Amazon Prime is, as my friend Zach said last night, one of the greatest inventions of all time! From the free shipping, to the different kinds of streaming available they are slowly taking over the internet. Their decision to begin producing their own shows seems like a play at taking over the big screen, and their current crop of pilots do not disappoint in that sense. I can’t say I enjoyed watching most of them, they are, on the whole, violent, vulgar, and overtly sexual (Sorry, overt was the best I could do to keep the “v-theme” going).
I wanted this to be a different article, I wanted to love them all and be so excited! However, I can’t help but feel like Amazon is trying to be on some “most shocking” list… It feels like they are trying to beat out HBO for the title of Most Mature Programing. Then they realized they should probably have something for the kids to watch while their parents’ brain cells were wasted on their “mature” shows. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the mindless entertainment, but it seems to me that the reason these shows aren’t on cable is because the storyline depends on the graphic parts rather than on any substance.
A brief explanation of each pilot can be found next to the “play” button along with a rating, of which they use two: TV-MA and Kids TV.
I may be over sensitive to some of the themes in these pilots. The shows that I have loved, and that have been loved by millions over the years, have not been the ones that made me feel uncomfortable watching them in the same room as my parents. Into this category I would put Mad Dogs, Cocked and Down Dog. These shows were overly violent.
Mad Dogs portrayed – probably more realistic than I’ve ever seen – what it’s like to witness your friend getting shot in the head point blank. Cocked is an attempt at re-making Arrested Development into a more dramatic series… and the attempt failed. Down Dog follows a 30-year-old sex addicted pothead, who just realized he needs to grow up – it’s supposed to be a comedy, I think, but I laughed maybe once and I don’t think it was intentionally funny.
The other attempt at comedy takes place in Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998. The concept is funny, the cast is hilarious, and, unfortunately, their attempt also falls flat. Salem Rogers is supposed to be completely unlikable, and perhaps they tried too hard to do that, but the problem is not that Salem is an antagonist; it’s that the show has no protagonist. Rachel Dratch’s character should be the one we’re rooting for, but she’s such a pushover it’s difficult to feel sorry for her. She knows what she needs to change and she just won’t do it.
There were only two pilots I actually enjoyed; the first was the Civil War drama Point of Honor. The acting is on point and the plot is different than I’ve ever seen from a story of this time period. It is the first to truly portray what I’ve always felt the Civil War was actually about: pride, rather than slavery. In one hour I fell in love with a southern family whose ties to the south force them to choose sides and forsake friends and family in order to defend their home. The second show I was intrigued by is the post WWII alternate universe drama The Man in the High Castle, which depicts a 1960s America in which the Nazis and the Japanese have taken over our beloved country and turned it into a divided communist continent on the brink of another war. Both shows are interesting, have relatable characters, and the possibility of making one honestly care about what happens next – something none of the other shows have.
The children’s shows are barely worth mentioning. The jokes are bad, and not you’ll giggle but be embarrassed about it bad, like the kind of bad where you don’t even crack a smile.
I’m a typically an easy to please person and I don’t require a whole lot out of my TV shows. Just entertain me. I think Amazon really missed the mark this time around.