Posted by: markfender | April 30, 2013

Amazon Pilots

Amazon has posted pilots to some shows they’re considering distributing online. So, I watched a few of them.

Zombieland-TV-ShowYou’re all geeks who read this, so first I’ll cover the only show you’re interested in: Zombieland. My summary judgement is that it’s not as good as the movie, but might be okay as a TV show. The plot of the first episode had an amusing premise and the jokes throughout were fairly decent. The main problem are the actors. Woodie Harrelson substitute is trying too hard, as is Jesse Einsenberg substitute. Eisenberg can sell his smarminess, but this guy has a “look at how clever I am” look on his face the entire time. Harrelson has a certain amount of aplomb when yippee-kay-yaying all over the place, but this guy just looks dumb doing it. I’m pretty sure he’s aware of that, as he then overplays how dumb it is, which didn’t really work. As for the girls, well, it’s not necessarily great there either, but it’s not hard to match Emma Stone’s flat affect so it’s a wash. I’m also not excited about seeing a “Zombie Kill of the Week” every episode. I realize the concept fits right into a TV show’s format, but it’s overstaying the premise if they do it every episode. It’s free on Amazon right now so go watch at least the first scene (which was pretty good) and judge for yourself. I certainly wouldn’t be subscribing just for this but might catch it if I was already subscribed for something else.

Next up I watched Onion News Empire because the Onion is funny and I enjoyed their IFC show. Do you remember when the Zucker Brothers were funny, with things like Airplane or the Naked Gun movies? This had that feel. The jokes were fast, often random, and made whatever plot was there just a contrivance for more jokes. I laughed out loud a few times. Unfortunately, it just made me miss the old IFC show. The Onion does news very well, but this show is about all the stuff around the news and not the news itself. There were plenty of shots of someone reporting ridiculous made-up news stories, but it didn’t have the same feel as the Onion News Network. They’re parodying Aaron Sorkin here, not the news, and I found myself oddly missing just “straight” news coverage. I think I would have liked this more if it had been a parody of one of Aaron Sorkin’s non-news shows, like Sunset 60 or West Wing. They have his tone down perfect. But I found myself strangely disinterested somewhere in the middle. Maybe I just miss Brooke Alvarez.

Lastly, I watched Alpha House because it had John Goodman in it. It’s written by Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame, so guess what it felt like? If you answered “a dry sardonic show about liberals pointing out the gaps in conservative talking points,” you talk just like me (and that is weird). Just like the comic, it’s never actually funny. It’s just sarcastic, and not even all that cutting of sarcasm. Now, I’m a fan of sarcasm so I didn’t necessarily hate it. But it felt way too…subtle (?)…for the much broader strokes of television. But then, if the comic strip can last forever based on goodwill from people who like that sort of thing, I suppose this could to. Watch it for the cameo at the beginning and then move on with your life.

There were other shows but if the “big three” with big names attached weren’t selling me, what are the odds the unknown ones would? (Pretty good actually. That’s a terribly unfair comparison made to those unknown creators. My only consolation is that they will never read this). You can watch all these free on Amazon right now. Would I subscribe to some sort of premium service to watch these? Unless it was bundled into Prime or something (because my school textbooks tend to make the free shipping worth it), I wouldn’t bother.

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