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Amazon comedy pilots and Netflix's new new series

David Daw | April 29, 2013
Amazon's trying a new experiment this week, releasing eight new comedy pilots and letting users vote on which ones are worth continuing as a full series. Here are five of the eight pilots you should take a look at, and a quick review of Netflix's new series Hemlock Grove.

Amazon's trying a new experiment this week, releasing eight new comedy pilots and letting users vote on which ones are worth continuing as a full series. Here are five of the eight pilots you should take a look at, and a quick review of Netflix's new series Hemlock Grove.

[A quick note: I'm skipping rating Amazon's pilots, since the whole point of the pilot program is to let you watch and decide for yourself if you want more. But you can safely assume that if they're on this list, I think they're worth a watch. And note that to watch, you need to be an Amazon Prime member.]

Alpha House

Amazon, pilot now streaming

Alpha House is certainly the most professional looking pilot in Amazon's lineup. The show was created by Doonesberry cartoonist Garry Trudeau, about a house shared by four Republican senators who are all varying degrees of incompetent. The show's main draw is some serious star-power for a straight-to-Amazon show. John Goodman plays the lead, a South Carolina senator who's suddenly targeted for a serious primary challenge that shakes him out of a comfortably lazy lifestyle. Clark Johnson and Matt Malloy also do solid work, even if they're less well known. But even Goodman's draw is eclipsed by a special guest in the first two minutes, and then by regular brief cameos for the rest of the pilot. Like all Amazon's pilots Alpha House isn't perfect, but it feels like a natural fit for Amazon--a prestige comedy that could be the online retailer's answer to Netflix's House of Cards.

Browsers

Amazon, pilot now streaming

Given the number of really difficult things Browsers is trying to do at the same time, it's a wonder it isn't a total mess. It tries to show the modern realities of journalism on the Internet, taking place as it does at a thinly veiled Huffington Post. It's also trying to talk about the economic realities of Millennials, since it's following new interns in their early twenties. Oh, also, it's a musical, because the first two things aren't hard enough. Sure, it has some problems--it's strange to watch a musical that seems to be better when the music _isn't_ playing--but it manages to reference real websites without seeming woefully out of date (a feat few series accomplish). If it's given time to start firing on all cylinders, it could do some really impressive things.

Zombieland: The Series

Amazon, pilot now streaming

Zombieland: The Series is probably Amazon's most talked-about pilot. Based on the movie starring Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone (but not including any of the original actors) the series follows the movie's four characters as they try to create a makeshift family after the zombie apocalypse. If the series has a problem it's that it veers slightly too close to its source material at times. With four new actors playing the same characters from the film, it occasionally seems like a weird alternate universe retelling of the movie where everybody's going to take two years to reach the same revelations the movie got them to in two hours. That's a shame, because when it isn't trying to remind you of the original Zombieland, the show is pretty great on its own terms, especially in what's probably the strongest opening scene of all Amazon's potential new shows.

 

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