Eight new sitcoms have been trialled online as part of Amazon’s move into original programming. All fit comfortably into existing formats and genres, but equally all take full advantage of their platform to deliver language and content that would never make it on air via the traditional US networks. Will this point of difference be enough for Amazon’s experiment to pay off? Here’s the K7 verdict on the pilots in question.
Based on the 2009 movie of the same name, the effects of a zombie apocalypse are shown.
K7 says: Sure to gain a lot of attention thanks to its big screen pedigree, the concept of Zombieland is ripe for episodic comedy, but the new cast lacks charisma and chemistry. The zombie genre has become over exposed in the last few years and viewers may not be ready to accept a less star-studded take on such familiar material.
Political comedy centring around four Republican senators who live together.
K7 says: Very much in the vein of ‘The Thick of It’ and ‘Veep’, Alpha House has the makings of a smart, savage comedy with a superb headline-grabbing cast. Whether forcing it to jostle for votes with broader, more crowd-pleasing fare is the best way to launch such a show is questionable.
Onion News Empire
Spoof set behind the scenes of a new corporation.
K7 says: In both its online and TV guises, The Onion has caught plenty of people out with news parodies that are just ridiculous enough to seem true. That satire loses some bite in this blatantly fictional setting, but the shift to a more narrative driven format opens up more possibilities for the future and it has the makings of a cult hit.
Musical comedy set in a work place, following four interns vying for a paid position at The Daily Gush, a Huffington Post-style website.
K7 says: A curious clash of genres gives this pilot a unique flavour, though the musical aspect feels more like a gimmick than a necessary part of the format on this evidence. There are some enjoyable performances, however, and lots of sharp dialogue.
Those Who Can’t
Following three male teachers who are less than professional.
K7 says: The revenge plot feels more like the pitch for a movie rather than an ongoing series, but the scatological humour and juvenile obsession with sex will certainly appeal to the young male demographic, even if it has rather missed the boat on the ‘American Pie’ and ‘Superbad’ gross-out high school comedy fad.
A group of four men in Silicon Valley are looking to secure funding for their start-up app business.
K7 says: Owing a hefty debt to the likes of ‘Big Bang Theory,’ not to mention dozens of similarly themed web series, Betas is slickly made but feels too manufactured and designed by committee to catch on with its intended audience of savvy young digital media devotees.
A stop motion animated comedy about two lazy underlings working for a Star Wars-style evil empire.
K7 says: Much like cult hit ‘Robot Chicken,’ Dark Minions gets its punchlines from the juxtaposition of childlike animation and crude adult gags. There’s certainly an audience for this sort of stoner-friendly product, but it may already be well served by YouTube.
The animated comedy series focuses on two female friends, who moonlight as supernatural relic hunters.
K7 says: With its deliberately cheap animation, glib humour and quirky plot twists, Supanatural would be a good fit with the Adult Swim schedule. As with ‘Dark Minions,’ there’s a market to found in this niche but it’s unclear if Amazon’s scattershot roll-out is the way to find it.