they with the viewer in ways unimaginable to a generation removed. For a TV geek, this is an awesome time.
Due to my excitement, I set out to watch all the Amazon pilots. That plan quickly faltered as I started with a child’s cartoon that was not one that adult’s would find much enjoyment in at all, so the children’s pilots are out. On to the comedies! I went in without reading anything on these shows (outside of Zombieland) beforehand. I didn’t look up actors, or writers, and some of them I didn’t even know the title until I went to watch it. Enough talk, let’s see how everyone did.
I can not tell you how much I wanted this to be like the Channel 4’s The IT Crowd. I had no real reason for thinking it would be outside of Betas being about computer folk and of course the 8-bit title sequence, but still, I was holding out hope. It isn’t. Betas is more like a smaller scale, somewhat cruder version of The Social Network. Instead of Mark Zuckerberg trying to get Facebook off the ground, you’ve got two guys, Trey (Troy Dinicol) and Nash (Karan Soni who was in one of Grizzly Bomb’s Top Movies of 2012, Safety Not Guaranteed) who are out to find funding for their new social networking app. They are surrounded by an office full of the socially awkward and the “should probably be in jail for some sex crime”.
They head out for a “meeting” with a potential investor and lo and behold…
Ed Begley Jr.! I will watch almost anything with Begley in it so this made the pilot immediately gain points in my mind. While it started a bit slow for me, by the end I was invested and was wanting to see more so I hope they are able to get this one to series.
I’ll admit that I totally wrote this one off before I watched it. Just the premise of two mall workers who in their spare time are “humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural” wasn’t doing it for me. Then I watched it and almost immediately changed my mind.
I think Supanatural might be the best example of how Amazon’s method of farming pilots might be really beneficial to the writing world. There was a lot of uproar when the fledgling studio announced their feature script, crowd-sourcing plan and it (rightfully so) had many screenwriters leery of the prospect. However with the comedy pilots, it seems as if it’s opened a door to writers and actors who don’t have a long resume to get a chance to get on a project with promise. While Kristen Shaal voices two of the characters and has quite a bit of experience going into Supanatural, Jameeliah Garrett who voices Lucretia? This is her first credit. Lily Sparks who is a writer on the show and voices Hezbah? First writing credit and only fourth actor credit. While this is certainly not the first time relative “unknowns” have lead roles, it happens infrequently enough that it makes you notice. As for Supanatural, definitely check it out, especially if you are a fan of shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Browsers is about a group of four interns as they start their new career at a Huffington Post style site called Gush. They are content farmers, hence the name.
Words can not express how badly I wanted this to be good. Words can also not express how not good it was. I’d love for it to continue because I am a musical theater nerd and after the crap-fest Glee has become and the crash and burn that Smash was, it’d be nice to have a musical show to watch that didn’t suck. Sadly, unless the quality of the songs (granted it would be difficult for anyone to write a song about Twitter) grows by leaps and bounds, not even Bebe Neuwirth can save this and that is saying a lot because that woman is a goddess.
One of the top two of the eight, for sure. Alpha House is a political show with a different slant. See these three Congressmen all live in a house together and are looking for a fourth roommate. Of course they work together as well, all being Republicans trying to figure out what actions to take to best get re-elected, serve their constituents, further their careers… you know, Congress stuff. It was very good which isn’t surprising given the caliber of actors involved and being written by Gary Trudeau who writes the comic strip, Doonesbury, it’s certain to have smart and snappy dialogue.
Alpha House was one that had a lot of buzz going for it before they aired, mainly due to Bill Murray’s involvement. Let me just say, his appearance is brief but hysterical. It might have been my favorite moment of the pilot. That’s not to say the rest of the cast isn’t good, because they are, it was just that you don’t expect to see Bill Murray crying while brushing his teeth and shaving.
Going into Dark Minions, I thought it would be pretty decent. I’m a fan of stop-motion animation and even though the entire pilot wasn’t fully done in the stop-motion, I can understand that. It takes time and money to get it done and when you are working on a pilot that you don’t know will become a series, it’s probably not a good idea to spend a ton up front.
I think that was a wise decision because it just wasn’t that good. It wasn’t as bad as Browsers, but it wasn’t anything that I’d watch again. Just very middle of the road and not very innovative. I could say something like “that’s no big surprise given that it’s from writer’s of Big Bang Theory” but that would be mean.
Dear hopeful TV writers everywhere, take this as a lesson: If you want to create a series from a movie that is a cult classic, it needs to be as good, if not better than the movie.
Zombieland: The Series did not follow this advice. When the best part of the pilot is the two minutes leading up to the title screen and the best characters have nothing to do with the rest of the story? This is not a good thing. By the time we reached the halfway point I was already over it. There’s only so many times you can repeat the same gag and have it be funny or entertaining. Perhaps the best person to capture my feelings on this one was this Amazon reviewer.
[quote]Once you get Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, everyone else is just a cheap knock-off.
This guy is more like Talledega. –Mickey Mills, Amazon reviewer[/quote]
Thank you Mickey.
Onion News Empire is not creator Will Graham’s first go round with a TV series based on the popular faux news site. This time however, instead of a news broadcast, he’s fashioned a show that is sort of an homage to Aaron Sorkin, even going so far as having one character ask another if he can “walk and talk”.
The cast in Onion News Empire is quite good with Jeffrey Tambor playing the egotistical anchor, Chris Masterson the wide-eyed cub reporter, William Sadler is the grizzled news chief, and 30 Rock‘s Cheyenne Jackson is the up and coming anchor looking to dethrone Tambor. When you look at that group, it’s hard to believe they’d pull off anything less than great yet somehow they did. Much like Zombieland, I have a hard time seeing the “hook” of Onion News Empire lasting very long as there is a finite period of time that the audience is going to continue to say “oh yea, this is a satirical spin off a news story” and find it entertaining. Yes The Onion as a site is hugely successful and wildly popular, I don’t think the same can be said for Onion News Network.
By far the best of all eight pilots is from the Denver based comedy trio of Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy. They play three high school teachers who really have no business being teachers. With a comedy style much like that found on shows like Workaholics and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the trio makes being a really awful teacher extremely entertaining.
As great as the three guys are, I have to say Rory Scovel as the hippie principal is easily my favorite character. Something about the hair and the cardigans along with the green tea, I’m a fan.
If you happen to watch Those Who Can’t and need more of these guys in your life, then head to YouTube and check out their webseries, The Grawlix.
So there you have it – a look at all eight Amazon comedy pilots. The really cool thing that Amazon is doing, is much like everything else on their site, you can review the pilots and they are actually encouraging people to do so. They are saying that they will take these ratings into account but I’m a cynic and have a hard time believing that, but good on them if they do follow through with that.
All that’s left for you to do is head on over to Amazon, sign into your Prime account (if you don’t have one, you should, especially if you order anything with any regularity from them) and check out the shows. Then you can come back and tell me how right I am in my assessment or where I can stick it. Enjoy!