Want to feel like a TV development executive? You have your chance to choose which television shows Amazon Studios will produce and premiere on its Amazon Prime instant video service with the company’s fourth pilot season, which went live on Jan. 15.
The semi-annual event presents the company’s latest batch of pilots for public consumption. This time around, there are two comedies, “Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998” and “Down Dog”; one docuseries, “The New Yorker Presents”; and four dramas, “Cocked,” “Mad Dogs,” “Point of Honor” and “The Man in the High Castle.”
There is no “Transparent” in this bunch, that’s for sure. The reaction to this batch of shows will not be passionate — more like the real-life equivalent of the shrug emoji (which is … just a shrug). They’re fine! Some are more fine than others. But read on for more detailed analysis of each, in case you were wondering which ones are worth your time (but only while you’re doing laundry, or something).
“Salem Rogers,” about a bitchy supermodel who tries to restart her career after a decade in rehab, is acerbic and funny thanks to Leslie Bibb as the aforementioned horrible, beef jerky-eating model (and Rachel Dratch as her poor former assistant). It has far more laugh-out-loud moments than “Down Dog,” about a slacker yoga studio owner who isn’t good at relationships. While the namaste world is rife for parody, the show doesn’t exactly make any cutting observations. Lyndsy Fonseca’s hair looks really good, if that interests you.
Amazon doesn’t currently have any docu-series, but “The New Yorker Presents” is an interesting one. It is quite literally the television equivalent of the highbrow magazine, so if that sounds like something you’ll like then you definitely will. There’s a short film, an interview with the artist Marina Abramovic, a poem recited by Andrew Garfield (sure, why not) and a couple trademark cartoons. If you have a stack of unread New Yorkers that you’ll never get to, just watch the show instead. It’ll make you feel a little classier and smarter as you sit on the couch in your pajamas.
On the drama side, skip Civil War drama “Point of Honor” unless you’re cool with ridiculous accent disparity and tune into “Cocked,” a family drama about a gun-manufacturing family; “Mad Dogs,” a crime thriller starring a bunch of middle-aged men in Belize; and “The Man in the High Castle,” based on Philip K. Dick’s alternate-history novel, instead.
Of the three perfectly fine dramas, only “The Man in the High Castle” could be considered good. The adaptation from “X-Files” veteran Frank Spotnitz has been in the works for years, and it shows in a carefully plotted story about a 1960s in which the Nazis won World War II. That one’s a slower burn, so save it for after you’ve folded all the laundry and have a little more attention to pay.