Following in the footsteps of Netflix and Hulu, the pioneers of online-only, original television shows, Amazon Studios has released a total of five original primetime pilots for potential new series, presenting a completely new aspect of the company. However, instead of going the standard route of having an executive choose which shows will be picked up and which ones will be left on the cutting room floor, Amazon has posted all the pilots online for audiences to watch for free and vote on in order to decide which one will become a full series.
The first show on the docket is a sci-fi mystery series entitled The After. It comes from the mind of Chris Carter, the creator of The X-Files and executive producer of Millennium. It stars Aldis Hodge, who is best known for his role in Leverage as Alec Hardison, and Andrew Howard, who hasn’t yet had any major TV or movie roles, although he has appeared in several films and TV series. Some bigger names in the supporting cast include Adrian Pasdar, best known in North America for his portrayal of Nathan Petrelli on Heroes, and Sharon Lawrence of NYPD Blue fame.
The second show that Amazon Studios presents is a crime drama called Bosch, based on the best-selling Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly. Connelly also co-wrote the pilot with Eric Overmyer, who has written for and produced several other crime dramas, including Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, and The Wire and is a co-creator of the show Treme. The pilot stars Titus Welliver (Glenn Childs in The Good Wife, and Bates in Argo) as the title character, Harry Bosch. Alongside him stars Jamie Hector (Knox in Heroes) as Jerry Edgar, Bosch’s LAPD partner. More relatively unknown actors fill this cast, however Lance Reddick, who is known for several memorable roles on many shows including American Horror Story: Coven, Fringe, and The Wire, appears in a supporting role.
Mozart in the Jungle
Amazon Studios lists the show Mozart in the Jungle, which presents a loose adaptation of Blair Tindall’s memoir recounting her experiences in the world of professional classical music, as one of their original dramatic comedy pilots. It stars Gael García Bernal as Rodrigo, a charismatic new conductor for the New York Symphony, and Malcolm McDowell , the conductor whom Rodrigo is forcing into retirement. Of all the pilots, this one surely has the most star power behind it. The writers for this episode are just as well-known as the leading men, with Roman Coppola, who was nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2012 for his work on Moonrise Kingdom, Alex Timbers, who has been nominated twice for Tony awards for his work writing for Broadway, and actor/musician Jason Schwartzman, known for his roles in Moonrise Kingdom and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World among others.
The Rebels is a sports comedy about a woman, Julie Levine, who is left as the only owner of a professional football team after her husband passes away unexpectedly. The show stars Natalie Zea of The Following and Justified as Julie and Hayes MacArthur as Rick Massella, the team’s cocky star quarterback. The episode also has appearances from Josh Peck (formerly of Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise), and Kurt Fuller (Russell Finley from Wayne’s World) as well as many others. The show also has Ice Cube listed as one of the executive producers alongside Matt Alvarez, who was a producer on Ride Along and Barbershop.
The fifth and final show in the set is a dark comedy that deals with the lives of a dysfunctional Los Angeles family faced with an unexpected, enormous change. The pilot is written and directed by Jill Soloway, who is best known for her work on Six Feet Under and United States of Tara, as well as for being the winner of Sundance Festival’s Best Director for Afternoon Delight. The show stars Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development fame alongside Judith Light, best known for Who’s the Boss?, as his as-of-yet unnamed ex-wife, Jay Duplass as their son, Josh, and Gaby Hoffmann and Amy Landecker as their daughters, Ali and Sarah.
Amazon Studios presents viewers with the hashtag #AmazonOriginals and encourages anyone who watches the original pilots to tweet with it and to vote on which show they would like to see most as a new series.
By Robin Syrenne